Lowry Air Force Base

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Lowry Air Force Base (1937-1994) - A United States Air Force base first established in 1937 as Lowry Army Air Field near Denver, Arapahoe County, Colorado. Named Lowry Field on 11 Mar 1938 for 2d Lt Francis Lowry, who was the only Colorado pilot killed in World War I combat. Renamed Lowry Air Force Base on 24 June 1948. Flight operations ceased in 1966 and technical training was the primary mission. Closed in 1994.

The Former Site of Lowry AFB, B-52 Display and Old Lowry Aircraft Hangers.

Origins

Former Lowry AFB Headquarters Building Now an Apartment Building

The City of Denver purchased the former Agnes Phipps Memorial Sanatorium for an airfield after a 1935 municipal bond vote. The WPA converted the 880 acre sanatorium grounds into a military airfield. The main sanatorium building became the post headquarters, and the largest single barracks, housing 3,200 men, was completed in mid-1940. The paved runway opened on 4 Apr 1938.


World War II (1941-1945)

During World War II Lowry provided bombardier training and later Boeing B-29 Superfortress pilot and crew training.

Post World War II (1945-1947)

At the end of World War II Lowry became a separation center that was processing an average of 300 discharges a day. Lowry was transferred to the Technical Training Command in October 1945 and to Air Training Command on 1 Jul 1946. Formal courses in Intelligence Training were established in 1947.

Cold War (1947-1991)

Lowry Field became Lowry Air Force Base on 24 June 1948. During and following the Korean war Lowry became a major technical training center and the technical training mission at Lowry expanded to include the following types of training:

Lowry Technical Training Areas
  • Photography.
  • Armament.
  • Rocket propulsion.
  • Electronics.
  • Radar fire-control systems.
  • Computer specialties.
  • Gun and rocket sights.
  • Electronic turret systems.
  • Guided Missiles.
  • Intelligence.

A separate 59,814 acre Lowry Bombing Range operated from 20 Sep 1946 to December of 1952.

Air Force Academy Formation at Lowry Air Force Base 1950s

While construction was underway for the permanent USAF Academy at Colorado Springs, Lowry served as the interim Air Force Academy from 1955 to August 1958. On 11 Jul 1955, the first class of 306 USAF Academy cadets was sworn in at Lowry. About 1400 cadets passed through the Lowry interim site until the permanent United States Air Force Academy site at Colorado Springs opened in August 1958.

USAF approved the former Lowry Bombing Range for the first Titan I ICBM launch complex on 13 March 1958. Construction on the nine silos at the three launch complexes was completed by 4 Aug 1961 and the nine sites were declared operational on 18 Apr 1962. All of the Titan I's were taken offline in favor of Titan II's in January and February of 1965 and the sites were later abandoned. Lowry did not have any Titan II missile sites. The last Titan missile was removed from Lowry on 14 Apr 1965.

Former Lowry AFB Electronics School Dorm.

Construction began in 1970 to replace the many temporary World War II barracks with five 1,000-man dormitories. The dorms and support facilities were completed by 1974.

In 1972 the USAF School of Applied Aerospace Sciences, Lowry AFB was established and the 3400th Technical Training Wing was established 1 Apr 1977.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service & the Air Reserve Personnel Center opened on Lowry in 1976.

Peacekeeper ICBM training began at Lowry in 1985, and Lowry became the primary training center for USAF space operations. Training at Lowry also included ground & armament training for several interceptor aircraft as well as the A-10 aircraft and the B-1 bomber.


Closure

Former Lowry AFB Hanger #2

Lowry AFB was recommended for closure by the 1991 Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission. The 3400th Technical Training Wing, which was first established 1 Apr 1977, was deactivated on 27 Apr 1994, and the base was officially closed on 30 Sep 1994. The last remaining USAF facility at the former Lowry AFB was the Air Reserve Personnel Center on 70 acres of land known as Buckley Annex. The annex was selected for closure in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure decision, and officially closed in September 2011 and transferred to the Lowry Economic Redevelopment Authority on 31 May 2012.


Current Status

A central core of the former Lowry AFB remains as Wings over the Rockies Air & Space Museum housed in one of two old aircraft hangers. Outside the museum is a static display of a B-52. While the core is surrounded with new development the original Headquarters/ Barracks building remains, repurposed as apartment homes building. The core community is a well planned and well executed vibrant community, an exceptional reuse of a former base. Other remains of the old base can be seen including the Electronics Training Dorm. The former base area now has more than 4,500 homes, 9,500 residents, 140 employers and 25,000 people in the Lowry community.


Location: Denver, Arapahoe County, Colorado.

Maps & Images

Lat: 39.72074 Long: -104.89553

See Also:

Sources:

Links:

Visited: 13 Jun 2015


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