Peterson Air Force Base

Peterson Air Force Base
Peterson Air Force Base

Air Force Space Command.png

Part of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)
Located near: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Hartinger Building, home of the Air Force Space Command
Coordinates 38°49′25″N 104°41′42″W / 38.82361°N 104.695°W / 38.82361; -104.695 (Peterson AFB)
Built 1942
In use 1942-Present
Controlled by  United States Air Force
Garrison 21st Space Wing.png 21st Space Wing
302d Airlift Wing.png 302d Airlift Wing
Airfield information
Elevation AMSL 6,187 ft / 1,886 m
Direction Length Surface
ft m
17L/35R 13,501 4,115 Concrete
17R/35L 11,022 3,360 Asphalt
12/30 8,269 2,520 Asphalt
Peterson AFB is located in Colorado
Peterson AFB
Location of Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado

Peterson Air Force Base (IATA: COSICAO: KCOSFAA LID: COS) is a base of the United States Air Force located at Colorado Springs in El Paso County, Colorado, United States and it provides runways for the adjacent City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport under a shared joint civil-military airport arrangement. It was named in honor of 1st Lt Edward Joseph Peterson who was killed in a crash at the base.

Peterson AFB is home to the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), AFSPC's 21st Space Wing (21 SW), Army Space Command, and the Air Force Reserve Command's 302d Airlift Wing (302 AW). The 21 SW serves as host unit for Peterson AFB.



Principal military flight operations at Peterson AFB are currently conducted by the 302d Airlift Wing (302 AW), an Air Mobility Command (AMC)-gained unit of the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC). Previously stationed at the former Rickenbacker AFB, Ohio, the 302 AW relocated to Peterson in 1985 when Rickenbacker converted to an Air National Guard installation. The 302 AW consists of over 1,200 traditional part-time Air Force Reservists and over 200 full-time Air Reserve Technician (ART), Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) and USAF civil service personnel operating and maintaining 13 C-130H Hercules aircraft.[1]

On 28 July 2006, operations formerly conducted in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) were relocated to Peterson Air Force Base for purposes of efficiency. The Cheyenne Mountain Complex will be left on warm standby until the protection of the mountain is again required. NORAD officials no longer feel there is a threat of an intercontinental nuclear attack which could disrupt NORAD's operations.[2]

Current tenant units

Additional information

The Colorado Springs Post Office (ZIP Code 80914) serves Peterson AFB postal addresses.[4]


Peterson AFB traces its roots to the Colorado Springs Army Air Base, established on 6 May 1942 at the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, which has been in operation since 1926.[5]

The base carried out photo reconnaissance training under the auspices of the Photo Reconnaissance Operational Training Unit (PROTU). On 22 June 1942, Colorado Springs Army Air Base was assigned to the Second Air Force, headquartered at Fort George Wright, Washington. Initially, Colorado Springs AAF was a center for Reconnaissance pilot training. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Reconnaissance Groups trained there in 1942 and early 1943 before being reassigned to one of the overseas theaters.

Then, after only a few weeks, a tragedy occurred that would indelibly affect the base. On 8 August 1942, First Lieutenant Edward J. Peterson, Operations Officer for the 14th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron and a native of Colorado, crashed while attempting to take off from the airfield when the left engine of his twin engine F-4 (a reconnaissance variant of the P-38 Lightning) failed. A base fire department crew rescued Lt Peterson from the burning wreckage. Unfortunately, Lt Peterson sustained significant burns and died at Penrose hospital that afternoon, thereby becoming the first Coloradan killed in a flying accident at the airfield. Consequently, on 13 December 1942, officials changed the name of the Colorado Springs Army Air Base to Peterson Army Air Base in honor of the fallen airman.[6]

The base assumed a new mission in the spring of 1943, that of heavy bomber combat crew training. The 214th Combat Crew Training School conducted the training, utilizing the B-24 Liberator. From 5 March to 1 October 1943, “Peterson Field,” as the base was commonly called, was assigned to the Third Air Force, headquartered at Greenville Army Air Base, South Carolina. Control of Peterson Field later reverted to the Second Air Force. In June 1944, the mission at the base once again changed, this time to fighter pilot training. The 72d Fighter Wing, assigned to the base, employed P-40 Warhawks to carry out this mission.

In April 1945, Peterson Field was assigned to Continental Air Forces. The location of the Army Air Forces Instructors School at the base signaled another mission change. On 31 December 1945, the Army inactivated the base, turning the property over to the City of Colorado Springs.

The legacy of Peterson Field and the military presence in Colorado Springs took a significant turn in September 1947, following the birth of the United States Air Force. Soon after its inception, the fledgling service twice reactivated the base from 29 September 1947 to 15 January 1948 and again from 22 September 1948 into 1949. During the latter period, the base served as an airfield for Headquarters, Fifteenth Air Force which had been temporarily located in Colorado Springs. Peterson Field inactivated again when Fifteenth Air Force moved to March Air Force Base in 1949.

The Air Force activated Peterson Field once more as a joint civil-military airport following the January 1951 establishment of Air Defense Command at nearby Ent AFB, located in downtown Colorado Springs. The 4600th Air Base Group activated simultaneously on 1 January 1951 and provided support for the newly established command. In 1958, the 4600th achieved wing status and was designated as the 4600th Air Base Wing. Subsequently, on 1 April 1975, the Air Force redesignated the wing as the 46th Aerospace Defense Wing. One year later, on 1 March 1976, Peterson Field was renamed Peterson Air Force Base while still retaining its joint civil-military status with the City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport.[6]

The Air Force activated the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) at Peterson, followed by the activation of the 1st Space Wing on 1 January 1983. Peterson Air Force Base became the hub of Air Force space activity when the 1st Space Wing assumed host unit responsibility following the inactivation of the 46th Aerospace Defense Wing on 1 April 1983. The 1st Space Wing then transferred host unit responsibility to the 3d Space Support Wing, which activated on 15 October 1986. Finally, on 15 May 1992, these two wings inactivated and their personnel and equipment transferred to the 21st Space Wing, which activated on 15 May 1992.[7]

See also


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

  1. ^ 302nd Airlift Wing Data
  2. ^ NORAD AND USNORTHCOM change underway. July 28, 2006. NORAD Website. Retrieved December 6, 2006
  3. ^ 2006 Base Guide. Peterson Air Force Base Website. Retrieved February 15, 2008, See p. 41/51 in electronic file, or p. 44 on printed version.
  4. ^ "ZIP Code Lookup" (JavaScript/HTML). United States Postal Service. December 15, 2006. Retrieved December 15, 2006. 
  5. ^ Mueller, Robert, "Air Force Bases Volume 1: Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982", United States Air Force Historical Research Center, Office of Air Force History, Washington, D.C., 1989, ISBN 0-912799-53-6, page 471.
  6. ^ a b PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE HISTORY Peterson AFB Website. Retrieved December 6, 2006
  7. ^ Peterson AFB. Global Security Website. Retrieved December 6, 2006

External links

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