Hunter Army Airfield, GA Image 1
    Hunter Army Airfield, GA Image 2

    Hunter Army Airfield, GA History

    In 1929, a General Aviation Committee of the Savannah City Council saw the bright future of aviation and recommended a 730 acre tract of land be purchased for what would eventually become Hunter Army Airfield. It originally opened in September of 1929 as the Savannah Municipal Airport. This became a part of the Eastern Air Transport Incorporated air route in 1931 and was celebrated by the mayor's daughter christening an 18-passenger Curtiss Condor II with a bottle of Savannah River water.

    It was not until 1940 that the airport was renamed Hunter Municipal Airfield in honor of Savannah native and WWI pilot Lieutenant Colonel Frank O'Driscoll Hunter during Savannah Aviation Week. Official approval was soon given to build a base at Hunter and the airfield was renamed Savannah Air Base in 1941 during the base dedication. It served as an operational training unit during the war years and afterward, in 1946, was given back to the city of Savannah for civilian use.

    However, the 2nd Bomb Wing was moved to Savannah and it was soon realized that the now civilian base was not a proper environment to house a bomb wing. The city traded the airfield back to the Air Force and the government bought an additional 3,500 acres around Hunter Air Force Base for future expansion, additional barracks housing, office space, security perimeter, and flight range.

    In 1966, the DoD scheduled Hunter and 94 other bases to be closed, but the Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker was soon at capacity. The Secretary of Defense had approved the training of more helicopter pilots and Hunter was turned over to the Army to take over the additional pilot training. The headquarters of U.S. Army Aviation School Element, which provided training for fixed-wing pilots, was moved from nearby Fort Stewart to Hunter. In 1967, the facilities of Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield were combined and redesignated as the U.S. Army Flight Training Center.

    After two years on caretaker status, Hunter reopened in 1975 for the reactivation of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Stewart. This became part of the Rapid Deployment Force in 1980 thanks to its deep-water port, 11,340 ft runway, the longest east of the Mississippi River, and its extensive railroad and roads system. There are currently 5,000 soldiers at Hunter and the airfield is shared with that of Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, the largest helicopter unit in the Coast Guard.