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Lincoln Air National Guard Base

Air Mobility Command.pngAir National Guard.pngShield Strategic Air Command.png
Lincoln Air Force Base

USGS aerial photo - 4 April 1999
Airport type Public / Military
Owner Lincoln Airport Authority
Nebraska Air National Guard
Location Lincoln, Nebraska
Elevation AMSL 1,219 ft / 372 m
Coordinates 40°51′04″N 096°45′33″W / 40.85111°N 96.75917°W / 40.85111; -96.75917
Direction Length Surface
ft m
18/36 12,901 3,932 Asphalt/Concrete
14/32 8,649 2,636 Asphalt/Concrete
17/35 5,400 1,646 Asphalt/Concrete
Statistics (2008)
Aircraft operations 78,697
Based aircraft 219
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1]

Lincoln Air National Guard Base, formerly Lincoln Air Force Base, is home to the Nebraska Air National Guard's 155th Air Refueling Wing (155 ARW), an Air Mobility Command (AMC)-gained unit flying the KC-135R Stratotanker. The installation is also home to several Nebraska Army National Guard units and is located near Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Air National Guard facility is located just east of Runway 36, alongside Taxiway Delta on a portion of Lincoln Airport. The Air National Guard's tarmac is closed to general aviation and is guarded by the wing's Air Force Security Forces squadron 24 hours a day.

Prior to its current civil and Air National Guard use, Lincoln Airport was known as Lincoln Air Force Base, and was a major United States Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) bomber and missile base, being the home of the 818th Air Division, 98th Bombardment Wing and 307th Bombardment Wing. It was activated on February 1, 1954 and closed on June 25, 1966.

During World War II, the airport was known as Lincoln Army Airfield and was a staging base for B-24 crews and aircraft. The 331st Army Air Force Base Unit commanded the support elements at Lincoln AAF as part of Air Technical Service Command, which was assigned to the 21st Bombardment Wing. It was also the home of the 12th Heavy Bombardment Processing Headquarters.



What would become Lincoln Airport began in the early 1920s when the city selected a plot of land Northwest of the city to be used as a municipal airport. Charles Lindbergh learned flying at Lincoln Airfield in 1923. The airfield became an air mail stop in 1928 and became a United Airlines stop during 1927, it continues its service to Lincoln to this day.


World War II

With war clouds forming in 1941, the United States Army Air Force needed airfields for training flight and ground personnel. On 27 February 1942 Lincoln Airfield was announced to be home of an Army Airfield training field. The airfield was one of eleven USAAF training bases in Nebraska during World War II. The airfield was completed 151 days after the announcement with construction including barracks, paved streets, hangars and shops. 1,016 buildings and structures were constructed.

Lincoln AAF was assigned to Army Air Forces Training Command, Western Technical Trainng Command with a mission to conduct flying training, basic military training and technical training. The plan consolidated a number of technical schools that were scattered throughout the country at that time. The first trainees arrived on 2 June 1942. Classrooms functioned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • The 54th Training Sub-Depot provided indoctrination and basic training for 30,000 combat personnel; providing basic flight training for Army aviation cadets, and being a military separation center.
  • The 604th Training Group provided instruction to over 25,000 aircraft mechanics, specializing in Figher aircraft.

On 15 April 1944, the airfield was transferred to Second Air Force, initially providing B-25 Mitchell medium bomber replacement training (10th Bombardment Squadron). It also was a testing center for the new P-80 Shooting Star jet fighter (29th, 31st, 52d Fighter Squadrons) during April and May, with the squadrons moving to Muroc AAF California.

However in the summer of 1944, Lincoln AAF became a B-29 Superfortress aircrew training and transition center. The 489th Bombardment Group arrived from Bradley Field, Connecticut on 17 Dec 1944 for training. The group stayed until April 1945 then transferred to Great Bend AAF Kansas. The group was alerted for movement overseas in the summer of 1945, but war with Japan ended before the group left the US. It was inactivated on 17 October 1945.

On 15 March 1945, Lincoln Field was reassigned from Second Air Force back to AAF Training Command and became a combat crew processing and distribution center until inactivated 15 Dec 1945 when Lincoln AAF was placed on inactive status. The airfield was transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers on 23 Nov 1946 for disposal.

Postwar Years

In 1946 the facility was returned to its prewar civil use as an airport. Along with its civil use, Lincoln Airport became host to a flying unit of the newly formed Nebraska Air National Guard along with a Naval Reserve unit flying patrol aircraft. The 173rd Fighter Squadron became the host unit of what became known as Lincoln Air National Guard Base. Equipped with P-51 Mustang fighters in 1946, it was the second Air National Guard unit established. A few years later, F-80C Shooting Star jet fighters would replace the unit's F-51s until the advent of the Korean War.

Concurrently, the Naval Reserve established Naval Air Station Lincoln (NAS Lincoln) on the airport, primarily as home to Patrol Squadron 762 (VP-762) and its P-2 Neptune aircraft. [2]

Cold War

With the outbreak of the Korean War, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce proposed the idea to Nebraska Senator Kenneth Wherry to reactivate Lincoln Airport as an active United States Air Force base. Senator Wherry fought for its activation and Lincoln Air Force Base was on a bill to be passed by the Congress until a few days before it was to be passed. Only an envoy of Lincoln residents and its mayor were between reactivation and failure. They lobbied only hours before the vote and were victorious. USAF Strategic Air Command officers would soon survey the land that would become Lincoln Air Force Base. On February 21, 1952 the 4120th Air Base Group was activated at Lincoln AFB to begin work on the base. The unit was placed under the command of the Fifteenth Air Force.

On February 1, 1954 Lincoln AFB was officially activated and so was the 98th Air Base Group. The 98th Air Refueling Squadron flying the Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker arrived at Lincoln in April.

In July the 98th Bombardment Wing arrived from Davis-Monthan AFB Arizona flying B-29s from Japan that had been used in the Korean War. Later, during November 1954, the 307th Bombardment Wing arrived from Kadena Air Base, Okinawa also after the unit's action over Korea.

Also in November, the 98th ABG was deactivated, being replaced by the 818th Air Division to become the host unit at Lincoln, commanding both the 307th and 98th Bomb Wings. Lincoln AFB was then transferred to SAC's Eighth Air Force.

On December 7, the first Boeing B-47 Stratojet arrived to equip the 307th BW and 98th BW. The 98th would become combat-ready in April 1955 and the 307th in June, with a total of 90 B-47s eventually being stationed at Lincoln AFB.

Units of the 98th Bomb Wing were:

Units of the 307th Bomb Wing were:

  • 370th, 371st, 372d, 424th Bombardment Squadron
  • 307th Air Refueling Squadron
  • 4362nd Post-Attack Command and Control Squadron

Throughout the 1950s, Lincoln AFB became a major Strategic Air Command base and a very powerful asset to American nuclear forces. Its B-47 complement would reach 120 before 1961. Both wings conducted strategic bombardment training and air refueling operations to meet SAC's global commitments.

Lincoln AFB was at its peak from 1960 to 1963, some of the hottest years of the Cold War. The planes stood on alert during the 1961 Berlin Crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, maintaining readiness for their principal mission, the destruction of the Soviet Union.

In addition, the 551st Strategic Missile Squadron was activated at the base during 1961. This squadron controlled 12 Atlas-F ICBMs based in silos near the towns of Elmwood, Avoca, Eagle, Nebraska City, Palmyra, Tecumseh, Cortland, Beatrice, Wilber, Seward, York and Brainard, Nebraska.

Army Nike-Hercules Surface-to-air missiles of the 6th Missile Battalion, 43rd Artillery also protected the base from 1960 to 1966. Batteries were constructed near Crete and Davey, Nebraska and were armed with 12 missiles each.

In 1963 the City of Lincoln and Strategic Air Command who used facilities of Lincoln Air Force Base, reached an unprecedented cooperative agreement in which the two entities shared base facilities. This was based on a similar arrangement executed at another SAC base the year prior, where McCoy AFB in Orlando, Florida opened up its airfield facilities to commercial jet traffic under a joint civil-military status as Orlando Jetport at McCoy, later Orlando International Airport. With this new arrangement, the City of Lincoln could then make expansion plans for their municipal airport.

On 15 May 1964, Secretary of Defense McNamara directed the accelerated phase-out of Atlas and Titan I ICBMs. Later that year, the 551st Strategic Missile Squadron received the last Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) for such a unit. The Lincoln Atlas F missiles were deactivated on April 12, 1965, completing the phase-out of this weapon system.

Meanwhile, the B-47s were also being phased out of the SAC arsenal. In January 1965 the 307th Bomb Wing began phasing down and was inactivated on March 25, 1965, being reactivated at U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield Thailand for forward deployed B-52 aircraft supporting combat operations in Vietnam.

The 98th Bomb Wing was inactivated on June 5, 1966 at Lincoln AFB, but activated the same day at Torrejon Air Base, Spain replacing the 3970th Strategic Wing.

Lincoln Air Force Base was closed on 6 June 1966 and returned to its original role, that of a municipal airport with a collocated Air National Guard Base.

Current uses

Today, most of the original Airfield is now owned by the City of Lincoln, and is used for general, commercial, and military aviation, an industrial park and public and private housing.

The Lincoln Air Park West Industrial Park contains over 1,000 acres (4 km²) and was originally the site of the Lincoln Air Force Base. Today, Lincoln Air Park West is owned and operated by the Lincoln Airport Authority with Industrial Park revenue either returning to improve and/or expand the Park or to help in support of the operation of the airfield.

Today, a portion of Lincoln Airport is home to the Nebraska Air National Guard's 155th Air Refueling Wing (155 ARW),for AF1 an Air Mobility Command (AMC)-gained Air National Guard unit flying the KC-135R Stratotanker. Several Nebraska Army National Guard units are also collocated at the installation, located just east of Runway 36, alongside Taxiway Delta. The Air National Guard's tarmac is closed to general aviation and is guarded by Air Force Security Forces 24 hours a day.

Lincoln Airport is also an alternate landing site for the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter. Air National Guard aircraft land on the same runways as the commercial airport, but their crews & passengers are never de-planed into the Lincoln Airport Terminal, with military aircraft taxiing directly to Air National Guard facilities.[3]

See also


  1. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for LNK (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2009-05-07.
  2. ^
  3. ^

Other sources

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
  • Morgan, Mark L., & Berhow, Mark A., Rings of Supersonic Steel, Second Edition, Fort MacArthur Press, 2002, ISBN 0-615-12012-1.
  • ArmyAirForces.Com
  • StrategicAirCommand.Com

External links


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