Whitesburg KY

Travis Air Force Base enters jet age in 1959

<b>During my 15 years of assignments at Headquarters Western Air Force (WESTAF) at Hickam Field, Hawaii, Paris Air Base, Calif., and Travis Air Force Base, Calif., these were the best of my 27-year career. I was deeply involved in the Air Force entering the jet age after all the years of propeller-driven aircraft.

The arrival of SAC’s first operationally assigned B-526 intercontinental jet bomber at Travis on February 13, 1959 signified the dawn of a new era in military air power in Solano County. In the course of the next six years, there was significant progress in aircraft modernization, including the assignment of more new types of aircraft and more changes in active-duty flying squadrons then at any time since the base was established.

The Air Defense Command’s 82nd Fighter-Interceptor Squadron continued to fly its F-102 Delta Daggers. Travis had truly entered the jet age.

Organized and activated on July 1, 1958, my squadron, as part of a major reorganization of Military Air Transport Service (MATS) subordinate commands, the Western Transport Air Force (WESTAF) was assigned a headquarters in building 241 at Travis, where I worked for the next 11 years as NCOIC of printing for the West Coast and the Far East.

WESTAF’s mission combined wartime readiness training, logistical airlift operations (such as the deployment of units and supplying them by airdrops), the operation of an aeromedical evacuation system within the continental United States, and the maintenance of a peacetime schedule for the airlift of cargo and passengers. WESTAF was given operational control for MATS from the Mississippi River westward to the Arabian Peninsula.

Travis Air Force Base became the largest Air Transporting base in the world.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.’

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