Military


Avon Park Air Force Station
Avon Park Air Force Range

Avon Park Air Force Range is a 106,000-acre bombing and gunnery range located in Polk and Highlands Counties, Florida. The Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR), Operating Location Alpha (OL-A), is located approximately 100 miles east-southeast of MacDill AFB, FL.

The site is home to a Deployed Unit Complex (DUC) of the 347WG Detachment 1, a unit of the 347th Wing located at Moody AFB, GA. Its mission is to manage special use airspace and scheduling assets; provide access to extensive, diversified and convenient training airspace and ranges with unique training capabilities for military ground training at APAFR; provide and maintain a DUC including operations and maintenance facilities, aircraft parking.

The mission of the DUC's in Central Florida is widespread with the Commanding ramp, Aerospace Ground Equipment, vehicle support and munitions storage and access capability for deployed flying units; manage special use airspace and scheduling assets; provide access to extensive, diversified and convenient training airspace and ranges with unique training capabilities for military ground training at APAFR; provide and maintain operations and maintenance facilities, aircraft parking ramp, Aerospace Ground Equipment, vehicle support and munitions storage; Provide and maintain six range target complexes and safety buffer zones; provide and maintain six range target complexes and safety buffer zones; provide and maintain a facility complex for deployed ground training units; provide and maintain a restricted use airfield complex; and to provide, maintain and protect a storage facility in support of the East Coast Consolidated Mobility Bag Control Center.

In addition, APAFR provides a variety of air-to-ground targets in support of air and ground operations, and supports a large natural resource program covering over 106,110 acres within the range complex, as well as fish and wildlife and grazing programs.

The site is located approximately 10.5 miles southeast of the city of Avon Park (Pop. 8,042) in Okeechobee, Highlands and Polk Counties, Florida. Prior to its use by the military, most of the land was unimproved pasture and swampland. This part of Florida is characterized by a water table at or near the surface for the majority of the year. The land is irregular due to the dissolution of its limestone bedrock by acidic ground water. This causes caverns, sinkholes, pinnacles, solution pipes and a honeycomb-structure of voids in the limestone.

Between 1942 and 1977, the United States acquired a total of 218,883.88 acres for Avon Park Range. During World War II, the site was known as Avon Park Army Air Field and was used as a training base for B-17 Aircraft Crews for air-to-ground bombing. According to a 10 April 1942 newspaper article, the Army Air Forces would begin bombing AAvon Park General Bombing Range with bombs ranging in size from 15 lb practice bombs to 2000 lb. demolition bombs containing 2 ton of high explosives. Avon Park AAF had twenty-six thousand M1A1 practice bombs stored in an open area on 3 July 1945.

In 1947, the base was deactivated and placed in caretaker status. In 1949, the site was transferred to the Air Force and became known as Avon Park Air Force Base. In 1956, the site was renamed Avon Park Air Force Range. Improvements included storm drainage, sanitary sewer, electrical and water systems, roads, bridges, runways, fencing and over 500 buildings. These structures included: chapels, administration, dormitories, barracks, recreation, fire stations, mess halls, residences, and other miscellaneous structures.

Between 1946 and 1983, a total of 112,771.61 acres was disposed. The land excessed included a land skip bombing target, four practice bombing targets, two position firing courses, a formation bombing target and a practice and skip bombing target.

On May 25, 1946, a three-year-old boy was killed by a fuze that a fisherman found in Arbuckle Creek. Then, on November 9, 1946, another child died and four others received injuries from a fuze found under a vacant house located in Avon Park. The fuze was described by a witness to be approximately 18-inches long without a propeller and containing marble-like materials.

A large portion of the eastern part of this facility was included in an ordnance clearance operation that was carried out in November 1949. However, this certificate did not specifically address the Arbuckle Creek area. According to the 1949 Certificate of Clearance, the area received a careful visual search and had been cleared of all dangerous and/or explosive materials reasonablely possible to detect.

The Avon Park Air Force Range has approximately 82,000 acres open for public access on a regular basis for hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, and other related activities.





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