History of Eaker Air Force Base
Eaker Air Force Base, now the site of the Arkansas Aeroplex and
Arkansas International Airport, has had a long and important history.
Activated as an Army airfield on June 10, 1942, the field was used as an
advanced flying school in the Southeastern Training Command's pilot
training program. It remained a training center until the end of World
War II and after the war until its closure in October, 1945, was used to
process military members being discharged. The facility was reactivated
as Blytheville Air Force Base on July 15, 1955, when the 461st
Bombardment Wing moved from Hill Air Force Base in Utah. By April 7,
1956, the base was fully operational with a wing composed of three
squadrons of B-57 bombers.
The 4229th Air Base Squadron assumed operational control in April
1958 and remained in charge until July 1, 1959, when the 97th
Bombardment Wing took control. Official dedication ceremonies held on
January 10, 1960, marked the arrival of the 97th BMW's first B-52G, The
City of Blytheville. In addition to the B-52G aircraft, the base was
also home to a compliment of KC-135A tankers.
The base was renamed Eaker on May 26, 1988, in honor of General Ira
C. Eaker, an air pioneer and first commander of the Mighty Eighth Air
Force during World War II.
Official closure of Eaker Air Force Base was announced in 1991, and
on March 6, 1992, the last aircraft, The City of Blytheville, left the
base. The official closure ceremony was held on December 15, 1992, and
the transition from military to civilian, general aviation airport
began. The military still makes use of the Arkansas International
Airport in flight training maneuvers, and as a landing site to pick up
and drop off local National Guard Troops.