NM

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE

Ruby Selvage

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Kirtland Air Force Base
Ruby Selvage

Kirtland Air Force Base started as an Army Air Corps training field from 1928–1939. In 1942, what started as Albuquerque Army Air Base became Kirtland Army Air Field because General Harry Arnold wanted to honor his friend and pioneer aviator Colonel Roy Kirtland. When World War II started, Kirtland Field trained crews to fly the B-17, B-24, and the B-29. A photo of the B-24 can be seen flying over Kirtland Air Force Base. Kirtland had three major training schools. Kirtland trained bombardiers, multi engine aircraft transition, and for a short time pilot glider training. In 1946, after the war, Kirtland Air Force Base was assigned on flight test activities related to weapons development. On January 13, 1948, Kirtland Army Air Field officially became Kirtland Air Force Base. A year later, Kirtland became headquarters of the new special weapons command. In 1979, Sandia and Manzano Bases were combined with Kirtland Air Force Base. The movie Bombardier was filmed at Kirtland in 1943. The attached photo shows a real class of bombardiers that the movie was based on. Kirtland also provided classes for airplane mechanics as seen in one of the photographs.

Kirtland Air Force Base was created to help support the war efforts for WWII including the shipments of top secret materials for Los Alamos. It was also chosen by General Arnold because Albuquerque had ideal flying conditions and large tracts of vacant that could be used for bombing ranges. New Mexico has been impacted by World War II in many ways from the new laboratories that were created to the air force bases. The war started programs that are still in operation today. Kirtland Air Force base was created to allow high altitude training for WWII. It was also used to receive shipments for Los Alamos during its most secret times. During WWII, the US Army Air Force established Kirtland to also help train aircraft mechanics. The B-18 bomber was the first to land at the new Air Force Base back in 1941. The famous Flying Fortress B-17 aircraft was used at the air force base to train over 2,000 pilots for WWII.

Kirtland Air Force base has proven to be good for the local economy. Currently, Kirtland Air Force Base employs almost 20,000 people. The air force base covers an area a little over 52,000 acres. WWII had a large impact on combining science with military advancements. Several scientist from the United States and around the world were pulled together to help develop the world's first atomic bomb in New Mexico. Kirtland Air Force Base helped Los Alamos National Laboratory by being the gateway for the much needed supplies.

Even though WWI was the first war to use airplanes, WWII changed the effectiveness of the airplane. Kirtland is an important part of New Mexico WWII's history.

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