In November 1942, NAS Sanford was commissioned to meet the need for additional naval aviation training facilities. Originally planned for bomber training, within a year it converted to fighter plane training. A major portion of fighter pilots that served on aircraft carriers in the Pacific during WWII trained at the field. "Touch and Go" training simulated aircraft landings at the airfield at Osceola and other nearby fields. Fifty-three pilots lost their lives in plane crashes in the surrounding area during this time.
At the end of WWII, the airfield was decommissioned and turned over to the city. In 1947, the NY Giants constructed eight baseball fields for their spring farm teams. Other activities using the facilities included apartments, motels, a seminary, a Bible College and the county hospital in the old dispensary.
In 1951, with the start of the Korean War, the air station was reactivated. Its mission changed several times, but it always supported fleet carrier aircraft. This time training and refresher courses were given to both reserves and experienced pilots.
NAS Sanford in 1957, was one of the first to receive a squadron of A3D Skywarriors, a long-range jet-bomber. In the 1960's these were replaced by the Vigilante. Originally designed as a nuclear bomber, the aircraft later was used for photographic reconnaissance missions. During the Vietnam War, Sanford was home to the families of many POWS and MIAS from Vigilante squadrons.
In 1968 Congress closed the base and returned the airport back to the city. This caused a major economic set back to the area. Slowly the area and the airport recovered, thus bringing international flights to Sanford.