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AMARILLO AIR FORCE BASE

AMARILLO AIR FORCE BASE. Amarillo Air Force Base, originally Amarillo Army Air Field, was activated in April 1942 and formally named an army air field in May. It was eleven miles east of Amarillo on a 1,523-acre tract of land adjacent to English Field, a commercial airfield serving the Panhandle. Col. Edward C. Black, the first commanding officer, arrived in April 1942 with the first cadre of troops. Construction was only half completed when the first classes were begun in September 1942. The field, one of the largest installations in the Western Technical Training Command, was established for training of air crew and ground mechanics to service B-17 aircraft. From 1943 to 1945 basic training and special courses of instruction were conducted, and the school was later designated to train technicians for B-29 aircraft in addition to the B-17 technical training. Flying operations were also inaugurated. The field was closed on September 15, 1946, and its buildings were converted to peacetime uses or destroyed.

The base was reactivated as Amarillo Air Force Base in March 1951 and became the first air force all-jet mechanic-training base. In December 1951 the first trainees from foreign countries arrived. By 1952 the program reached a planned maximum of 3,500 students. Mechanic training continued throughout 1953 and 1954 and included a course on the B-47 jet bomber. The base was declared a permanent installation in 1954. Four new courses were added a year later, and the number of students climbed to about 5,000. When the two-phase system of basic training began in 1956, Amarillo Air Force Base was selected as one of the bases to administer the technical second phase. The base continued to grow in the late 1950s. In 1957 a missile-training department was established, and facilities were expanded to accommodate an air wing of the Strategic Air Command. In July 1958 a supply and administration school previously stationed in Wyoming was moved to the Amarillo base. The base was redesignated Amarillo Technical Training Center in 1959, when the 4128th Strategic Air Wing concluded a joint-tenancy agreement with Air Training Command.

By May 1960 the jet-mechanic school had graduated 100,000 students. At that time Amarillo was the site of all Air Training Command resident training in administrative, procurement, and supply fields; it continued to train thousands of jet aircraft mechanics, jet engine mechanics, and air-frame repairmen. The center changed in February 1966 with the formation of the 3330th Basic Military School. A personnel-processing squadron was added the same month to support the school. In 1967 the center's facilities covered 5,273 acres and had about 16,300 assigned personnel.

By 1964 the United States Department of Defense had decided to close the base. The last class was graduated on December 11, 1968, and the base was deactivated on December 31, 1968. The closing damaged the economy of Amarillo. On September 2, 1970, the Amarillo branch of Texas State Technical Instituteqv was opened on the former base grounds. Another part of the base was used for the Amarillo Air Terminal, which opened on May 17, 1971.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

B. Byron Price and Frederick W. Rathjen, The Golden Spread: An Illustrated History of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle (Northridge, California: Windsor, 1986).

Ross Phares and Paul O. Cormier

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Ross Phares and Paul O. Cormier, "AMARILLO AIR FORCE BASE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qba01), accessed October 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.