It was at Cheyenne's airport facility that the first de-icing equipment was installed on aircraft. It was also where wide-scale installation of variable-pitch propellers, cabin heaters, and on-board air to ground capable radios was begun. So proficient were United's Cheyenne mechanics that they brought observers from Britain, France, Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. As United continued to update its fleet with new aircraft, its mechanics at Cheyenne developed an international reputation for innovation and problem solving, creating new solutions for old and new aircraft alike. At one time, Cheyenne was considered the largest aviation roundhouse in the world.
With America's entry into World War II in 1941, United was asked to put its technical expertise to use for the American war effort. In late December 1941, two Boeing B-17 bombers were flown to Cheyenne with instructions to modify the planes to carry extra fuel and a battery of cameras for aerial photography. Shortly thereafter, another order was placed to modify eight more B-17s for the British. These aircraft turned out to be photo-reconnaissance aircraft to overfly enemy territory from long distances. After the war it was discovered by United officials that the first two modified planes were used in reconnaissance flights over Tokyo in preparation for the
famous Doolittle bombing raid of 1942.
United's Bomber Modification Center #10 in Cheyenne was bustling with activity during World War II. Between January 2, 1942, and July 31, 1945, the facility retrofitted 5,736 Boeing B.17 bombers with equipment the factory could not install because of heavy production schedules. Back
The Cheyenne airport was enlarged by the construction of two new hangers in 1942 and a third in 1943. By the spring of 1943, 1,600 workers were employed at the center with an average of six planes a day leaving Cheyenne for combat areas. In 1942 United also transferred their flight training school from California to Cheyenne. Almost 100 students were in training year round. After the war most of the hangar and rework facilities on the northside of the airport were turned over to the Wyoming Air National Guard and the former Boeing/United Headquarters Building became the City's Airport Administration Building.
Because commercial airplanes remained unpressurized until the mid-1950s, most could not fly directly west from Denver over the Rocky Mountains thus Cheyenne remained a major regional airfield and was often used especially in inclement weather as a place to layover until the weather cleared and flights could resume. United's stewardess school also remained in Cheyenne until approximately 1956 when it was transferred to Chicago.
The Boeing/United Airlines Terminal, hangar and Airport Fountain in Cheyenne were built for BAT between 1929 and 1934. The Louis Sullivan-influenced designs form a consistent theme at a time when Cheyenne's Municipal Airport was a major was a major air transport facility. The 1930 hangar was designed by Cheyenne architect Frederic H. Porter and the 1934 Art Deco fountain was designed as a memorial to early aviation history.