The United States Army Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps, activated the base -- then known as Mills Field -- on Feb. 21, 1918 as a pilot training base.
Later that year, Mills Field was renamed Mather Field for 2nd Lt. Carl Spencer Mather, an Army Signal Corps pilot who was killed in an air collision at Ellington Field, Texas in 1918. Mather earned his pilot's license at age 16 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps on Jan. 20, 1918. Five days later he was killed during one of the first training classes for World War I pilots. The remainder of his class was re-stationed at Mills Field and requested that the facility be renamed in Mather's honor. On May 2, 1918, the name was changed to Mather Field, the precursor to Mather Air Force Base and today's Sacramento Mather Airport. Read more here.
Mather is in the final stages of environmental cleanup. All major decisions have been made, documented and overseen by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Toxic Substances Control, Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the Integrated Waste Management Board. Community members provided input through the Mather Restoration Advisory Board, or RAB, beginning in 1994. The RAB was adjourned in 2011, after all cleanup decisions had been made and attendance at RAB meetings had dwindled.
The Air Force has spent more than $162 million on the cleanup and millions more will be spent for ongoing monitoring and operation of groundwater treatment and soil cleanup systems, and maintenance and monitoring of landfill sites. Of the 89 sites identified at Mather, 75 sites are clean. Fourteen of the remaining sites are being cleaned or awaiting official closure documentation. Read more about cleanup activities here.
Since 1993, Sacramento County, the local redevelopment agency for the former Mather AFB, has been transforming Mather into a regional employment hub. In 1988, the regional economy received a blow when Mather AFB was targeted for closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The base closed in 1993, erasing about 7,600 jobs and some $150 million in annual income from the Sacramento area.
Located partially in unincorporated Sacramento County and partially in the city of Rancho Cordova, in 2012 Mather housed 80 businesses and government agencies, an enormous regional park and 18-hole golf course, more than 1,200 single-family homes, a cargo-focused airport and other amenities. An estimated 5,000 people worked there in 2012.
Read more about property transfer activities here.