Eaker Air Force Base, now the site of the Arkansas Aeroplex
and Arkansas International Airport, has had a long and important history. Activated as an Army airfield on June 10, 1942, the field was used as an
advanced flying school in the Southeastern Training Command's pilot training
program. It remained a training center until the end of World War II and after
the war until its closure in October, 1945, was used to process military members
being discharged. The facility was reactivated as Blytheville Air Force Base on
July 15, 1955, when the 461st Bombardment Wing moved from Hill Air Force Base in
Utah. By April 7, 1956, the base was fully operational with a wing composed of
three squadrons of B-57 bombers.
The 4229th Air Base Squadron assumed operational control in April 1958
and remained in charge until July 1, 1959, when the 97th Bombardment Wing took
control. Official dedication ceremonies held on January 10, 1960, marked the
arrival of the 97th BMW's first B-52G, The City of Blytheville. In addition to
the B-52G aircraft, the base was also home to a compliment of KC-135A tankers.
The base was renamed Eaker on May 26, 1988, in honor of General Ira C.
Eaker, an air pioneer and first commander of the Mighty Eighth Air Force during
World War II.
Official closure of Eaker Air Force Base was announced in 1991, and on
March 6, 1992, the last aircraft, The City of Blytheville, left the base. The
official closure ceremony was held on December 15, 1992, and the transition from
military to civilian, general aviation airport began. The military still makes
use of the Arkansas International Airport in flight training maneuvers, and as a
landing site to pick up and drop off local National Guard Troops.