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Altus Army Air Field began training pilots to fly twin-engine aircraft in 1943. Most of the 5,377 graduates served in Europe in World War II. The Army stopped using the field in 1945. The Air Force activated Altus Air Force Base in 1953. A Tactical Air Command troop carrier wing operated from Altus for ten months, and then the Strategic Air Command assumed control of the base. It operated bomber and tanker aircraft and maintained 12 Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile sites around southwestern Oklahoma. Military Airlift Command assumed operations in 1968, making Altus the formal training base for C-5s and C-141s. These large airplanes necessitated a major construction effort including a fuel doc, avionic repair shops, a flight simulator, and alteration of the hangers. The 443rd Military Airlift Wing trained crews at Altus until 1992. Then the Air Force inactivated the 443rd and activated the 97th Air Mobility Wing. In 1993, Military Airlift Command turned the wing and base over to Air Education and Training Command. Soon after that the KC-135 Combat Crew Training School moved to Altus from Castle AFB, California. The 97th Air Mobility Wing is new to the airlift mission, but has a long bomber/tanker history. The Wing dates back to 1947, when the Air Force activated Mile 26 Air Field, later Eielson AFB, Alaska. The 97th has operated several B-29 and B-47 variants, but flew B-52s for over 30 years. It also pioneered the use of boom-equipped tanker aircraft for the air refueling mission. The Wing has participated in many contingencies and wartime operations. A B-52 from the 97th flew the last bombing mission over Cambodia during the Southeast Asia Conflict. Members of the 97th formed a provisional wing in England in 1991, and flew bombing missions during Desert Storm. For more of Altus' history visit the installation's homepage.


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