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Luke Air Force Base

Luke Air Force Base

Luke Air Force Base was named after Second Lieutenant Frank Luke, a United States flying ace during World War I (1897–1918). Lt Luke was the first aviator to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor  for acts of valor during battle.  Frank Luke was born in Phoenix in 1897, and was known as the “Arizona Balloon Buster”, he scored 18 aerial victories during World War I (14 of these German observation balloons) in the skies over France. Lieutenant Luke was shot down at Murvaux between Verdun and Stenay, France, on Sep 29th, 1918, after he had destroyed three enemy balloons. Surviving the crash of his plane, Lieutenant Luke drew two pistols and fired on German soldiers, killing several of them before he was killed; he was awarded the prestigious medal posthumously.

In 1940, the U.S. Army sent a representative to Arizona to choose a site for an Army Air Corps training field for advanced training in conventional fighter aircraft. The city of Phoenix bought 1,440 acres (5.8 km2) of land which they leased to the government at $1 a year, effective March 24th, 1941. Five days later on March 29th, 1941 the Del. E. Webb Construction Co. began excavation for the first building at what was then known as Litchfield Park Air Base. It was not until another base, known as Luke Field in Oahu, Hawaii, released its name so the Arizona base could be called Luke air field. Advanced flight training in the AT-6 began at Luke air field in June that same year despite still being under construction with only a few buildings completed. The first class of 45 students, Class 41 F, arrived June 6th 1941 to begin advanced flight training in the AT-6. Flying out of Sky Harbor Airport until the Luke runways were ready, pilots received 10 weeks of instruction with the first class graduating August 15th, 1941.  Starting in 1942, then Captain Barry Goldwater, served as director of ground training at Luke air field.

During World War II, Luke Air Field was the largest fighter training base in the Army Air Forces, graduating more than 12,000 fighter pilots from advanced and operational courses earning the nickname, “Home of the Fighter Pilot.” By February 7th, 1944, pilots at Luke had achieved a million hours of flying time. By 1946, however, the number of pilots trained dropped and the base was deactivated on November 30th of that year. Luke field was reactivated on February 1st, 1951, after combat developed in Korea, as Luke Air Force Base.

Today, Luke Air Force Base is an active-duty training base for the Air Education and Training Command’ s (AETC) 19th Air Force. The host command is the 56th Fighter Wing. Pilots are trained on the F16 Fighting Falcon and, more recently, the F35A Lightening II planes.   An integral part of Luke’s F-16 fighter pilot training mission is the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range. The range consists of 1,900,000 acres of relatively undisturbed Sonoran Desert southwest of Luke Air Force Base. Overhead are 57,000 cubic miles of airspace that make up the nine air-to-ground and two air-to-air flight ranges, where pilots practice air-to-air maneuvers and engage simulated battlefield targets on the ground. The immense size of the complex, roughly the size of Connecticut, allows for simultaneous training activities. Approximately 300 pilots train at Luke annually and proceed to combat assignments throughout the world. The 56th Fighter Wing also trains more than 350 maintenance technicians each year.  The base population includes about 4,830 military members and DoD civilians. With about 70,000 retired military members living in greater Phoenix, the base services a total population of nearly 80,000 people.  The closest metropolitan areas to Luke Air Force Base are Surprise and Avondale being within 5 miles of the base. 7 miles east of the air force base is the central business district of Glendale and 15 miles east is of the base is central Phoenix.

When relocating to Luke Air force Base there are a number of resources that will help you have a smooth transition. The Airman and Family Readiness Center is the first stop on the list as they offer counseling and relocation information. The Smooth Move Workshop is a two-hour seminar offered at the Airman and Family readiness center once a month. The workshop consists of experts from the various different offices such as TriCare, the Traffic Management Office, the Housing Office, Finance, and the Airman and Family Readiness Center who all provide valuable information which includes up to date entitlements, benefits and programs to help with the stress of relocating. The workshop is a great opportunity for the whole family to gather information and talk about relocating. For more information about Luke Air force Base visit www.luke.af.mil.

 

 

www.wikipedia.com – used as a reference

www.luke.af.mil – used as a reference

www.lukeids.com –used as a reference