Located in America's heartland, airmanship in the Wichita area began in the first decade of the century. In 1916, as the US prepared to enter the World War, the city of Wichita started buying land to build a municipal airport.
In October 1924, Wichita hosted the National Air Congress that attracted over 100,00 people. The event highlighted an air race of 47 military and civilian aircraft participating, including the locally produced Swallow. After this nationally recognized event, several new aircraft manufacturing companies opened. Firms such as Travel Air, Beech Aircraft's predecessor, Boeing, and Cessna began operations. With this growth of aviation in Wichita, aviators began pushing for the proposed municipal airport's construction. Construction crews broke ground on 28 June 1929; however, the Great Depression delayed the terminal's completion of almost six years.
Although only one hangar and three small warehouses available for use, the Army Air Force Material Center (Material Command) established its headquarters in the Wichita Municipal Airport Administration Building in March 1942. The Material Command chose this site to take advantage of the airport's five 50 foot wide runways, each with a 60,000 pound wheel load capacity. In September 1945, the Material Center moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma eventually becoming the Air Force Logistics Center at what is now Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. Meanwhile, the 4156th Army Air Field Base Unit arrived at Wichita to service and maintained transient and locally based aircraft. One year later, this unit disbanded, and the Air Force would not return until 1951.
Since Wichita Municipal bordered the Boeing plant, the Air Force moved back into the site in June 1951 and changed the name to Wichita AFB. This time, the Air Training Command's 3520th Combat Crew Training Wing (CCTW), under the command of Col H.R. Spicer, began training Boeing B-47 Stratojet bomber aircrews. For the first six months after the activation, a "tent city" housed assigned personnel. This "city" consisted of 174 tents, a fire tower, and a few leased buildings in Wichita.
From 1954 to 1956, a $22 million construction program turned the old airport into one of the Air Force's major bases. These improvements included 490 Capehart style housing units, ten miles of paved streets, and two hangars. Other improvements included clubs, theater, commissary, bank, hospital, and base exchange. In 1958 4547 CCTW, under SAC, replaced the 3520th.
In April 1954, the base became McConnell Air Force Base in honor of two of the three "Flying McConnell Brothers" of World War II. The brothers, from Wichita, entered the Army Air Corps together during WW II. The trio gained fame as "three of a kind." Second Lieutenant Thomas McConnell perished in July 1943, when his B-24 Liberator crashed into a fog covered mountain while en route to his home base in Guadalcanal after a bombing mission. Captain Fred McConnell died when his private plane crashed in October 1945 near Garden Plains, Kansas, while on his way to Garden Plains Air Force Base. Edwin passed away in August 1997 at the age of 76. During a rededication ceremony on 14 June 1999, base officials added Edwin's name to the installation, making McConnell the namesake of all three brothers.
phone numbers: Commercial (316)759-6100 or
address: McConnell AFB, KS 67221
2,800 active duty; 6,481 family members; 522
officer family units; 340 enlisted family units; 76
unaccompanied personnel units (316)759-3172
school on base run by Derby school system
Care: Center for 90, six-month wait; 15
approved homes (316)759-4223
care: Clinic. Appointments/Tricare
McConnell Air Force Base - Wichita, KS
large size commissary - (316)759-5625,
a small exchange, and one shoppette (316)685-0231. Recreation at McConnell Air Force Base - Wichita, KS
includes arts and crafts, bowling, library, auto hobby,
recreation center, theater, golf, gym, tennis, swimming,
outdoor activities, camping, and fishing.