Myrtle Beach was established as a resort around the turn of the century. In 1939 a municipal airport was established on the land presently known as the base. In 1940 the site became a defense facility, and the War Department acquired the airfield under agreement with the Town of Myrtle Beach. The Army Air Corps used the base for practicing gunnery missions in the area. With the beginning of World War II, the airport became the Myrtle Beach General Bombing and Gunnery Range. By 1943 the Myrtle Beach Army Air Field consisted of approximately 5,000 acres of owned and leased land. During the war, the base provided combat training for thousands of air crew members. By late 1945, as war activity decreased, the base was used for recruitment and support for special activities such as Civil Air Patrol, National Guard and military academy encampments. In 1947 the base was closed and the property given to the City of Myrtle Beach, with runways and towers being turned over to the City for use as a municipal airport.
In 1954, the City donated land to the Air Force for construction of a new base, and much of the existing facility was demolished to make way for a modern Air Force base. Operations began in 1955 when the 727th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron arrived.
In 1975, the Horry County Jetport facility began operation as a civilian airport on the northeastern side of the base, beginning the joint civilian/military use of the airfield. The land on which the air base lies was annexed by the City of Myrtle Beach in 1977. According to the standard practice in the Air Force and at other industrial settings at the time, the Myrtle Beach AFB began undergoing environmental assessment and remediation in 1981. With the announcement in October 1991 that the base would close in 1993, the emphasis of the base's environmental program changed to include the considerations of the goals of property transfer and reuse for civilian purposes.
Installation Restoration Program (IRP) sites at Myrtle Beach included landfills, weathering pits, fire training areas, drainage ditches, hazardous waste storage areas, maintenance areas, underground storage tanks, explosive ordnance areas, fuel storage areas, a small arms firing range and a lead-contaminated skeet range. The initial IRP investigation was completed in 1981. A Restoration Advisory Board was formed in 1994, it adjourned in 2010. Remedy optimizations have been implemented at the majority of the groundwater sites and contamination levels are declining. Several milestones have been completed ahead of schedule. The groundwater is being cleaned up to residential (unrestricted) use.
All property on the former Air Force Base has been conveyed by deed for airport and civilian use. Townhouses, lakes, small stores and a large multi-screen cinema have been built on the former base, giving a small town atmosphere to the area. Many new developments have been built along the main road through the former base, including a large park and recreational area. The flight line, hangars, and the former base operations control tower are being used for general aviation operations across the runway from Myrtle Beach International Airport. Some buildings have been converted to civilian uses.
Local Redevelopment Authority
Myrtle Beach Air Base Redevelopment Authority
1089 Howard Parkway
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Horry County Department of Airports
1100 Jetport Rd
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
Phone: (843) 488-1580