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Harrisburg Air National Guard Base
Olmsted Air Force Base

Air National Guard.png
Olmsted Army Airfield

Part of Pennsylvania Air National Guard (PA ANG)
Located in: Lower Swatara Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania,
near Middletown, Pennsylvania
193d Special Operations Wing - C-130s.jpg
EC-130E and EC-130J commando solo aircraft of the 193d Special Operations Wing

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Type Military airfield
Coordinates Latitude:
Built 1917
In use 1917-1969, Afterwards by Pennsylvania Air National Guard
Controlled by  United States Air Force
Garrison 193d Special Operations Wing.png
193d Special Operations Wing

Olmsted Air National Guard Base - May 1979

For the current use of the facility, see:Harrisburg International Airport

Harrisburg Air National Guard Base is a United States Air Force base, located at Harrisburg International Airport, (IATA: MDT, ICAO: KMDT, FAA Location identifier: MDT) Pennsylvania. It is located 1.7 miles (2.7 km) west-southwest of Middletown, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Air National Guard facility is sited on the location of the former Olmsted Air Force Base, which was closed in 1969. The 193d Special Operations Wing operates EC-130J Hercules aircraft, designated as "Commando Solo" for special operations missions. The airfield is shared with MDT, the civilian airport being moved from Airport (Pennsylvania)|Capital City Airport]], near Harrisburg in 1970 after Olmsted AFB's closure.

Units[edit | edit source]

The PA ANG 193d Special Operations Wing consists of:

  • 193d Special Operations Squadron flies the EC-130J Commando Solo, a specially-modified four-engine Hercules transport, the 193d Special Operations Squadron conducts information operations, psychological operations and civil affairs broadcasts.

Other components of the Wing are located at State College and at Muir Army Airfield at Fort Indiantown Gap.

History[edit | edit source]

Robert Stanford Olmsted[edit | edit source]

The facility is named in honor of 1st Lieutenant Robert Stanford Olmsted, U.S. Army Air Service, on 11 March 1948, killed in a ballooning accident over the village Loosbroek, Netherlands on 23 September 1923, while competing in the Gordon Bennett Cup.[1][2][3] Despite threatening weather which causes some competitors to drop out. Lightning struck the S-6 over Nistelrode, the Netherlands, killing Olmsted.[4]

Middletown Air Depot[edit | edit source]

The facility saw its first military use by the United States Army Signal Corps in 1898. The first known use of the field by military aircraft was when Middletown Airfield opened in 1917 as a supply depot and maintenance center for Signal Corps aircraft. The first airplanes landed in 1918 at Middletown Air Depot, when it was under the administration of the Signal Corps of the United States Army.[5] In 1939, it was still known by this name. Middletown had an abundance of engine and airframe shops and a supply distribution system that made it a significant facility, but a poor runway that, it was felt, would be too expensive to improve.[6] It would involve claiming marsh land and portions of the Susquehanna River (both of which have since been accomplished) and the Air Force leadership at that time determined that more land for supply and maintenance buildings was needed.[6]

After World War I, and the reconstitution of the United States Army Air Service in 1922, the facility became a logistics and maintenance support of Air Service aircraft and equipment through its host unit, the Middletown Air Depot (later Middletown Air Materiel Area). During World War II, numerous transport and reconnaissance units were organized and formed at Olmsted Army Airfield. Once equipped, they were reassigned to training bases. The Middletown Air Depot was a major support installation to the Air Force for decades. Beginning on 11 August 1948, the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) 147th Flight Service Squadron began operations of the Olmsted Flight Service Center. During the 1948-1949 Berlin Airlift, the U.S. Supply Depot at Olmsted provided emergency support supplies for the airlift operations.[7]

In 1958, Olmsted was designated as prime support depot for T-38 and L-27 aircraft.

Olmsted AFB and the Middletown Air Depot's last assignment was with Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC), and the base and depot were inactivated on 30 June 1969.

Closure[edit | edit source]

Initially turned over to Pennsylvania Air National Guard after active-duty closure, the flight line area was redeveloped into the Harrisburg International Airport, under the ownership of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

In 1998, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania transferred ownership of the airport to the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority (SARAA).[5] In addition, in 1966, much of the former Air Force property was converted into The Pennsylvania State University—The Capital College, otherwise known as the Harrisburg Campus. This campus was originally chartered as a graduate and upper division school.

Major commands to which assigned[edit | edit source]

  • Army Signal Corps, Aviation Section, 16 June 1917
  • Bureau of Aircraft Production, 20 May 1918
  • Army Air Service, 4 June 1920
  • Air Corps Materiel Division, 15 October 1926
  • Air Corps Maintenance Command, 29 April 1941
  • Air Service Command, 17 October 1941
  • Army Air Forces Materiel and Services on July 14, 1944
Redesignated: Army Air Forces Technical Service Command on August 31, 1944
Redesignated: Air Technical Service Command on July 1, 1945
Redesignated: Air Materiel Command on March 9, 1946
Redesignated: Air Force Logistics Command on April 1, 1961
Inactivated on 30 June 1969

Known units assigned[edit | edit source]

Known base operating units were:

  • 4149th Air Base Unit
  • 2843d Air Base Wing
  • 4112th Air Force Base Unit

Known operational units assigned were:

Assigned to: Pennsylvania National Guard

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. http://www.lackland.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-070222-007.pdf
  2. "Luchtballon op Loosbroek" (in Dutch). Hot air balloon on Loosbroek. Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum. http://www.bhic.nl/index.php?id=11607. Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  3. "First photos of International Balloon Race which resulted in five deaths". Hagley Digital Archives. http://digital.hagley.org/u?/p268001coll33,35. Retrieved March 8, 2011. 
  4. Maurer Maurer, "Aviation in the U.S. Army, 1919-1939", United States Air Force Historical Research Center, Office of Air Force History, Washington, D.C., 1987, ISBN 0-912799-38-2, page 174.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Harrisburg International Airport". GlobalSecurity.Org/. 2006. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/harrisburg.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-31. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Knight, Glenn B. (2000). "The Lititz Air Force Base". Lititz Record-Express. http://4mermarine.com/news/ott000928.html. Retrieved 2006-12-31. 
  7. Provan, John, and Davies, R. E. G., "Berlin Airlift: The Effort and the Aircraft", Paladwr Press, McLean, Virginia, ISBN 1-888962-05-4, page 40.

References[edit | edit source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

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