Known as the birthplace, home, and future of aerospace, WPAFB is, in many ways, the largest and most complex base in the entire U.S. Air Force. In addition to AFLCMC, the base is home to both the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force Institute of Technology. WPAFB employs approximately 27,000 people — including 12,000 civilians — and is the largest single-site employer in the state of Ohio.
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About the Area
WPAFB is located near Dayton in southwestern Ohio. The area is home to various cultural, recreational, dining, and sporting destinations, with many more within a day’s drive. Attractions include arboretums, parks, festivals, museums, minor league baseball, and more. Dayton is home to several colleges and universities, and was ranked as the 10th best metropolitan area in the nation for higher education by Forbes magazine. In addition, Dayton was listed as one of the “Top Cities for New College Grads" by Bloomberg Businessweek.
The history of Wright-Patterson as a military installation predates World War I, and its general aviation history dates back even further. In 1904 and 1905, aviation pioneers and Ohio natives Orville and Wilbur Wright tested their Wright Flyer aircraft on the site now known as Huffman Prairie Flying Field.
In 1917, as the U.S. entered World War I, the military opened three installations in the Dayton area, two of which would later become part of WPAFB. The third installation, located near downtown Dayton and known as McCook Field, served as a predecessor to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. It was at McCook Field in 1917 where military aviation engineering and flight testing took off. In the ensuing years, the Airplane Engineering Division, as it came to be known, served as the center of all U.S. military aviation research and development. McCook Field's operations were moved to Wright Field in 1927.
Wright Field was the hub for planning, development, testing, evaluation, modification, and contracting of aircraft for the Army Air Forces. Following the U.S.’s entry into World War II, efforts called for the rapid development and deployment of aircraft. By 1943, there were more than 800 major and thousands more minor research and development projects in the works at Wright Field. Many of these aircraft and systems developments eventually contributed to the Allies’ victory in World War II as well as protecting the warfighter on future missions.
Today, Wright-Patterson remains at the forefront of military aviation innovation and excellence. The installation is home for the Air Force global logistics and supply chain management enterprise, advanced technology development, weapon system life cycle management, aerospace engineering and cyber education, intelligence production, and an Air Force Reserve wing of C-17 airlifters.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located at WPAFB and offers a glimpse at the entire history of U.S. military aviation. Featuring more than 360 unique aircraft and weapons on display, the museum’s exhibits and collections come together to illustrate how military aviation has evolved from its infancy to the present. It is the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum, and one of the single most-visited tourist attractions in Ohio.
To learn more, visit the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force or our Facebook page.