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The Economic Impact of OKC's Tinker Air Force Base

Tinker Air Force Base is located nine miles to the southeast of downtown Oklahoma. Currently, it is one of the most important and grandest military installations in the whole county. It covers over five thousand acres, and features; two runways (covering over ten thousand square feet), 7000 military personnel and 15000 civilian employees.

It is home to a number of divisions in the us army that include; Navy Strategic Communications Wing One, Third Combat Communications Group, Defense Mega-center Oklahoma City, Air Logistics Center And Thirty Eight Engineering Installation Group just to mention a few.

The AFB began under the name Midwest Air Depot but it was renamed after the first Oklahoma native major general by the name General Clarence L. Tinker.

Birth During WWII

During the early 1940’s, war had enveloped Europe and America feared that it could be drawn into another fatal world war. President Roosevelt felt that the country could be used as the Arsenal of Democracy.

The war department of the country was looking for the appropriate locations to set up three aircraft depots, with one of them being in the Midwest of America. In reaction, a couple of entrepreneurs of the city came together and formed the Oklahoma Industries Foundation. They included Tom Braniff, Edward K. Gaylord, and Frank Buttram among others.

They purchased 960 acres of land and offered it to the government free of charge. They also promised to provide, for the air field, all the important utilities including a road and a rail. There was competition from other areas but Oklahoma City worn.

Before the depot was set, the leaders of the industry had to choose to either make a ton of wealth from an aircraft production plant for the period of the war only, or make a depot that would survive for the many years to come. They chose the latter to support the country for a while over getting some quick money.


War did strike soon after that, as well as good karma. The War Department came to a decision that the Douglas Plant would also be granted to Oklahoma City. The Assistant Secretary of War signed the official command and on the 8th of April 1941, it was announced that the modern military air depot would be built to the east of Oklahoma City. The Douglas Plant is now known as Bldg. 3001.

The Douglas Plant was responsible to build C-47 Skytrains, dubbed, The Gooney Bird. Production increased overnight. The plant went from being an empty steppe to producing over 5000 gooney birds in the last war-years. During peak performance, they made up to thirteen planes per day.

Currently, the whole United States air force has around 5032 aircrafts in its whole arsenal. If the leaders of the Oklahoma Industries Foundation had chosen to make a quick buck in the period that the war lasted, this could not have come to be. Thus, a simple decision made to go with honor over gain, ended up benefiting not only the citizens of Oklahoma, but also the world in general for a number of years after the war ended.

Fun For Adults in OKC

While you can't visit Tinker Air Force Base without a special pass, there are plenty of other things to do while you're in Oklahoma City.  Of particular interest is the zoo and botanical gardens, a handful of incredible restaurants, a number of excellent bars, and even a man-made lake with golf, fishing and playgrounds.


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