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This Week In AFLCMC History - November 28 - December 4, 2022

  • Published
  • By Air Force Life Cycle Management Center History Office
28 Nov 1959 (Hanscom AFB)

An agreement was reached between Lt Gen Bernard A. Schriever, Maj Gen Kenneth P. Bergquist, and Lt Gen Dean C. Strother that the Air Defense Systems Integration Division (ADSID) mission would be incorporated into the Air Force Command and Control Development Division (AFCCDD) at Hanscom Field, and that General Bergquist would become the AFCCDD commander. AFCCDD was part of Air Research and Development Command (ARDC), activated in 1950, and was in charge of several centers like the Rome Laboratory and the Electronic Support System Project Offices. Its projects included early warning systems, radar and communications systems, and, after 1959, air defense systems.

29 Nov 1995 (88th Air Base Wing/WPAFB)

At 1400 hrs, a Wright-Patterson AFB construction crew excavating a sewer line along 13th Street between “M” and “P” Streets in Area B unearthed debris which was later identified as M-114 cluster bombs containing dead brucella suis bacteria. B. suis is generally nonlethal in humans, with the weapon system (dating back to the 1950s) originally intended to incapacitate enemy soldiers by giving them flu-like symptoms. On first finding, however, all that was known about the debris (of which there were over 300 bomblets) was that the munitions were armed with live bursters and had been loaded with an unknown agent - which potentially still contained live pathogens. As such, the incident kicked off the first discovery and remediation of an unknown collection of biological weapons in Department of Defense (DoD) history. Being new territory for DoD, the Environmental Management Division had little guidance from precedence, and would ultimately spend the next nine months creating a way to safely and effectively deal with the problem.

30 Nov 1959 (Bombers Directorate/WPAFB)

On returning to Wright-Patterson AFB, after crisscrossing the U.S. for a total distance of 39,200 miles (1.6 times around the world) in a period of 80 hours and 36 minutes, a B‑47 bomber set a nonstop distance record and completed an airborne endurance record for a jet aircraft. Wright-Patterson AFB was a flight testing site until 1994, and flew the B-47 as one of several “test bed” planes for almost twenty years until 1969. At one time, Wright-Patt had as many as fourteen B-47s, which were used to test project-oriented systems and equipment. In the 1960s, the WPAFB Flight Dynamics Lab used a B-47 as a testbed for a “fly-by-wire” flight control system where commands are transferred to flight control surfaces by electrical signals instead of direct mechanical linkages. (See photo).

1 Dec 1939 (Hill AFB)

The Army Air Corps aerodrome at Ogden, Utah, was dedicated as “Hill Field” in memory of Major Ployer P. “Pete” Hill, Flight Test Chief at Wright Field. Major Hill and Boeing’s chief test pilot Leslie Tower both perished at Wright Field on 30 Oct 1935 in the crash of the Boeing Model 299, the prototype for iconic B‑17 Flying Fortress four-engine heavy bomber of WWII fame, while three others survived. The Model 299 had been in testing for almost nine weeks by that time. The plane’s flight control gust locks were inadvertently left engaged at takeoff, leading to an abrupt nose-up, stall, and crash. Anecdotal evidence suggests this episode led to the implementation of pre-flight checklists.

2 Dec 1942 (Robins AFB)

Colonel Francis M. Zeigler, the first deputy commander for the new Wellston (Georgia) Air Depot, was fatally injured in a plane crash a mile and a half south of what became Robins Field. He perished a week later. Colonel Ziegler had been assigned there from Wright Field in September 1942 as Executive Officer to base commander Col Charles E. Thomas, Jr. In his official capacity at Air Service Command Headquarters, Ziegler had been involved in the planning of that Air Depot from the beginning, and is said to have been the one who designed its physical layout. The Zeigler Housing Project, built in 1944, was named for him.

3 Dec 1992 (4950th Test Wing—WPAFB/Mobility & Training Aircraft Dir.)

30 years ago, Air Mobility Command requested assistance from the 4950th Test Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB in getting 50 GPS receivers installed on C‑130 Hercules aircraft to aid them in U.S. and international intervention and relief efforts in Somalia (i.e., Operation Provide Comfort and Operation Restore Hope) following the collapse of the Mohamed Siad Barre government there and the subsequent Somali Civil War. The Test Wing provided and supervised installation of the needed sextant mount antenna hardware.

4 Dec 1946 (Tinker AFB)

Tinker Field (today Tinker AFB) completed its AT-6 aircraft modification program. The AT-6 Texan was the single-engine trainer aircraft used by the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II for basic pilot training. Manufactured by North American, with its first flight in April 1935, the AT-6 played a major role in preparing American pilots for the war. The plane was brought to Tinker in July 1946 for modifications and upgrades. By the end of the modification program, 630 AT-6s had been processed through and worked on at Tinker Field.

Native American Heritage Month : Eah-Ha-Wa Eva Mirabal

Born in 1920 to Taos Pueblo Indian parents in New Mexico, Eah-Ha-Wa (“Fast-Growing Corn”) or Eva Mirabal grew up steeped in tribal culture, especially its art. She attended the Santa Fe Indian School, part of the educational system established to assimilate Native children into Anglo-American culture. However, her arrival coincided with a shift in its approach to developing a sense of dual identities and expressing their identities through art. While there, Mirabal won an art contest sponsored by the US Treasury Department in 1942 to promote the purchase of war bonds to support the cost of the Second World War. Her and the other winning designs consciously drew on cultural stereotypes to promote an image of Native Americans as both patriotic and savage to the project’s intended audience.

In May 1943, Mirabal joined the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) to find both adventure and a way to contribute directly to the war effort. The future Sgt Mirabal trained at Fort Devens in Bedford, MA, before being assigned to the 4000 Army Air Forces Base Unit of Air Service Command (ASC) in Dayton, OH. The 4000 ABU (the original predecessor for the current 88 ABW) was initially part of Patterson Field, then transferred to Wright Field in late 1944, though its staff remained in place.

For the next two and half years at Patterson Field, Mirabel worked as the WAC’s only full-time artist. Her unique position garnered her some national attention, especially after she created the “G.I. Gertie” comic strip, appearing in the newspaper created by and for the WAC. While most war-time comics depicted women as either subjects typical of WWII airplane nose art or objects of male humor, Mirabel drew “Gertie Patterson” in situations familiar to soldiers of any era or gender: falling victim to quizzical bureaucracy and bumbling superiors.

Sergeant Mirabal’s other major project was as the assistant to another Air Service Command artist, Sgt Stuyvesant Van Veen. Having some modest fame, he was asked by ASC’s commander to paint a large mural in the newly-completed command headquarters, Building 262. He designed the “Bridge of Wings” and was helped in composing and painting it by Sgt Mirabal and another artist. Their mural can still be seen in the HQ AFMC building in Area A today.

On the side, Eva painted other projects around WPAFB and continued her own traditional Native American-style artwork. She left the Army in 1946.