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Tinker timeline

Since it's early beginnings Tinker Air Force Base has been an important part of central Oklahoma. From World War II aircraft production, to presidential visits. Here's a look back at the base's history.

16 Oct.
Twelve Oklahoma City civic leaders meet to establish the Industries Foundation, a trust through which the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce can buy land and facilities for an aircraft factory.

17 Dec.
R.A. Singletary of the Chamber's Washington office learns that the Army Air Corps
plans an air depot in the Midwest and that the Corps is considering Oklahoma City a potential  site.

11 Jan.
The Air Corps announce s a plan to build a training base near Yukon, Okla.
13 Feb.
The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce submits data to the War Department on two
air depot sites: one north of Norman on State Highway 74 and one on SE 29th Street.

8 Mar.
Air Corps site selection board arrive s in Oklahoma City.  Industries Foundation and
Oklahoma City officials meet the board's specific requirements and obtain assurance that a depot
shall be built on SE 29th Street.
8 Apr.
Robert Patterson, Assistant Secretary of War, announces Oklahoma City will be the site of a new air materiel depot, which will cost $14 million, cover 1,500 acres, and employ 3,500 people.
29 Apr.
Oklahoma City voters pass a $982,000 bond issue to purchase land for the military installation.
21 May
The depot is designated “Midwest Air Depot, Oklahoma City.”
12 June
The Oklahoma City, Ada & Atoka Railroad begins building a spur line to the depot site.
18 July
Construction of Midwest Air Depot begins
30 July
Formal groundbreaking ceremonies are conducted.
3 Sep.
The Army announces the purchase of over 300 additional acres of land for the depot.
10 Dec.
The Office of Production Management announces plans to manufacture 1,000 bombers
and a comparative number of other aircraft per month. Oklahoma City tops
the list of five possible plant sites.
11 Dec.
The United States Senate approves nearly $7 million more for construction of the
Midwest Air Depot, raising the total to $21,036,215.


23 Jan.
The Army Air Forces awards the Douglas assembly plant to Oklahoma City. The plant, adjacent to the Midwest City Air Depot, will employ 24,000 people, cost $20,000,000, and will
build C-47 cargo planes.

1 Mar.
The depot receives a new name: Oklahoma City Air Depot. The base is officially  activated.
21 Aug.
The Chamber of Commerce suggests the War Department name the depot installation
Tinker Field in memory of Oklahoma native, Maj. Gen. Clarence L. Tinker, whose aircraft was
lost in the Pacific theater in June.

13 Jan.
Civilian employees at the depot number 9,000.

26 Mar.
Upon its completion, the Douglas aircraft plant begins production of cargo planes.


2 Apr.
A tornado strikes west of Tinker. The base hospital helps 65 injured victims. Twenty
three people require hospitalization.

17 Aug.
The Douglas aircraft plant ceases production. From March 1943 to August 1945, it
produces 5,354 C-47 cargo planes and spare parts for 500 more; and assembles 400 C-54 cargo
planes and 900 A-26 attack bombers.


8 Jan.
A fire in Building 230 kills 10 maintenance personnel.

31 Dec.
Personnel cuts in 1946 reduce Tinker employment to 14,212.

13 Jan.Tinker Field becomes Tinker AFB.
20 Mar.
A devastating tornado strikes the base in the late evening. It results in eight people injured and $10,000,000 in damage to aircraft and buildings. Fifty airplanes are destroyed and 50
others damaged.
25 Mar.
The second tornado to strike within a week hits the base and damages 84 planes, 35
beyond repair. Projected damages reach $6,000,000 with one personal injury.

1 Jan.
Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area's production line becomes a 100 percent jet engine
production line.


1 Aug.
The base installs its first IBM 702 electronic data processing machine.

10 Nov.
The first B-52 lands at Tinker AFB on the reconstructed north/south runway.


27 Apr.
An F-89 aircraft crashes and kills the pilot during a landing attempt. The aircraft
canopy hits and damages a house on Red Bud Drive in Midwest City.

15 Sep.
Tinker Diagonal ground breaking is held near the twin water towers of Area A.


9 May
Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area receives its first B-52G.


1 Apr.
The Air Force Materiel Command becomes the Air Force Logistics Command.

25 Aug.
An F-100 jet fighter crashes in the Glenwood Addition, 300 block of Ferguson Street,
Midwest City. The crash kills two children and destroys several homes.


18 May
The Tinker Diagonal Highway is dedicated.


4 Jan.
President John F. Kennedy visits Tinker to attend U.S . Sen. Robert S. Kerr’s funeral in
Oklahoma City.

15 Nov.

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden of Great Britain visit Tinker AFB.

1 Jan.
Tinker AFB employment reaches the highest point in its history. There are 24,778  civilians and 4,404 military members assigned to Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area and tenant


10 May
A ribbon cutting ceremony takes place that opens 15 new military family housing  buildings containing 50 units. These are the first of 162 new housing units.


29 Jul.
Tinker and the Air Force donate a B-52 Stratofortress to the State Fair of Oklahoma for  permanent display at the fairgrounds.


21 Oct.
President Gerald Ford, on board Air Force One, lands at Tinker. Maj. Gen. James G. Randolph, OC-ALC commander, greets him. The President departs the next day.


23 Mar.
The first Airborne Warning and Control System E-3A aircraft arrives at Tinker AFB.

21 Nov.
President-elect and Mrs. Ronald Reagan make the first of three visits to Tinker AFB  prior to Inauguration Day. As their presidential plane is refueled, they visit with Gen. and Mrs. Jay T. Edwards.

5 Apr.
Gov. George Nigh, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, and thousands of spectators  celebrate the 40th anniversary of Tinker AFB's establishment at an open house.


27 Apr.
The space shuttle “Columbia” lands at Tinker AFB for an overnight stopover following its first orbital mission and touchdown in the California desert. Over 200,000 sightseers greet the shuttle, which rides securely on the back of a Boeing 747.


12 Nov.
A major 40-hour fire begins on the north end of Building 3001 when a spark from a  welders cutting torch ignites roofing material.


1 Jul.
Oklahoma Congressman Mickey Edwards announces that the U.S. Navy agrees to locate a new squadron of communications aircraft at Tinker AFB. He says the decision could mean as
many as 1,400 new military and civilian jobs for the Oklahoma City area.


23 Mar.
A ribbon cutting ceremony officially welcomes the B-1B aircraft to Tinker AFB.


24 Sep.
To avoid stormy weather, the space shuttle Discovery, attached atop a Boeing 747, makes an unscheduled overnight stop at Tinker AFB.


5 Jun.
Oklahoma Gov. David Walters and a congressional delegation of Representatives Ernest Istook, Dave McCurdy, Bill Brewster and Glenn English, and U.S. Sen. David Boren tour the base and meet with members of the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC).


7 Feb.
The Pentagon announces OC-ALC will continue to be the primary location for repairs on  the B-52 bombers' engines, avionics and computer software.

19 Apr.
Within hours of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Tinker AFB workers rush to the scene aiding in the response. Among those killed in the explosion are Tinker assignees Airman 1stm Class Lakesha Levy of the 72nd Medical Group and Airman 1st Class Cartney McRaven of the 32nd Combat Communications Squadron.

23 Apr.
President and Mrs. Bill Clinton arrive at Tinker AFB to attend the nationally televised memorial service for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing.

14 Sep.
Gen. Richard Hawley, Air Combat Command commander; Maj. Gen. Charles H. Perez, OC-ALC commander; U.S. Sen. James Inhofe  and Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin help dedicate the Air Force's 11th B-2 bomber the “Spirit of Oklahoma,”during a special naming  ceremony at Tinker AFB.


9 May
Nine Tinker entry gates are renamed for past aviation leaders and significant aircraft from Tinker AFB's history. Th e new names are Tinker Gate (1), Eaker Gate (2), Turnbull Gate (3), Hruskocy Gate (7), Gott Gate (34), Vance Gate (40), Lancer Gate (20), Liberator Gate (21),
and Marauder Gate (29).

11 Nov.
The space shuttle “Atlantis,” riding atop a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) 747, spends three days at Tinker AFB when rainstorms at Kelly AFB, Texas, divert its planned flight from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (AFS), Fla.,to Palmdale, Calif. for maintenance.


3 May
A tornado causes death and destruction as it wipes out parts of nearby Moore, Del City, and Midwest City. The extreme northwest corner of Tinker AFBis also hit.
8 May
President Bill Clinton lands at Tinker AFB to survey the destruction of the massive tornado.


12 Mar.
A $50 million bond election to fund the removal of private homes adjacent to the  northeast corner of Tinker AFB is passed by Oklahoma County voters.


8 Nov.
Tinker AFB’s new $16 million commissary opens near the southeast corner of Air Depot and Interstate 40.


21 Mar.
President Barack Obama arrives at Tinker AFB aboard Air Force One to spend the night in Oklahoma City

16 Jul.
The new 171,000 square-foot Tinker AFB Clinic, Building 1094, is dedicated. It is open
for business two weeks later.


8 Jul
The Civilian Furlough begins. Each DoD civilian employee takes one day of unpaid leave  each week on average. The furlough continues through 6 August, when Secretary of Defense,  Charles Hagel, reduces the impact from 11 to six furlough days for DoD civilian employees.

Source: Tinker Air Force Base Public Affairs

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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›