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Why the Thunderbird School of Global Management isn't on Thunderbird Road, Glendale, Arizona

The Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, is on 59th Avenue and Greenway Road, which is a mile north of Thunderbird Road. If you ever wondered why, all you have to do is to do some time-traveling.

Let's go back to Glendale in 1940. Now let's go waaaaayyy north of Glendale, out into the middle of a bunch of empty desert. We're standing in the middle of a square mile bounded nowadays by Thunderbird Road, Greenway, 59th Avenue and 51st, and it's been dedicated as Thunderbird Field. No, not because of Thunderbird Road, it was just because it was a cool name. Really. And the main buildings, which were at the northwest corner of the field, were designed to look like a Thunderbird from the air. You can still see it, although a lot of other buildings have been added. Take a look at Satellite view and you'll see it. The Thunderbird is flying towards the northwest.

Flying over Thunderbird Field in 1942. You're looking northwest.

Thunderbird Field in the 1940s. You're looking southwest.

Inscription on the plaque at the top of this post:

"The last of the Helmet and Goggles.

Thunderbird Pilots Memorial.

This memorial is a symbol of man’s love for his flying machine and fond remembrances of the fellow pilots who shared in the joy of mastering the Stearman PT-17. I stands as the mark they leave on the grounds of Thunderbird.

No longer do these men wear a helmet & googles, or stand on the lower wing of a biplane, or strap themselves into an open cockpit, or feel the blast of the prop on their face or breathe the burning exhaust of aviation gas. They were the last of this era of aviation history.

An executive order committed the United States to build 50,000 planes and to train 100,000 pilots for war. The response to the training was answered by the civil aviation community, resulting in clearing a square mile of desert land to be know as Thunderbird Field, where flying began in 1941, ending with the war’s end in 1945.

The students were military cadets. The airplanes were military PT-17s. The instructors, known as the Thunderbird Pilots, were civilians, flying more than one million hours to train over 16,000 cadets from the United States, Great Britain, and China."

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