Historical – Lockbourne Air Force Base

Below are historical photographs of the Lockbourne Air Force Base near Columbus, known today as Rickenbacker International Airport. The base was activated in June 1942 as the Northeastern Training Center of the Army Air Corps, providing basic pilot training and military support. Renamed Lockbourne Air Force Base a few years later, it was home to the 91st Bomb Wing, 70th Bomb Wing, 301st Bomb Wing, 55th Fighter Wing along with many others, including the Tuskegee Airmen’s 477th Composite Group. The base’s size was nearly doubled in the 1950s with the outbreak of the Korean War. New runways were built, jumbo hangers appeared, the jet age came about and the base had aircraft stationed on full-time alert. During the Vietnam War, the base reached an all-time high of more than 18,000 service personnel in 1967.

The base was renamed Rickenbacker Air Force base in 1974 in honor of World War One flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker. In 1978, the Strategic Air Command functions at the base transferred elsewhere and 12,000 jobs were lost. A phased closing of the base began in 1979, transferring portions of the base to the newly established Rickenbacker Port Authority and the Ohio Air National Guard. The base officially closed in 1994 after the last of its operations had been transferred. In the mid 1990s to early 2000s, Rickenbacker became a transportation hub for commerce. The airport was established as a Foreign Trade Zone and houses US Customs offices. This designation triggered major industrial development around the former base in the late 1990s that continues to present day. The Ohio Air National Guard and the Naval Reserve maintain a portion of the airport.