Robins Air Force Base
The 1935 Wilcox-Wilson bill provided for construction of new army air logistics depots, and in the early 1940s Macon civic leaders, led by Mayor Charles L. Bowden and supported by Congressman Carl Vinson, convinced the War Department to locate an airfield near Macon. In June 1941, after much competition, the War Department approved the construction of a depot in middle Georgia dairy-farm country near the Southern Railroad whistle-stop of Wellston. The site was chosen because of its flat lands, artesian water, proximity to a main rail line, and abundant and cheap land and labor.
Construction officially started with groundbreaking ceremonies on
Known as the Georgia Air Depot in the beginning, the depot has undergone many name changes. During World War II (1941-45) it was redesignated seven times, acquiring "Warner Robins" in the fifth version of its name, when the town of Wellston was renamed to honor General Robins.
Throughout World War II 23,670 employees repaired almost every kind of AAF aircraft, including B-17s, C-47s, B-29s, B-24s, P-38s, P-47s, and P-51s. Its training facilities turned out nearly 60,000 field repair mechanics for every theater of war. The workforce supplied every kind of part necessary to keep AAF planes flying, especially spark plugs. It also maintained thousands of parachutes, aircraft electronic and radio systems, and AAF small arms.
Since World War II
By March 1946
In 1990-91, during the Persian Gulf War, Robins provided record numbers of parts, repairs, and personnel to coalition forces in the Persian Gulf. Robins-maintained F-15 Eagles and the E-8 Joint STARS played key roles in defeating the Iraqi military. In March–June 1999, during Operation Allied Force, the same employees and weapon systems played a decisive role in defeating the forces of Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic.
Social and Economic Impact
In 2006 Robins Air Force Base had 6,329 military and 13,431 civilian employees. It is home to more than fifty organizations,
The base is situated on 8,722 acres of the Upper Coastal Plain, of which 2,300 acres are natural wetlands and 1,150 acres are timberlands. Wildlife and vegetation include birds, alligators, the Florida panther, magnolias, oaks, and loblolly pines (many planted during the New Deal of the 1930s). Robins boasts thirty-six archaeological sites, from which numerous artifacts were recovered—some displayed in the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation. These confirm that Robins was once the site of a major Native American settlement.
College courses are offered at the Robins Residence Center, a satellite campus of Macon State College.
Robins AFB has the largest runway in Georgia and is capable of accommodating the world's largest aircraft, including the C-5B and NASA's space shuttle piggybacked on a Boeing 747. The replacement value of the base is $5.7 billion.
The Museum of Aviation, begun in 1981, has four major structures on forty-three acres and ninety historic aircraft. It has become a major regional educational and historical resource that hosts 700,000 visitors annually.
In the 1990s Robins AFB awarded between $2 billion and $4 billion in annual contracts; between $200 million and $400 million of that went to Georgia businesses. Robins's total economic impact on middle Georgia was $4.2 billion in 2005. When the army air forces came to Wellston at the beginning of World War II, forty-seven families lived in the area. All twenty-five middle Georgia counties have grown and experienced economic stability as a result of the presence of Robins Air Force Base.
William P. Head, Every Inch a Soldier: General Augustine Warner Robins and the Origins of U.S. Airpower (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1995).
William P. Head, Through the Camera's Eye: A Photographic Survey of Robins Field, 1941-1945 (Robins AFB, Ga.: Office of History, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, 1988).
William P. Head et al., Time Capsule: A Chronology of the Role of Warner Robins Air Logistics Center and Robins AFB, Georgia in World History, 1935-1995 (Robins AFB, Ga.: Office of History, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, 1996).
Robert Mueller, Air Force Bases, vol. 1: Active Air Force Bases within the United States of America on 17 September 1982 (Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History, 1989).
William P. Head, United States Air Force
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