514th Flight Test Squadron

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514th Flight Test Squadron
514th Flight Test Squadron - FCF.jpg
A 514th Flight Test Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off from Hill Air Force Base Dec. 15 2010. Hill Air Force performs multiple launches a day to insure each jet is fully functional and mission ready.
Active 31 October 1942 - Present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Squadron
Role Flight Testing
Part of Air Force Materiel Command.png  Air Force Materiel Command
Garrison/HQ Hill Air Force Base, Utah
Motto "Quaerite Optimum
Seek the Optimum"
Engagements World War II
Korean War
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
514th Flight Test Squadron emblem 514th Flight Test Squadron.jpg
Aircraft flown
Fighter F-16 Fighting Falcon
Transport C-130 Hercules

The 514th Flight Test Squadron (514 FLTS) is a United States Air Force squadron. It is assigned to the Ogden Air Logistics Center (OO-ALC), Air Force Materiel Command, stationed at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.


The 514th FLTS' current mission is to accomplish high-risk acceptance flights on F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt II and C-130 Hercules aircraft following depot level maintenance. 514th FLTS aircrews provide the final quality control checks to ensure aircraft are airworthy and capable of returning to combat units. As the OO-ALC Center Test Authority, the 514th FLTS is the focal point for managing and providing test process expertise and support for all test and evaluation at the OO-ALC.


World War II[edit]

Established in the Middle East during late 1942 to aid British Forces during the Western Desert Campaign. Initially equipped with obsolete B-17C/D Flying Fortresses transferred from Tenth Air Force. Replaced with B-24 Liberators flown from Florida via South America; over to then across Central Africa then north to Egypt in early 1943. Became part of United States Middle East Air Forces (USMEAF), later Ninth Air Force.[1]

Operating from bases in British Palestine, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, attacked shipping in the Mediterranean and harbor installations in Libya, Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy to cut enemy supply lines to North Africa. Struck airdromes, marshalling yards, and other objectives in Sicily and Italy after the fall of Tunisia in May 1943. Reassigned to Fifteenth Air Force in late 1943, and moved to southern Italy. Squadron flew long range strategic bombardment missions to targets in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, and the Balkans to bomb factories, marshalling yards, oil refineries, oil storage facilities, airdromes, bridges, harbors, and other objectives.

After the German Capitulation in May 1945, returned to the United States; was re-equipped with B-29 Superfortress bombers and trained under Second Air Force for deployment to the Pacific Theater. However with the Japanese Capitulation in August, the training ended and most personnel demobilized by the end of October. Remained in active status but not fully manned or equipped, and subsequently inactivated in early 1946 due to budget restrictions. The squadron was not fully manned or equipped between 10 November 1945 and 26 March 1946 and was unmanned from, 23 May 1947–20 September 1948.[2][3]

Cold War[edit]

The 514th Reconnaissance Squadron (VLR) Weather taken in May 1949

Based in Japan at the beginning of the Korean War, the squadron, flying RB/WB-29s, performed daily strategic weather reconnaissance missions over the combat zone, conducted shipping surveillance and visual reconnaissance, and accomplished electronic countermeasures reconnaissance until 20 February 1951. In the early days of the conflict, the squadron also dropped leaflets. Initially unarmed, and later only lightly armed with two .50-caliber machine guns in the tail turret, the WB-29s flew daily missions over enemy-held territory. During 27 June through 27 December 1950, the squadron flew over 200 combat missions, making over 5,000 vitally needed weather observations. These missions were exceptionally hazardous because of extremely varying weather conditions and exposure to attack over enemy territory.[4]

Reactivated in May 1951. Practiced electronic countermeasures with B-29 aircraft from c. 1952 until conversion to B-47 Stratojet jet medium bombers in 1954. Between 1954 and 1965, flew a long series of simulated combat bombardment missions to maintain readiness as a unit of the Strategic Air Command, testing electronic warfare devices and radar techniques, using B-47 and EB-47 aircraft. Inactivated in 1965 with the retirement of the B-47.[4]

Flight testing[edit]

DC-130 launching AQM-34 Firebee drone

Reactivated in 1970 as the 6514th Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, California. Mission was to support flight testing and modifications of the Ryan AQM-34Q Firebee reconnaissance drone, being used in the Vietnam War by the 556th Reconnaissance Squadron to gather intelligence over strongly defended areas over North Vietnam.. Moved to Hill AFB, Utah in 1973 and became a geographically-separated component of the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC).[5]

At Hill, the squadron continued conducting and supporting the Firebee as well as other RPV, UAV, and cruise missile test missions, and supported various test operations at the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR). From the late 1970s, the 6514th operated a DC-130H Hercules (later, NC-130H) drone launch/control airplane along with an HC-130H. Added two C-130B (later, NC-130B) and a DC-130A in the 1980s. The squadron also used a few HH-53C and CH-3E helicopters which were used to retrieve drones and missiles and transport people to and from remote sites on the range. By the mid-1980s, the heavy helicopters gave way to HH-1H helicopters.[5]

Andrew Selph, 571st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, guides Capt. Jesse McCulloch 514th Flight Test Squadron as he taxis Aircraft 80-0172 onto the Hill AFB runway. Captain McCulloch flew the upgraded A-10C to Moody AFB, Georgia

The 6514th Test Squadron was renumbered as the 514 FLTS on 2 Oct 1992 during the Air Force's downsizing and reorganization as all 4-digit squadrons were reassigned a 3-digit number from Air Force heritage. Absorbed the AFRES 15th Flight Test Squadron in 1993 and began depot flight testing C-130, A-10 and F-16 aircraft. Completed the AFFTC drone and range mission and realigned under Ogden ALC on 30 September 1995.[5][6]

Currently, the 514th quality-control checks involve performing flight checks, which means strapping themselves into planes that have usually been stripped to the bone and put back together again. The checklists for the check flights vary depending on the plane, model and maintenance or upgrades completed at the depot. According to the pilots and crew members, the standard check flight for an F-16 can take up to an hour, while the A-10 and C-130 flights can last for an hour and a half.[6]

Once the Ogden ALC Maintenance Directorate is finished with a plane, it does a series of ground checks before handing it over to the 514th, who then perform their own set of ground checks before sending the pilots and crew down the runway. In addition, the 514th provides delivery of foreign military sales aircraft all over the world, from Thailand to Italy. Many of those aircraft come from the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center, or "bone yard," at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., and the 514th sends pilots there to test them once they have been reassembled and put back into flying condition.[6]


514th FLTS A-10 Section patch
6514th Test Squadron Ground Launched Cruise Missile Test Team patch
6514th Test Squadron Drone Section - patch
6514th Test Squadron Emblem
514th Bombardment Squadron - SAC - Emblem
514th Bombardment Squadron Emblem
  • Constituted 514th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 19 October 1942
Activated on 31 October 1942
Re-designated 514th Bombardment Squadron (Very Heavy) on 23 May 1945
Inactivated on 7 March 1946
  • Re-designated 514th Reconnaissance Squadron (Very Long Range, Weather) on 16 September 1947
Activated on 15 October 1947
Inactivated on 20 February 1951
  • Re-designated 514th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 25 May 1951
Activated on 1 June 1951
Inactivated on 15 March 1965
  • Consolidated (1 October 1992) with the 6514th Test Squadron
Designated, and activated, on 15 May 1970
Re-designated: 514th Test Squadron on 2 October 1992
Organized on 1 July 1993, assuming personnel and equipment of the 15th Test Squadron (Inactivated)
Re-designated: 514th Flight Test Squadron on 1 March 1994



Attached to 376th Bombardment Wing, 1 June 1951-15 June 1952



Detachment operated from Benina Airport, Benghazi, Libya, 3–11 October 1943




See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ AFHRA 514 FLTS Page
  2. ^ AFHRA 512 RQS Page
  3. ^ 512 RQS Fact Sheet
  4. ^ a b lloyd, Alwyn T. (2000), A Cold War Legacy: A Tribute to Strategic Air Command, 1946-1992, Pictorial Histories Publishing Co.; 1st edition, ISBN 1575100525
  5. ^ a b c Rogers, Brian. United States Air Force Unit Designations since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  6. ^ a b c 514th Flight Test Squadron Hill AFB website
  7. ^ a b c d AFHRA 514th Flight Test Squadron lineage and history

External links[edit]