Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located in Greene and Montgomery counties, eight miles (13 km) northeast of the central business district of Dayton, Ohio, United States. Part of the base is located along the city limits of Riverside and is also adjacent to Fairborn and Beavercreek. The base is named after the Wright brothers, who used the Huffman Prairie portion of what became Wright-Patterson as their testing ground, and Frank Stuart Patterson, son and nephew of the co-founders of National Cash Register, who was killed on June 19, 1918, in the crash of his Airco DH.4 at Wilbur Wright Field.
Wright-Patterson AFB is the headquarters of the Air Force Materiel Command, one of the major commands of the Air Force. "Wright-Patt" (as the base is colloquially called) is also the location of a major USAF Medical Center (hospital), the Air Force Institute of Technology, and the National Museum of the United States Air Force, formerly known as the U.S. Air Force Museum.
It is also the home base of the 445th Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve Command, an Air Mobility Command-gained unit which flies the C-5 Galaxy heavy airlifter. Wright-Patterson is also the headquarters of the Aeronautical Systems Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory.
The entire base was a census-designated place at the 2000 census, although statistical data has since included the portion in totals for Montgomery County for the city of Riverside. As of the 2000 census, the base had a resident population of 6,656. The permanent party work force at WPAFB as of September 30, 2005, numbered 5,517 military and 8,102 civilian.
Wishing to recognize the contributions of the Patterson family (owners of National Cash Register) the area of Wright Field east of Huffman Dam (including Wilbur Wright Field, Fairfield Air Depot, and the Huffman Prairie) was renamed Patterson Field on July 6, 1931, in honor of Lt. Frank Stuart Patterson, who was killed in 1918 during a flight test of a new mechanism for synchronizing machine gun and propeller, when a tie rod broke during a dive from 15000 ft, causing the wings to separate from the aircraft.
In 1948, the nearby Wright Field and Patterson Field were merged under the name Wright-Patterson AFB. The former Wright Field became Area B of the combined installation, and the former Patterson Field became Area C.
Between February 1, 1963, and September 30, 1975, the 17th Bombardment Wing (Heavy) of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) was assigned to the base's Area A. Consisting of B-52s of the 34th Bomb Squadron and KC-135s of the 922nd Air Refueling Squadron, the wing had a nuclear deterrent mission but also supplied aircraft and aircrews for the war in Southeast Asia.
Today, as in the early 1900s, Wright-Patterson is where weapons systems are tested and modified. Missions range from logistics management, research and development, education, flight operations, and many other defense related activities. Wright-Patterson AFB is the home to the Air Force Institute of Technology, an educational institution that supports the Air Force and the Department of Defense. It also contains the USAF's high-security National Air & Space Intelligence Center, where in the cold-war era captured Soviet MIGs were brought to what was then known as the Foreign Technology Division for disassembly and testing. Wright Field is also home to a zero-time nuclear reactor, built during the Cold War, but never taken critical.
Project Blue Book and Hangar 18
Wright-Patterson AFB is known among those involved with UFO conspiracy theories as the home of Project Blue Book and because of its connection with the Roswell UFO incident of July 1947. Some believe that Hangar 18, assigned to the Air Force's Foreign Technology Division at Wright-Patterson, along with the Area 51 installation in Nevada, contains, or once contained, wreckage of a crashed UFO.
On the MUX
Wright-Patt is the home of AFMC-GCCS (Global Command and Control System). A system designed for crisis action planning and that supports multiple secure communication protocols.
- Population Estimates Geographic Change Notes: Ohio, United States Census Bureau, 2006-05-19. Accessed 2007-11-15.
- Guide to Air Force installations worldwide (PDF). Air Force Magazine 2006 USAF Almanac. Retrieved on 2007-04-18.
- Witness to Roswell flying saucer incident tells his story (October 26, 2007). Retrieved on 2008-03-15.
- Development of the B-52 The Wright Field Story
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