GEORGE AIR FORCE BASE
A Brief History
George Air Force Base (GAFB) was originally called Victorville Army Airfield and was established 12 July 1941. It became activated on 1 October 1941. It became GAFB on 2 June 1950, renamed in the honor of the late Brigadier General Harold H. George. General George, a World War I fighter ace, was killed in an aircraft accident, in Australia, 30 April 1942.
During World War II, pilots and bombardiers were trained at GAFB. Training began in February 1942 on AT-9s, AT-6s, and AT-17s for pilots, and AT-11s, and BT-13s for bombardier, with the first class of flying cadets (pilots) graduating 24 April 1942, and the first bombardiers following in May. In November of 1942, the twin-engine pilots’ school was replaced by a three-week advanced glider pilot school. It was transferred to Lubbock, Texas in April 1943.
During 1943-1944 timeframe, the following aircraft were assigned: C-60A, C-47, C-53, L-4A, L-4E, L-3C, PT-15, L-3B, and CG04A gliders; and the AT-11s and BT-13s. In March 1944, a new transition school for P-39 single-engine pursuit pilots. The war years also included training in the B-24 and B-25.
After WWII, the Army Air Force no longer needed the base for training purposes, so, on 12 October 1945, all flying operations ceased and the Army placed the installation on a stand-by status, (where the base was used for the storage of airplanes until 1948). On 1 November 1945, the Air Technical Service Command assumed leadership of the Base where the surplus B-29s, AT-7s and At-11s were stored. By May 1947, GAFB’s jurisdiction passed to the Sacramento Air Material Area (AMA) (and later to the San Bernardino AMA). By 14 October 1948, the last of the stored aircraft was gone. It was during this period that the USAF was formed.
On 1 July 1950, the 1st Fighter Interceptor Wing, complete with F-86 “Sabre” jets, moved on base. The 146th Fighter Bomber Wing (FBW) arrived in November. The base then came under command of the Continental Air Command and the Fourth Air Force. Once the Tactical Air Command (TAC) assumed ownership, several things occurred: the 1st Fighter Interceptor Wing departed, the F-51 training mission started transition to jets in November 1952, 131st Fighter Bomber Wing was activated, and the 479th Fighter Bomber Wing activated (1 December 1953). On 1 January 1953, the 146 FBW was reverted to state control, and the 21 FBW became a tenant. The 479 FBW began with prop-driven F-51 Mustangs and in 1953 moved to F-86 Sabre jets, where it then became a fighter-day wing, changing its mission to defense interception. In September and October of 1953, the 479 FBW became the first supersonic wing in TAC when it received the F-100 “Super Sabre”. In 1954, the 21 FBW moved to France. With the arrival of the F-104 “Starfighter” in 1958, the 479 FBW became the only unit in TAC to be “Twice Supersonic”.
On 26 September 1957, the 831 Air Division (AD) was constituted and was activated 8 October 1957. From this date through 20 April 1971, the 831 AD commanded the 479 FBW (later known as the Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW)).
In 1962 the 479 FBW was deactivated. In 1964, with the activation of the 8 TFW, GAFB received its first F-4C “Phantom IIs”. Early in 1965, the 831 AD became the first air division in TAC to assume responsibility of advising and coordinating Air Force Reserve troop carrier units. In 1971 the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing was activated and on 20 April 1971, the 831 AD was inactivated.
In 1973, the F-105G “Wild Weasel” arrived, with its first F-4C Weasel arriving two years later and it’s F-4G Advance “Wild Weasel” in April 1978. The G-model Weasels continued to arrive until the Base became an all “Phantom” force in the late 1980’s. With the large military population, two operational wings (35 TFW and 35 CSG), and multiple mission existing, the 831 AD activated again on 1 December 1980.
On December 29th, 1988, the Secretary of Defense announced that GAFB was selected for closure in December 1992. In response to the closure of GAFB, the Victor Valley Economic Development Authority (VVEDA) was formed in October of 1989 to transition the former military base for private and public industrial purposes. VVEDA then delegated its reuse obligation to the City of Victorville in June of 1997 where GAFB became officially recognized as the Southern California International Airport. The Southern California International Airport officially changed its name to the Southern California Logistics Airport in June of 1999 and the City of Victorville, serving as the Southern California Logistics Airport Authority, became principally responsible for transitioning it to become what it is now, a fully dedicated business and logistics park serving aerospace, manufacturing and distribution companies.