Gila Bend Air Force Auxiliary Field
Gila Bend AFAF (KGBN) is 45 miles south of Luke AFB and approximately two miles south of Gila Bend off of State Highway 85 in Arizona. Its geographic coordinates are 32°53'N, 112°43'W. Field elevation is 858 feet above sea level. The runway is oriented 170°/250° and is 8500 feet long. The ranges extend south to the Mexican border, west to the out-skirts of Yuma, AZ, and southeast to near Tucson, AZ.
The auxiliary field is used as an emergency landing facility by Luke aircraft and units from other nearby bases using the Barry M. Goldwater range complex. The facility dates back to the early 1940's when it was part of the Gila Bend Gunnery Range. It was an active Air Force facility until approximately 1995. It was used in support of aircraft using the adjacent Barry M. Goldwater Range, and for maintenance of the range and range targets. This activity is now supported by private contractors utilizing portions of the former facility.
Located in the Sonoran Desert of southwest Arizona, Gila Bend sets on a desert plain that slopes gently downward toward the Gila River. There is no high terrain in the immediate vicinity of the base, however, the Gila mountains rise about 3200 feet above sea level twenty miles to the northwest and the Sand Tank mountains rise to 4000 feet twenty-five miles to the southeast. Lesser mountain chains are found in other directions from the base: the Maricopas at 2800 feet to the east, the Saucedas at 2700 feet to the south and the Painted Rocks at 2600 feet to the west. The majority of the land (2.8 million acres) used for range activi-ties is arid desert with cactus and scrub brush as the only vegetation. To the north of the base, oriented east to west, are numerous irrigated fields producing a variety of crops-cotton, grain, melons, citrus fruits and grapes. Additionally, to the west of the base is the Gila Feed yard where annually 75000 beef cattle are fattened prior to processing.
As the topography of Gila Bend Range complex closely resembles that of Luke AFB, general climatology discussed in the previous chapters will suffice. Sum-mertime occurrences of thunderstorms at Gila Bend are associated with the Ari-zona monsoon season and are usually confined to the higher terrain surrounding the airfield itself. Movement of a storm off the mountains onto the base is infre-quent. Maximum thunderstorm activity occurs in the months of July and August with an average of 7 occurrences per month.
The facility is managed, for environmental purposes, by Luke Air Force Base, Glendale, Arizona. In 1994, the Air Force conducted Site Investigations of two sites at the facility, the former fire training area FT-27 and a nearby maintenance area. Limited contamination was found at the former fire training area with a determination that it did not pose a threat to groundwater. Sampling of the maintenance area did not reveal any contamination warranting further action.
Entry onto the Goldwater Range requires the possession of an access permit. Applications, rules and regulations and other information regarding the access permit, and the permits themselves, may be obtained from the Air Force at Gila Bend Auxiliary Field, the Marine Corps Air Station at Yuma, BLM Field Offices in Yuma and Phoenix and the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Ajo.
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