Grissom’s runway reopens, aircraft and personnel coming home

  • Published
  • By Doug Hays
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs

KC-135R Stratotankers and the Airmen who fly, maintain and support them began returning home today as Grissom’s runway opened back up following a near $60 million renovation project. During the 150-day-closure, refueling operations were conducted from nearby Fort Wayne International Airport, with Airmen and equipment shuttling back and forth. “Even though the folks at Fort Wayne were very accommodating, it’s so good to have our people and aircraft back home,” said Col. Summer Fields, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. Of Grissom’s 16 KC-135s, all but four relocated to Fort Wayne. Two jets were loaned to Tinker AFB, Okla., and one to Niagara Falls, Air Reserve Station, NY. The fourth jet was a new addition to Grissom’s fleet, and remained on base for refurbishment, affording maintainers the opportunity to work here while bringing it up to unit standards. While the runway has re-opened, the project won’t be completed until next year, with some punch list items including replacing west end of taxiway G, the taxiway C throat at G, both to full depth. This includes installing grass strips along G bordering the Miami County Economic Development Area ramp, and taxiway lighting. “I’ve never seen a project this size get finished in such a short amount of time and still be this spot on. Very quality project and done on time,” said Steven Bailey, Grissom’s airfield manager. In all, more than 7,000 cubic yards of concrete were poured during the renovation project. “From core drilling, through programming and designing, to acquiring funds and getting a good contract, and weaving through all the complexities of construction, the entire team did good work on this huge project,” said David Hughes, base civil engineer. Grissom’s original runway was constructed in 1942 and designed for light-weight Navy trainers. Over the years the runway has been extended and expanded to handle heavier aircraft. The runway is 12,501 feet long and the longest runway in the state. Grissom hosts the largest air refueling unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. Grissom Airmen routinely perform the Air Force mission around the globe. By the numbers: 239,778 square yards of pavement worked 7,062 total cubic yards of concrete poured 43,748 tons of asphalt paved on the runway and overruns 2,188 – triaxle loads to remove and replace material.