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Travis Air Force Base

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Title: Travis Air Force Base  
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Subject: Fairfield, California, List of United States Air Force airlift squadrons, 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force, 6th Air Refueling Squadron, List of United States Air Force air refueling squadrons
Collection: 1943 Establishments in California, Airfields of the United States Army Air Forces Air Transport Command in North America, Airfields of the United States Army Air Forces in California, Airports in Solano County, California, Bases of the United States Air Force, Fairfield, California, Initial United States Air Force Installations, Military Facilities in California, Military Facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area, Military Superfund Sites, Strategic Air Command Military Installations, Superfund Sites in California
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Travis Air Force Base

Travis Air Force Base

Fairfield-Suisun Army Airfield
Part of Air Mobility Command (AMC)
Located near: Fairfield, California
C-17 Globemaster III taxiing at Travis AFB
Site information
Controlled by  United States Air Force
Site history
Built 1942
In use 1942 – present
Garrison information
Garrison  60th Air Mobility Wing
Airfield information
Elevation AMSL 63 ft / 19 m
KSUU is located in California
Location of Travis Air Force Base
Direction Length Surface
ft m
3L/21R 11,001 3,353 PEM
3R/21L 10,995 3,351 Concrete
32/212 3,500 1,067 Concrete

Travis Air Force Base (ICAO: KSUUFAA LID: SUU) is a United States Air Force air base under the operational control of the Air Mobility Command (AMC), located three miles (5 km) east of the central business district of Fairfield, in Solano County, California, United States. The base is named for Brigadier General Robert F. Travis, who died in the crash of a B-29 Superfortress while transporting a nuclear weapon.


  • Units 1
    • Other units 1.1
  • Overview 2
  • Museum 3
  • History 4
    • Major commands to which assigned 4.1
    • Major units assigned 4.2
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Other sources 7
  • External links 8


The host unit at Travis AFB is the 60th Air Mobility Wing. The 60th AMW is the largest wing in the Air Force's Air Mobility Command, with a versatile fleet of C-5 Galaxies, KC-10 Extenders, and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

Components of the 60th AMW are:

  • 60th Operations Group (60th OG)
  • 60th Maintenance Group (60th MXG)
  • 60th Mission Support Group (60th MSG)
  • 60th Medical Group (60th MDG)

Other units


Situated in the San Francisco Bay Area and known as the "Gateway to the Pacific", Travis Air Force Base handles more cargo and passenger traffic through its airport than any other military air terminal in the United States. Today, Travis AFB includes approximately 7,260 active USAF military personnel, 4,250 Air Force Reserve personnel and 3,770 civilians.[1]

Travis AFB has a major impact on the community as a number of military families and retirees have chosen to make Fairfield their permanent home. Travis AFB is the largest employer in the City and Solano County as well, and the massive Travis workforce has a local economic impact of more than $1 billion annually. The Base also contributes a large number of highly skilled people to the local labor pool.[1]

The demolition and reconstruction of Runway 21L-03R, as well as the construction of a new C-17 Assault Landing Zone, began on 4 February 2010 with completion expected sometime late in the fall of 2012. Baldi Bros Inc. of Beaumont, California is listed as the "Prime Contractor" on the project, with Government oversight of construction and contract administration being performed by a group of both USAF and USN (ROICC Travis) civilian and military construction specialists. The project specifications state that work at the 21L-03R location will include the "rehabilitation of Runway 21L-03R, including removal of the existing pavement (11,000 feet by 300 feet), construction of new runway pavement (11,000 feet by 150 feet), shoulders with drainage improvements, airfield lighting and signage, navigational aid relocation, new approach lighting system, and incidental related work". The C-17 / ALZ project specifications indicate that construction will consist of "construction of a new C-17 Assault Landing Zone facility on the south side of Runway 21L-03R at the 21L threshold end of the runway and incidental related work".

The facility has undergone numerous anti-terror upgrades since 9/11/01 including extensive installation of crash barriers, inspection stations, and traffic controls at all base entry points. In September of 2015, Nick Champi Enterprises of Hanford, California completed a 5 year project to install crash rated fencing, gates, and traffic controls at the main entrance to the facility.

In addition, the base's former Strategic Air Command Alert Facility is now a U.S. Navy complex that typically supports 2 transient Navy E-6B Mercury TACAMO aircraft assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron THREE (VQ-3) Detachment and normally home-based at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

The base is also host to David Grant USAF Medical Center, a 265-bed, $200 million Air Force teaching hospital, which serves both in-service and retired military personnel.[1][2]


Travis AFB also plays host to the Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum, one of the largest collections of military aircraft on the west coast.

Museum of Military Aviation History: The Museum has a representative collection of American military aircraft from various periods: fighters, bombers, trainers, cargo and liaison aircraft. Its exhibits showcase Jimmy Doolittle and the Tokyo Raiders, the 15th AF in World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen, the Consairways story, the Berlin Airlift, and the history of Travis AFB with special emphasis on the Korean war, the Vietnam war and other significant military missions.

Additional Attractions: Other exhibits include a space capsule for children, air force uniforms, the nose of a World War II glider, World War II aircraft recognition models, a Link Trainer, aircraft engines, and the cockpits of a T-28, a T-37, and an F-100.


Brigadier General Robert F. Travis
C-141A Starlifter assigned to the 60th Military Airlift Wing, Travis AFB in the 1970s flying over the Pacific Ocean
C-5 Galaxy assigned to the 349th Air Mobility Wing
KC-10A Extender operations at Travis AFB
C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 60th AMW
Emblem of the MATS 1501st Air Transport Wing

Originally named Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base, construction began on Travis in June 1942. Initially, Fourth Air Force intended to station medium attack bombers at the new air base, and in the autumn of 1942, some of its aircraft used the runways for practice landings. During this period, United States Navy planes also practiced maneuvers at the same field. For a few months, in fact, the outline of the deck of an aircraft carrier was painted on one runway. This helped newly commissioned Navy pilots, flying F6F Hellcats and SB2C Helldivers, practice carrier landings and takeoffs before they were assigned to the Pacific Fleet.

Despite its plans, Fourth Air Force never officially occupied the base. On 13 October 1942, following negotiations that had begun in September, the War Department assigned the new facility to the Air Transport Command (ATC) in recognition of the base's potential to become a major aerial port and supply transfer point for the Pacific War Zone. Its proximity to rail, highway, and water transportation plus its location near San Francisco figured heavily in this decision. ATC assigned the airfield to the West Coast Sector of its Pacific Wing.

The first unit to take up permanent residence at the airfield was a group of ten enlisted men and one officer from the 914th Quartermaster Division at Hamilton Field. These supply and food service workers arrived on 10 May 1943 to prepare the base for the arrival, in turn, of the first ATC personnel. One week later, on 17 May, ATC officially activated Fairfield-Suisun AAB and activated the 23rd Ferrying (later Transport) Group on 29 May 1943. The base's primary mission during World War II was ferrying aircraft and supplies to the Pacific Theater. The installation's first commander was Lt Col. Arthur Stevenson.

By the end of World War II, Fairfield-Suisun AAB had become the West Coast's largest aerial port. The airlift of troops and supplies to occupied Japan and Korea, and the processing of war-weary returning GI's, had become its primary mission. Following the establishment of the United States Air Force as a separate service in 1947, the installation was renamed Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base. On 1 June 1948, the Military Air Transport Service assumed jurisdiction of the base. In July, two of the base's air transport squadrons left for USAFE to assist in the Berlin Airlift.

On 1 May 1949, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) became the parent major command for Travis AFB, turning it into a major long-range reconnaissance and intercontinental bombing installation for the 9th Bomb Group/9th Bomb Wing. For the next nine years, airlift operations became secondary while Travis served as home for SAC bombers such as the B-29 Superfortress, B-36 Peacemaker, and eventually, the B-52 Stratofortress. During this period, new hangars appeared, runways were added and widened, and permanent barracks and family living quarters were built.[3]

The base was renamed Travis Air Force Base in 1951 for Brigadier General Robert F. Travis, who was killed on 5 August 1950 when a B-29 Superfortress on which he was acting as command pilot crashed 5 minutes after takeoff, killing General Travis and 18 others. Although the aircraft was carrying a Mark 4 nuclear weapon, the bomb's plutonium pit was carried aboard another aircraft, rendering a nuclear explosion impossible. However, the 5000 lbs. of high explosives in the weapon exploded about twenty minutes after the crash.[4] The base was officially renamed Travis Air Force Base on 20 April 1951.[5]

To provide air defense for the base, United States Army Nike surface-to-air missile sites were constructed during 1957–58. Travis Air Force Base Defense Area Nike Sites ringing the air base were located near Dixon/Lambie (T-33) ; Elmira (T-10) ; Fairfield/Cement Hill (T-86) , and Potrero Hills (T-53) . Regular Army units manned the sites.

The sites at Elmira (T-10) and Fairfield/Cement Hill (T-86) later received modifications to accept the Nike Hercules missile, while the sites at Dixon/Lambie and Potrero Hills were inactivated in 1959. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Travis battalion assumed responsibility from the Army for the remaining active batteries guarding the entire San Francisco region. Headquarters facilities were located on Travis AFB. The Fairfield/Cement Hill site remained operational until 1971, and Elmira shut down in 1974.

The Military Air Transport Service (MATS) resumed command of Travis AFB on 1 July 1958, after SAC's new dispersal policy led to the transfer of the 14th Air Division to Beale AFB, California and the 1501st Air Transport Wing (Heavy) became the host unit.

The Army Corps of Engineers San Francisco District commenced work in 1959 on a CIM-10 Bomarc surface-to-air missile installation near Travis . However, on 25 March 1960, the Air Force announced a $300 million cutback in the program and work ceased at the site.

On 1 January 1966, MATS was redesignated as the Military Airlift Command (MAC) and on 8 January 1966, the 60th Military Airlift Wing (60 MAW) replaced the 1501st as host unit. Over the next three decades, Travis would become known as the "Gateway to the Pacific" in its role as the principal military airlift hub in the western United States. Initially equipped with legacy C-124 Globemaster and C-133 Cargomaster aircraft from the 1501st, the year 1966 would also see the 60 MAW introduce the Air Force's new all-jet heavy airlifter, the C-141 Starlifter. In 1969, the 349th Military Airlift Wing (349 MAW) of the Air Force Reserve (AFRES) was also established as an "Associate" wing to the 60 MAW, with both units sharing the same aircraft and eventually seamlessly mixing flight crews, maintenance crews and other support personnel. In 1970, the 60 MAW and 349 MAW (Assoc) would also begin concurrently operating the Air Force's largest airlift aircraft, the C-5 Galaxy. In 1991, the 60 MAW was redesignated as the 60th Airlift Wing (60 AW) and the 349 MAW was redesignated as the 349th Airlift Wing (349 AW) the following year.

In 1992, with the reorganization of the Air Force following the end of the Cold War, Military Airlift Command (MAC) was inactivated and Travis came under the control of the newly established Air Mobility Command (AMC). With the concurrent inactivation of Strategic Air Command (SAC) and the transfer of most of SAC's air refueling aircraft to AMC, the 60 AW gained KC-10 Extender aircraft that had been previously assigned to March AFB, California. With the inclusion of an aerial refueling mission into its long-time strategic airlift mission, the 60 AW and the 349 AW were redesignated as the 60th Air Mobility Wing (60 AMW) and the 349th Air Mobility Wing (349 AMW), the designations they continue to hold today. In 1997, the 349 AMW (Assoc) also became part of the newly established Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) while remaining operationally "gained" by AMC.

In 1997, the 60 AMW also shed its C-141 aircraft, which were transferred to other Air Force, AFRC and Air National Guard (ANG) wings, while retaining its C-5 and KC-10 aircraft. On 8 August 2006, the 60 AMW and 349 AMW (Assoc) again acquired a third aircraft type in their inventory with the arrival of the C-17 Globemaster III.

Major commands to which assigned

Redesignated: Military Airlift Command, 1 January 1966

Major units assigned

Reference for major commands assigned and major units assigned[6][7][8]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Fairfield Economic Development: Travis AFB
  2. ^ David Grant USAF Medical Center
  3. ^ Travis AFB, California – SAC – Wing ? – B-29, B-36, B-52 – check web site
  4. ^ "The Crash of the B-29 on Travis AFB, CA". 17 March 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  5. ^ "Indoor Exhibits – The Travis Crash". Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  6. ^ Mueller, Robert (1989). Volume 1: Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C. ISBN 0-912799-53-6, ISBN 0-16-002261-4
  7. ^ USAFHRA Document 01055672
  8. ^ USAFHRA Document 01058940

Other sources

  •  This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
  •  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Travis Air Force Base".
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office 1961 (republished 1983, Office of Air Force History, ISBN 0-912799-02-1).
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Mueller, Robert, Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982, Office of Air Force History, 1989
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing History Office

External links

  • Travis AFB Spouses
  • Travis Air Museum (JDASM Foundation)
  • Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum (JDASM Foundation)
  • FAA Airport Diagram (PDF), effective June 23, 2016
  • FAA Terminal Procedures for SUU, effective June 23, 2016
  • Find information on Travis AFB, including community and base information
  • Resources for this U.S. military airport:
    • FAA airport information for SUU
    • AirNav airport information for KSUU
    • ASN accident history for SUU
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KSUU
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