Mcconnell Afb

Written by Sarah Provost
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McConnell Air Force Base began as the Wichita Municipal Airport. Wichita had always had an interest in the aviation industry, and in 1924 the city hosted more than 100,000 people for the National Air Congress. The highlight of the show was an air race. Forty-seven military and civilian aircraft took part, including the locally produced Swallow. The event was used to raise funds for the proposed airport.

McConnell Has Seen a Wide Range of Uses

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held in 1929, but the Depression delayed opening until 1935. The site's first military use was by the Kansas Air National Guard in 1941. It has been used for a materiel center, for combat crew training and by the Strategic Air Command and Tactical Air Command wings.

From 1960 to 1986, there were 18 Titan Intercontinental Ballistic Missile sites located at the base and controlled by the 381st Strategic Missile Wing. The missiles were kept in underground silos under tight security. Even though the silos were below ground, heating and air conditioning were crucial, since the temperature had to remain constant to ensure the correct volume of propellants.

The current mission of McConnell Air Force Base is to provide global refueling and airlift services. The host unit is the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, under Air Mobility Command. They currently operate 48 KC-135 Stratotankers, making McConnell one of only three supertanker wings in the Air Force. The base was severely damaged by a tornado in 1991, and has been rebuilt with state of the art facilities.


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