Jump to content

Westover Air Reserve Base

Coordinates: 42°11′38″N 72°32′05″W / 42.19389°N 72.53472°W / 42.19389; -72.53472 (Westover ARB)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Westover Air Reserve Base
Chicopee, Massachusetts in the United States
An aerial view showing C-5 Galaxies of the 439th Airlift Wing parked on the ramp at Westover ARB
Westover ARB is located in Massachusetts
Westover ARB
Westover ARB
Westover ARB is located in the United States
Westover ARB
Westover ARB
Westover ARB is located in North America
Westover ARB
Westover ARB
Westover ARB is located in North Atlantic
Westover ARB
Westover ARB
Coordinates42°11′38″N 72°32′05″W / 42.19389°N 72.53472°W / 42.19389; -72.53472 (Westover ARB)
TypeAir Reserve base
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defense
OperatorUS Air Force (USAF)
Controlled byAir Force Reserve Command (AFRC)
Site history
Built1939 (1939)
In use1939 – present
Garrison information
Garrison439th Airlift Wing (host)
Airfield information
IdentifiersIATA: CEF, ICAO: KCEF, FAA LID: CEF, WMO: 744910
Elevation73.4 metres (241 ft) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
05/23 3,534.8 metres (11,597 ft) asphalt/concrete
15/33 2,159.5 metres (7,085 ft) asphalt/concrete
Airfield shared with Westover Metropolitan Airport
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1]

Westover Air Reserve Base (IATA: CEF, ICAO: KCEF, FAA LID: CEF) is an Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) installation located in the Massachusetts communities of Chicopee and Ludlow, near the city of Springfield, Massachusetts. Established at the outset of World War II, today Westover is the largest Air Force Reserve base in the United States, home to approximately 5,500 military and civilian personnel, and covering 2500 acres (10 km²).[2] Until 2011, it was a backup landing site for the NASA Space Shuttle and in the past few years has expanded to include a growing civilian access airport (Westover Metropolitan Airport) sharing Westover's military-maintained runways.[3] The installation was named for Major General Oscar Westover who was commanding officer of the Army Air Corps in the 1930s.[4]

The host unit is the 439th Airlift Wing (439 AW) of the Fourth Air Force (4 AF), Air Force Reserve Command. Outside of the AFRC command structure, the 439 AW and Westover are operationally gained by the Air Mobility Command (AMC).

Due to its location as one of the few remaining active military air bases in the northeast United States, Westover ARB is transited by many different U.S. military aircraft of all the services.[5]

Westover ARB has the longest runway in Massachusetts.


439th Airlift Wing:

337th Airlift Squadron
439th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
439th Aeromedical Staging Squadron
439th Operations Support Squadron
439th Airlift Control Flight
  • 439th Maintenance Group
439th Maintenance Squadron
439th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
  • 439th Mission Support Group
439th Force Support Squadron
439th Communications Squadron
439th Logistics Readiness Squadron
439th Civil Engineering Squadron
439th Security Forces Squadron
58th Aerial Port Squadron
42nd Aerial Port Squadron

Civil Air Patrol (USAF Auxiliary):

U.S. Army Reserve:

  • 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade
  • 304th Transportation Company (Cargo)
  • 655th Regional Support Group
  • 382nd Military Police Battalion (CS)
  • 287th Medical Detachment, 804th Medical Brigade
  • 226th Transportation Company (Railway Operating)(assigned to the 757th Transportation Battalion (Railway),[6] Milwaukee, WI; battalion and all subordinate units inactivated by September 2015)

U.S. Navy Reserve:

  • Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 27

U.S. Marine Corps Reserve:

  • Marine Wing Support Squadron 472, Detachment B
  • Marine Air Support Squadron 6

Military Entry Processing Command (DOD):

  • Springfield Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS Springfield)


Westover was constructed as "Westover Field," a then-U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) installation, in anticipation of World War II,[7] part of a larger War Department plan that envisioned USAAC facilities comprising a "Northeast Air Base" that would become present day Westover Air Reserve Base; a "Southeast Air Base" that would become present day MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida; a "Southwest Air Base" that would become present day March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California' and a "Northwest Air Base" that would become present day Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington.[8]

Following the establishment of the U.S. Air Force in 1947, Westover Field became Westover Air Force Base.

In 1951, Air Defense Command (ADC) arrived, but then turned over the base to Strategic Air Command (SAC) in 1955 with the relocation of Headquarters, Eighth Air Force (HQ 8AF) to Westover AFB. For host wing responsibilities, SAC initially established the 4050th Air Refueling Wing, later the 499th Air Refueling Wing, to operate from the base. The 99th Bombardment Wing, Heavy (99 BMW) arrived in 1956, equipped with the B-52C Stratofortress and KC-135A Stratotanker and assuming a host wing role. In case of nuclear war, an alternate SAC command bunker for HQ 8AF, called The Notch, was constructed deep within nearby Bare Mountain.[7]

From 1954 to 1962 the Stony Brook Air Force Station in Ludlow was a nuclear weapons Operational Storage Site for Air Materiel Command (AMC-OSS), one of five in the United States. During this period, Stony Brook AFS was the home of the 3084th Aviation Depot Group, part of the 3079th Aviation Depot Wing. In 1962 Stony Brook AFS was transferred to SAC with the 24th Munitions Maintenance Squadron replacing the 3084th, and stored and maintained nuclear weapons for SAC aircraft at Westover AFB until deactivation in 1973.[9] Today, the Stony Brook site is the home of the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC), Hampden County Jail, and other local businesses.

During the Vietnam War, 99th Bombardment Wing aircraft would routinely deploy to Southeast Asia. In 1966, the 99 BMW transitioned to the B-52D while retaining several B-52Cs were retained as proficiency training aircraft until the retirement of all B-52C airframes in 1971. In July 1969, the 57th Air Division at Westover AFB was inactivated and in July 1970, HQ 8AF relocated to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Transfer to the Air Force Reserve[edit]

A C-123K Provider of the 731st Tactical Airlift Squadron) and a C-130B Hercules of the 337th Tactical Airlift Squadron) in front of a Westover Air Force Base hangar for a 1977 publicity photo

The end of the Vietnam War in 1973, subsequent post-Vietnam reductions in the U.S. defense budget, and a long-standing SAC initiative to retrench from most of its coastal bases to the further inland in order to increase warning time for its alert force in the event of a Soviet attack, all led to the inactivation of the 99 BMW in March 1974 and redistribution of its B-52 and KC-135 aircraft to other SAC units. Rather than close Westover AFB outright, as was being done with several other SAC installations, it was decided that base would be transferred to the Air Force Reserve (AFRES).

Following inactivation of the 99 BMW, the 439th Tactical Airlift Wing (439 TAW), an AFRES unit, relocated to Westover AFB with their C-130 Hercules and C-123 Provider airlift aircraft, assuming host wing duties for the installation. Westover AFB was officially turned over to AFRES on May 19, 1974. In From October 1987, the wing converted to the C-5A model of the C-5 Galaxy and the 439 TAW was redesignated as the 439th Military Airlift Wing (439 MAW), operationally gained by the Military Airlift Command (MAC).

In 1991, Westover AFB was renamed Westover Air Reserve Base. With the inactivation of MAC in 1992, the 439 MAW became operationally gained by the Air Mobility Command (AMC) and was redesignated the 439th Airlift Wing (439 AW), its current designation.[10]

Air Force Reserve (post-1991)[edit]

In 1997, AFRES, an Air Force Field Operating Agency, was redesignated as Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) and became an Air Force major command (MAJCOM) with the 439 AW falling under Headquarters, Fourth Air Force (HQ 4AF) at March ARB, California. However, the 439 AW would still be operationally gained by AMC.

In 2017, the 439 AW retired the last of its C-5A and C-5B Galaxy aircraft and transitioned to the C-5M Super Galaxy.

The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) ruled that Westover ARB would absorb other military units in New England. The expansion proposed the transfer of all military operations at Bradley International Airport to Westover and the nearby Barnes Municipal Airport. The exception to this decision is the 103rd Airlift Wing, which remained at Bradley. A $32 million building project accommodated the additional 1600 service members required by the plan.[11]

The new Armed Forces Reserve Center hosts Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, and Air Force Reserve operations. The Massachusetts Army National Guard also made its debut at the base.[12]

The base celebrated its 75th anniversary with an air show on 16–17 May 2015, where the U.S Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels. headlined the 2015 Great New England Air Show. During this time, it was announced that the Westover ARB was in the running for a squadron of the new KC-46A Pegasus air refeuling aircraft. Later that year, it was announced that the base would not be receiving the plane, which instead was given to AFRC's 916th Air Refueling Wing (916 ARW) at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Westover was also in competition with Tinker Air Force Base and Grissom Air Reserve Base for the KC-46.[13]

In 2017, the 439 AW retired the last of its C-5A and C-5B Galaxy aircraft and transitioned to the newer C-5M Super Galaxy.

The local government credits Westover with spurring development of the Memorial Drive corridor, including several planned hotels and a retail plaza.[12]

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

The portion of the Westover complex still under military control covers an area of 2,500 acres (10 km²) which contains two runways: 5/23: measuring 11,597 ft × 300 ft (3,535 m × 91 m) and 15/33 measuring 7,085 ft × 150 ft (2,160 m × 46 m).[14] A new Air Traffic Control tower was constructed in 2002 and the old tower was demolished.

In June 1987, a local environmental activist group, the "Valley Citizens for a Safe Environment," brought legal action against the Air Force, claiming that the then-Westover AFB, as a center for military air operations with C-5 aircraft, posed multiple environmental hazards to local residents, to include air pollution, noise pollution, and water contamination hazards.[15] However, given that Westover had already transitioned to an airlift installation, lacking any of the air-dropped or air-launched ordnance storage and/or utilization hazards associated with fighter aircraft or Westover's previous status as a SAC bomber base, all of the factors claimed are also shared with similar-sized commercial airports.[16] Westover ARB's extended operations history has produced numerous hazardous waste sites[17] which the U.S. Department of Defense, in coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency and associated state agencies, continues to takes step to remediate.

According to Federal Aviation Administration records for the 12-month period ending 31 May 2022, the airport had 16,693 aircraft operations, an average of 46 per day: 60% military, 36% general aviation, 4% air taxi and <1% air carrier. There were 37 aircraft at the time based at this airport: 16 military, 10 single engine, 4 multi-engine, 3 jet aircraft, 2 gliders and 2 helicopter.[18]

Military facilities are under control of Colonel Joseph D. Janik, Commander, 439th Airlift Wing.[19] The civilian portion of the airport is run by Michael Bolton, Director of Civil Aviation (an employee of the Westover Metropolitan Corporation).

Major Aircraft Mishaps[edit]

On August 12, 1953, a United States Navy R6D-1 Liftmater crashed after takeoff. All 4 crewmembers died.[20]

On June 27, 1958, a USAF KC-135A Stratotanker of the 99th Bombardment Wing stalled and crashed, skidded across the Massachusetts Turnpike, disintegrated and burned. The aircraft was attempting a world speed record from New York-London with 3 other USAF KC-135s. All 15 occupants, both crew and passengers, died. This included Brigadier General Douglas Saunders, USAF, commander of SAC's 57th Air Division at Westover AFB, and six civilian journalists,[21]

On August 10, 1959, a 99th Bombardment Wing B-52C (AF Serial Number 54-2682) crashed near New Hampton, New Hampshire when the nose radome failed in flight. Five crew in the forward part of the aircraft successfully ejected and the tail gunner in the rear of the aircraft successfully bailed out.[22]

On June 21, 1963, a USAF Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker of the 99th Bombardment Wing crashed into a wooded hillside nearly 6 miles N of Westover AFB during an instrument approach in heavy rain. One crewmember died.[23]

On January 7, 1971, after taking off from Westover Air Force Base, a 99th Bombardment Wing Boeing B-52C Stratofortress (AF Serial Number 54-2666) crashed into northern Lake Michigan at the mouth of Little Traverse Bay near Charlevoix, Michigan, while on a low-level training flight. All nine crew members aboard were lost. Later retrieval of wreckage indicated a catastrophic in-flight failure of the airframe. No remains of the crewmen were recovered.[24]

Previous names[edit]

Major commands to which assigned[edit]

Major units assigned[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Airport Diagram – Westover ARB/Metropolitan (CEF)" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. 13 August 2020. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  2. ^ "About Westover Air Reserve Base". Westover Air Reserve Base. United States Air Force. Archived from the original on 5 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Westover AFB, Mass - 99th Bomb Wing -  B-52 - NEED INFO". www.strategic-air-command.com. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  4. ^ Bowers, Peter M., "Captain of the Clouds", Airpower, Granada Hills, California, July 1972, Volume 2, Number 4, page 33.
  5. ^ "Presidential aircraft parked temporarily at Westover". 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  6. ^ "Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment 757th Transportation Battalion". history.army.mil. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  7. ^ a b Faulkner, Frank (January 1990). Westover: Man, Base and Mission (1st ed.). Springfield, Mass.: Hungry Hill Press. p. 160. ISBN 0-9616486-1-9.
  8. ^ "The Army Air Forces in World War II Volume VI: Men and Planes: Chapter 4".
  9. ^ "Former Nuclear Weapons Storage Area, Stonybrook, Chicopee, MA". coldwar-ma. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Westover History & Present Mission".
  11. ^ The Republican Newsroom (22 March 2008). "Groundbreaking held for new reserve center". masslive. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Westover project good for economy – MassLive.com". Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  13. ^ Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs (29 October 2015). "Seymour-Johnson chosen for first Reserve-led KC-46A basing". Air Force Reserve Command. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  14. ^ FAA Airport Form 5010 for CEF PDF, retrieved 15 March 2007
  15. ^ https://www.casemine.com/judgement/us/59148a5aadd7b04934510c97
  16. ^ "ALLEY CITIZENS FOR A SAFE ENVIRONMENT, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. Edward C. ALDRIDGE, etc., et al., Defendants, Appellees".
  17. ^ "Westover Air Force Base". Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass.: Military Waste Cleanup Project, Institute for Science and Interdisciplinary Studies. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  18. ^ FAA Airport Form 5010 for CEF PDF, effective September 7, 2023.
  19. ^ "COL. D. SCOTT DURHAM > Westover Air Reserve Base > Display". www.westover.afrc.af.mil. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  20. ^ Accident description for 131586 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on October 4, 2023.
  21. ^ Accident description for 56-3599 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on October 4, 2023.
  22. ^ "1954 USAF Serial Numbers".
  23. ^ Accident description for 57-1498 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on October 4, 2023.
  24. ^ "9 Missing in Bay Shore Crash". Petoskey News Review. 9 January 1971.

External links[edit]