LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Not many Lake Area residents may be aware of a United States air base in Lake Charles during World War One. It wasn't Chennault. Lake Charles resident Buzzy Brunot wants the community to know more about Gerstner Field, built in the early 20th Century southeast of Lake Charles, near Holmwood.
"Since it was World War I going on, the United States had to really catch up," said Brunot. "So this was their way of training pilots here."
Gerstner Field was built in 1918 at a cost of $2 million. Many milestones were accomplished at Gerstner including the development of the Air ambulance and improvements with pilot communication. Pilots were also trained in bombing techniques.
"They had a bombing range over by Big Lake. The plane would take off from there, fly over and drop sacks of flour, make a u-turn, come back around and see where the sacks of flour had landed," Brunot said.
Anyone who is acquainted with Brunot knows he's a history buff. You can tell by the wall here of all the old Lake Charles paintings. Gerstner Field is special to him. He lives about five miles from the site. Brunot is leading an effort to better mark the area near the intersection of Highway 27 and Old Camp Road.
"The pads, all 24 hangar pads, are still there. But it's all grown up and everything," he said.
Brunot said he will meet with the current landowners to see just what can be done to recognize this Lake Area landmark.