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Retro Rewind - Posted October 27, 2017 10:33 a.m.
Photo from Amarillo Public Library archives

Amarillo Air Base

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In 1942, the U.S. military activated an air base east of downtown Amarillo to train mechanics and engineers to service the B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft used in World War II. While that base closed after the war, it reopened in 1951 as the Amarillo Air Force Base. It serviced the B-52 Stratofortress and, at its peak, employed more than 15,000 people, bringing an enormous local economic and population boom to Amarillo in the 1950s and early 1960s.

This photo was taken at the Armistice Day opening of the base on Nov. 10, 1951. It depicts the base’s 589th Air Force Band leading a review of troops following Lt. General Robert W. Harper's dedication speech. Around 40,000 local residents attended the parade and toured the air base that day.

Though the base closed in 1968, it was located next to the Amarillo Air Terminal, which eventually became Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. The original 13,500-foot-long Air Force runway was transformed into the airport’s primary commercial runway, making it one of the longest in the country used for that purpose.

by Jason Boyett

Jason has written more than a dozen books and is the host and creator of “Hey Amarillo”, a local interview podcast. Visit and
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