Columbus Air Force Base
Published December 30, 2014
Columbus Air Force Base is home of the 14th Flying Training Wing of Air Education and Training Command. The 14th FTW mission statement is "Produce Pilots, Advance Airmen, Feed the Fight." The wing's mission is specialized undergraduate pilot training in the T-6 Texan II, T-38C Talon and T-1A Jayhawk aircraft. Each day the wing flies an average of 260 sorties on its three parallel runways. In addition to the flying training mission, Columbus AFB maintains more than 900 highly trained individuals capable of deploying at a moment's notice to support worldwide taskings and contingencies.
Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training
In the primary phase of training, students fly the T-6. The emphasis throughout this phase is on basic aircraft control, including takeoff and landing techniques and aerobatics. Students also learn to use aircraft instruments to fly and navigate in all types of weather to several different locations.
Following the T-6 phase of training, student pilots enter specialized track specific training-depending on the type aircraft they've been selected to fly - T-38 for those bound for fighter and bomber aircraft or the T-1A for tanker and airlift pilots. Student pilots selected to fly helicopters conduct training at Fort Rucker, Ala., with the U.S. Army.
To earn Air Force wings, each student flies nearly 200 hours during a 54-week period. Paralleling flying training, students complete 400 hours of flight-related classroom instruction. Students entering training at Columbus average 475 officers a year.
Columbus Air Force Base began as an advanced twin-engine flying school during the rearming of America before World War II. Efforts by local civic leaders in the 1930s to secure an airport shifted to obtaining a military flying field as U.S. forces geared up for war. On June 26, 1941, the War Department announced Columbus' selection as the site for an Army Air Corps pilot training school. Construction got under way in 1941. Pilot training began in 1942.
With an unparalleled safety record, this is where both instrument training and flying standardization boards got their start, earning the Columbus Army Flying School national recognition in Time magazine and the New York Times. More than 8,000 students came to Columbus for pilot training during World War II to become flying officers in the Army Air Corps. AT-6s, AT-8s, AT-9s, AT-10s, A-29s and TB-25s were used at Columbus during this time. By war's end the air base, then known as Columbus Army Air Field, had become one of the largest in the Southeast, with four runways and seven auxiliary fields.
The base was closed in 1945 and remained inactive until the nation again faced the prospect of war, this time to defend South Korea.
Columbus Air Force Base reopened in 1951 as a contract flying school. Air Training Command's 3301st Pilot Training Squadron oversaw the contract flight instruction of about 3,000 pilots in PA-18 Piper Cubs and T-6s. With the Korean War at an end and pilot production needs dropping, the decision was made to close the contract flying school at Columbus.
Columbus became part of the Strategic Air Command in April 1955. After a rebuilding program, the base became home to a B-52 bomber squadron and a KC-135 tanker squadron in 1958. Beginning in 1965, Columbus' 454th Bombardment Wing deployed to the western Pacific, completing more than 100 missions to South Vietnam without losing a single bomber to enemy aircraft fire.
After 14 years as a Strategic Air Command base, Columbus rejoined Air Training Command on July 1, 1969, and resumed its original mission of training pilots.
Military: 1,447; Civil Service: 472; Contractors: 598, NAF Civilian: 143, Other: 84
Average number of students trained annually: 475
Economic impact in FY 11: $262.1 million
Payroll: $140.2 million; Expenditures: $83.2 million; Estimated number of jobs created: 977; Estimated dollar value of jobs created: $38.7 million. Aircraft: 234
14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs Office; 555 Seventh Street, Suite 210, Columbus AFB, Miss. 39710; DSN 742-7068 or (662) 434-7068.