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Olmsted Air Force Base


Part of Air Force Logistics Command
Located near Middletown, Pennsylvania
Type Military Airfield
Coordinates 40°11′37″N 076°45′48″W / 40.19361°N 76.76333°W / 40.19361; -76.76333
Built 1917
In use 1917-1969, Afterwards by Pennsylvania Air National Guard
Controlled by Pennsylvania Air National Guard
Olmsted AFB is located in Pennsylvania
Olmsted AFB
Location of Olmsted Air Force Base, Pennsylvania
For the current use of the facility, see:Harrisburg International Airport

Olmsted Air Force Base is an inactive United States Air Force base located adjacent to the borough of Middletown, Pennsylvania, 8 miles southeast of Harrisburg.

It was named in honor of 1st Lieutenant Robert S. Olmstead.



The facility saw its first military use by the United States Army Signal Corps in 1898. The first known use of the field by military aircraft was when Middletown Airfield opened in 1917. The 113th Aero Squadron assigned to the airfield was attached to the Pennsylvania National Guard.

After World War I, and the reconstitution of the United States Army Air Service in 1922, Olmsted became a logistics and maintenance support of Air Service aircraft and equipment through its host unit, the Middletown Air Depot (later Middletown Air Materiel Area).

The airfield was renamed in honor of 1st Lt. Robert S. Olmsted. Lt. Olmsted entered U.S. Army balloon S-6 in international balloon race from Brussels on September 23, 1923, despite threatening weather which causes some competitors to drop out. Lightning struck the S-6 over Nistelrode, Holland, killing Olmsted.[1]

The Middletown Air Depot was a major support installation to the Air Force for decades. Its last assignment was with Air Force Logistics Command, and was inactivated on 30 June 1969.


Major Commands to which assigned

  • Army Signal Corps, Aviation Section, 16 Jun 1917
  • Bureau of Aircraft Production, 20 May 1918
  • Army Air Service, 4 Jun 1920
  • Air Corps Materiel Division, 15 Oct 1926
  • Air Corps Maintenance Command, 29 Apr 1941
  • Air Service Command, 17 Oct 1941
  • Army Air Forces Materiel and Services on July 14, 1944
Redesignated: Army Air Forces Technical Service Command on August 31, 1944
Redesignated: Air Technical Service Command on July 1, 1945
Redesignated: Air Materiel Command on March 9, 1946
Redesignated: Air Force Logistics Command on April 1, 1961
Inactivated on 30 June 1969

Known Units assigned

Known base operating units were:

  • 4149th Air Base Unit
  • 2843d Air Base Wing
  • 4112th Air Force Base Unit

Known operational flying units assigned were:

Assigned to: Pennsylvania National Guard
Assigned to: Middletown Air Depot, 28 Jun 1935
Assigned to: 10th Transport Group (Wright Field, Ohio), 27 May 1937-21 May 1942
Assigned to: 10th Transport Group (Wright Field, Ohio), 14 Oct 1939
Assigned to: 60th Transport Group, 1 Dec 1940
Assigned to: 61st Transport Group, 19 May 1941-23 Mar 1942
10th Transport Squadron, 1 Dec 1940-21 May 1941
12th Transport Squadron, 1 Dec 1940-20 May 1941
Assigned to: II Army Corps, 27 Feb 1941
59th Observation Group, 1 Sep 1941
Attached to : 26th Observation Group, 1-23 Dec 1941
33d Transport Squadron, 14 Feb 1942-17 Jun 1942
34th Transport Squadron, 14 Feb 1942-18 Jun 1942
35th Transport Squadron, 14 Feb 1942-18 Jun 1942
43d Transport Squadron, 15 Jun 1942-17 Jun 1942
39th Observation Squadron, 11 Sep 1942-1 Jun 1943
Not equipped or manned
64th Troop Carrier Squadron, 5 Apr 1947-27 Jun 1949


Established as Middletown Air Depot in 1917 as supply depot and maintenance center for Signal Corps aircraft.

The first airplanes landed in 1918 at Middletown Air Depot, when it was under the administration of the Signal Corps of the United States Army.[2] In 1939, it was still known by this name.

Olmsted AFB had an abundance of engine and airframe shops and a supply distribution system that made it a significant facility, but a poor runway that, it was felt, would be too expensive to improve.[3] It would involve claiming marsh land and portions of the Susquehanna River (both of which have since been accomplished) and the Air Force leadership at that time determined that more land for supply and maintenance buildings was needed.[3]

During World War II, numerous transport and reconnaissance units were organized and formed at Olmsted Army Airfield. Once equipped, they were reassigned to training bases.

Beginning on 11 Aug 1948, the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) 147tth Flight Service Squadron began operations of the Olmstead Flight Service Center,

In 1958, Olmsted was designated as prime support depot for T-38 and L-27 aircraft.

Designated Middletown Air Material Area after World War II. Remained a major source of supply for Air Force weapons systems, until budget reductions forced closure of the facility in 1969.

Turned over to Pennsylvania Air National Guard after active-duty closure. Currently home of the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, an Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) organization currently operating the EC-130 Commando Solo psychological operations (PSYOP) aircraft.

In 1998, the Commonwealth transferred ownership to the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority (SARAA).[2] In addition, in 1966, much of the property was converted into The Pennsylvania State University -- The Capital College, otherwise known as the Harrisburg Campus. This campus was originally chartered as a graduate and upper division school.

The flightline area was redeveloped into the Harrisburg International Airport, under the ownership of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

See also


  1. ^ Maurer Maurer, "Aviation in the U.S. Army, 1919-1939", United States Air Force Historical Research Center, Office of Air Force History, Washington, D.C., 1987, ISBN 0-912799-38-2, page 174.
  2. ^ a b "Harrisburg International Airport". GlobalSecurity.Org/. 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-31.  
  3. ^ a b Knight, Glenn B. (2000). "The Lititz Air Force Base". Lititz Record-Express. Retrieved 2006-12-31.  


  • 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.
  • Mauer, Mauer (1969), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II, Air Force Historical Studies Office, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. ISBN 0892010975

External links


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