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Eaker AFB was first activated in 1942 as a pilot training field. From 1942 to 1947, the base was the home to the AT-9, AT-70, and BT-13 fighter training planes. The base was closed in 1947 and turned over to the City of Blytheville for municipal use. Usage included manufacturing, fuels storage, and the landfilling of municipal waste. The Air Force reactivated Eaker AFB in 1955 for use as a bomber training base. The aircraft stationed at Eaker AFB included the B-57 bomber, KC-97 refueler, B-52G bomber, KC-135A tanker, T-33 jet fighter, and the T-37 jet fighter. Eaker AFB was selected for closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 1991. The base officially closed Dec. 15, 1992.
The Air Force began its first environmental investigation and cleanup of the base in 1984 under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program. The Air Force investigation found the main chemicals of concern on the base were petroleum products, metals, volatile organic compounds, and polychlorinated biphenyls. These contaminants entered the soil and groundwater from sites such as storage tanks (both above and below ground), landfills, small arms ranges, trap and skeet ranges, and fire-fighting training areas. The Air Force also discovered unexploded munitions in former explosive ordnance disposal areas. The investigation, and the cleanup that followed, was accomplished in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. It was overseen by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.
In accordance with the BRAC environmental cleanup program, established when the base was selected for closure in 1991, the Air Force took the environmental cleanup steps necessary to make the installation acreage suitable for transfer to the local redevelopment authority.
All parcels that made up the former Eaker AFB have been transferred through the deeding process to the City of Blytheville for reuse through the Blytheville-Gosnell Regional Airport Authority, the local redevelopment organization. The primary reuse of the property has been for development of the Arkansas Aeroplex industrial park and the Arkansas International Airport. While the airport is civilian controlled, the National Guard is using the facility as the site for training maneuvers and as a landing site to pick up and drop off deployed troops.
Local Redevelopment Authority
Blytheville-Gosnell Regional Airport Authority
P.O. Box 166
Blytheville, AR 72316-0166
Phone: (501) 532-2100