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NEWS | Nov. 24, 2010

Military aviation history is also Randolph's history

By Brian McGloin 502nd Air base Wing Public Affairs

Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, which has the unofficial nickname "West Point of the Air," was dedicated June 20, 1930 as a flying training base, with actual flying training beginning a year later and continuing to present day.

Gen. Frank Lahm, who led all flying training for the newly-established Army Air Corps, established the Air Corps Training Center, setting up its headquarters at Duncan Field, adjacent to Kelly Field, Texas.

Flying training outgrew the facilities at Kelly and Brooks fields, which had no suitable areas for ground training and the living quarters were inadequate.

The Air Corps soon decided additional training facilities were needed and it chose a site northeast of San Antonio - what is today Randolph Air Force Base.

Between 1926 and 1928 Randolph was planned and the land was acquired. Randolph was named after Capt. William Millican Randolph, who died in an airplane crash at Kelly in 1928.

Early in 1931, the School of Aviation Medicine from Brooks Field and the first cadets from the Air Corps Flying School at Duncan Field began relocating to Randolph.

Basic flying training ended in March 1943, when the Central Instructors School began. Randolph's primary mission for the next two years was teaching instructors for the Air Corps' primary, basic and advanced flying training.

In April 1945, the Central Instructors School was replaced by the Army Air Force Pilot School, which specialized in transition training for B-29 bomber pilots. From December 1945 until March 1948, primary and basic pilot training was conducted at Randolph. In August 1948, the 3510th Pilot Training Wing became the host unit at Randolph.

While aviation was going strong in San Antonio during this time, military history was being forever changed--on September 18, 1947, the Air Force became a separate service. Also, Randolph Field was renamed Randolph Air Force Base on January 13, 1948.

From August 1 to September 30, 1957, Air Training Command moved its headquarters from Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, to Randolph. In the early 1960s the T-33 and T-38 arrived to bring jet training aircraft to the base. The Air Force Instrument Pilot Instructor School arrived at Randolph in September 1961, followed in close order by the Air Force Military Personnel Center in November 1963 and the Air Force Recruiting Service in July 1965. On May 1, 1972, the 3510th Flying Training Wing was inactivated and replaced by the 12th Flying Training Wing.

In August 2001, the National Park Service designated Randolph a National Historic Landmark because of the base's architecture and history. In February 2010, Randolph Air Force Base's host unit changed from the 12th Flying Training Wing to the 902nd Mission Support Group. The change marked a transition to Joint Base San Antonio, when the 902nd MSG became part of the 502nd Air Base Wing at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

[Information from the Air Education and Training Command historian's office was used in this article]