Sheppard Air Force Base
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|Sheppard Air Force Base|
|Near Wichita Falls, Texas in the United States of America|
|Type||US Air Force Base|
|Owner||Department of Defense|
|Operator||US Air Force (USAF)|
|Controlled by||Air Education and Training Command (AETC)|
|Built||1941(as Sheppard Field)|
|In use||1941 – present|
|Brigadier General Kenyon K. Bell|
|Identifiers||IATA: SPS, ICAO: KSPS, FAA LID: SPS, WMO: 723513|
|Elevation||310.5 metres (1,019 ft) AMSL|
|Airfield shared with Wichita Falls Municipal Airport.|
Source: Federal Aviation Administration
Sheppard Air Force Base (IATA: SPS, ICAO: KSPS, FAA LID: SPS) is a United States Air Force base located five miles (8.0 km) north of the central business district of Wichita Falls, in Wichita County, Texas, United States. It is the largest training base and most diversified in Air Education and Training Command. The base is named in honor of Texas Senator John Morris Sheppard, a supporter of military preparations before World War II.
The host unit at Sheppard is the 82d Training Wing (82 TRW), which provides specialized technical training and field training for officers, Airmen and civilians of all branches of the military, other DoD agencies and foreign nationals.
The 80th Flying Training Wing (80 FTW), also at Sheppard, conducts the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) program, a multi-nationally manned and managed flying training program chartered to produce combat pilots for both USAF and NATO. This internationally manned and managed flying training program is the only one in the world.
Brigadier General Kenyon Bell is the commander of the 82d Training Wing and he concurrently serves as the installation commander of Sheppard AFB. Colonel Russell Driggers is the commander of the 80th Flying Training Wing.
Sheppard AFB shares one runway with Wichita Falls Municipal Airport under a joint civil-military arrangement.
Sheppard Air Force Base is named in honor of Senator John Morris Sheppard of Texas (1875–1941), chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee from 1933 until his death on 9 April 1941. Senator Sheppard helped lead the fight for military preparedness before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The base began as Sheppard Field on 300 acres (1.2 km²) just south of Kell Field, named for the businessman Frank Kell. A Texas cattleman, oilman, and philanthropist, Joseph Sterling Bridwell, sold the land to the U.S. Army for one dollar.
It was officially opened as a United States Army Air Corps training center on 17 October 1941, following the arrival of the first military members on 14 June. As the Army Air Corps became the Army Air Forces, facilities were completed sufficiently to allow the first class of 22 aviation mechanics to enter training that October; the class graduated 23 February 1942.
During World War II, then-Sheppard Field conducted basic training, and it also trained glider mechanics, technical and flying training instructors and B-29 Superfortress flight engineers. In addition to the basic flying training, the base also provided advanced pilot training.
Sheppard Field reached its peak strength of 46,340 people while serving as a separation center for troops being discharged following World War II from September through November 1945. Sheppard Field was deactivated 31 August 1946 and declared surplus to the War Department's needs. It was transferred to the jurisdiction of the United States Army Corps of Engineers 30 April 1947. Over the next two years the Texas National Guard used the base.
USAF Training Center
Control and accountability for Sheppard Field was transferred to the Department of the Air Force 1 August 1948 and was reactivated 15 August 1948 to supplement Lackland AFB, Texas, as a basic training center renamed as Sheppard AFB. Basic training was discontinued in June 1949, but was resumed from July 1950 to May 1952.
Over the next three decades, three training schools were stationed at the base training students in aircraft maintenance, transportation, communication, civil engineering, aircrew life support and field training.
The aircraft mechanics school was transferred to Sheppard from Keesler AFB, Mississippi in April 1949 to make room for expansion of electronic training at that base. The school was renamed the Department of Aircraft Maintenance Training within the 3750th Technical School. During the Korean War (1950–1953) several airmen from such places as Greece and Turkey were trained as mechanics.
Comptroller, transportation, and intelligence training moved to Sheppard from Lowry AFB, Colorado, in the fall of 1954. Communications, refrigeration, air conditioning, and power production operator and repairman training were transferred here from F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming in 1959. Intelligence training returned to Lowry in February 1962. Training in certain missile systems began at Sheppard in 1957 and was conducted there through September 1985 when Titan II training operations were terminated following that weapon system's retirement.
The 3950th Technical Training Wing was designated the Sheppard Technical Training Center 1 January 1959. It has had two subsequent name changes and is now the 82d Training Wing.
Helicopter pilot training was transferred from Stead AFB, Nevada in October 1965, with H-19, H-43, Bell TH-1F, CH-3C and HH-3E helicopters used for training. Additional training in airborne firefighting was also conducted, given the role of the USAF HH-43 aircraft as a local rescue and aircraft firefighting asset at selected air force bases in the United States and at air bases overseas.
The 3630th Flying Training Wing was activated in 1965, and it assumed the helicopter training program. It began providing undergraduate pilot training in the T-37 and Northrop T-38 Talon for the then-West German Air Force in August 1966. Helicopter training was discontinued in 1971 when the U.S. Army assumed responsibility for training Air Force helicopter pilots at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
The 3630th Flying Training Wing also provided undergraduate pilot training for pilots of the Republic of Vietnam Air Force from 1971 to 1975. The Wing designation was changed to the 80th Flying Training Wing on 1 January 1973.
The 80th Flying Training Wing began conducting the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program in 1981. This one-of-a-kind program includes 13-NATO countries. They are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Approval to conduct the program was recently extended through the year 2005.
The Air Force School of Health Care Sciences offered training in dentistry, medicine, nursing (to include flight nurse training), and health-services administration. The population of the base had declined to 3,825 in 1990.
In February 1992, restructuring and downsizing of the Air Force caused a realignment and renumbering of units at Sheppard. Some of the training wings were redesignated as groups, and the technical training groups became squadrons.
Strategic Air Command
Between 1960 and 1966 the Strategic Air Command (SAC) had training units stationed at the base that conducted aerospace rescue schools and weather instruction. In addition, The 494th Bombardment Wing, a Strategic Air Command operational wing of B-52D Stratofortress bombers and KC-135A Stratotanker aircraft, previously designated as the 4245th Strategic Wing, was based at Sheppard from 1963 to 1966.
In July 1969, Detachment 1, 2nd Bombardment Wing, with four B-52 aircraft, became a tenant organization at Sheppard and remained until 1975. These aircraft rotated as part of SAC's dispersal concept and utilized the SAC Alert Facility on the northwest end of the airfield.
The United States Department of Defense (DoD) proposed a major realignment of the base, as part of the Base Realignment and Closure, 2005 program announced on 13 May 2005. DoD recommended to relocating to Eglin AFB, Florida, front-line and instructor-qualified maintenance technicians and logistics support personnel to stand up the Air Force's portion of the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) Initial Joint Training Site there. This recommendation would establish Eglin Air Force Base as the Initial Joint Training Site that would teach entry-level aviators and maintenance technicians how to safely operate and maintain the new F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 487 jobs (295 direct jobs and 192 indirect jobs) over 2006–2011 in the Wichita Falls, TX, Metropolitan Statistical Area (0.5 percent).
Major commands to which assigned
- Army Air Forces Technical Training Command, 13 March 1942 – 31 July 1943
- Army Air Forces Training Command, 31 July 1943 – 1 July 1946
- Air Training Command, 1 July 1946 – 31 August 1946, 1 August 1948 – 1 July 1993
- Air Education and Training Command 1 July 1993–present
Major units assigned
- 62d Base HQ and Air Base Sq, 4 August 1941 – 1 May 1944
- 3706th AAF Base Unit, 1 May 1944 – 30 September 1946
- 3706th AAF Base Unit, 15 August 1948 – 28 August 1948
- 3750th Air Base Gp, 28 August 1948 – 1 January 1973
- 80th Flying Training Wing, – 1 January 1973–present
Role and operations
82d Training Wing
The host unit on Sheppard Air Force Base is the 82d Training Wing, whose mission makes it the most diversified training base within AETC. It is a non-flying wing that conducts all technical training at Sheppard. The 982d Training Group (982 TRG) provides instruction in a wide range of specialties at Sheppard and also at more than 60 Air Force installations worldwide. The 82d Mission Support Group (82 MSG) and the 82 Medical Group (82 MDG) support these organizations. Together with the 80th Flying Training Wing more than 7 million trained US and ally warriors have been trained.
80th Flying Training Wing
The 80th Flying Training Wing's mission is "To produce the world's finest NATO pilots with the skills and attitude to succeed in fighter aviation". It is home of the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) Program. It is a uniquely manned multinational organization with a USAF wing commander and an Italian Air Force operations group commander in the top two leadership positions. Command and operations officers' positions in the flying training squadrons rotate among the participating nations, while the commander of the 80th Operations Support Squadron is always from the USAF.
Officers from all 13 participating nations fill subordinate leadership positions throughout the wing. Nine nations--Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, Spain and the United States—provide instructor pilots based on their number of student pilots. Canada, Greece and Spain do not have student pilots in training, but do provide one instructor pilot. The current non-active signatory nations, the United Kingdom and Portugal, do not send student pilots nor do they provide instructor pilots, but retain the right to do so at any time. As an example of this totally integrated structure, an American student pilot may have a Belgian instructor pilot, a Dutch flight commander, a Turkish section commander, an Italian operations officer, and a German squadron commander.
Operational training squadrons are:
- 80th OSS "Wizards"
- 88th Fighter Training Squadron "Lucky Devils" (T-38C)
- 89th Flying Training Squadron "Banshees" (T-6A)
- 90th Flying Training Squadron "Boxing Bears" (T-38C)
- 97th Flying Training Squadron "Madcats" (A.K.A. "Devil Cats")...Air Force Reserve Command Associate Instructor Pilot program (T-6A and T-38C)
- 459th Flying Training Squadron "Twin Dragons" (T-6A)
- 469th Flying Training Squadron "Fighting Bulls" (T-38C)
Units marked GSU are Geographically Separate Units, which although based at Sheppard, are subordinate to a parent unit based at another location.
United States Air Force
Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC)
- "Airport Diagram – Sheppard AFB/Wichita Falls Muni (KSPS)" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. 10 October 2019. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
- "Sheppard Air Force Base > Library > Sheppard History". www.sheppard.af.mil. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
- "Jack O. Loftin, "Joseph Sterling Bridwell"". Texas State Historical Association online. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
- Sheppard AFB, Texas at GlobalSecurity.org
- "Sheppard AFB – Mission". MyBaseGuide. 23 August 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
- "Units". Sheppard AFB. US Air Force. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
- "82nd Mission Support Group". Sheppard Air Force Base. US Air Force. 17 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document: "Sheppard Air Force Base".
- Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office 1961 (republished 1983, Office of Air Force History, ISBN 0-912799-02-1).
- Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
- Mueller, Robert, Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982, Office of Air Force History, 1989
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sheppard Air Force Base.|
- Sheppard AFB Vets Database Searchable database of Sheppard AFB Vets at GI Search]
- The Handbook of Texas – Sheppard Air Force Base (source of History), tshaonline.org
- BRAC 2005: Closings, Realignments to Reshape Infrastructure, defenselink.mil
- Base list leaves Texas cities relieved or rethinking plans, a May 2005 Houston Chronicle article
- How to earn an ENJJPT slot from an Air Force Commissioning source, wantscheck.com
- HEADQUARTERS 3750 TECHNICAL SCHOOL - October, 1964
- FAA Airport Diagram (PDF), effective November 4, 2021
- FAA Terminal Procedures for SPS, effective November 4, 2021
- Resources for this U.S. military airport: