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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


The former Pinecastle Army Airfield consisted of 2,216 acres. Acquisition began in 1942 and the entire site was transferred to the City of Orlando in 1947. Between 1951 and 1969, the U.S. reacquired Pinecastle Army Airfield and expanded the site to 4,426.40 acres for use as Pinecastle Air Force Base. The base was renamed McCoy Air Force Base in 1958.

Pinecastle Army Airfield was used as a training base for B-17 bomber crews. Records indicate that planes from Pinecastle AAF performed test bombing of chemical munitions at Pinecastle bombing and gunnery range. It is uncertain whether the chemical warfare materials used in these tests were stored at Pinecastle Army Airfield or transported from the Orlando toxic gas and decontamination yard a few hours before a bombing run.

The Air Force reactivated the site in 1952 under the air training command and used the site until 1974. B-47 training started at Pinecastle AFB, FL, when Class 53-6A entered combat crew training on 22 December 1952. On 01 January 1954 Pinecastle AFB, FL, and the B-47 combat crew training mission transferred to Strategic Air Command (SAC). In 1954 the newly activated 321st Bombardment Wing was assigned to Pinecastle Air Force Base, FL to conduct B-47 training. In December 1961 the wing converted to B-52 transition training.

In the early 1960s the 966th Airborne Early Warning and Control Squadron was stationed at McCoy AFB, as was the 306th Air Refueling Squadron. By 1971 the 42d Air Division, Strategic Air Command, was headquartered at McCoy Air Force Base. In September 1973 the 42nd Air Division moved to Blytheville Air Force Base, Arkansas. The the 306th Bombardment Wing was at McCoy in 1972, with the B-52D aircraft of the 367th Bomber Squadron were based at McCoy. Inactivation of the 306th Bombardment Wing began in 1973 and was completed in July 1974.

From 1971 through 1976 other training activities at McCoy included KC-135Q instruction by the 306th Air Refueling Squadron and KC-135A instruction by the 32nd Air Refueling Squadron.

Bell Aircraft Corp. manufactured three first-generation X-1 supersonic aircraft, originally designated the XS-1s. Ship No. 1 flew the first unpowered glide tests at Pinecastle Army Airfield, near Orlando, Fla., in early 1946; that phase ended in March of that year and the program was then relocated to Muroc. The move was a logistics issue as much as anything; Pinecastle was not suitable. A move to the remote California desert ensured the project team could maintain secrecy, an important issue considering the project was classified at the time. In addition, Muroc had an expansive landing area, thanks to the surrounding dry lakebeds, and better visibility. The plane's high sink rate and the problems of keeping the plane in sight amid Florida's frequent clouds added two more votes in favor of the (Army Air Force's) decision to go to Muroc.

A major portion of the site is currently owned by the city of Orlando and used for the Orlando International Airport. Most of the former air field is now the Orlando International Airport. The portion of the site transferred to private individuals and companies is being used for aviation related activities in support of the airport. The US Navy controls a part of the site for an administrative and housing area. The majority of the former Pincastle Airfield has been subjected to extensive modification due to the addition of new structures, taxiways, or runways. In addition, the remaining lands have been subjected to extensive evacuation, landfill and improvement activities.

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