Definition/Scope: Webb Air Force Base, previously named Big Spring Air Force Base, was a United States Air Force facility of the Air Training Command (ATC) that operated from 1951 to 1977 in west Texas near Big Spring. It was a major training facility, and by 1969 almost 9,000 pilots had been trained at Webb. The last wing was the 78th Flying Training Wing (78 FTW). The facility first was used by the United States Army Air Force as Big Spring Army Air Field, opening on 28 April 1942 as part of the Central Flying Training Command. The mission of Big Spring AAF was to train aviation cadets in high altitude precision bombing as bombardiers. The airfield had received its first class of cadets in September 1942. The airfield was activated as Big Spring Air Force Base on October 1, 1951, Brought back into service because of the Korean War, the base was renamed Webb Air Force Base on 18 May 1952 to memorialize 1st Lieutenant James L. Webb, a Big Spring native and World War II combat pilot in Europe, who was killed off the Japanese coast flying a F-51 Mustang in 1949. By the mid-1970s, the end of the Vietnam War, the associated financial costs of that conflict and related cuts in force size and future defense budgets meant a marked decrease in the need for Air Force pilots. As a result, Webb AFB, along with several other USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) bases, was identified for closure and formally deactivated in 1977. The property it had occupied was turned over to the Big Spring Industrial Park. The area currently serves as the general aviation airport for the City of Big Spring, known as Big Spring McMahon-Wrinkle Airport. In addition, three units of the Big Spring Correctional Center (a federal prison privately operated by Cornell Companies) are located on the base grounds (as well as FCI Big Spring, which is a separate facility and operated directly by the Bureau of Prisons).
Acronym For:Webb Air Force Base
Broader Terms:Air Force facilities