near an old camp where Chief Moses once trafficked in buffalo
hides and horses, Larson AFB has come a long way to its
"new look" as a missile and supersonic bomber base.
Only five miles from the city of Moses lake, Washington,
Larson's original name was Moses Lake Army Air Base. First
activated on 24 November 1942 as a temporary World War II
training center, Larson's first mission was to train pilots
for P-38's and later to train combat crews for the B-17 Flying
1945 --at the end of the war -- Moses Lake Air Force Base
activity was curtailed to a standby status. During the
following three year period the base was used as a testing
site for two of Boeing's aircraft, the B-47 Stratojet and the
B-50. It was from this base, in February 1949, that the B-47
began its record-breaking cross country speed run to Andrews
AFB, Maryland, completing the flight in three hours and forty
as a permanent installation in November 1948, under the Air
Defense Command, F-82's, F-94 Star Fires, and finally F-86
Sabrejets patrolled the Pacific Northwest with the primary
mission of protecting the vital Hanford atomic works Grand
Coulee Dam, and other strategic points against possible enemy
May 1950, Moses Lake AFB was redesignated Larson Air Force
Base in honor of Major Donald A. Larson, a WW II ace from
Yakima, Washington who was killed in action over Germany in
April 1,1952, Larson was placed under tactical air command,
and the 62d Troop Carrier Wing (Heavy) was reassigned from
McChord AFB, Washington, to Larson to assume command of the
base and its tenant organizations.
times in its eight years as a headquarters of the 62d's troop
and cargo carrying C-124 Globemasters, Larson was prominent in
nationwide-and world wide -news, in such missions as a
construction of the Distant Early Warning Line and White Alice
communications network in the Arctic, mercy flights to
flood-ravaged East Pakistan, and, more recently, in missions
to Formosa, North Africa, Saudi Arabia, South America, and in
the "Down Range" project from Florida to Ascension
Larson's operation facilities with the Globemasters from 1955
until 1959 was another famous aircraft, Boeing's B-52
Stratofortress. The first B-52 arrived at the AMC Flight Test
Center in February 1955. The Sratofortress program was
discontinued in 1959.
1957 the 538th Fighter interceptor Squadron requiped with the
supersonic Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. In 1960, the 538th FIS
was inactivated with the phase out of their Starfighters after
more advanced Interceptor aircraft entered squadron service at
bases around the Washington State.
became a Continental Division, MATS, base on 1 July 1957. In
June of the following year, under the reorganization of MATS'
subcommands, this base became a member of the newly-created
Western Transport Air Force (WESTAF).
July 1 1959, a nucleus force of the Strategic Air Command was
assigned to this base to coordinate matters between MATS and
SAC, preparatory to the latter's assumption of base command
after the close of the calendar year. On 1 January 1960, MATS'
62d Troop carrier Wing relinquished command of Larson to SAC's
4170th Strategic Wing.
a ground-breaking ceremony in December 1959, three
missile-launching facilities for the Titan intercontinental
ballistic missile program at Larson were begun. Thus, the
general appearance and the entire mission of the base were
undergoing radical changes at the dawn of the first day 1960.
Within the space of a little more than a year, this base has
acquired an operational SAGE system, and two powerful striking
forces: A SAC wing and a Titan missile organization
19 November 1965 Secretary
of Defense McNamara announced
that Larson was to be closed by June 1966. After initial
shock, local civilian committees were formed to attempt to
determine the possible private or governmental usage of Larson
Formerly Larson Air Force Base, Grant
County International Airport this
is now a world-class heavy jet training and testing facility
used by the Boeing Company, Japan Airlines, the U.S. Military
and many other air carriers from around the world.
With 4,700 acres and a main runway 13,500 feet long, it is one of
the largest airports in the United States.
on information from
Port of Moses Lake Homepage