Part of 14th Operations Group
|Country United States|
Role Flying Training
|Branch United States Air Force|
The 48th Flying Training Squadron (48 FTS) is part of the 14th Flying Training Wing based at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. It operates T-1 Jayhawk aircraft conducting flight training. The squadron is one of the oldest in the Air Force, being formed during World War I as the 48th Aero Squadron on 4 August 1917.
Currently the squadron specializes in the tanker and airlift track of specialized undergraduate pilot training. Students receive at least 159 hours of flight instruction in the T-1 Jayhawk where they learn air refueling procedures, tactical navigation, airdrop, and advanced navigation. Upon completion of this phase, students earn the aeronautical rating of pilot and receive their Air Force wings.
World War I
The squadrons origins date to 4 August 1917 with the formation of the 48th Provisional Squadron at Kelly Field, Texas. It was organized into the first Aero Construction squadron designated for deployment to the American Expeditionary Forces in France. After basic training at Kelly Field, the squadron was sent to the Aviation Concentration Center, Garden City, New York in mid-September 1917 for subsequent movement to France. It embarked on the Cunard Liner "Pannonia", suffering a stormy and unpleasant voyage across the Atlantic. It arrived at Liverpool, England on 29 October. After a few days in England, the squadron arrived at Rest Camp #2, Le Harve, France on 1 November.
The first meaningful work of the squadron was at the 3d Air Instructional Center, Issoudun Aerodrome in Central France. It arrived on 3 November to help construct barracks and shops from lumber. It also erected hangars and did the necessary construction work to bring the airfield into an operational school for training Pursuit (Fighter) pilots. It also began work on six airfields to support the training school, building roads, putting up hangars, and installing water and electrical systems. A detachment of the squadron was sent to the 2d Air Instructional Center, Tours Aerodrome. In doing this work, the squadron got the reputation of being one of the best, and fastest, all around construction squadrons in the AEF.
In May 1918, the squadron was then reassigned to the First Army Air Service, and began constructing combat airfields to support the St. Mihiel Offensive. Throughout the year, it was moved from place to place, erecting hangars, constructing buildings and preparing airfields for use by Air Service planes. At Parois Aerodrome in the Meuse, it constructed 12 hangars and 23 barracks, the flying field being full of former trenches and shell holes that had to be filled in. During the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in early November, it moved to Buzaney to reconstruct a former German airfield that was littered with munitions and other hazardous materiel. However, the war ended on 11 November before the airfield could be put to use.
After the Armistice, the squadron was reassigned to the Third Army Air Service and moved to Trier Airdrome, Germany as part of the Army of Occupation. The former German Airfield there was prepared for seven American Aero Squadrons to use, which was done in less than a week. It then moved to Weißenthurm to construct another Aerodrome for Third Army. It remained in the Rhineland until the summer of 1919 until it was ordered, along with the Third Army Air Service to demobilized. After turning in all equipment at the 1st Air Depot at Colombey-les-Belles Aerodrome, the unit moved to a Channel Port where it boarded a troop ship, returning to the United States in August 1919. The men of the squadron were discharged and returned to civilian life.
The squadron was reorganized and activated in 1927 as part of the 11th School Group at Kelly Field, Texas. A part of the Air Corps Primary Flying School, it trained aviation cadets using the Consolidated PT-1, with tandem seats and a Wright E engine.
By the fall of 1931, construction of Randolph Field was essentially completed, and the primary flying school at Kelly Field was moved to the new installation. With the transfer of the school, the 48th School Squadron was demobilized on 31 December 1931
World War II
The squadron was equipped with P-38 Lightnings in 1941 and assigned to Hamilton Field, California. From 5 February to 3 June 1942 it flew air defense patrols along the California coast. It was deployed to the European Theater of Operations (ETO) in August 1942 to fly escort missions of B-17 and B-24 heavy bombers as part of VIII Fighter Command.
The squadron was sent to North Africa in late 1942 as part of the Operation Torch invasion forces, taking up station in Algeria. It was reassigned to the Twelfth Air Force and flew fighter escort missions for the B-17 Flying Fortresses operating from Algeria as well as tactical interdiction strikes on enemy targets of opportunity in Algeria and Tunisia during the North African Campaign.
Following the German defeat and withdrawal from North Africa the squadron participated in the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy and the subsequent drive of the United States Fifth Army up the Italian peninsula. It was engaged primarily in tactical operations after November 1943, supporting ground forces and attacking enemy targets of opportunity such as railroads, road convoys, bridges, strafing enemy airfields and other targets. The squadron was deployed to Corsica in 1944 to attack enemy targets in support of the Free French Forces in the liberation of the island and to support Allied forces in the invasion of southern France. The squadron continued offensive operations until the German capitulation in May 1945. The unit was demobilized during the summer and fall 1945 in Italy and inactivated.
Cold War Air Defense
It was reactivated in 1946 to the new Air Defense Command to perform air defense of the eastern United States. The 48th FIS was activated at Dow Field in November 1946 with P-47 Thunderbolts. In October 1947 a transition into P-84B Thunderjets was completed. These were flown until the unit was temporarily inactivated on 2 October 1949.
The squadron was redesignated as the 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and reactivated in November 1952 at Grenier Air Force Base in Manchester, New Hampshire, with F-47 Thunderbolts, replacing the New Hampshire Air National Guard 133d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, which was released from federal control. A relocation to Langley AFB was completed in early 1953 along with a transition into F-84Gs and then F-94C Starfires in the fall of 1953. In the summer of 1957 the squadron completed a transition into F-102A Delta Daggers followed by another in the fall of 1960 to F-106 Delta Darts. It deployed to Florida in 1962 during Cuban Missile Crisis.
The 48th FIS flew F-15A Eagles from 1982 to 1991, where many of the F-15 were transferred to the Missouri ANG, the Hawaii ANG, and 3 or 4 going to AMARC. The 48th continued training and operational exercises until inactivation in 1991.