McCoy Air Force Base

McCoy Air Force Base
McCoy Air Force Base

Shield Strategic Air Command.png

Part of Strategic Air Command
Orlando, Florida
B52D 56-0687.JPG
Boeing B-52D-40-BW Stratofortress AF Serial No. 56-0687 on display at B-52 Memorial Park, Orlando International Airport, Florida (Ex-McCoy Air Force Base). Photo taken 4 April 2003.
Type Air Force Base
Coordinates 28°25′46″N 081°18′32″W / 28.42944°N 81.30889°W / 28.42944; -81.30889
Built 1940
In use 1940-1975
McCoy AFB is located in Florida
Location of McCoy AFB, Florida
1947 aerial photo of Pinecastle Army Airfield
For the civil use of this facility and airport information, see Orlando International Airport
For the World War II and Tactical Air Command missile base in Orlando, see Orlando Air Force Base

McCoy AFB (1940–1947, 1951–1975) is a former United States Air Force base located 10 miles (16 km) south of Orlando, Florida. It was a training base during World War II. After the war it became a Front-Line Strategic Air Command (SAC) base during the Vietnam War and the Cold War.

With McCoy's closure as an active air force installation in 1975, the site was redeveloped and is known today as Orlando International Airport, which carries the airport code MCO (McCoy).



Pinecastle Army Air Field was originally opened in on 1 August 1940 as an auxiliary field in support of the nearby Orlando Army Air Base. Following service in World War II and the immediate post-war period, the installation was closed in 1947. With the advent of an independent United States Air Force, the USAF reopened the base in 1951 as Pinecastle Air Force Base.

The base was re-named for Colonel Michael Norman Wright McCoy (1905–1957) on 7 May 1958. Col McCoy was killed on 9 October 1957 in the crash of DB-47B-35-BW Stratojet, 51-2177A, of the 447th Bomb Squadron, 321st Bomb Wing, while taking part in a practice demonstration which suffered wing-failure during the annual Strategic Air Command Bombing Navigation and Reconnaissance Competition. McCoy served as commander of the 321st Bombardment Wing, the host unit of the base at the time of his death. A hugely popular figure in Central Florida, Colonel McCoy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a funeral that included a flyover of multiple B-47s.

World War II

In 1940, the United States Army Air Force acquired 2,216 acres (9 km2) of scrubland southeast of Orlando to build a training base. When completed, it was named Orlando Army Air Field Number Two and was intended to support the training mission of Orlando Army Air Base (now Orlando Executive Airport) six miles (10 km) to the north as part of the Air University Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics (AAFSAT) tactical combat simulation school in Central and Northern Florida. In 1942, the facility was renamed Pinecastle Army Airfield and was used primarily as a testing and development center for AAFSAT. Various aircraft and units used the airfield during the war.

Records indicate that aircraft from Pinecastle AAF performed test bombing of chemical munitions at one of Pinecastle's numerous bombing and gunnery ranges. It is uncertain whether the chemical warfare materials used in these tests were stored at Pinecastle Army Airfield or transported from the Orlando Toxic Gas and Decontamination Yard a few hours before a practice bombing run. In addition, Pinecastle was used as a storage depot for AAFSAT, and in August 1945, was used for testing of the B-32 Dominator bomber.

Postwar years

With the end of World War II, Pinecastle AAF was briefly used by Bell Aircraft Corp in the testing and development of the X-1 supersonic aircraft, originally designated the XS-1.

Ship No. 1 flew the first unpowered glide tests from a B-29 Superfortress mother ship at Pinecastle AAF in early 1946. In March 1946, the X-1 program was relocated to Muroc AAF, California. The move was a logistics issue as much as anything, as Pinecastle was deemed not suitable for the X-1 project. A move to the remote California desert ensured the X-1 project team could maintain secrecy, an important issue considering the project was highly classified at the time. In addition, Muroc had an expansive landing area, thanks to the surrounding dry lakebeds, and better visibility. The X-1's high sink rate and the problems of keeping the plane in sight amid Florida's frequent clouds added two more votes in favor of the Army Air Force's decision to go to Muroc.

With the X-1 project transferred, Pinecastle AAF was deactivated and the entire site was transferred to the City of Orlando in 1947.

Cold War

Air Training Command

As a result of the outbreak of the Korean War, the United States Air Force Air Training Command reacquired and reactivated the facility, renaming it Pinecastle Air Force Base on 1 September 1951. ATC immediately began a $100 million construction program at the World War II facility. Training, however, did not begin until early 1952.

The 3540th Flying Training Wing (later redesignated 4240th FTW) was activated at the base to take part in Boeing B-47 Stratojet training. 84 B-47s were allocated for the training, and Strategic Air Command transferred 30 experienced aircraft commanders to Pinecastle to serve as instructors. According to the basic plan, ATC would train 49 crews by the end of 1952, but from the beginning mechanical problems and a lack of equipment prevented training. In addition, the base was inadequate at the time with regards to training facilities. The first arrived at the base on November 6, 1952. The first B-47 crew training program started a few weeks later when Class 53-6A entered combat crew training on December 22, 1952. The first trained crews graduated from training during the first half of 1953.

On 1 January 1954 Air Training Command transferred the crew training mission at Pinecastle and jurisdiction of the base to Strategic Air Command.

321st Bombardment Wing

Postcard from Pinecastle AFB in the mid-1950s, showing Boeing
B-47E-90-BW Stratojet AF Serial No. 52-0477 of the 321st Bomb Wing on the ramp. This aircraft was sent to AMARC in November 1964.

On 15 December 1953, the 321st Bombardment Wing (Medium) was activated at Pinecastle and absorbed the B-47 bombers and KC-97 (SAC) and the B-47 combat crew training mission was transferred from ATC to SAC. Colonel Michael N.W. McCoy, was appointed commander of the 321st Bombardment Wing on 24 May 1954. He earned the distinction of being the "dean" of the Strategic Air Command’s B-47 "Stratojet" aircraft commanders.

In July 1954 the 19th Bombardment Wing joined the 321st at Pinecastle and the two units came under the control of the 813th Strategic Aerospace Division. The 813th was subsequently deactivated in the summer of 1956 when the 19th Bomb Wing moved to Homestead Air Force Base, Florida.

In November 1957 the base was host to the medium and heavy bombers participating in the annual Strategic Air Command Bombing Navigation and Reconnaissance Competition. During the competition, a B-47 aircraft mishap north of downtown Orlando took the lives of Colonel McCoy, Group Captain John Woodroffe of the Royal Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Joyce and Major Vernon Stuff during preparations for the event. Despite this tragedy, the 321st Bomb Wing, under the direction of its new commander, Colonel Robert W. Strong, Jr., won the top honors of the meet, including the coveted Fairchild and McCoy trophies, distinguishing the 321st as the top B-47 Wing in SAC.

Another unit with distinction was assigned to Pinecastle AFB in November 1957 was the Air Defense Command's 76th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (76 FIS). A descendant of the famous World War II "Flying Tigers," the 76 FIS was commanded by Major Morris F. Wilson and flew the F-89H "Scorpion" all-weather fighter-interceptor. One of the last squadrons to fly the Scorpion, the 76 FIS was transferred from McCoy to Westover AFB, Massachusetts on February 1, 1961.

On 7 May 1958 Pinecastle AFB was renamed McCoy Air Force Base in memory of the late Colonel Michael N. W. McCoy. Formal dedication ceremonies were held on 21 May 1958 in conjunction with a mammoth base open house, during which an estimated 30,000 Floridians attended.

In the summer of 1961, a complete reorganization of the base began. A program got under way to convert the base from the B-47 Stratojet to heavy B-52 "Stratofortress" bombers. The 321st Bomb Wing began phasing out its operations in June 1961 and was deactivated in October 1961.

4047th Strategic Wing

Postcard from McCoy AFB in the early 1960s, showing the McCoy AFB conrol tower and base operations building, Boeing B-52D-5-BW Stratofortress AF Serial No. 55-5054 and Boeing KC-135A-BN Stratotanker AF Serial No. 57-1506 of the 4047th Strategic Wing.

On 1 July 1961 the 321st was replaced by the 4047th Strategic Wing (Heavy), which was designated and organized under its first commander, Col Francis S. Holmes, Jr. The 4047th was part of SAC's "Strategic Wing" concept, which was to disburse its medium and heavy bombers and tanker aircraft over a larger number of bases, thus making it more difficult for the Soviet Union to knock out the entire fleet with a surprise first strike. All of the Strategic Wings had one squadron of B-52s, containing 15 aircraft, and most also had a squadron of KC-135 tanker aircraft. Half of the bombers and tankers were maintained on fifteen minute alert, fully fueled, armed, and ready for combat, while the remainder were used for training in bombardment missions and air refueling operations.

In August 1961 the first B-52D Stratofortresses were assigned to the new wing, and on 1 September 1961 the 347th Bombardment Squadron was reassigned from Westover AFB, Massachusetts to McCoy to fly the heavy bombers. On 15 September, the 321st Combat Support Group was organized and on that same date Colonel William G. Walker, Jr. assumed command of the 4047th Strategic Wing.

Joint Civil-Military Use: McCoy AFB and the Orlando-McCoy Jetport

In 1962, an agreement was made with the City of Orlando for the joint-use of Runway 18L/36R at McCoy. This action was taken since the runway facilities at Herndon Airport, now the Orlando Executive Airport, were too short to accommodate the first generation jet aircraft such as the Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8 and Convair 880 that initially served Orlando. The Orlando Jetport at McCoy was established in the northeast corner of the base to support commercial airline operations in a converted Hound Dog missile maintenance hangar that was to be operated by the City of Orlando's Aviation Department. Civilian airline flights by Delta Air Lines, Eastern Airlines and National Airlines[disambiguation needed ] began shortly thereafter as flights migrated from Herndon Airport to McCoy and would serve as a prelude to even greater commercial airline operations in subsequent years. Delta Airlines was the first airline to offer jet passenger service to Orlando, with Delta's DC-8 'fanjet'.

966th Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron

The 966th Airborne Early Warning & Control Squadron was activated on 18 December 1961 and was organized two months later at McCoy AFB as a geographically separated unit (GSU) of the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing at Otis AFB, Massachusetts. While at McCoy, the squadron flew the propeller driven EC-121 Warning Star radar surveillance aircraft in its EC-121D and EC-121Q variants. The squadron changed its parent wing on 1 May 1963, coming under the 552nd Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing headquartered at McClellan AFB, California. The mission of the 966th Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron covered a broad spectrum of responsibilities. As an Air Defense Command / Aerospace Defense Command (ADC) unit, the 966th supported Strategic Air Command and Military Airlift Command operations, assisted U.S. Navy P-2 Neptune and P-3 Orion aircraft in anti-submarine and maritime surveillance patrols and developed weather information. It also furnished airborne radar surveillance and technical control in support of global air defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff contingency operations. 966th aircrews also frequently deployed to distant operational locations including Southeast Asia. The squadron was inactivated on 31 December 1969, although detachments from other EC-121 squadrons would continue to operate at McCoy AFB throughout the early 1970s.

Cuban Missile Crisis

On 14 October 1962, a Lockheed U-2 from the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Laughlin Air Force Base near Del Rio, Texas and piloted by Major Richard S. Heyser, launched from Edwards AFB, California for a high altitude reconnaissance flight over Cuba. Arriving over the island an hour after sunrise, Heyser photographed the Soviet military installing nuclear armed SS-4 medium range and SS-5 intermediate range ballistic missiles in Cuba, thereby precipitating the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Heyser concluded this flight at McCoy AFB and the 4080th subsequently established a U-2 operating location at McCoy AFB, launching and recovering numerous flights over Cuba for the duration of the crisis. On 21 October, Attorney General of the United States Robert Kennedy, United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, General Maxwell Taylor and General Walter C. Sweeney, Jr. met with President John F. Kennedy concerning a military contingency plan regarding this development. The 4080th subsequently flew at least 82 missions from McCoy AFB from 22 October – 6 December 1962.

General Walter C. Sweeney, Jr., Commander of Tactical Air Command (TAC), proposed an operational plan which called first for an air attack on the surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites in the vicinity of known medium range (MRBM) and intermediate range ballistics missile (IRBM) launchers by eight fighter-bombers per SAM site. Concurrently, each of the Cuban MiG airfields thought to be protecting MRBM/IRBM sites were to be struck by at least twelve fighters. Following the air-strikes on SAM sites and MiG airfields, each MRBM and IRBM launch site was to be attacked by at least twelve aircraft. General Sweeney's plan was accepted and, additionally, Cuban Ilyushin Il-28 "Beagle" Bombers were added to the target list.

To support this plan, the USAF deployed the following units to McCoy AFB:

  • 4th Tactical Fighter Wing: 67 F-105s
    (Deployed from Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina)
  • 354th Tactical Fighter Wing: 63 F-100s
    (Deployed from Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina)
  • 427th Air Refueling Squadron: 20 KB-50Js
    (Deployed from Langley AFB, Virginia)

On the morning of October 27, a U-2 piloted by Major Rudolf Anderson, Jr. departed McCoy AFB on yet another Cuban overflight mission. A few hours into his mission, Anderson's aircraft was engaged by a Soviet-manned SA-2 surface to air missile site in the vicinity of Banes, Cuba. Hit by two of three missiles fired, the aircraft was shot down over Cuba, killing Major Anderson.

A week following the crash, Major Anderson's remains were turned over to a United Nations representative and returned to the United States. Major Anderson became the first recipient of the Air Force Cross, the U.S. Air Force's second highest decoration for valor after the Medal of Honor, which was awarded to him posthumously.

The Cuban missile confrontation was ultimately resolved and the airstrikes, which would have been followed by an invasion of Cuba, were never launched. However, all of the aforementioned squadrons and detachments except one remained at McCoy until the end of November 1962. The 4080th at Laughlin AFB and its successor unit, the 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, would continue to maintain a permanent operating location at McCoy AFB for U-2 detachment operations through 1973. In later years, these operations would occasionally be augmented by SR-71 detachments from the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, California.

306th Bombardment Wing

SAC's Strategic Wing concept was phased out in early 1963. In most cases, the aircraft and crews remained at the same base, but the wing (and its bomb squadron) were given new designations. On 1 April 1963, the 306th Bombardment Wing moved to McCoy AFB from MacDill AFB, Florida and converted to B-52D Stratofortress and KC-135A Stratotanker aircraft. The assets of the 4047th Strategic Wing were then absorbed by the 306 BW.

In addition to its "host wing" responsibilities for operating and maintaining the installation, the 306th's primary operational mission at McCoy AFB was deterring nuclear attack on the US by maintaining constant ground alert, and flying frequent cycles of airborne alert.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the 306th and McCoy AFB was a frequent host for the annual SAC Bombing and Navigation Competition between SAC wings operating B-52, FB-111 and KC-135 aircraft from throughout the Strategic Air Command, competing for the prestigious Fairchild Trophy. Vulcan B.2 bombers and Victor K.2 tankers from the Royal Air Force (RAF) Strike Command would also travel to McCoy AFB from their home bases in the United Kingdom to participate in this multi-week competition.

Vietnam War

In 1966, the 306 BW began preparing and training for deployment to the Western Pacific in support of Projects Arc Light & Young Tiger. In September 1966, the wing deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam and Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. Its mission while in the Western Pacific was to "...Conduct bombing raids in support of US and allied ground forces fighting in the Vietnamese War." Later, the wing also operated from U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield, Thailand as U. S. forces built up in the Vietnam theater. The 919th Air Refueling Squadron (919 ARS) was assigned to McCoy in March 1967.

When not forward deployed for operations over Vietnam, the 306th continued to operate out of McCoy AFB for both training evolutions and in its stateside strategic nuclear alert role. In January 1968, the 306 BW received another Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for this "double-duty" for combat operations in Southeast Asia while maintaining an alert status for SAC.

In 1972, the 306 BW would be part of the heavy bombing raids Linebacker I and Linebacker II over North Vietnam. The 306 BW returned to McCoy AFB from its final Southeast Asia deployment in early 1973 after the Paris Peace Accords ended American involvement in the conflict.

From 1971 through 1973 other training activities at McCoy AFB included KC-135Q instruction by the 306th Air Refueling Squadron (306 ARS) and KC-135A instruction by the 32nd Air Refueling Squadron (32 ARS). Whereas KC-135A aircraft typically carried JP-4 jet fuel, KC-135Q aircraft were specifically modified and equipped to offload JP-7 fuel and supported worldwide in-flight refueling requirements for USAF U-2 and SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft.

In 1971 the 42d Air Division, was headquartered at McCoy AFB. In September 1973, the air division headquarters was transferred to Blytheville Air Force Base (later renamed Eaker AFB), Arkansas.

On 31 March 1972, a 306th Bombardment Wing B-52D, AF Serial Number 56-0625, sustained multiple engine failures and an engine pod fire shortly after takeoff from McCoy AFB on a routine training mission. The aircraft was not carrying any weapons. The aircraft immediately attempted to return to the base, but crashed 3,220 feet (980 m) short of Runway 18R in a civilian residential area immediately north of the airfield, destroying or damaging eight homes. The crew of 7 airmen and a 10-year-old boy on the ground were killed.[1][2][3]

Realignment and closure

In May 1973 it was announced that the 306th Bombardment Wing would be deactivated and McCoy AFB closed as part of a post-Vietnam reduction in force (RIF). The 306th Bomb Wing (Heavy) inactivated in July 1974 as activities at the base were phased down prior to the closure while its personnel, along with its B-52D and KC-135A aircraft assets, were redistributed to other SAC bomb wings. Following deactivation of the 306th Bomb Wing, the 306th Strategic Wing was activated in 1975 at Ramstein AB, West Germany, subsequently relocating to RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom, as the focal point for all SAC operations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and as a liaison between SAC and United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). The 306th operated as the 306th Flying Training Group (306 FTG) at the United States Air Force Academy, operating the Academy's airstrip and providing initial flight training to members of the USAFA Cadet Wing.

Final closure of McCoy AFB was concluded in early 1975.

Up until 1980, SAC considered retaining the former SAC Alert Facility as either an Operating Location (OL) or as a smaller installation to be called McCoy Air Force Station under control of an air base squadron for occasional dispersal basing of two B-52D/G/H and two KC-135A/E/Q aircraft from other SAC installations. This concept never came to fruition, but the Alert Facility, a nose dock hangar and several buildings on the north end of the McCoy ramp were turned over to the US Army Reserve (USAR) for use as an Army Aviation Support Facility for USAR units operating C-12[disambiguation needed ], RC-12[disambiguation needed ] and UH-1 aircraft. This arrangement permitted USAF access if and when it became necessary. The USAR aviation units were deactivated in 1999, but most of the Alert Facility still remains under USAR control as a non-flying facility.

A significant portion of McCoy AFB was transferred to the United States Navy between 1974 and 1975, primarily base housing, base exchange, commissary, medical clinic, base chapel, and morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) facilities, becoming the Naval Training Center Orlando McCoy Annex, while the airfield proper and west flight line/ramp area was conveyed to the City of Orlando by the General Services Administration (GSA) for the sum of $1.00. The bulk of property that was initially transferred to the U.S. Navy by the U.S. Air Force would later be returned to the City of Orlando in 1999 following a 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) decision that directed NTC Orlando's closure by 1999.

In 1984, a B-52D Stratofortress, on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force, was flown to Orlando International Airport (which had taken over much of McCoy AFB) from the 7th Bomb Wing at the then-Carswell AFB, Texas for permanent static display at the airport's McCoy AFB/B-52 Memorial Park. It is located just east of and adjacent to the former location of the since dismantled McCoy Jetport civilian terminal.

Major commands to which assigned

  • Army Air Force Air Training Command, 1 August 1940
Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics, 1 October 1943 – 1 July 1945
Air Defense Command / Aerospace Defense Command (Attached 1 March 1957 – 1 February 1961; 1 February 1962 – 31 December 1969)

Major USAF units assigned

  • 3540th Flying Training Wing 1 September 1951
Redesignated: 4240th Flying Training Wing, 1 April 1952 – 1 June 1954
  • 321st Bombardment Wing, 4 December 1953 – 25 October 1961
  • 321st Air Refueling Squadron, 1 April 1952 – 1 August 1956
  • 19th Bombardment Wing, 11 June 1954 – 1 June 1956
  • 813th Strategic Aerospace Division, 15 July 1954 – 1 June 1956
  • 76th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (ADC), 8 November 1957 – 1 February 1961
  • 4047th Strategic Wing, 1 September 1961 – 1 April 1963
Replaced by: 306th Bombardment Wing, 1 April 1963 – 1 July 1974
  • 306th Air Refueling Squadron, 1 April 1963 – 30 September 1973 (Not operational 1-30 September 1973)
  • 919th Air Refueling Squadron, 25 March 1967 – 30 January 1972 (Not operational 15-30 June 1971)
  • 966th Airborne Air Control Squadron, 18 December 1961 – 31 December 1969
Deployed from: 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing, Otis AFB, Massachusetts
From 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina (TAC), 21 October – 29 November 1962
334th Tactical Fighter Squadron
335th Tactical Fighter Squadron
336th Tactical Fighter Squadron
From 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina (TAC), 21 October – 1 December, 1962
355th Tactical Fighter Squadron
356th Tactical Fighter Squadron
From 4505th Air Refueling Wing, Langley AFB, Virginia (TAC), 21 October – 1 December 1962
427th Air Refueling Squadron (Deployed From Robins AFB, Georgia)

Current uses

As previously mentioned, with the base's closure, a majority of the McCoy AFB site was transferred the City of Orlando by the General Services Administration (GSA). Today this land is operated and maintained by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) as Orlando International Airport. As a governmental entity chartered by Florida Legislature and as an enterprise fund for the City of Orlando, GOAA is tasked with the operation, administration, maintenance and oversight of expansions and enhancements to both Orlando International Airport and the Orlando Executive Airport. GOAA also leases buildings and property to private individuals and companies, primarily for aviation-related activities in support of the respective airports. Redeveloped areas on the former McCoy AFB / current Orlando International Airport are:

  • The current 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) site for the Orlando International Airport landside and airside terminal complex and associated support areas.
  • Two International Arrivals Concourses with United States Customs and Immigration facilities. Of the total 114 airport gates, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority manages eleven gates with seven additional gates available for international operations. Expansive fixed base operator, domestic and charter operations facilities are also located on the airport.
  • Orlando Tradeport, a 1,400-acre (5.7 km2) master planned integrated cargo center with direct airside access, 140 acres (0.57 km2) of cargo ramp, 205-acre (0.83 km2) Foreign Trade Zone, and ultramodern United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Inspection Station with several perishable handling facilities. Many of the former USAF hangars and maintenance facilities have been taken over by civilian airlines and other aeronautic firms.

Tributes to Colonel McCoy still abound on and near the airport. The airport's ICAO, FAA and IATA airfield identifiers, as well as all airline tickets and baggage tags, continue to read "MCO" which stands for McCoy. A portrait of Colonel McCoy hangs in the airport's main landside terminal near the airport chapel, while one of the restaurants in the airport's Hyatt Hotel is named "McCoy's." The Orange County Public School System operates the Colonel Michael McCoy Elementary School, which is located just north of the airport, while a nearby thoroughfare is called McCoy Road. Finally, the base's original military credit union continues to operate throughout Central Florida as the McCoy Federal Credit Union.

The U.S. Navy controlled part of the former McCoy AFB site for an administrative support and housing area for nearby Naval Training Center Orlando until NTC Orlando's closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in 1999. The former military family housing area originally constructed by the Air Force and later utilized by the Navy was fully turned over to the City of Orlando in late 1999 and was redeveloped into The Villages At Southport. Housing sales began in 1996 and the complex was awarded a US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) award for outstanding development.

Remaining military activities at McCoy include Navy Exchange Orlando, and multiple Army Reserve, Florida Army National Guard, Navy Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve facilities and units.

Over the past 30 years, the majority of the former McCoy AFB has been subjected to extensive modification due to the addition of new structures, taxiways, or runways. In addition, the remaining lands have been subjected to extensive excavation, landfill and improvement activities. Although several former military structures remain and a new joint military reserve facility added, a significant portion of the former air force base is barely recognizable.

A continuing impact of both the former McCoy Air Force Base/Pinecastle AFB/Pinecastle AAF and the former Orlando AAF is the continued excavation of unspent ammunition, including small practice bombs, aerial rockets and machine gun rounds from the World War II era in the areas northeast of the current Orlando International Airport and east and southeast of the current Orlando Executive Airport. These formerly remote and uninhabited areas were leased from local landowners at the time and used as bombing and gunnery ranges for Orlando AAF and Pinecastle AAF when both were Army Air Forces facilities during World War II. At the conclusion of the war, they were returned to the original owners and their previous primarily agricultural purposes. With Central Florida's increasing population in the 1980s, 1990s and 21st century, these landowners and/or their descendants sold these properties for private redevelopment, predominantly residential housing and associated support infrastructure such as schools, parks and retail. In recent years, new discoveries of unspent conventional munitions have caused repeated closures of Odyssey Middle School, northeast of Orlando International Airport.[4]

See also


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

  • Lloyd, Alwyn T. (2000), A Cold War Legacy, A Tribute to Strategic Air Command, 1946–1992, Pictorial Histories Publications ISBN 1-57510-052-5
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Mueller, Robert (1989). Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • Turner Publishing Company (1997), Strategic Air Command: The Story of the Strategic Air Command and Its People. Turner Publishing Company ISBN 1563112655
  • Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
  • USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present

External links

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