would like to stop and have a family picture
taken in front of this B-52 Air force bomber please
check the box on your reservation form.
McCoy Air Force Base is a former
United States Air Force base near
It was a training base during World War II, then after the war it became a Front-Line
Strategic Air Command base during the Cold War.
Today it is Orlando International Airport.
United States Army Air Force acquired 2,216 acres of scrubland southeast
Orlando to build a training base. When completed, it was named Orlando Army Air Field
Number Two and was intended to support the training mission of Orlando Air Base
six miles to the north. In 1942, the facility was renamed Pinecastle Army Airfield and 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 the 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. With the end of World War II, Pinecastle was used by Bell Aircraft Corp
in the testing and development of the X-1 supersonic aircraft, originally designated the XS-1s.
Ship No. 1 flew the first unpowered glide tests at Pinecastle in early 1946. In March the X-1 program
was relocated to Muroc AAF, California. The move was a logistics issue as much as anything,
as Pinecastle was deemed not suitable for the project.
A move to the remote California desert ensured the X-1 project team could
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. With the X-1 project transferred,
Pinecastle was deactivated and the entire site was transferred to the
City of Orlando in 1947.
United States Air Force reactivated the facility and renamed it
Pinecastle Air Force Base.
Over the next 18 years additional land was acquired to expand the base, eventually becoming over
4,400 acres in size.Its initial USAF use was as a B-47 training facility by Air Training Command. B-47
training started when Class 53-6A entered combat crew training on 22 December 1952.
1954 the B-47 combat crew training mission transferred to
Strategic Air Command (SAC).
On 15 December 1953, the was activated and on 24 May 1954, Colonel
Michael N. McCoy was appointed its commander. The wing became Operationally Ready by June.
In July 1954 the joined the 321st at Pinecastle and the two units came under
the control of the , commanded by Brigadier General Keith K. Compton.
The 813th was subsequently deactivated in the summer of 1956 when the 19th
Bomb Wing moved
to Homestead Air Force Base near Miami, Florida.In September 1956, The , commanded by Lt. Col. Vernon Q. Mullin arrived. This unit was equipped with C-124 "Globemasters".
In November 1957 the base was host to the medium bombers participating in the annual Stratigic Air
Command Bombing Navigation and Reconnaissance Competition. An aircraft accident took the lives of
Colonel McCoy, Group Captain John Woodroffe of the Royal Air Force, Lt. Col. Charles Joyce and
Major Vernon Stuff during preparations for this event.
Despite this tragedy, the 321st Bomb Wing, under the direction of its new
Robert W. Strong, Jr. Won the top honors of the meet, including the coveted Fairchild and McCoy trophies, distinguishing the 321st as the top B-47 Wing in SAC. Another unit with distinction was assigned
to Pinecastle AFB in November 1957. This was the , the modern
descendants of the famous World War II "Flying Tigers." The 76th FIS was commanded by Major Morris F. Wilson and flew the F-89 "Scorpion" all weather interceptors.
1958 Pinecastle AFB was renamed McCoy Air Force Base in memory of
Colonel Michael N. W. McCoy. Formal dedication ceremonies were held on 21 May 1958 in
conjunction with a mammoth open house, during which an estimated 30,000 Floridians attended.
On 1 February 1961 the 76th FIS was transferred to Westover AFB, Mass. On 15 June, the 2nd
Strategic Support Squadron inactivated.
In the summer of
1961, a complete reogranization of the base began. A program got under way
convert the base from B-47ís to heavy B-52 "Stratofortress"s bombers. The 321st Bomb Wing began
phasing out its operations in June 1961. On 1 July 1961 the 321st was replaced by was designated and organized. Its first commander was Lt. Col. Francis S. Holmes, Jr.
1961 the first B-52ís were assigned to the new wing, and on 1 September
1961 the 347th Bomb Squadron was re-assigned from Westover AFB to McCoy AFB to
fly the heavy bombers. On
the 321st Combat Support Group was organized. Also, on that same date, Colonel William G. Walker, Jr.
assumed command of the 4047th Strategic Wing. The 321st Bomb Wing was discontinued on
25 October 1961, ending almost eight years of active service as one of SACís deterrent forces,
Lieutenant Colonel Harry F. Baker was commander of the 321st when it was inactivated.
On April 1,1963, the
converted to B-52 and KC-135 aircraft. The assets of the 4047th Strategic Wing were absorbed the
306 BW during this time. From 1965 until 1973, the wing supported Southeast Asia and Pacific
operations on a regular basis. The 306 BW provided men and B-52s to form part of the 4047 SW
deployed in Guam, Andersen AFB, and Okinawa, Kadena Air Base to support the Vietnam conflict,
in 1966, September, supporting projects "Young Tiger" and "Arc Light". Later on they would fly out
of U-Tapao Royal Thai Airfield, Thailand, and would be part of the bombing raids Linebacker I
and Linebacker II over North Vietnam.
When not in Vietnam the Wing flew again out of McCoy, and in January
1968 received another
OUC for this "double-duty". The 306th BW returned to McCoy from its Southeast Asia deployment
in early 1973. From 1971 through 1973 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. In 1971 the , was headquartered at McCoy. In September
1973 It was transferred to Blytheville Air Force Base, Arkansas.
In 1973, it was announced that McCoy AFB would be closed. Inactivation of
the 306th Bombardment
Wing began in 1973 and was completed in July 1974. Although a portion of McCoy AFB was
transferred to the United States Navy, becoming an annex of the ,
a majority of the facility was returned to the City of Orlando to complete what would become
Orlando International Airport. What was transferred to the Navy would be returned to Orlando
in the mid-1990s after the NTC's closure.
A major portion of the former McCoy AFB 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.
All Tickets and Baggage tags read "MCO" which stands for McCoy.
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 McCoy AFB 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.