Class Information for Fall 2019: TOUR LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Tuesday, December 10, entire trip is 8am-1pm, (F192)
Learn the fascinating history of Luke Air base and see the base operations up close. In 1940, the U.S. Army sent a representative to Arizona to choose a site for an Army Air Corps training field for advanced training in conventional fighter aircraft. Phoenix bought 1,440 acres of land that it leased to the government for $1 a year effective March 24, 1941. On March 29, 1941, the Del E. Webb Construction Co. began excavation for the first building at what was known then as Litchfield Park Air Base. The first class of 45 students, arrived June 6, 1941, to begin advanced flight training in the AT-6 Texan, although only a few essential buildings had been completed. Flying out of Sky Harbor Airport until the Luke AFB runways were ready, pilots received 10 weeks of instruction and the first class graduated Aug. 15, 1941. Capt. Barry Goldwater served as the director of ground training the following year. During World War II, Luke Field was the largest fighter training base in the Army Air Forces, graduating more than 17,000 fighter pilots from advanced and operational courses in the AT-6 Texan, P-40 Warhawk, P-51 Mustang and P-38 Lightning. By Feb. 7, 1944, pilots at Luke Field had achieved a million hours of flying time. By 1946, however, the number of pilots trained dropped to 299 and the base was inactivated Nov. 30 of that year. Luke Air Force Base is named for the first aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor — 2nd Lt. Frank Luke Jr. Born in Phoenix in 1897, the “Arizona Balloon Buster” scored 18 aerial victories during World War I (14 of these were German observation balloons) in the skies over France before being killed, at age 21, Sept. 29, 1918. Moving up the present, since 2015, the 56th FW at Luke AFB has trained pilots to fly the F-35A Lightning II. Units flying the F-35A Lightning II are the 61st, 62nd, 63rd and 308th Fighter Squadrons. The Base now houses training facilities for fighter jets and other Air Force personnel. Please note: The tour is three hours and includes two stops on the Base. Bus transportation will be provided to and from Sun City West. For security purposes, everyone taking the tour will need to provide personal information including full name, birth date, drivers license and last four digits of your Social Security number. Tour is limited to 27 people; $35 fee includes the bus transportation and driver tip.