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Vance Air Force Base

Air Education and Training Command.png
Part of Air Education and Training Command (AETC)

Vance AFB, February 19, 1995
Airport type Military
Operator United States Air Force
Location Enid, Oklahoma
Elevation AMSL 1,307 ft / 398.4 m
Coordinates 36°20′21″N 97°54′59″W / 36.33917°N 97.91639°W / 36.33917; -97.91639
Direction Length Surface
ft m
17L/35R 5,024 1,531 Concrete
17C/35C 9,202 2,805 Concrete
17R/35L 9,202 2,805 Concrete
Vance AFB is located in Oklahoma
Vance AFB
Location of Vance Air Force Base, Oklaholma
71st Flying Training Wing Emblem

Vance Air Force Base (IATA: ENDICAO: KEND) is a United States Air Force base located 4 miles south of downtown Enid, Oklahoma, and within its city limits, about 65 miles north northwest of Oklahoma City. The base is named after local World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient, Lt Col Leon Robert Vance, Jr.

The host unit at Vance is the 71st Flying Training Wing (71 FTW), which is a part of Air Education and Training Command's (AETC) Nineteenth Air Force (19 AF). The commander of the 71 FTW is Colonel Mark C. Nowland. The vice-commander is Colonel Richard M. Murphy and the command chief is Chief Master Sergeant Mitchell K. Balutski.



The 71st Flying Training Wing aims to train world-class pilots for the United States Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and its Allies and to prepare Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) warriors to deploy in support of the combatant commanders.


The 71st Flying Training Wing consists of three subordinate groups:

  • 71st Mission Support Group
  • 71st Medical Group



Major Commands

  • Gulf Coast Air Corps Training Cen, December 18, 1941 – January 23, 1942
  • Air Corps Flying Training Comd, January 23, 1942 – March 15, 1942
  • AAF Flying Training Comd, March 15, 1942 – July 31, 1943
  • AAF Training Comd, July 31, 1943 – July 1, 1946
  • Air Training Command, July 1, 1946 – July 1, 1993
  • Air Education and Training Command, July 1, 1993 – Present

Base Operating Units

  • 80th Air Base Sq, November 29, 1941 – June 13, 1942
  • 80th Base HQ and Air Base Sq, June 13, 1942 – May 1, 1944
  • 2518th AAF Base Unit (Pilot School, Basic), May 1, 1944 – February 4, 1945
  • 2518th AAF Base Unit [Pilot School, Advanced-2E], February 4, 1945 – September 26, 1947
  • 2518th AF Base Unit, September 26, 1947 – August 26, 1948
  • 3575th Air Base Gp, August 26, 1948 – November 1, 1972
  • 71st Air Base Gp, November 1, 1972 – Present

Major Units Assigned

  • 60th Air Base Group November 29, 1941 – December 20, 1942
  • 31st Flight Training Wing January 16, 1943 – May 15, 1945
  • 2518th Army Air Force/Air Force Base Unit May 1, 1944 – August 28, 1948
  • 3575 Pilot Training Wing August 26, 1948 – November 1, 1972
  • 8600 Pilot Training Wing June 27, 1949 – May 28, 1951
  • 71st Flying Training Wing November 1, 1972 – Present

Operational History

World War II

In 1941, for the sum of $1 a year, this land was leased from the city of Enid to the federal government as a site for a pilot training field, and on November 21 the base was officially activated. The installation was without a name but was generally referred to as Air Corps Basic Flying School. The mission of the school was to train aviation cadets to become aircraft pilots and commissioned officers in the United States Army Air Forces.

The facility was assigned to the the AAF Gulf Coast Training Center, with the Army Air Force Pilot School (Primary) activated (phase 1 pilot training), in which flight cadets were taught basic flight using two-seater training aircraft. Fairchild PT-19s were the primary trainer used.

It was not until 1942, that the base was officially named Enid Army Flying School, also known as Woodring Field. It was officially activated on 11 February 1942. On 8 January 1943, the War Department constituted and activated the 31st Flying Training Wing (Primary) at Enid and assigned it to the the AAF Central Flying Training Command.

As the demand for pilots decreased with the end of the war in Europe, the Enid Army Flying Field (as it was named in 1943) was inactivated on 2 July 1945 and was transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers on 2 July 1946.

Cold War

The base was reactivated, and its name changed to Enid Air Force Base in 1948, as one of the pilot training bases within the Air Training Command (ATC). Its mission was to provide training for advanced students in multi-engine aircraft.

In keeping with the Air Force tradition of naming bases for deceased Air Force flyers, on July 9, 1949, the base was renamed after a local World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient, Lt Col Leon Robert Vance, Jr.

The first aircraft flown at Vance was the BT-13A, followed shortly by the BT-15. In 1944, advanced students flew the TB-25 and TB-26. Following the establishment of U.S. Air Force as a separate service in September 1947, Vance began training in the AT-6 and eventually the T-33 Shooting Star. The T-37 Tweet flew at Vance beginning in 1961, and the T-38 Talon in 1963 as the Air Force transitioned to its Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) system.

Post Cold War

T-38A Talons of the 25th FTS at Vance AFB in November 1997.

In 1995 Air Force officials announced that Vance would transition to the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training curriculum. Under SUPT, Vance students begin their training in the T-37 Tweet, followed by the T-1A Jayhawk for students identified for jet tanker, transport or large reconnaissance aircraft, and the T-38 Talon for fighter, bomber and other USAF fixed-wing aircraft. With the introduction of the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) to Vance in 2005, the 71 FTW began transitioning from the T-37 to the newer T-6 Texan II. Joint training with the United States Navy began at Vance in 1996, with select USN and USMC strike jet student naval aviators obtaining all training at Vance except for carrier qualification, which they subsequently complete in the T-45 Goshawk at NAS Meridian, Mississippi or NAS Kingsville, Texas. A number of senior naval aviators in the rank of commander have also served as flying training squadron (FTS) commanders in the 71 FTW.

Interesting facts

  • Vance is located only 5 miles from the third largest free standing grain elevator in the United States.
  • Students practice basic patterns and landings at Kegelman Air Force Auxiliary Field located near Cherokee, Oklahoma.
  • Vance is considered the second busiest RAPCON facility in the United States, behind Nellis AFB. The only reason is that Nellis is open 24 hours, but Vance has more traffic per hour.

See also


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

  • Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
  • Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC
  • Mueller, Robert (1989). Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on September 17, 1982. USAF Reference Series, Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
  • Much of this text in an early version of this article was taken from pages on the Vance Air Force Base Website, which as a work of the U.S. Government is presumed to be a public domain resource.

External links


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