Spokane History Timeline

Fairchild Air Force Base, 1942

Muir S. Fairchild
General Muir Stephen Fairchild

Fairchild AFB is named in honor of General Muir Stephen Fairchild (1894-1950) a  native of Washington. General Fairchild received his wings and commission in 1918, and served as a pilot during World War I. He held various air staff positions during World War II. General Fairchild received his fourth star in 1948, and died on March 17, 1950 while serving as Vice Chief of Staff, USAF. The base was named Fairchild in memory of the general. The formal dedication ceremony was July 20, 1951.

Fairchild AFB was built in 1942 and is a key part in the nation’s defense strategy. When the nation was looking for a base to be built, there were two Washington cities in competition: Everett and Spokane. When the team choosing the base came to Spokane, the city offered land to the United States Military. James A. Ford, a managing secretary of Spokane chamber of Commerce, made the offer and Frank Sutherlin, who was in fact the Mayor of Spokane at the time, helped with the offer. After some time Spokane was chosen for the base because it had better weather conditions and had the Cascade mountains that served as a natural barrier. The city leaders had raised $125,000 dollars from local businesses and public minded citizens and bought 1,400 acres for the construction of the base just west of the city. From 1942 until 1946 the Spokane Army Air Depot served as a repair depot for damaged aircraft coming from the pacific theater.

Fairchild Wing

L93-18.213 - A typical B-52 crew of the 92nd Bombardment Wing at Fairchild


Starting in the summer of 1947, the base was transferred to a Strategic Air Command, and was assigned to the 15th Air Force. Then later came 92nd and 98th bomb groups arrived at the base, the two units flew the most advanced bomber in their days the B-29 super fortress. When the war in Korea started both bomber units were deployed to Japan and Guam. After a few months General Douglas Mac Arthur ordered that the 92nd come back to the states while the 98th stayed back in the west. Later the 98th was relocated to a base in Nebraska. Then the 92nd was re-assigned to the 92nd bombardment wing.
Actually when the name change dedication ceremony was taking place, the first B-36 Peacemaker, the largest military aircrafts ever built arrived at the base. Then later in 1956 the wing began a conversion that then brought the B-52 Stratofortress to Fairchild. The 92nd became an air refueling squadron with the KC-135 Stratotanker in 1957.

Fairchild also helped with bombing operations in Vietnam and other wars. Recently Fairchild served with operations in the Middle East like Desert Storm and Desert Shield, and currently in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 92 Refueling Wing services planes all over the world. Fairchild Air Force Base is a valued member of the Spokane community.




Photos used with permission from Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/ Eastern Washington State Historical Society.

L93-18.213 - A typical B-52 crew of the 92nd Bombardment Wing at Fairchild

copyright (c) 2011, Discovery School.
All rights reserved.
Report created May, 2011.
Last Modified on January 3, 2012