The Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) is an Air Force Material Compound Base located in northwestern Florida. The base is on the coast of the Choctawhatchee Bay and is a few miles away from the Gulf of Mexico. Eglin is surrounded by the small town of Valparaiso, three miles southwest, and the Fort Walton Beach, 6 miles south. The sunny climate is known for its high temperatures and moderate precipitation rates. Eglin AFB is home to over 8,000 people, including around 2,300 families. The official address of the Visitor Center is Eglin Boulevard, Building 2591, Eglin AFB, FL 32542 and main phone number is (850) 882-0791.
AFB is one of few bases under the Department of Defense that offers a scheduled passenger airport. The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) is situated on the base and is served by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines. The airport offers a wide variety of regional flights, including daily flights to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Allegiant Airlines recently announced an expansion of flights to the airport, adding 18 more destinations throughout the country. VPS, which is continuing to grow, gives military members favorable transportation opportunities.
In 1933, the Valparaiso Airport was created for use of an airdrome. The airport, consisting of two unpaved runways, caught the eye of the Air Corps Tactical School. The school was looking for a bombing and gunnery range. In June 1935, the U.S. Army Air Corps' Valparaiso Bombing and Gunnery Base was established. The base was soon renamed the "Eglin Field" in honor of Frederick I. Eglin. Eglin was an officer in the United States Army Air Force who died in an air crash in the early 1930s.
In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a plan to improve Eglin Field by investing in advancements, including adding over 470 acres for more landing area. The base was renamed as the "Eglin Field Military Reservation" to represent the base's expansion and significance to the Air Corps. Multiple auxiliary fields were created, along with living corridors and accessories for military members living on Eglin.
As World War II began, Eglin became a major installation in the defense effort. The base was used as a training center for numerous causes, including the air raid on Tokyo in April 1942. However, Eglin was also used for evaluations. After the U.S. captured a Japenese Mitsubishi AGM Zero, the fighter aircraft was brought to Eglin and heavily studied. The fighter jet was even test flown.
The historic Convair B-36 Peacemaker was developed by the U.S. Air Force in the mid-1940s. At the time, only three runways in the world could withstand the landing of the aircraft. Eglin FMR was home to one of the striking runways. Unlike many bases at the time, Eglin continued to stay active as World War II ended. The first production of an advanced form of the B-36 Peacemaker was tested on base in the late 1940s.
However, testing attempts did not always go successfully. In 1948, a prototype of the Republic XR-12 Rainbow crashed during a test run. Due to the pilot's wisdom, five crew members survived as they abandoned the aircraft before the crash. Two crew members did not survive.
During the 1950s, Eglin focused on missile testing, launching, and handling. In 1955, the Air Munitions Development Library was reassigned to the base. The library focused on the development of guns, rockets, fuses, bombs, and other forms of military weapons. The Low Altitude Bombing System was developed at Eglin, creating a new method of bombing where the bomb starts its path with an upward vector. During a demonstration on base, the B-47 Stratojet demonstrated the tactic for the first time.
The 1950s brought another thing to Eglin - a railroad. In the beginning of the decade, it was announced that a railroad would be constructed that connected military camps in Louisiana to the Eglin Field Military Reservation. The railroad was constructed and was not very successful. In the late 1970s, the line was abandoned and an administrative building along the railroad is now used as a vehicle maintenance corrosion control shop.
The United States Air Force Special Warfare Center was activated on the base in 1962. The center's work was concentrated on testing and evaluating short term projects that would improve Air Force operations. The center also trained crews to perform special airfare tactics in Vietnam and Panama. Eglin also took a focus on developing and researching non-nuclear military weapons for the Air Force. The crew was successful in developing the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, a modern missile able to work in all weather conditions.
The forces at Eglin played a major role in developing and testing military weapons during the multiple wars in the Middle East during the early 21st century. Recently, the Air Armament Center was inactivated. The center planned, directed, and performed certain tests of U.S. (and allies) military equipment.
The Eglin Air Force Base is currently home to the 96th Test Wing, 33d Fighter Wing, 53rd Wing, and the 7th Special Forces Wing.
The 96th Test Wing (96 TW) is the current host unit at Eglin. The main mission of the wing is to perform developmental tests and evaluations of Air Force weapons. The 96 TW provides expert evaluations and validations of the performance of systems throughout the development and sustainment process to ensure the weapons have superior and safe systems. The wing has been active on the base since 1994.
The 33d Fighter Wing is a current tenant unit at Eglin. The main mission of the wing is to train and graduate outstanding professionals through the Academic Training Center.
The 53rd Wing is a current unit at Eglin that reports to the USAF Warfare Center. The main mission of the wing is to perform operational testing and evaluation of new equipment and systems for Air Force units.
The 7th Special Forces Wing is a current operational unit of the U.S. Army Special Forces located at Eglin. The main mission of the wing is to organize, equip, and prepare forces for deployment to conduct worldwide special operations. The wing deployed nonstop during the Global War on Terrorism and had a major effect in the conflict.
Housing and Schools
When first arriving at Eglin AFB, temporary lodging is accessible at the Air Force Inn in Eglin. For more information and/or to reserve a room, call (850) 882-8761.
On base family housing is privatized at Eglin and is provided by Corvias Military Living. There are many favorable community amenities, including playgrounds and recreational lots.
To receive information on public school districts in the area, please contact the School Liasion office at (850) 882-9060.
Things to do / MWR
The Eglin Air Force Base offers many enjoyable forms of entertainment. Options include a fitness center, golf course, swimming pool, beach park, library, recreation center, hunting club, yacht club, and much more.