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Altus | AAFB celebrates 80 years of mobility airpower, community partnership

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Trenton Jancze
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

From an area that originally prospered as a regional hub for cotton trade and distribution, Altus has since become a hub for mobility aircrew training. On Jan. 1, 2023, Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, turned 80 years old.

Previously known as Altus Army Airfield, AAFB’s construction began in the spring of 1942, where cotton fields were turned into an airfield. Under the command of Col. John M. Price, the airfield officially opened on 1 Jan., 1943, training cadets on multi-engine aircraft such as the AT-9 Jeep and AT-17 Bobcat.

Throughout its 80 years, AAFB Airmen have welcomed 45 installation commanders, operated 23 different airframes, and aligned under six different major commands. The host wing has changed 12 times, and three missile platforms even called AAFB home during the Cold War.

AAFB's growth success has, in part, been thanks to its relationship with the local community. In September of 2022, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. presented base and community leaders with the Community Partnership award at the Air and Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in Arlington, Virginia for "exemplary actions in building strong ties between the city and the base." For this reason, Airmen and community leaders celebrated the base’s 80th birthday together on Jan. 3., 2023, with a party at the Freedom Community Center.

“Teamwork and partnership are a huge component of being able to thrive and be successful,” said Rodger Kerr, president of the Altus Chamber of Commerce. “The partnerships that we have created are critical to success across the community. We continue to drive and push each other to improve and become better.”

During its 80-year celebration, AAFB praises its continued performance of the same basic mission it started in 1943, training mobility aircrew on complex multi-engine aircraft and preparing them to deliver air power for America.

“Airpower for American and global reach depends on the training at the 97th Air Mobility Wing and Altus AFB,” said Melissa Sims, 97th AMW historian. “That is why it has been and will continue to be of the utmost importance for the foreseeable future.”

AAFB Airmen and community leaders celebrated the base’s 80th birthday together Jan. 3, 2023, with a party at the Freedom Community Center.