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Aviation Cache: Hap Westbrook

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Hidden : 4/2/2017
1.5 out of 5
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size: micro (micro)

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Geocache Description:

Hartley A. "Hap" Westbrook in his Iowa Air National Guard Uniform

Hartley A. "Hap" Westbrook was born January 29, 1919 near Letts, Iowa. While attending what is now known as the University of Northern Iowa, he took initial flight training from John and Bite Livingston.

Hap volunteered to join pilot training in the Army Air Corps. He started flight training in King City, CA for primary training, flying Ryan and Stearman PT-22's. After completing priary training in King City, the class moved to Moffett AFB at San Jose, CA, for advanced training. Their class was the last Army class at Moffett Field before it was turned over to the Navy.

Moffitt Field was home to an airship hangar that was approximately a thousand feet long and three hundred feet wide and the center reached a height of one hundered seventy-five feet. Open at both ends, it was an imposing structure.

"It was also tempting to a young pilot on a training flight in a BT-13 single engine trainer. As maintenance crews inside the huge hangar busied themselves repairing aircraft, they were suddenly startled by a roaring BT-13 passing through the hangar at full throttle. They were so startled no one caught the aircraft identification numbers, and the young pilot could not be identified."

"After several inquiries by the base staff, the search ended, but orders were issued threatening dismissal for any more recklessness. Hap Westbrook showed mock surprise, but he had proven to his cadet classmates that it could be done." - An Iowa Pilot Named Hap.

Hangar 1 at Moffett Field, where Hap flew through it in a BT-13

He completed his training after joining the Army Air Corps in 1942. During World War II he was assigned the command of a B-24. On May 13, 1943, on his 18th mission, his bomber was shot down and he was held captive for two years at Stalag Luft III in Sagan, Poland. Stalag Luft III was the camp where the events that the movie "The Great Escape" depics. Hap was a prisoner until being liberated by General George Patton on April 28, 1945.

In 1949, Hap served during the Korean war as a VIP transport pilot and instructor. After serving two years, he returned to Iowa and helped establish the Iowa Air National Guard in 1954. During the flood of 1958, he flew a helicopter to rescue many who were stranded by the rising water of the Nishnabotna River in western Iowa. He remained in the Guard as an instructor in both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft until his retirement as a Lt. Colonel in 1968.

In 1967, Hap created the Aircraft and Powerplant program at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs. He wrote the curriculum and also purchased the aircraft and equipment. Instilled with the love of flying, he started Hap’s Air Service in 1946 at Guthrie Center. He moved the operation to Atlantic, IA in 1952, where he and his wife Jane raised 5 children.

Hap Westbrook is named as the new Ames Airport Manager. (Ames Daily Tribune, May 1, 1975)

Their success in Atlantic made Hap's an attractive candidate for the Fixed Base Operator position at the Ames Municipal Airport. Hap's then moved to Ames in 1975.

In 2000, Hap was inducted into the Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame. Sadly, Hap Westbrook passed away on October 21, 2002.

Ad welcoming Hap's Air Service to Ames (Ames Daily Tribune, May 18, 1975)

Hap Westbrook's Service is Detailed in this book.

Please join us at the Iowa Geocachers Organization's annual Hike-N-Seek Event September 22-24 in Ames, IA. For more information visit

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Last Updated: on 9/27/2017 10:44:30 AM Pacific Daylight Time (5:44 PM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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