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.


 
 

 

My personal leadership philosophy

My personal leadership philosophy can be summed up in just a few words — people first, mission always. Some may mistake the phrase “people first, mission always” as a dictum to coddle unit personnel through adversity, but actually, my focus is on preparing them to overcome adversity. The mission will always press on, but without...
 
 

Work, family balance success marker

“Being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.” — Zig Ziglar In our careers, we frequently hear about the importance of having balance in our life and job. Some common...
 
 
Staff Sgt. 
TIMOTHY BOYER

Luke plays role in saving species

Staff Sgt.TIMOTHY BOYER A team of wildlife specialists prepare a Sonoran pronghorn for release into the wild at the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Ajo. Sixty-nine pronghorn were captured this year. Of those, more tha...
 

 

News Briefs December 19, 2014

Road closure Litchfield Road at Northern Parkway is closed daily 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Sunday to paint the bridge overpass, weather permitting. Northern Parkway will remain open. Reems Road and Dysart Road are alternate routes. For more information, call MCDOT at 480-350-9288. MLK luncheon There will be a Martin Luther King Jr. luncheon...
 
 
Senior Airman 
JAMES HENSLEY

MWD Roy — partner, friend passes

Senior AirmanJAMES HENSLEY Staff Sgt. Scott Emmick, 56th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog handler, and Roy, 56th SFS MWD, play Dec. 14, 2012, at the at Luke Air Force Base kennels. The MWD and handler team plays to...
 
 

46 graduate ALS in class 15-1

The 56th Fighter Wing Airman Leadership School graduated 45 senior airmen and one staff sergeant Dec. 11 from class 15-1. The graduates are senior airmen unless otherwise noted. John L. Levitow award: Nathaniel Gladney, 56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Distinguished graduates: Matthew Goodspeed, 56th Operations Support Squadron; Russell Hires, 56th Medical Support Squadron; James Gilmore, 56t...
 




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