John Gilbert "Tex" Rankin and associates saw Tex's dream of an academy to train Army Air Force Cadets begin here on a 960 acre site on February 12, 1941. A three day event heralded the opening on May 18, 1941. The original cost estimate of $350,000 had grown to $800,000 by completion. The arrival of Army cadets, officers and instructors along with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor later that same year brought a greater demand for pilots and assured the future of the academy. Hangers, shops, classrooms, mess hall, infirmary, recreation center, and administration buildings existed here. Over 10,000 pilots were trained here and 250 Stearman PT 17 bi-plane trainers flew out of here at the peak of activity. Twelve Army Air Corps aces trained here as cadets, the most decorated ace of World War II, Col. Richard I. Bong, who downed 40 enemy planes, began his training here. Rankin Academy closed its military training program in 1945. Tex Rankin had plans to operate a number of commercial airports with this to be one of them, his untimely death in February 1947 in an airplane crash at Klamath Falls, Oregon brought an end to this enterprise and to a great airman.