By Mr. William McEvoy, 47 Flying Training Wing public affairs
/ Published July 15, 2021
Photos acquired to show the heritage of Laughlin Air Force Base
July, named by and after Julius Caesar, begins the second half of the year and is often associated with renewal or even second chances. July is also one of the year’s hottest months in the northern hemisphere, and that is true for Laughlin and the surrounding area. Throughout the base’s 79-year history, July has seen Laughlin through heat and change as it continues to be one of the most consistently successful pilot production engines in the world.
02 July 1942: Construction officially began on The U.S. Army Air Forces Transition Flying School, Medium Bombardment, Near Del Rio, Texas. Fortunately for all concerned (especially those who have to write the base’s name on orders or reports), the Army Air Corps drastically shortened the base’s official name to Laughlin Army Airfield eight months later.
01 July 1957: The RB-57 Canberra began arriving to serve at LAFB in the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. The Canberras assigned to the 4080th SRW flew photographic, air sampling, and electronic and signal intelligence gathering missions from 1957-1962.
02 July 1982: Del Rio city and LAFB leaders celebrated the base’s 40th anniversary. This year ushered in the era of Team XL, as former LAFB Public Affairs Officer John Stein’s emblem design—the XL—was chosen to celebrate the occasion. The design signifies 40 in Roman numerals and represents the wing’s commitment to “XL”ence.
08 July 2002: To begin the transition to the T-6 Texan II, the wing shipped the first of its T-37B Tweets (Tail # 58-1956) to the “Boneyard” at Davis Monthan AFB, AZ.
These are a few of the month’s major historical highlights, please check back early next month for more insights to Team XL’s storied past. If anyone has any questions about Laughlin’s rich history or heritage, please feel free to contact the History Office at 298-5420.