75-year timeline of the Air Force and Wright-Patterson


* Sept. 18, 1947 - U.S. Air Force established as separate service. W. Stuart Symington is first secretary; Gen. Carl A. Spaatz, commanding general of the Army Air Forces, becomes first Air Force chief of staff.

* Oct. 14, 1947 - Capt. Charles E. `Chuck’ Yeager makes the first supersonic flight in the Bell XS-1 rocketplane.

* Jan. 13, 1948 - Wright Field and Patterson Field are combined to create Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

* April 26, 1948 - The Air Force is the first service to announce a policy of racial integration.

* June 26, 1948 - Operation Vittles, the Berlin Airlift, begins in response to a Soviet blockade of West Berlin. By its end, Sept. 30, 1949, the airlift delivers more than 2.3 million tons of food, fuel and supplies.

* Jan. 25, 1949 - The Air Force adopts blue uniforms.

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* Feb. 26-March 2, 1949 - Lucky Lady II, a Boeing B-50A, makes the first nonstop flight around the world with four midair refuelings, demonstrating U.S. global air power.

* Sept. 23, 1949 - President Truman announces the Soviet Union has set off an atomic explosion, ending America’s nuclear hegemony. The U.S. emphasizes the development of intercontinental strategic forces and continental air defenses.

* June 27, 1950 - President Truman orders U.S. forces into South Korea after communist North Korean forces invade it.

* Nov. 8, 1950 - Air Force 1st Lt. Russell J. Brown Jr., flying a Lockheed F-80, shoots down a North Korean MiG-15 in history’s first all-jet aerial combat.



* April 15, 1952 - The Boeing YB-52, a prototype of the B-52 bomber, makes its first flight. Forty-five years later, the B-52 remains one of the Air Force’s primary weapons.

* Nov. 1, 1952 - U.S. explodes its first thermonuclear device - an `H-bomb’ - in the Marshall Islands.

* Aug. 20, 1953 - Soviet Union announces it has exploded an H-bomb.

* Feb. 15, 1954 - President Dwight D. Eisenhower orders construction of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line of radars to warn of Soviet attack.

* Oct. 27, 1954 - Benjamin O. Davis Jr. becomes the first black Air Force general.

* Aug. 4, 1955 - Lockheed test pilot Tony LeVier makes the first official flight of the U-2 spy plane at Groom Lake, Nev. The CIA uses the U-2 to spy on Russia; it still remains a part of the Air Force’s reconnaissance fleet. Groom Lake grows to become a major flight test center for the SR-71, F-117 and other aircraft, but secrecy denies it a place in Air Force history to this day.

* May 21, 1956 - A B-52 makes the first live H-bomb drop over the bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

* Aug. 1, 1957 - U.S. and Canada informally establish NORAD, the North American Air Defense Command.

* Feb. 28, 1959 - The Air Force launches the Discoverer I satellite into polar orbit, beginning the age of spy satellites and the military use of space.

* Feb. 2, 1962 - A C-123 `Ranch Hand’ transport plane crashes while spraying herbicide on a Viet Cong ambush site. It’s the first Air Force plane lost in South Vietnam.

* April 30, 1962 - The Lockheed A-12, the CIA’s forerunner of the SR-71 Blackbird spyplane, makes its first official flight at Groom Lake after two earlier hops.

* July 17, 1962 - Maj. Robert White pilots the North American X-15 rocketplane to an altitude of 314,750 feet, making the first spaceflight in an aircraft.

* Oct. 14, 1962 - Air Force U-2 pilots photograph Soviet offensive missile sites in Cuba. U.S. forces blockade Cuba, bringing the U.S. and the Soviet Union close to nuclear war. The Soviet Union ultimately agrees to withdraw its missiles.

* Aug. 7, 1964 - President Johnson orders retaliatory air strikes after North Vietnamese torpedo boats are reported to have attacked U.S. Navy destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.

* June 30, 1968 - The Lockheed C-5A Galaxy, the world’s largest aircraft, makes its first flight.

* Aug. 21, 1970 - Defense Secretary Melvin Laird announces the `Total Force’ policy, which makes the services more dependent on reserve and national guard units.

* July 16, 1971 - Jeanne M. Holm becomes the first female Air Force general.

* May 8, 1972 - Operation Linebacker begins, briefly extending air strikes north of the 20th parallel in North Vietnam to pressure North Vietnam to negotiate a ceasefire.

* Dec. 19, 1972 - U.S. launches Linebacker II, an 11-day intensive bombing campaign against Hanoi and Haiphong, to pressure North Vietnam to conclude the Paris peace negotiations. The tactic works in the short term as North Vietnam agrees to negotiate, but North Vietnam ultimately overruns South Vietnam.

* Sept. 1, 1975 - Air Force Gen. Daniel `Chappie’ James Jr. becomes the first black officer to achieve four-star rank in the U.S. military.

* Feb. 22, 1978 - Air Force launches the first test satellite of the Navstar Global Positioning System. More than a decade later, the operational GPS system begins a revolution in targeting, navigation and mapping.

* Sept. 1, 1982 - The Air Force establishes the Space Command, underscoring its interest in operating beyond the atmosphere.

* Oct. 26, 1983 - The first Lockheed F-117 Stealth fighter begins operational service, opening a new era in air combat.

* July 17, 1989 - The B-2 Stealth bomber makes its first flight. The tailless, flying-wing airplane is designed to evade detection and attack targets in the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons, rendering the massive Soviet air defense system obsolete.

* July 11, 1990 - Under Air National Guard fighter escort, a pair of Soviet MiG-29s and an Il-76 transport make the first Soviet tour of U.S. air shows, including demonstration flights at the United States Air and Trade Show at Dayton International Airport.

* Sept. 29, 1990 - The Lockheed YF-22 makes its first flight; the Air Force chooses the F-22 as its first supersonic, air-superiority Stealth fighter.

* Jan. 17, 1991 - F-117s bomb command, control and communications centers in Baghdad on the first night of the Persian Gulf war. The attacks, with no F-117 losses, display a startling new capability in U.S. airpower -the combination of stealth and precision bombing. Operation Desert Storm also demonstrates the Air Force’s ability to coordinate intensive air campaigns involving hundreds of aircraft at night.

* Sept. 27, 1991 - For the first time since the start of the Cold War, SAC nuclear bomber crews stand down from around-the-clock alert duty.

* June 1, 1992 - Strategic Air Command is deactivated, along with Tactical Air Command and Military Airlift Command, as part of a major post-Cold War reorganization of the Air Force.

* July 1, 1992 - Wright-Pat retains its role as the seat of Air Force acquisitions when the Air Force Logistics Command, based at Wright-Pat, and the Air Force Systems Command are combined to form the Air Force Materiel Command. It’s headquartered at Wright-Pat.

* April 28, 1993 - Defense Secretary Les Aspin removes restrictions preventing women from flying combat assignments.

* Aug. 6, 1993 - Sheila E. Widnall becomes secretary of the Air Force, the first female secretary of a military service.

* Aug. 17, 1993 - The U.S. begins destroying 350 early-model B-52 bombers in accordance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks II treaty.

* October 1994 - Responding to hostile Iraqi force movements in the Gulf region, the Air Force deploys 122 combat aircraft to augment 67 already in the area; four bombers fly nonstop from U.S. bases to drop 55,000 pounds of bombs within earshot of the Iraqi forces. Iraq withdraws northward and Defense Secretary William Perry credits the Air Force with deterring another Gulf war.

* Feb. 10, 1994 - Col. Jeannie Leavitt became the first female fighter pilot in the Air Force.

* March 31, 1995 - 2nd Lt. Kelly Flinn begins B-52 training to become the Air Force’s first female bomber pilot. She enters active duty but resigns in June 1997 after being charged with adultery.

* Oct. 31, 1995 - Wright-Pat hosts the Bosnian peace talks, leading to a treaty that halts years of bitter warfare in former Yugoslavia.

* March 29, 1996 - The Tier III DarkStar unmanned aerial vehicle, an unmanned, stealthy reconnaissance plane, makes its first flight. It’s part of a new generation of self-guided spyplanes designed to take off, navigate hundreds or thousands of miles, and land on their own and communications centers in Baghdad on the first night of the Persian Gulf war. The attacks, with no F-117 losses, display a startling new capability in U.S. airpower - the combination of stealth and precision bombing. Operation Desert Storm also demonstrates the Air Force’s ability to coordinate intensive air campaigns involving hundreds of aircraft at night.

* July 23, 1999 - Col Eileen Collins is the first commander of a space shuttle mission on the Space Shuttle Columbia.

* Oct. 7, 2001 - B-2 Spirit bombers fly 44 hours round-trip on the longest bombing mission in aviation history as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

* Feb. 4, 2002 - An unmanned aerial vehicle destroys and enemy target for the first time when a Predator fires a missile in Afghanistan.

* 2005 BRAC process: Wright-Patterson was a big winner in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process. In the immediate aftermath, base leaders saw a gain of about 1,120 new military and civilian authorizations. Adding family members into the mix, the Air Force estimated that a total increase of more than 3,800 people would move to communities around the base. Base planners also saw an initial need for about $335 million in BRAC-related construction and renovation projects. The 711th Human Performance Wing was formed and found a home at Wright-Patterson as result of the BRAC.

* March 25, 2006 - Lt. Col Nicole Malachowski becomes the first female Thunderbird pilot in history.

* March 16, 2006 - A single C-17 Globemaster III airdrops 32,400 pounds of supplies to four locations in Afghanistan in 40 minutes, setting a record for the most cargo dropped to multiple drop zones in the shortest amount of time.



* March 29, 2007 - The Tuskegee Airmen are awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

* Aug. 18, 2009 - Cyber defense becomes part of the Air Force’s domain.

* Dec. 1, 2010 - The 88th Air Base Wing commander directed that Area C be incorporated and re-designated as part of Area A. This action was taken to reduce the confusion over building and site locations experienced by visitors and base employees. Kittyhawk Center was also re-designated as part of Area A. Area B was not affected.

* 2011 - The School of Aerospace Medicine moved from Brooks City-Base in San Antonio to Wright-Patterson.

* June. 5, 2012 - Gen. Janet Wolfenberger becomes the first female four-star general on the Air Force.

* July 9, 2012 - The headquarters for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is activated at Wright-Patterson.

* May 29, 2019 - Outgoing Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson confirmed the selection of Wright-Patterson to host the F-35 Hybrid Product Support Integrator (HPSI) Organization.

* 2019- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wright-Patterson sent airmen from the 88th Medical Group to Detroit for two months, where they setup a COVID-19 vaccination site in support of the Federal Emergency Management whole-of-government COVID response.

* Today - Wright-Patterson is the largest single-site employer in the state of Ohio, with more than 32,000 military and civilian employees. The 88th Air Base Wing is commanded by Col. Christopher B. Meeker