Reese Air Force Base

By: Steven G. Gamble and Ruedele Turner

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: January 1, 1996

Reese Air Force Base was a center for undergraduate pilot training for the United States Air Force fourteen miles west of Lubbock. The history of the base dates to June 26, 1941, when the War Department announced that a flying installation would be built on 2,000 acres that had been offered by the city of Lubbock. The base was probably originally named Lubbock Army Air Corps Advanced Flying School. Construction began in August 1941, and in November Lt. Col. Thomas L. Gilbert arrived to assume command of the base. The first class of students, Class 42-E, arrived in February 1942. Two name changes followed: first to Lubbock Army Flying School, on February 6, 1943, and then to Lubbock Army Airfield, on April 26, 1943. Aircraft flown from the base during World War II included the T-6 Texan, the AT-17 Bobcat, and the AT-9 Jeep. The base was closed on December 31, 1945, after graduating more than 7,000 pilots. Some barracks were converted to veterans' housing, and the National Guard, Air Reserve, and Naval Reserve units took over other buildings. The base was reactivated on October 5, 1949, as a multiengine pilot-training base. The installation was called Lubbock Air Force Base until November 5, 1949, when it was renamed Reese Air Force Base in honor of 1st Lt. Augustus F. Reese, Jr., a native of nearby Shallowater, who was killed in action during World War II. The main aircraft used was the TB-25 "Mitchell" bomber, which was used to train student officers and aviation cadets. It was assigned to Reese from 1949 until the base was converted to single-engine jet training in January 1959. The last TB-25 to fly at Reese is on display at the main entrance to the base. Reese always functioned as a base for training student pilots for the United States Air Force. In 1952 international students from Allied nations were added. Students received about 748 academic hours of instruction and 176 hours of flying during a year-long instruction program. In 1986 the pilot-training program included both men and women officers, and nearly 400 students were graduated annually. The base subsequently closed, and the site was renamed the Reese Technology Center. It is now being used for other projects such as the Institute of Environmental and Human Health, established in May 1997 by the Texas Tech University Board of Regents. Other tenants include various banking and food-technology businesses, a police training center, and South Plains College, a two-year college that had an estimated 1,200 students enrolled in 2000.

Robert Mueller, Air Force Bases, Vol. 1 (Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Simpson Historical Research Center, 1982).
Time Periods:
  • World War II

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

Steven G. Gamble and Ruedele Turner, “Reese Air Force Base,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 16, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1996