|Location: Mesa, Arizona
Total Acreage: 4,043 Acres
Closed: September 1993
The former Williams Air Force Base played a strategic role in America's aviation history. Over a span of 52 years, more than 26,500 men and women earned their wings at Williams.
Located in Mesa, Arizona, about 30 miles southeast of Phoenix, Williams opened in December 1941 and was initially named the Mesa Military Airport. In February 1942, the growing military airfield's name changed to Williams Field in honor of Arizona native 1st Lt. Charles Linton Williams (1898-1927). Williams died on July 6, 1927, when his Boeing PW-9A pursuit aircraft crashed near Fort DeRussy, Hawaii.
Williams was active as a training base for both the U.S. Army Air Forces, as well as the U.S. Air Force from 1941 until its closure in 1993. The leading pilot training facility of the USAF, 25 percent of all pilots were trained at Williams. Read more here.
The Air Force is using a technology known as Steam Enhanced Extraction to remove fuel below Williams' former fuel storage area. The technology differs from more commonly used cleanup methods because it injects steam below the surface to mobilize fuel for extraction, treatment and potential reuse. The remedy is significantly faster than traditional technology, shortening the cleanup from hundreds of years to decades. Additionally, Steam Enhanced Extraction, along with other methods already in place, will protect the area from potential contaminant migration into the groundwater. Read more about cleanup activities here.
The state and communities began work immediately to redevelop the base after the announcement of closure in 1991. Upon closing, William was transferred to the Air Force Base Conversion Agency (AFBCA). AFBCA assumed responsibilities for the restoration and reuse of the base and worked with the Williams's redevelopment partnership to maximize reuse. Today, Williams continues the serve the Phoenix area as a growing industrial park, a commercial airport, and a higher education campus.