|SAC Bases: Pinecastle
Air Force Base
Airfield was used as a training base for B-17 bomber crews.
Acquisition of the first 2,116 acres began in 1942. Records indicate that
planes from the base performed test bombing of chemical munitions at Pinecastle
bombing and gunnery range. It is uncertain whether the chemical warfare
materials used in these tests were stored at the air field or transported from
the Orlando toxic gas and decontamination yard a few hours before a bombing run.
Bell Aircraft Corp. manufactured three first-generation
X-1 supersonic aircraft, originally designated the XS-1s. Ship No. 1 flew the
first unpowered glide tests at Pinecastle Army Airfield, near Orlando, Fla., In
March 1946; the program was relocated to Muroc, later renamed Edwards Air Force
Base. The move to the remote California desert ensured the project team
could maintain secrecy, an important issue considering the project was
classified at the time. The site was transferred to the City of Orlando in
In 1951, the government reacquired Pinecastle Army
Airfield and expanded it to 4,426.40 acres. In June,
$30.5 million construction project in support of base reactivation begins
In April 1952, Pinecastle Air Force Base Reactivated. It was initially assigned to the under the Air
Training Command. It conducts training program
to qualify personnel in the use of fighter interceptor and bomber aircraft as
On Nov. 6, 1952 the first B-47 arrives at Pinecastle Air
Force Base on November 6, 1952. The first B-47 crew training program
starts a few weeks later. On December 15, 1953, the 321st Bombardment Wing (Medium) is activated
at Pinecastle. Two weeks later, on January 1, 1954, the base is assigned
Colonel Michael N.W. McCoy is appointed commander of the 321st Bombardment Wing
on May 24, 1954. He will come to enjoy the distinction of being the dean of Strategic
Air Commandís B-47 "Stratojet" commanders. When the United States Air Force made
its decision to equip SAC with the B-47, it was Colonel McCoy who took delivery
of the first "combat type" B-47. He was commander of the first B-47 wing, the
306th Bombardment Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, near Tampa, Florida. Within
two years he had formed, trained to combat-readiness, and led his original B-47
wing, the 306th, on the first successful rotation of a SAC jet bomber force to
Fairford, England from MacDill. They broke all existing speed records on the
trip over and when they returned, broke them again. On their initial rotation
Colonel McCoy solidified SAC's position as a Global Force utilizing jet
aircraft. To assure that the B-47 would assume a truly intercontinental
stature, he was instrumental in pioneering and developing the present system of
aerial refueling now in use throughout the Air Force. His list of personal
decorations included Legion of Merit. Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star
and Air Medal.
In July 1954, the 19th Bomb Wing joins 321st Bomb, making Pinecastle a two wing
base. They come under the control of the come under control of the 813th
Air Division. In November the 307th Air Refueling Squadron is assigned to
support the 321st Bomb Wing. It flies the KC-97.
After Colonel McCoy's
death, the base was in his honor in 1958.
1961 the wing converted to B-52 transition training.
In the early 1960s the 966th Airborne Early Warning and
Control Squadron was stationed at McCoy AFB, as was the 306th Air Refueling
Squadron. By 1971 the 42d Air Division, Strategic Air Command, was headquartered
at McCoy Air Force Base. In September 1973 the 42nd Air Division moved to
Blytheville Air Force Base, Arkansas. The 306th Bombardment Wing was at McCoy in
1972, with the B-52D aircraft of the 367th Bomber Squadron were based at McCoy.
Inactivation of the 306th Bombardment Wing began in 1973 and was completed in
From 1971 through 1976 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.
A major portion of the site is currently owned by
the city of Orlando and used for the Orlando International Airport. 4
airlines began providing scheduled flights out of it 1970. McCoy Air Force
Base officially closed in 1974. Most of it is now part of the Orlando
International Airport. Part of the former base transferred to private
individuals and companies and 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 Pinecastle Airfield
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.
Officer of 4047th
John Evans (see below) wrote that he
served at Pinecastle from November 1945 until the 19th Bomb Group moved to
Homestead AFB Florida, which was in April 1956.
The official Air Force History of Combat Wings
states that the 19th was formed in Guam in 1948, fought in the Korean War and
returned to the United States and SAC on June 1, 1953.
The battle-weary veteran aircrews flew to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona and dropped of their
old B-29s, then proceeded to Pinecastle AFB, Florida where they began
receiving shiny new B-47s. They were assigned the 28th, 30th, and 93rd Bomb
Squadrons on June 1, 1953. The
wing Deployed to Sidi Slimane AB, French Morocco, from January to April
of 1956. Upon it's return, it was moved to Homestead AFB, Florida.
Whatever the earlier history of Pinecastle, it seems that it
was only a SAC base for three years.
| Dear Marv,
I enjoyed your web page, and have some information
about Pinecastle AFB for you. My name was A1C John C. Evans. I was
a B47 SN 51-2312 ground crew member from November 1945 through my separation in
October 1957. I was stationed at Pinecastle AFB, Florida from November 1945
until the 19th Bomb Wing moved to Homestead, Florida.
Pinecastle AFB was located about 10 miles south
of Orlando Florida near what is now Disney World. It had one 11,500 foot North
South runway. The ramp was on the East side on the runway. Its current name is
Orlando Jet Port.
John C. Evans
| B-52 CRASH McCoy AFB 1972 Tail #0625 crashed short of runway
at McCoy AFB after multiple engine failure, 3/31/72