Vance AFB, Oklahoma
Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma - 5 miles south of Enid, approximately 94 miles northwest of Oklahoma city and is 1,307 ft above sea level. The facility has a mission of producing military pilots (200 during fiscal year 1997). Vance AFB is located on 4,934 acres with 142 buildings, and 230 housing units. There are approximately 2,450 employees at VAFB (1050 military, 200 civil service, 1,200 Northrop/contract). The base mission also involves aircraft maintenance and civil engineering activities.
The 71st Flying Training Wing conducts joint specialized undergraduate pilot training (JSUPT) for qualified United States military officers and also international officers. Flying training is also provided for members of the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and the air forces of several allied countries. VANCE AFB is situated about five miles south of downtown Enid on land which once produced bumper wheat crops. In 1941, for the sum of $1 a year, this land was leased from the city of Enid to the federal government as a site for a pilot training field. It has grown to be the finest and most efficient undergraduate pilot training base in the Air Force. Construction of the airfield complex began in late 1941, and on Nov. 21 the base was officially activated. The installation was without a name but was generally referred to as Air Corps Basic Flying School of Enid, Okla. It was not until Feb. 11, 1942, that the base was officially named Enid Army Flying School. The mission of the school was to train aviation cadets to become aircraft pilots and commissioned officers in the Army Air Corps. The first aircraft used was the BT-13A, later supplemented by the BT-15. These were the only aircraft used for basic pilot training during World War II. However, in 1944 advanced students were graduated in the TB-25 and TB-26. For the duration of the war, the basic phase of training graduated 8,169 students, while the advanced phase of training graduated 826. As the demand for pilots decreased after World War II, the Enid Army Flying Field (as it was named in 1943) closed Jan. 31, 1947. With the creation of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service in September 1947, it became evident that once again the Enid training facilities would be required. The base was reactivated, and its name changed to Enid AFB on Jan. 13, 1948, as one of the pilot training bases within Air Training Command. Its mission was to provide training for advanced students in multi-engine aircraft. The four-month program, later expanded to six months, included training in the AT-6 and TB-25.
In keeping with the Air Force tradition of naming bases for deceased Air Force flyers, on July 9, 1949, the base was renamed after a local World War II hero and Medal of Honor winner, Lt Col Leon Robert Vance, Jr. The twin-engine T-37 jet, designed as a primary trainer became operational at the base in 1961. Replacing the T-33 in 1963-64 was the T-38, an advanced supersonic jet trainer. In 1960 Vance was selected by the Air Force as part of an extended experiment in contract services. Under this plan a civilian contractor furnishes the support facilities normally provided by base agencies. The largest contractor performs aircraft and base maintenance, ground transportation, fire protection, procurement, supply, photographic and other services. There are four other contractors involved in ground-based training in simulators and academics, simulator console operations and management, simulator operation and maintenance and field service. All military training continues, however, under military supervision.
Vance took over the fixed wing qualification training program in 1987. The program, which is basically an accelerated version of UPT, teaches helicopter pilots to fly fixed wing aircraft.
In March 1990 Air Force officials announced that Vance would add a new aircraft to its inventory. The 71st Flying Training Wing took delivery of the Beechcraft T-1 Jayhawk in December 1994, and moved to specialized undergraduate pilot training (SUPT) in September 1995. Under SUPT all students start out flying the T-37, then branch off to specialized training. Those heading for tanker/transport assignments will train in the T-1. Fighter, bomber, and reconnaissance pilots will train in the T-38. Joint training with the Navy became a reality in March 1996 and Navy and Marine Corps student pilots arrived in April 1996 as part of Class 97-08.
Vance was the first base in ATC to have extensive civilian contractor support for base functions ranging from aircraft maintenance to fire department to child care services. The support contract began in 1960 with Serv-Air. Northrop Worldwide Aircraft Services assumed the contract in 1972 and has held it since.
DoD also recommended to realign Moody AFB, GA, as follows: relocate the Primary Phase of Fixed-wing Pilot Training to Vance Air Force Base; relocate Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals Training for Pilots to Vance AFB, OK; relocate Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals Training for Weapons Systems Officers to Vance AFB. This recommendation would realign and consolidate USAF's primary phase of undergraduate flight training functions to reduce excess/unused basing capacity to eliminate redundancy, enhance jointness for UNT/Naval Flight Officer (NFO) training, reduce excess capacity, and improve military value. The basing arrangement that flows from this recommendation would allow the Inter-service Training Review Organization (ITRO) process to establish a DoD baseline program in UNT/NFO with curricula that would permit services latitude to preserve service-unique culture and a faculty and staff thatwould bring a "Train as we fight; jointly" national perspective to the learning process. Environmentally, this recommendation might require significant air permit revisions for Vance. DoD would need to re-evaluate noise contours for Vance. It also might need to modify the hazardous waste program for Vance. Additional operations at Vance might impact wetlands, which might restrict operations.
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