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Williams Air Force Base: Wikis


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Davis Monthan Air Force Base


Part of Air Training Command (ATC)
Located in Mesa, Arizona
Williams AFB, May 8, 1997
Type Air Force Base
Coordinates 33°18′29.00″N 111°39′35.81″W / 33.30806°N 111.6599472°W / 33.30806; -111.6599472
Built 1941
In use 1941–1993
Controlled by United States Air Force
Garrison Air Training Command
Occupants 82d Training Wing (1973–1993)
Williams AFB is located in Arizona
Williams AFB
Location of Williams Air Force Base, Arizona

Williams Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force (USAF) base, located in Mesa, and about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Phoenix, Arizona.

It was active as a training base for both the United States Army Air Forces, as well as the USAF from 1941 until its closure in 1993. Williams was the leading pilot training facility of the USAF, supplying 25% of all pilots.


Current status

Since its closure most of the base has since been annexed as part of Mesa, Arizona. Some property was retained by the US government while other portions were conveyed and converted into the civilian Williams Gateway Airport which was later renamed Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and an educational campus anchored by Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus and Chandler-Gilbert Community College.


The base was named in honor of Arizona native 1st Lt Charles Linton Williams (1898–1927). Lieutenant Williams died on July 6, 1927 when his Boeing PW-9A pursuit aircraft crashed near Fort DeRussy, Hawaii. The airfield was designated as Williams Air Force Base (WAFB) in January 1948.

Previous names of the base were:

  • Mesa Military Airport, Higley, Arizona, June 19, 1941
  • Higley Field, October 1941
  • Williams Field, February 24, 1942.

Base Operating Units

  • 89th Base HQ and Air Base Sq (advance detachment), October 16, 1941 – December 4, 1941
  • 89th Base HQ and Air Base Sq, December 4, 1941 – May 1, 1944
  • 3010th AAF Base Unit, May 1, 1944 – September 26, 1947
  • 3010th AF Base Unit, September 26, 1947 – August 26, 1948
  • 3525th Air Base Gp, August 26, 1948 – July 1, 1958
  • 4530th Air Base Gp, July 1, 1958 – October 1, 1960
  • 3525th Air Base Gp, October 1, 1960 – February 1, 1973
  • 82d Air Base Gp, February 1, 1973 – June 30, 1993

Major Commands Assigned

  • Air Corps Flying Training Comd, January 23, 1942
  • AAF Flying Training Comd, March 15, 1942
  • AAF Training Comd, July 31, 1943
  • Tactical Air Command July 1, 1958 – October 1, 1960
  • Air Training Command July 1, 1946 – July 1, 1958; October 1, 1960 – June 1993

Operational history

World War II

The United States Army Air Forces broke ground for its Advanced Flying School there on July 16, 1941. During the fifty-two years it was operational, the base graduated more pilots and instructors than any other base in the country and supplied twenty-five percent of the Air Force's pilots annually.

Construction of the base started on July 16, 1941 and the initial construction was completed in December, making the base operational, although the airfield was not ready for 4-engined aircraft until late 1943. Activated as Mesa Military Airport, 19 Jun 41. Redesignated Higley Field Oct 41 and Williams Field 24 Feb 42.

During World War II, Williams Field was under the command of the 89th Army Air Force Base Unit, AAF West Coast Training Center. The training mission of the base 4-engined aircraft transitional training predominated during 1944–1945, but was changed to fighter pilot training in early 1945. Also conducted flexible gunnery training, and radar observer training.

Cold War

Remained open after World War II, Redesignated Williams AFB 13 Jan 48. During the 1950s, a fighter gunnery school was added in 1954, however the base's mission returned exclusively to undergraduate pilot training in 1961.

The primary jet training aircraft used during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s were the Cessna T-37 "Tweet" and the Northrop T-38 Talon. Both trainers were two-seat, dual-engine jet aircraft.

The undergraduate flight training program lasted just less than one full year and involved classroom, simulator, and aircraft training activities. Graduates were selected to remain as instructors, after an intensive training course, or went on to train in their primary weapon system aircraft.

Students were part of the 3526th Student Squadron, whose flight suit patch consisted of Sylvester the cat zipping into a tiger suit [1]. (In later years the unit became the 82d Student Squadron.) Students began with academic classroom and simulator instruction. After initial training in a Cessna T-41 at an offsite location (e.g., Eloy, AZ was used in the late 1960's), the first jet flight was largely a 'demo' flight in the T-37 aircraft with the instructor orienting the student to the aircraft, the local training area, and some basic flight maneuvers.

The approximately 4,127-acre (16.70 km2) base was closed September 30, 1993 as a result of BRAC 1991. The host unit, the 82d Flying Training Wing and its squadrons (96, 97, 98, and 99th FTS) were inactivated.

See also


 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
  • 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.
  • Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982 USAF Reference Series, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C., 1989

External links


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