A Short History of Reese Air Force Base, Texas


The men and women of Reese are proud of the base and of the outstanding accomplishments of the 64th Flying Training Wing. We invite your attention to our proud heritage and the part the base and wing have played in the United States Air Force and the plains of west Texas.

Base History:

Reese Air Force Base retains the same goal today that it has enjoyed since its beginning in 1941--training tomorrow's best pilots today.

The base became a reality after 10 long years of concentrated effort by city officials to have a military base situated close to Lubbock, Texas.

Construction of the Air Corps Advanced Flying School began on 22 August 1941 on land located about 10 miles west of the city of Lubbock. The city bought the land and leased it to the federal government for $1 per year .

The school name changed to the Lubbock Army Flying School before the first class of aviation cadets reported on 25 February 1942. This first group of students made up Class 42-0. These single-engine pilots graduated on 29 April 1942. The official dedication of the base took place on 21 June 1942.

During World War II, the school used AT-7, AT-9, AT-l0, AT-17, and T -6 aircraft to train 7,008 pilots. These graduates went on to fly bombers, fighters, and other aircraft in every theater of the war .

With the end of World War II, the United States no longer needed so many active military bases, so the War Department closed Lubbock Army Air Field on 31 December 1945. During the post-war years, the base was used as a meeting place for National Guard, Air Reserve, and Naval Reserve units. Barracks were converted to low rent apartment units for the use of veterans and their families. Most of the veterans were attending
nearby Texas Technological College and could not find housing elsewhere. Vegetable gardens sprang up on drill fields where men had marched, and children skated or rode bicycles on the empty runways

World events preceding the Korean War caused realignment of base missions. Among these changes, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, became a part of Strategic Air Command, which meant the 3500th Pilot Training Wing stationed at Barksdale had to find a new home. Lubbock was the site chosen. Among the many promises made by the Lubbock community to have the local base reopened was an agreement to deed the land to the United States government. Reactivation of the base became a reality on 1 August 1949.

A month later, on 1 September, the 3500th Pilot Training Wing (Advanced Multi-Engine) moved from Barksdale to Lubbock. In November Air Training Command renamed the installation Reese Air Force Base, in honor of 1Lt Augustus F. Reese, Jr., of nearby Shallowater, Texas. Lieutenant Reese was killed in action on a bombing raid over Sardinia, Italy, on 14 May 1943.

Aviation cadets comprised the first classes to graduate after Reese had reactivated. Those students in Classes 50-A
and 50-B came from primary training programs conducted by civilian contractors. They stayed at Reese for six months for advanced multi-engine training in T-6 and B-25 conventional aircraft. Graduation brought the award of silver wings to each graduate and commissions to the cadets.

In 1952 ATC implemented a four-phase pilot training program: pre-flight, primary , basic, and crew. Reese continued to provide advanced multi-engine training; however, it was now called basic multi-engine training. From December 1952 forward, most classes included students from various friendly foreign nations.

The T -33 Shooting Star replaced the B-25 as the basic trainer aircraft, ushering in the jet age at Reese. The T -33, a single-engine jet, was the only training aircraft at Reese from January 1959 until the T -37 Tweet arrived in March 1961. Reese offered only the basic phase of pilot training until the arrival of the T -37. Then Reese assumed full responsi- bility for training pilots through the preflight, primary, and basic phases. At about this time, Air Training Command began the undergraduate pilot training (UPT) program. The command closed its civilian contract training program and moved all pilot training in-house.

The last class with aviation cadets, Class 62-B, graduated on 14
September 1961. Cadets received commissions as officers, as well as silver wings. Since then, students arriving for pilot training already held their commission as officers.

The supersonic T -38 Talon replaced the T -33 as the basic trainer in 1963 to permit qualification of pilots for quicker transition to larger and faster aircraft. The first Talon arrived at Reese on 26 January 1963, and Class 64-C claimed honors as Reese's first T -38 class.

From March 1965 to June 1973, Air Training Command used the T -41A Mescalero, a military version of the Cessna 172, as a flight screening aircraft. These flights were flown from what is now Lubbock International Airport. This first phase of primary training helped screen potential pilots and provided a stepping stone to help those with little or no flight experience to adapt to military flying. Later, manpower demands and fiscal constraints resulted in this training being consolidated at one location--Hondo, Texas. After Class 74-07, all classes required successful completion of this training or its equivalent before coming to Reese.

Reese began using the first operational instrument flight simulator in the command on 11
August 1977 with students in Class 78-06 and in T-37 instruction. The T-38 simulators followed on 27 February 1978 with Class 78-07. Mock cockpits provided a training medium for instrument flight, thus reducing the number of flying hours needed in training. Simulator training also resulted in substantial savings in fuel, aircraft wear and tear, and maintenance expenses.

As Reese entered the decade of the nineties, many changes were taking place. Aircraft maintenance converted from a military operation to a civilian contractor in August 1989. Lockheed Support Systems, Inc., won the contract. The changeover began in December and was completed in March 1990. Following the maintenance conversion, Air Training Command inactivated the 64th Organizational Maintenance and the 64th Field Maintenance Squadrons. Those actions resulted in the loss of approximately 900 "blue suiters" at Reese.

The wing converted to a five-squadron training structure in 1990. On 9 January Air Training Command inactivated the 64th Student Squadron and transferred its duties to the newly activated 41st Flying Training Squadron. Two additional squadrons, the 33d and 52d Flying Training Squadrons, activated on 11 May 1990. They joined the 35th and 54th Flying Training Squadrons, which had been active since October 1972. This configuration was to accommodate future changes in the way undergraduate pilot training would be conducted.

True to past heritage, Air Training Command again chose Reese to pioneer two new programs: specialized undergraduate pilot training (SUPT) and the T-IA Jay hawk. The T-IA was the first new training aircraft added to the Air Force inventory in 30 years. It arrived at Reese on 18 January 1992. An aircraft and training systems testing phase for the T -lA, plus completion of instructor pilot. training courses, preceded student instruction in the new aircraft. The first training sortie took place on 19 February 1993. Class 93-12, the first T-1A class, graduated on 29 July 1993, with 30 students earning silver wings.

Air Force pilot training is making the transition to SUPT. It is a major change in the way undergraduate pilot training is conducted in that not all students train in the same aircraft. After successful completion of the primary phase of training, students continue training in one of two advanced tracks: airlift/tanker or bomber/fighter. Training at Reese is conducted in three phases. Phase I includes approximately four weeks of pre-flight and academic training. Phase II, primary flight training, utilizes the T -37 for instruction. The third phase, basic flying training, finds the students flying the T-38 or the T-1A. Upon completion of Phase III, students graduate, pinning on the aviator's wings they earned after 52 weeks of intensive training.

Students trained in the T-38 go on to other assignments and fly such aircraft as the A-10, F-111, F-15, F-16, B-52, and B-1. Students who complete training in the T-1A can expect to fly the C-130, C-141, C-5, KC-135, or other airlift/tanker aircraft.