Local

March 15, 2013

Luke Field rises out of desert

RICHARD GRISET
56th Fighter Wing historian

The Battle of Britain began Aug. 8, 1940, and the same day, President Franklin Roosevelt directed the military to start producing 12,000 pilots annually. In response to that order, the Army Air Corps conducted feasibility studies for the construction of eight new air fields.

Phoenix City Manager Donald Scott announced the War Department had approved a site Feb. 13, 1941, for the construction of an advanced single engine flying training base two miles north of the town of Litchfield Park. The site not only had almost year-round flying weather, but it also enjoyed proximity to vast stretches of Sonoran Desert that were ideal for bombing and gunnery practice.

Two days later, Lt. Col. Ennis Whitehead arrived in the area to supervise construction of the base and act as its first commander.

Ground was broken for Litchfield Park Air Base March 31 of that year and was renamed Luke Field June 6 for 2nd Lt. Frank Luke Jr., a Phoenix native who was a World War I ace and the first aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor. The first student pilot class began training the next day. During World War II, Luke Field produced 17,321 graduates from fighter training programs for the U.S. and its allies. The base was closed Nov. 30, 1946.

Luke was redesignated an air force base when it reopened Feb. 1, 1951, in response to a need for fighter aircrews generated by the Korean Conflict.

The base was initially equipped with F-51 Mustang and F-84 Thunderjet aircraft. Luke Air Force Base joined the supersonic age in 1957 when the North American F-100 Super Sabre was assigned to the installation. That was followed in 1964 by foreign military sales programs in the F-104 Starfighter and the F-5A Freedom Fighter.

The A-7D Corsair arrived in 1969, but was reassigned when the decision was made to make Luke the Air Force’s primary F-4 Phantom II training base. The first F-4 was assigned in 1971.

The first of the super fighters, the F-15 Eagle, was assigned to the base in 1974 followed in 1982 by the second super fighter, the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The first F-15E Strike Eagle arrived in 1988. Three years later, in 1991, a decision to make Luke Air Force Base the service’s primary F-16 training base led to the reassignment of the F-15, and four years later, in 1995, the F-15E was reassigned.

Prior to the reassignment of the F-15E, the real world political and military situation resulted in a perceived lessening of international tensions and resulted in a down-sizing of the nation’s military. Senior Air Force leadership moved to ensure the most highly decorated units in Air Force history remained part of the active force during the drawdown. That led to the reassignment of one of the most highly decorated units in Air Force history, the 56th Fighter Wing, from then scheduled-to-close MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., to Luke April 1, 1994. Since 1941, Luke has produced more than 57,500 graduates from fighter training programs for the U.S. and its allies and is truly: “The Home of the Fighter Pilot.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Staff Sgt. 
STACI MILLER

CMS aircraft fuel systems provides push for pilot

Staff Sgt.STACI MILLER Airman 1st Class Gary Esposito, 56th Component Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuel systems apprentice, prepares to inspect a 370-gallon external fuel tank on Luke Air Force Base. Esposito inspected the tan...
 
 
Senior Airman 
GRACE LEE

Latest F-35 has fastest induction to ALIS

Senior AirmanGRACE LEE The 14th F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter to arrive at Luke Air Force Base is shown Dec. 5 on the flightline. Airmen at the 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit worked quickly to get the aircraft ready to...
 
 

Gratitude cultivates exceptional leadership

Several months ago I was inspired by the phrase “cultivate an attitude of gratitude.” The topic was presented in a religious context; however, I found these words significant and profound when considered as a tenent of exceptional leadership. Cultivate is an action verb. The word brings to mind images of an experienced gardener patiently tending...
 

 

Leadership vs. management

Have you ever had a boss or someone that made you want to come to work every day, someone you would do anything for without question? Then you were probably working beside a leader, not a manager. The biggest difference between managers and leaders is the way they motivate people who work for or follow...
 
 

Decking the halls …

Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer Andrea Mathis, 56th Force Support Squadron Fighter Country Inn accounting clerk, decorates a Christmas tree Dec. 4 in the lobby at the Fighter Country Inn at Luke Air Force Base. Base lodging is available to active-duty service members, retirees and dependents on a space-available basis. For more information, call 623-856-3941.
 
 

Safety begins with asking ‘What could go wrong?’

I’m sure most of us have been told to “be safe” at some point either by a commander, supervisor or even a co-worker. This holiday season will probably not be any different. Someone will use this simple phrase in the next few weeks, and it will feel like a cliché to you, but what does...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin