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A look back at 2019 at Wright-Patterson AFB: Milestones, Miscellaneous

What remains of a roof dangles in front of a home after being taken off by a tornado that damaged approximately 150 homes May 27 in the Properties of Wright-Field at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Volunteers from around Wright-Patterson AFB worked alongside base emergency responders and housing residents to ensure everyone’s safety and begin the cleanup process. (U.S. Air Force photo/Wesley Farnsworth)
What remains of a roof dangles in front of a home after being taken off by a tornado that damaged approximately 150 homes May 27 in the Properties of Wright-Field at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Volunteers from around Wright-Patterson AFB worked alongside base emergency responders and housing residents to ensure everyone’s safety and begin the cleanup process. (U.S. Air Force photo/Wesley Farnsworth)

Throughout 2019, there were many significant milestones achieved by organizations across Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Here are some of the events, awards, advancements and other activities that contributed to the overall success of various missions:

Throughout 2019, there were many significant milestones achieved by numerous organizations across Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Here are some of the milestones, events, awards and other things that contributed to the overall success of missions:


• To honor its history of strength through support to fuel aerospace innovation, the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB celebrated its 75th anniversary April 26 at the Wright-Patterson Club. The event was hosted by Col. Thomas Sherman, 88 ABW and installation commander.

On a typical work day, Ohio’s largest single-site employer welcomes 30,000 people through its gates. They are scientists, engineers and program managers – experts in their fields. They are active-duty military, guard, reserve, government civilians and contractors. One hundred and 15 mission partner organizations are dedicated to defending the nation and ensuring that its people live in peace and freedom.

At Wright-Patterson AFB, the foundation for this diverse team’s success is the 88th Air Base Wing. For 75 years, the 88th and its predecessors have provided the strength through support to fuel aerospace innovation.

• About 150 homes in the Prairies at Wright Field housing area were damaged, 12 of which were deemed uninhabitable, after an EF3 tornado swept through the Prairies at Wright Field housing area late on May 27. Damage to facilities on Area A and Area B at Wright-Patterson AFB was minimal, and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force sustained damage to one section of the Early Years Gallery; however, no static aircraft or artifacts were harmed. Working with the privatized housing contractor, base officials inspected all units to identify structural damage, and displaced families were directed to temporary lodging facilities to ensure they had a safe place to stay during recovery operations. Volunteers from across the base worked with the housing contractor and the 88th Civil Engineer Group throughout the day following the storm to clear downed trees and debris that covered that area. By the end of the day, all roads were cleared for traffic, and electrical service was safely restored.

• During his visit to Wright-Patterson AFB May 31, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein took the time to tour the damage to the Properties of Wright Field. The privatized housing near the base took damage from an EF3 tornado that hit the community May 26. After seeing how well the clean-up of the housing area was going, Goldfein said, “I give a lot of credit to the relationship we have built between that trifecta which is an engaged commander, the government representative and the privatized housing contractor that takes ownership of the families that have been entrusted to their care.” About 150 houses were damaged and displaced nine families in the Prairies housing area.

• The Air Force Institute of Technology celebrated its centennial Nov. 7 with a symposium carrying a theme of inspiration to innovation. Multiple speakers and a panel of astronauts who are AFIT graduates were the morning session’s highlights. The symposium’s afternoon session was devoted to many other speakers, with the day concluding in an awards and recognition banquet to recognize the achievements of alumni and contributions of faculty and staff.


• The Air Force Research Laboratory launched a new podcast to bring listeners behind the scenes with the Air Force scientists, engineers and professionals who are developing tomorrow’s technology today. “Lab Life” provides listeners insight into the fascinating work and lives of the people who lead the discovery, development and delivery of warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace forces.

• The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has a new museum app now available to download within USAF Connect, which is an Air Force-wide mobile app designed to enable, engage and empower Airmen by centralizing and increasing access to Air Force information. The app consolidates multiple resources in a single location, easing public access to information, news, social media, exhibits, events calendar and more.

• In recognition of the growing number of foreign military sales construction projects overseas and the increasing impact the projects have on the total FMS enterprise, the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate elevated its Construction Branch to the division level. With the change, the new division will receive additional resources, including more people to work with program offices and manage projects around the world.

• AFRL in partnership with Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, has achieved its goal of establishing a test site within one hour of Wright-Patterson AFB from which AFRL researchers can fly unmanned aerial vehicles from beyond their visual line of sight. AFRL and the Ohio Department of Transportation are now operating new technology known as SkyVision at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. The technology allows for safe, accurate and effective operation of unmanned aircraft systems by detecting and avoiding other aircraft while in flight using radar feeds from airports in Dayton and Columbus and from the long-range radar at London, Ohio. SkyVision can be described as an air traffic control system for UAS.

• A new division in AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing was activated May 1. The Warfighter Medical Optimization Division becomes one of five divisions in 711 HPW’s Airman Systems Directorate. The new division is comprised of about 100 personnel – military members, DOD civilians and contractors. Most are located at Wright-Patterson AFB, and some are located at two Center for the Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills, or C-STARS, locations in Baltimore and Cincinnati. Personnel were pulled together from both the Airman Systems Directorate and USAFSAM.

• Officials from AFLCMC and the University of Dayton Research Institute accepted delivery of a C-130 aircraft from Eglin AFB, Florida, at UDRI’s headquarters building May 15. The aircraft, which has been decommissioned, will be used to demonstrate and test technologies designed to lower the cost of sustaining the Air Force’s C-130 fleet. Work will be performed in and on the aircraft as well as in other UDRI support labs.

• Seven people from AFRL technology directorates across the country presented inspiring talks at the fourth AFRL Inspire event in front of more than 500 attendees. Sponsored by AFRL’s Learning Office, Inspire showcases the innovative ideas and passionate people AFRL has to offer as they provide entertaining and thought-provoking talks. This year’s Inspire event, themed, “Breaking the Status Quo,” also highlighted advancements in 16 different research areas as part of AFRL’s Tech Expo.

• AFLCMC’s Fighters and Bombers Directorate officially opened on July 9 a new $1.5 million facility essential in protecting weapon systems from cyber threats and mitigating cyber vulnerabilities across the Air Force fighters and bombers fleet.

• Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, officially stood up the Program Executive Office for Advanced Aircraft during an Oct. 2 ceremony at Wright-Patterson AFB. The new office was created to transform the Next Generation Air Dominance Program into the Air Force’s Digital Century Series initiative, using digital engineering, modular opens systems architecture and agile software development to design advanced airplanes faster and enter production with a significantly lower learning curve. The AFLCMC-aligned office is being led by Col. Dale White.

• Sarah Lomax, an operations research analyst with AFLCMC’s Operations Research Division, recently developed a program to manage traffic flow onto Wright-Patterson AFB and help minimize congestion on the way to the office. The program, known as the Gate Simulation Model, is designed to assist the 88th Security Forces Squadron in determining the manpower and lanes needed to facilitate the efficient and smooth flow of vehicles onto base. In developing the Excel-based program, Lomax relied on academic queuing theory and data from a recent traffic study.

• AFRL Commander Maj. Gen. William Cooley signed a memorandum of understanding with leaders from the other Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security service laboratories Oct. 28, following a “Laboratory Commanders Sync” meeting between the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. The MOU outlines terms for an expanded working relationship between the service labs marked by cooperation and collaboration in a broad range of activities, especially in areas of mutual benefit.

• Wright-Patterson AFB joined the Purple Heart Trail community as the first active-duty Purple Heart Base after its public designation ceremony Dec. 10. In order for the Purple Heart to be awarded to someone, the person must have served with one of the U.S. Armed Services’ branches after April 5, 1917, and also been wounded, killed or died from a wound sustained as a result of military operations while on a peacekeeping mission outside of the U.S. and its territories. With this designation Wright-Patterson AFB joins a community dedicated to helping veterans wounded in combat and will soon add more designated parking spaces for Purple Heart recipients.