Strategic Air Command
SAC Bases:  Lincoln Air Force Base
Location: Lincoln Nebraska
Home of: 98th Bomb Wing 307th Bomb Wing
Status:  Closed in 1966
Links:  History of Lincoln AFB - Excellent Site.  Many photographs.  Lincoln Municipal Airport

     Wide-open skies and flat lands made Lincoln's location synonymous with flying. Charles Lindbergh was one of many who learned to fly at the Lincoln flight school in 1922. After his rise to fame, Lincoln's small municipal airport was dedicated as "Lindbergh Field" in 1930.  It was one of the few bases that had two B-47 wings at the same time.
World War II 

     Lincoln Army Air field was constructed in 1942 on the former Lincoln Municipal Airport, and became a key element of the city's involvement in World War II. The 2,750-acre property was leased to the army by the City of Lincoln, and the massive project was completed in 17 weeks with a construction cost of $35 million dollars. The base provided technical training for aircraft mechanics, basic training for army aviation cadets, and served as an overseas deployment staging area for bombardment groups and fighter squadrons. It was one of eleven U.S. Army Air forces graining centers built in Nebraska during world War II. Over 25,000 aviation mechanics received training in Lincoln and an additional 40,000 troopers were processed for combat through the facility. At war's end the airfield served as a military separation center for aircrews returning from overseas. It closed in December 1945 and was returned to the City of Lincoln for a municipal airport.
Strategic Air Command
        In 1952 the Strategic Air Command activated the airfield as Lincoln Air force Base under a joint-use lease agreement between the US Air Force and the City of Lincoln. It had cost 80 million dollars to re-activate the base.  The longest runway is 12,900 ft. long and 200 ft wide. Any aircraft in the world can land on this runway, even one of the space shuttles.
Main Gate, circa 1960 Base Operations, circa 1960
     In 1954, the 98th and 307th Bomb Wings had completed their tour of duty with the Far Eastern Air Forces,  They were the only heavy bomber wings to participate in the Korean War.  They destroyed all possible strategic targets in only two months, but were retained by General MacArthur, who used them for tactical support of ground troops.  Upon return to the States, both veteran wings were assigned to the new Lincoln Air Force Base.  During 1955 and 1956, they exchanged their B-29s for the new Boeing B-47E Stratojets.  They were combat ready in 1956.  The 98th and 307th Air-Refueling Squadrons were also given KC-97G Air-Refueling Tankers.  The last production KC-97 was sent to Lincoln. In all around 70 B-47s were stationed along side the 30 or so KC-97s During 1956 over 6,000 personnel called Lincoln home. Both wings onducted strategic bombardment training and air refueling operations to meet SAC's global commitments. 
The base was at its peak from 1960 to 63. Some of the hottest years of the Cold War. The planes stood on alert during the Berlin Crisis of 61' and Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The planes were ready for their mission, the destruction of the Soviet Union.
     From January 1964 to April 1965, the 98th controlled an Atlas IBM squadron.  Operational sites at both Lincoln and Schilling AFB, Kansas, were originally slated to receive horizontal launchers. Site selection for three complexes of three missiles each (3 x 3) was completed in the fall of 1958. In early 1959, a decision to deploy missiles to nine separate sites required additional site surveys. As these surveys proceeded, Bechtel and Convair contractors achieved design advances on vertical launchers.

       On November 27, 1959, Headquarters, United States Air Force determined that Lincoln and Schilling would receive the silo-lift configuration. During the subsequent bidding process, the number of silos to be built was increased to 12. These launchers were sited at Elmwood, Avoca, Eagle, Nebraska City, Palmyra, Tecumseh, Courtland, Beatrice, Wilber, York, Seward, and David City. On April 12, 1960, Western Contracting Corporation earned the contract with a bid of $17.4 million for nine sites. A month later the contract price increased another $6.6 million to cover construction costs of three additional sites. Construction began on April 29, 1960.
      Difficulties were encountered almost immediately. On June 13, at a site near Beatrice, builders had to combat sandy soils, which kept caving in. Two weeks later, miners briefly walked off four sites over the issue of work conditions. High water tables challenged engineers to battle a constant flooding problem. However, using the “cut and cover” method, progress was achieved on installing the 12 separate silos.

           With the project one-third complete in October 1960, the Omaha District turned responsibility for construction over to the Corps of Engineers Ballistic Missile Construction Office (CEBMCO). Construction reached a peak later that month as some 1,900 workers worked “around the clock” on a 7-day schedule at 12 separate sites. In February 1961, the President of Western Contracting testified before Congress to express his frustration with all of the change orders, yet continued expectations of meeting scheduled deadlines. He stated he expected to lose $12 million on the project. As a result of the hearings, finger-pointing began to affix blame for cost overruns at the several ongoing construction projects.
     Construction at Lincoln proved costly in more ways than money. Seven men died during the building process in separate incidents, usually due to falls or being struck by objects. The final death occurred during the late summer of 1961, when a guard was hit by a tornado that lashed through the Palmyra site.
      Besides developing a reputation for high fatalities, the Lincoln project also gained notoriety for labor unrest. By late April 1961, the Defense Department reported that Lincoln had suffered 33 strikes causing 1,743 man-days lost. During the following month politicians expressed rage against the work stoppages. As a result of such pressure, on May 26, the administration developed a plan that incorporated a no-strike/no lockout pledge and implemented an ll-man Missile Sites Labor Commission to settle all disputes.
     In June 1962, the Strategic Air Command accepted the first silos at Lincoln for operational deployment of the Atlas F missile.
Phase Down and Closure
818 Air Division Headquarters Base Exchange
      On May 16, 1964, Secretary of Defense McNamara directed the accelerated phase-out of Atlas and Titan I ICBMs. Later that year, the 551st Strategic Missile Squadron received the last Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) for such a unit. The Lincoln Atlas F missiles were deactivated on April 12, 1965, completing the phase-out of this weapon system.
     Meanwhile, the B-47s were being phased out of the SAC arsenal.   In January 1965 the 307th Bomb Wing began phasing down. It was discontinued and inactivated on March 25, 1965.  The 98th Bomb Wing was inactivated on June 5, 1966 at Lincoln AFB, but activated the same day at Torrejon Air Base, Spain replacing the 3970th Strategic Wing.
    Lincoln returned to its original role, that of a municipal airport.  The Lincoln Air Park West Industrial Park contains over 1,000 acres and was originally the site of the Lincoln Air Force Base, which closed in 1966. Today, Lincoln Air Park West is owned and operated by the Lincoln Airport Authority with Industrial Park revenue either returning to improve and/or expand the Park or to help in support of the operation of the airfield.  Lincoln Municipal Airport is an alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle, and home base for the Nebraska Air National Guard's 155th Air Refueling Wing.  Air National Guard aircraft land on the same runways, but their crews & passengers are never de-planed into the Lincoln Airport Terminal. These aircraft taxi directly to Air Guard facilities.