Library Fact Sheets
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE HISTORY|
Printable Fact Sheet
On June 10, 1942, an event occurred that permanently changed the face of the Tularosa Basin -- Alamogordo Army Air Field was established at a site six miles west of Alamogordo, New Mexico. Initial plans called for the base to serve as the center for the British Overseas Training program; the British hoped to be able to train their aircrews over the open New Mexico skies. However, everything changed when the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the Hawaiian Islands on December 7, 1941. The British decided to no longer pursue its overseas training program, and the United States military saw the location as an opportunity to train its own growing military. Construction began at the airfield on February 6, 1942 and forces began to move in on May 14, 1942.
From 1942-1945, Alamogordo Army Air Field served as the training grounds for over 20 different groups, flying primarily B-17s, B-24s, and B-29s. Typically, these groups served at the airfield for about six months, training their personnel before heading to combat in either the Pacific or European Theater. The 450th Bombardment Group was one of the many to cut its teeth at Alamogordo. After training, the group went on to serve in nearly every major combat operation in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Balkans. During their combat service, the 450th garnered two distinguished unit citations and 11 campaign credits.
After World War II, the future of the base was uncertain. In fact, rumors spread concerning the closure of the site, fueled by the fact that most operations had ceased. However, in 1947, a new era began when Air Materiel Command announced the air field would be its primary site for the testing and development of pilot less aircraft, guided missiles, and other research programs. For the next 25 years the site, which became known as the Holloman Air Development Center, and later the Air Force Missile Development Center, launched many missiles including Tiny Tim (the first Army rocket), Rascal, V-2, XQ-2 Drone, Falcon, MACE, Matador, and Shrike.
On January 13, 1948 the Alamogordo installation was renamed Holloman Air Force Base, in honor of the late Col. George V. Holloman, a pioneer in guided missile research.
Holloman Air Force Base wrote its name into the annals of American history in the 1950s and 1960s. On December 10, 1954, Lt Col (Dr.) John P. Stapp received the nickname "The Fastest Man Alive" when he rode a rocket propelled test sled, Sonic Wind No. 1, to a speed of 632 miles per hour. Additionally, Captain Joseph W. Kittinger Jr. stepped out of an open balloon gondola at 102,800 feet on August 16, 1960, in an attempt to evaluate techniques of high altitude bailout. Capt Kittinger's jump lasted 13 minutes reaching a velocity of 614 miles per hour. That jump broke four world records: highest open gondola manned balloon flight, highest balloon flight of any kind, highest bailout, and longest free fall. A final noteworthy event occurred on November 29, 1961, when ENOS, a chimpanzee trained at Holloman's HAM facility (Holloman Aero-Medical laboratory), was the first U.S. specimen launched into orbit. ENOS was launched in a Mercury-Atlas capsule that completed two orbits around the earth and was safely recovered three hours, 21 minutes later.
On 12 July 1963, after serving at Chaumont Air Base, France as a conventional strike force in Europe, the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing moved to Holloman Air Force Base. The 366th arrived armed with the F-84 and converted to the F-4 in 1965. In support of combat operations in Vietnam, the wing moved to Phan Rang Air Base, South Vietnam in March 1966.
Another new era began in the Tularosa Basin on 1 July 1968, when the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing arrived at Holloman Air Force Base. The 49th's F-4 Phantom IIs introduced a new era of fighter aircraft training and operations, which continued for the next three decades and until today. In 1977 the 49th transitioned to the F-15 Eagle, the Air Force's top air-to-air weapon. In 1992, Holloman Air Force Base again garnered national attention when the Air Force's most technological fighter, the F-117A Nighthawk made its new home at Holloman.
The German Air Force Tactical Training Center (GAF TTC) was activated as a tenant unit at Holloman AFB May 1, 1996. This program, based on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two governments and financed by the German Federal Ministry of Defence (FMOD), is unique by the way that it allows the German Air Force to deploy and station their TORNADO A/C permanently at Holloman AFB, NM. With the activation, 300 German military personnel and 12 Tornado aircraft joined Team Holloman. The mission was to conduct a Fighter Weapons Instructor Course (FWIC) for the TORNADO and advanced tactical training in preparation for combat.
The Tactical Training Center was redesignated the German Air Force Flying Training Center (GAF FTC) July 1, 1999 in conjunction with their growing mission. In addition, German Air Force pilots and WSOs are now learning to fly the TORNADO at Holloman AFB and instructor aircrews are being trained as well. As of July 2007 there are 600 German military personnel and 21 Tornado aircraft assigned to Holloman AFB, NM. These numbers may increase up to 900 personnel and 42 A/C, depending on the actual training needs.
There are numerous reasons the German Air Force trains here. The area offers great flying weather and has suitable air space. Other reasons are the proximity of Holloman AFB to the German Air Force Air Defense Center (GAF ADC) at Ft. Bliss, TX and the centralizing of German aircrew training for the TORNADO at a single location.
The GAF FTC consists of two Groups, the Training Group and the Support Group. The Training Group holds the administrative staff which is necessary to plan and support the flying courses. Within the Training Group the Training Squadron is home of all the instructors and the students.
The Support Group consists of three squadrons witch are the First Line Maintenance Squadron, the Second Line Maintenance and Electronic Squadron and the Supply Squadron.
The German Air Force has been training its aircrews in the United States since 1958. This training took place on various bases throughout the states before moving to Holloman Air Force Base, NM, mid 1992.
German Air Force pilot candidates learn to fly in Texas at U.S. Air Force undergraduate pilot training. The future Weapon System Officers (WSO) attend undergraduate navigator training at Pensacola NAS, Fl.
The U.S. Air Force's 20th Fighter Squadron at Holloman trained German pilots and WSOs to fly the F-4F PHANTOM. In addition, the 20th conducted the Flight Instructor (IP) and the Fighter Weapons Instructor Course (FWIC). The German government paid the full cost of this program. The 20th Fighter Squadron was inactivated on December 20, 2004.
Today, Holloman Air Force Base continues to serve at the forefront of military operations, with its F-22 Raptor aircraft and serving as the training center for the German Air Force's Tactical Training Center.
Point of Contact
49th Fighter Wing, Public Affairs Office; 490 First St., Ste. 2800, Holloman AFB, NM 88330-8287; Com'l: (505) 572-5406, DSN: 572-5406.