Stead Air Force Base
Stead Air Force Base (1942-1966) - A United States Air Force Base first established in 1942 during World War II as Reno Army Air Base at Reno, Washoe County, Nevada. Renamed Stead Air National Guard Base on 1 Jan 1951 in honor of Lt. Croston Stead a National Guardsman who was killed when his F-51 fighter crashed at the base on 11 Dec 1949. Renamed Stead Air Force Base on 1 Aug 1951 after the start of the Korean War. The base closed in 1966.
World War II
The Reno Army Air Base was constructed during the summer of 1942 and was completed in October of 1942 and assigned to the Second Air Force. Although the base was originally intended for use as a training center for Signal and Chemical personnel, additional construction was required to accommodate troops brought there for other training. The 3d Operational Training Unit, Ferrying Division, Air Transport Command assumed command of the base on 7 Jun 1943 until it was disbanded in 1944 and replaced by the 585th Army Air Force Base Unit on 31 Mar 1944. It was used as a training airfield for transport pilots to be assigned to the China Burma India Theater to fly supply missions over the "The Hump". On 28 Sep 1945 ATC shut down transport training, and the base was placed on temporary inactive status on 20 Oct 1945.
On 12 Apr 1948, the Nevada Air National Guard was established and the 192nd Fighter Squadron was organized at then at what was then known as Reno Air National Guard Base. On 1 Jan 1951, the base became Stead Air National Guard Base named for Lt. Croston Stead a National Guardsman who was killed when his F-51 fighter crashed at the base on 11 Dec 1949.
North Korea invaded South Korea on 25 Jun 1950 and attacked U.S. troops there, driving them south along the peninsula. A massive mobilization of U.S. forces began as soon as the intent of the North Koreans became clear. Postwar disarmament had weakened U.S. Military strength and time was required to reconstitute U.S. ground and air forces. National Guard units were called up and federalized to provide experienced manpower. Manpower authorizations were increased so that Guard units could recruit and train additional troops prior to them being federalized
During this period the 192nd Fighter Squadron (ANG) grew to an authorized strength of 404 airmen and 42 officers and on 1 Mar 1951, the unit was federalized and began its move to Bergstrom AFB, Texas. This left the Air National Guard Base at Reno without an operational unit and again with an unclear future. Two officers and six airmen were all that remained at the base.
On 1 Aug 1951, the U.S. Air Force reactivated the base as Stead Air Force Base. The USAF Survival School and 3904th Composite Wing moved to the base from Camp Carson, Colorado, on 29 May 1951. Equipped with C-119 Flying Boxcars for training in survival, evasion of capture, and how to escape if captured. In September 1954 Stead AFB became part of the Air Training Command (ATC) as a Combat Crew Training Wing.
On 15 July 1958, the USAF Helicopter Pilot School was relocated to Stead.
The Reno Air Defense Sector (ReADS) was activated at Stead AFB and assigned to 25th Air Division on 15 Feb 1959. Construction of the massive SAGE direction center building was completed on or about 1 Sep 1959 and accepted for occupancy. The cost of the direction center included some $4 million for the construction and $26 million for the electronic equipment. The adjacent administration headquarters building for the SAGE organization was completed by February 1960 and cost an additional $294,800. The public announcement of the Stead SAGE Direction Center DC-16 becoming operational was issued on 31 Jan 1961.
In 1964, the Secretary of Defense announced that Stead AFB was to be closed and the Helicopter School and Survival School would be relocated. The USAF Helicopter School moved to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, in late 1965. The Survival School was relocated to Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington.
The Stead SAGE Direction Center DC-16 and Reno Air Defense Sector (ReADS) were deactivated on 25 Jun 1966.
Stead AFB officially closed on 30 Jun 1966, the airfield was later transferred to the City of Reno, and the housing facilities were sold to private individuals.
The airfield is now Reno Stead Airport. The Sage Direction Center blockhouse was repurposed for civilian use and initially housed the Desert Research Institute (DRI), weather station. It now houses the Nevada Terawatt Facility (Zebra). Housing and other facilities were also repurposed.
Visited: 4 Apr 2017