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.


 
 

 

Lightning II debrief …

Staff Sgt. Staci Miller Senior Airman Roger Combs, 61st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, downloads information from an F-35 Lightning II engine at Luke Air Force Base. Since 2010, more than 1,800 maintainers have been trained on the F-35. The first production F-35A rolled out of assembly in February 2006 in Fort Worth, Texas. Later...
 
 
Courtesy graphic

Commons provides ‘crib’ for Airmen

Courtesy graphic The Community Commons concept design. Renovation has begun and will be completed in May 2016. The Luke Air Force Base Community Center, Bldg. 700, where the 56th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Wellness Center resi...
 
 

How do you stack up?

With upcoming changes to the enlisted performance report and Air Force promotion system, it’s important to understand how you stack up against your peers, not only within your job, but within your unit as well. The days of receiving time in grade and time in service points are numbered. They are being replaced with a...
 

 

CCAF offers jump on education

The Community College of the Air Force was established in 1972 to recognize academic achievements for technical training by Air Force schools. It awards an associate in applied science degree to enlisted members of the active-duty Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command who have completed the course work. Degree programs are...
 
 
Johnny Saldivar

Roberson takes command of AETC

Johnny Saldivar Lt. Gen Darryl Roberson, Air Education and Training Command commander, speaks during the AETC change of command ceremony Tuesday at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Roberson is a command pilot who has mor...
 
 
4_150710-F-NQ441-5x7-036

Salutes and Awards

FWSA announce awards The following individuals are quarterly awards winners: 56th Fighter Wing Staff Agencies Airman: Senior Airman Leanne Mathews NCO: Staff Sgt. Natalie Nelson Senior NCO: Master Sgt. Deanna Commack Company gr...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>