Aviano Air Base
There has been an American presence at Aviano Air Base since the end of World War II. In 1954 the Italian and American governments signed a joint use agreement and by 1955, HQ United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) had moved its Italian operations from Udine to Aviano. The base went through a period of hosting rotational fighter squadrons. With the declining use of the Italian live fire range, the rotational squadrons became a thing of the past. Aviano became a war reserve material storage base and played a big part in Desert Storm. In 1992, HQ 16th Air Force and the 401st Fighter Wing moved from Torrejon Air Base, Spain to Aviano. In 1994 the 401st FW was deactivated and the 31st FW reactivated.
Aviano Air Base is located in the northeastern part of Italy, at the base of the Italian Alps, about 20 miles north of Pordenone. The layout of Aviano is unique because the community consists of seven areas, which include the administrative, community and support areas, the 16th Air Force command compound, the flight line area, a munitions storage area, a civil engineering complex, a recreational area and a decommissioned fuel railhead. Aviano Air Base is divided into nine areas stretched between the towns of Aviano and Pordenone, nine miles south of the base. The major areas are:
- Area A1 contains most of Aviano's support functions.
- Area A2 contains Billeting, the Fitness Centers, Dining Halls, Dormitories, Thrift Shop and Fire Department.
- Area C contains Civil Engineering activities.
- Area E, 16th Air Force Headquarters area, contains AFN, some communications functions (base operators) and K-9 facilities.
- Area F is the flightline area and contains operational and support units: 31st Fighter Wing Commander's Office, a portion of the Traffic Management Office, Air Mobility Command Passenger Terminal, Supply, Security Force Offices, flying squadrons, Recreational Area (ball parks, track, campground), Golf Course, Pass & Registration, and Drivers Testing.
There has been an airport facility in Aviano since 1911. The first airfields (there were two at Aviano) were used as training bases for Italian pilots and construction facilities for aircraft parts. The Aviano airfields and one located just outside Pordenone were over run by the Austro-German army during the First World War. The Pordenone airfield was completely destroyed and never reused. Aviano was less damaged and reopened after the war. Between the two wars the airfields were again used as a training base. The Germans took over the airfield in 1943 and held it until it fell to the British and Americans in 1945. There has been an American presence in Aviano since 1945.
The village of Aviano is located 9 miles north of the city of Pordenone (population approximately 50,000), provincial capital of Pordenone province. The region in which both Aviano and Pordenone are located is called Friuli Venezia Giulia. Aviano has been inhabited since the 900s. However, evidence of a human presence dates to before the Romans entered the area in 186 BC. Most historians believe that Aviano developed with a commercial center located where present day Aviano is situated and a cultural and defensive center in the castle(Castello d'Aviano) area. Aviano was a possession of the Proto-Christian Catholic Church of Aquileia, a small Roman town located on the Adriatic Sea, until 1420 when it came under the influence of the Venetian Republic. Aviano became a part of the Italian State in 1866.
Serving a population of roughly 5,400, the water system features six potable wells and two emergency links to the municipal system. Treatment is minimal, usually chlorine injection at the wellheads. Water in one base well had excessive tetrachloroethene (PCE) in the fall of 1999. PCE is a solvent used to clean machinery, electronic parts and clothing. The well was immediately closed and the public notified. Follow-up sampling detected no further problems or threats to health. The average daily water production is 400,000 to 600,000 gallons.
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