Airpower Over Altus 2017 – The 75th Anniversary of Altus AFB

Airpower Over Altus 2017 – The 75th Anniversary of Altus AFB

Report and photos by Scot Meek

November 5, 2017

On the 9th of September, Altus AFB celebrated its 75th Anniversary, along with the 70th Anniversary of the United States Air Force. Altus AFB is located in the Southwest corner of Oklahoma. In attendance were many types of WWII era and the larger aircraft of today’s United States Air Force. Many of the fighter and attack aircraft that were on the list of static aircraft were unable to attend due to the (at the time) immediate threat of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The aircraft that did make the show were:

B-52H Minot AFB
B-1B    Ellsworth AFB
B-29    ‘Doc’
T-38A   Langley AFB
T-38C   Sheppard AFB
C-17A  Altus AFB
KC-135R Altus AFB

The aerial acts that performed for the crowd:

C-17A Globemaster III Demo
KC-135R/C-17A Air-To-Air Refueling Demo
B-2A Spirit Fly-Over
B-25 Mitchell (Super Rabbit)
P-51 Mustang (Miss America)
Adam ‘Shake-N-Bake’ Baker
Trojan Flyers
Randy W. Ball
DeHavilland Vampire
USAF Academy Glider Demo Team
C-47 Skytrain/C-17A Globemaster Heritage Flight
Wings Of Blue USAF Parachute Team
USAF Thunderbirds

Altus AFB started in 1943 as a training location for America’s Army Air Corps Aviators. During the days of World War II, future aviators used the Cessna AT-17, Curtiss AT-9 and the Beechcraft AT-7 for training. Once the students had mastered their training aircraft, they were awarded their wings and then proceeded to their next assignment of learning to employ the aircraft that they would fly over the skies of Europe and the Pacific theater. After the WWII conflict, and before the Cold War began, Altus AFB was actually inactivated and ceased training operations until August of 1953. Since that time however, the base has underwent several mission changes. After reactivation, the base operated under the direction of the Tactical Air Command supporting the missions flown with the Douglas C-47 Skytrain. That role was very short lived though, with the (then) all new jet powered B-47 Stratojet coming on line…the base switched roles to accommodate the new bombers and became the location of a new Strategic Air Command Wing.

During the 1950’s and 1960’s, the Cold War began to gain momentum and the base changed roles several times over the years. KC-97 Stratofreighter’s, B-52 Stratofortresses and KC-135 Stratotanker’s would dominate the ramp spaces at Altus AFB. With the nuclear threat always looming, tanker crews and B-52 crews alike, would train hard…often being ‘scrambled’ on nuclear launch alerts to carry out mock nuclear bombing missions at a moment’s notice. As the Cold War continued and the situation in Vietnam looking more and more grim and the need for moving large amounts of men and equipment to Southeast Asia, was selected by the Air Force to be the new training installation for the crews that would be operating the new C-141 Starlifter and C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft and take on the mission of airborne transport. With the flat terrain and 300 average flying days per year…Altus was the ideal location for the mission training. By the beginning of the 1970’s, the B-52’s had been relocated. The KC-135, C-141 and the C-5 were the most common aircraft to be seen in the skies above Altus.

In 1996 the C-17 Globemaster III arrived at Altus, ushering in the retirement of the C-141 after 32 years of dedicated service to the USAF. The C-5 Galaxy continued to operate at Altus AFB until 2007. During that year, the C-5 training syllabus, along with the USAF Loadmaster school and Basic Refueling Boom Operator courses were transferred to Lackland AFB, Texas, under the command of the USAF Reserve. Currently the the KC-135 Stratotanker and the C-17 Globemaster III training syllabus under the guidance of the USAF Air Education and Training Command use Altus AFB as its premier Air Mobility  training location. Altus AFB is also slated to train future KC-46 Pegasus crews and with the KC-46 nearing production, provisions for the training and airframes are currently being made. With the retirement of the KC-135R currently scheduled well into the 2020’s, the C-17, KC-135 and KC-46 together ensures that Altus AFB will be a tremendous asset for America’s global reach for many, many decades to come.

Aviation Photography Digest would like to extend a tremendous ‘Thank You!!’ for the hospitality of the Public Affairs team of the 97thAMW and Altus AFB. And a very special ‘Thank You!!’ to SrA. Ms Bailey Janes and 2nd Lt. Stewart Thrift for their eagerness to assist us and answer any and all questions!

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Scot Meek
Scot’s passion for aviation started at a very young age. Getting to grow up under the busy Tinker AFB flight pattern, Scot was often able to witness the awesome spectacle of E-3 Sentry's of the 552nd AWACS Wing doing pattern work, along with the F-4D Phantoms from the 507th Tactical Fighter Group heading out for the ranges at low-level and in full afterburner. His father, Marvin Meek, fueled that passion, by taking him to many different airshows around the area. His enthusiasm for aviation spurred him on to serve for 6 years as an aviation fueler with the Oklahoma Army National Guard, fueling all types of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Scot is a life-long resident of the Oklahoma City metro area. He currently lives mere minutes from Tinker AFB, and is currently employed at Will Rogers World Airport fueling civil, military and general aviation aircraft. When he's not working or roaming the ramps taking photos of aircraft, he enjoys spending time with the love of his life Heidi, and building detailed scale models of modern military aircraft and autos. He's known throughout the aviation photography community as the 'FighterJetGeek' for his enthusiasm for modern military fighter and attack jets.

You can check out more of Scot’s work on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram by clicking on the icons above.
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