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Working shoulder to shoulder, we support and sustain the United States Air Force. Its aircraft. Its facilities. Its infrastructure. Its systems. And all 300,000 active duty Airmen.

We are the civilians who support and sustain the Air Force. At 180,000 strong, we too are a force to be reckoned with.

Shoulder to shoulder, nothing will deter us from success.

As civilians, we share the same responsibility to our nation as the men and women in uniform. We share the same passion as well. Shoulder to shoulder, we harness the energy to meet every challenge

Working in over 600 occupations and professions we are the backbone of the Air Force. We are engineers working in research labs and social workers helping kids acclimate to new environments. We are physicians treating Airmen and their families. We are cyber security experts on the front line guarding against hackers. We are police officers, aircraft mechanics, nuclear physicists, and mathematicians. We are HR professionals, electricians, and rocket scientists. And so much more.

USAF is renowned for its unparalleled innovation and deployment of paradigm-shifting systems. AFCS is helping drive that innovation with a focus on breakthroughs in technology and in human potential.

To that end, we maintain research facilities and dedicated laboratories in 22 locations around the country. Staffed by over 16,000 civilians, these labs are on the cutting edge of discovery and innovation, and our scientists and engineers work with technology and advanced equipment unavailable anywhere else.

Communities of Support

We also create and sustain communities for ourselves and our active duty colleagues on over 80 Air Force bases and installations in the US and nearly a dozen around the world.

We provide full medical services, offer child care, shopping, entertainment, recreation, and other basic services. These communities are vital to the well-being of Airmen and their families and contribute to readiness in mind, body, and spirit.

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Strength In Diversity

At AFCS we value the strength that comes from our diverse perspectives and abilities and from our different backgrounds and experiences. This is essential to our creativity and success.

We rely on inspired thinking from any and every member of our team and cultivate multicultural viewpoints, varied education, and life experiences to fuel innovation in every field of operation essential to the Air Force mission.

Shoulder to shoulder—success is assured when everyone contributes.


July 2

1900

First Flight of the German Zeppelin, a "rigid" airship that was the first aircraft to use large metal structures.

October 22

1900

The Wright brothers make their first glider flight.

December 17

1903

Orville Wright achieves the world's first manned, powered, sustained, and controlled flight by a heavier-than-air vehicle. The Wright Flyer first lifts into the air at 10:35 AM and flies for twelve seconds, covering a distance of 121 feet.

June 23

1905

The first flight of the Wright Flyer III is made at Huffman Prarie, outside Dayton, Ohio. It is the Wright brothers' first fully controllable aircraft, able to turn and bank and remain aloft for up to thirty minutes.

May 22

1906

The U.S. government issues the Wright brothers the first patent on their flying machine (after turning them down two earlier submissions from them).>

August 1

1907

The Aeronautical Division of the U.S. Army Signal Corps - forerunner of the U.S. Air Force - is established.

May 19

1908

Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge of the U.S. Army Signal Corps becomes the first soldier to fly a heavier-than-air machine.

August 2

1909

The Army accepts its first airplane, bought from the Wright brothers for $25,000, plus a $5,000 bonus because the airplane exceeds the speed requirement of 40 miles per hour.

January 10

1910

Signal Corps Lt. Paul Beck, flying as a passenger with Louis Paulhan in a Farman biplane, drops three 2-pound sandbags in an effort to hit a target on the ground at the Los Angeles Flying Meet. This is the first bombing experiment by an Army officer.

September 16

1910

Bessica Medlar Raiche becomes the first American woman to solo an aircraft.

December 10

1911

Cal Rodgers completes the first transcontinental flight in the Wright EX “Vin Fiz,” flying from Long Island, New York, to Pasadena, California.

August 14

1912

Sgt. Vernon Burge receives rating as the U.S. Army’s first enlisted pilot.

March 16

1916

The first aerial reconnaissance flight for the 1st Aero Squadron is conducted during the Mexican Punitive Expedition.

April 6

1917

The United States enters World War I. During this month, Major William “Billy” Mitchell becomes the first American Army officer to fly over German lines.

May 19

1919

MSgt. Ralph Bottriell makes the first jump with a backpack parachute.

June 4

1920

The Army reorganization bill is approved, creating an Air Service with 1,514 officers and 16,000 enlisted men.

November 12

1921

Wesley May climbs from the wing of one aircraft to the wing of another with a 5 gallon can of gasoline strapped to his back, making the first “air-to-air” refueling.

September 4

1922

Lt. James Harold “Jimmy” Doolittle makes the first transcontinental crossing in an aircraft in a single day, traveling 2,163 miles in 21 hours and 20 minutes.

May 2-3

1923

Lt. Oakley G. Kelly and Lt. John A. Macready complete the first nonstop transcontinental flight. The trip from New York to San Diego takes 26 hours, 50 minutes, 3 seconds in a Fokker T-2.

April 6 - September 24

1924

The Army Air Service completes the first aerial circumnavigation of the globe. Four crews in Douglas World Cruisers begin the voyage in Seattle, Washington, but only two of the aircraft and their crews complete the trip.

February 2

1925

President Calvin Coolidge signs the Kelly Act, authorizing the air transport of mail under contract. This is the first major legislative step toward the creation of a U.S. airline industry.

March 16

1926

Dr. Robert H. Goddard launches the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket at Auburn, Massachusetts.

May 20

1927

The first solo non-stop transatlantic flight is completed by Charles A. Lindbergh in the Ryan NYP monoplane Spirit of St. Louis, flying from New York to Paris in 33 hours and 32 minutes.

August 25

1932

Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to complete a nonstop transcontinental flight.

July 15

1933

Famed aviator Wiley Post, flying the Lockheed Vega Winnie Mae, becomes the first person to fly around the world solo. The 15,596-mile trip takes 7 days, 18 hours, and 49 minutes at an average speed of 134.5 miles per hour.

March 21

1941

The first black flying unit, the 99th Pursuit Squadron, is activated. As part of the 332nd Pursuit Squadron, it will later become known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

June 20

1941

The United States Army Air Forces are formed.

March 9

1942

The War Department is reorganized into three autonomous forces: Army Air Forces, Ground Forces, and Services of Supply.

April 18

1942

Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle leads the “Doolittle Raiders” in B-25s on first U.S. bomb run over Japan in World War II.

October 1

1942

The Bell P-59 “Airacomet,” America's first jet-propelled airplane, makes its initial flight at Edwards AFB, California.

August 5

1943

Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) forms, headed by Jacqueline Cochran.

March 9

1944

B-17s of the Eighth Air Force conduct the first daylight bombing raid on Berlin.

September 14

1944

Col. Floyd Wood, Maj. Harry Wexler, and Lt. Frank Record, flying a Douglas A-20 “Havoc,” are the first to fly into the heart of a hurricane to obtain meteorological data.

May 8

1945

VE Day: The war in Europe ends.

August 6

1945

The “Little Boy” atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, from the B-29 "Enola Gay," commanded by Col. Paul Tibbets, Jr.

September 2

1945

VJ Day: Japan signs the instrument of surrender on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, marking the end of World War II.

September 18

1947

The birth of the United States Air Force. Stuart Symington becomes the first Secretary of the Air Force. Air activities transfered from the Army to the Air Force.

October 14

1947

The first supersonic flight is made by Capt. Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager in the rocket-powered Bell XS-1 (later redesignated X-1) over Edwards AFB, California.

April 26

1948

The Air Force announces a policy of racial integration – the first service to do so – well before President Harry Truman’s Executive Order on equal opportunity in July 1948.

January 25

1949

The United States Air Force adopts blue uniforms.

March 2

1949

The B-50A “Lucky Lady II” completes the first nonstop around-the-world flight: 23,452 miles in 94 hours, 1 minute.

November 8

1950

1st Lt. Russell Brown, Jr., in an F-80 “Shooting Star,” downs a MiG-15 in Korean War, the first all-jet aerial combat.

May 20

1951

Capt. James Jabara (USAF) becomes the first jet “ace.”

September 20

1951

The Air Force makes the first successful recovery of animals from rocket flight when a monkey and 11 mice survive an Aerobee flight to an altitude of 236,000 feet.

November 20

1953

NACA test pilot Scott Crossfield becomes the first pilot to exceed Mach 2. His Douglas D-588-II Skyrocket research plane is dropped from a Navy P2B-1S (B-29) at an altitude of 32,000 feet over Edwards AFB, California.

April 1

1954

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs into law a bill creating the United States Air Force Academy.

January 18

1957

Commanded by USAF Maj. Gen. Archie Old, Jr., three Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses complete a 24,325-mile round-the-world non-stop flight in 45 hours, 19 minutes, with an average speed of 534 miles per hour. It is the first globe-circling nonstop flight by jet aircraft.

January 31

1958

Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite, is launched by the Army at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The satellite is launched on a Jupiter-C rocket and will later play a key role in the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belt around the Earth.

February 28

1959

The Air Force successfully launches the Discoverer I satellite into polar orbit from Vandenburg AFB, California.

August 16

1960

USAF Captain Joseph W. Kittinger, Jr., makes the highest parachute jump and longest free fall ever recorded. He steps from the gondola of a high-altitude balloon at 102,800 feet over Tularosa, New Mexico, and waits four and a half minutes before opening his parachute. He free-falls 84,700 feet, reaching a speed of 614 miles per hours. He lands unharmed 13 minutes and 45 seconds after jumping.

May 5

1961

Alan Shepard becomes the first American to fly in space aboard the “Freedom 7” Mercury capsule on a 15-minute suborbital flight.

January 10-11

1962

Major Clyde P. Evely sets a recognized class record for great circle distance without landing (jet aircraft) of 12,532.28 miles from Kadena AB, Okinawa, to Madrid, Spain, in a Boeing B-52H Stratofortress. The record still stands.

August 19

1964

The Hughes Syncom III satellite is launched by a Thor-Delta launch vehicle. After several weeks of maneuvers, it becomes the world's first geosynchronous satellite.

July 20

1969

Mankind sets foot on the moon for the first time. At 10:56 PM EDT, Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong puts his left foot on the lunar surface. He and lunar module pilot Col. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., USAF, spend just under three hours walking on the moon. Command module pilot Lt. Col. Michael Collins, USAF, remains in orbit.

July 16

1971

Jeanne M. Holm becomes the first female general officer in the Air Force.

January 27

1973

Cease-fire agreements ending the war in Vietnam are signed in Paris.

September 1

1975

USAF General Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr., becomes the first black officer to achieve four-star rank in the U.S. military.

February 22

1978

The first test satellite in the Air Force’s Navstar Global Positioning System is launched into Earth orbit.

May 28

1980

The United States Air Force Academy graduates its first female cadets. Ninety-seven women are commissioned as Second Lieutenants. Lt. Kathleen Conly graduates eighth in her class.

April 12

1981

The space shuttle orbiter Columbia, the world’s first reusable manned space vehicle, makes its first flight with astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen aboard.

June 18

1983

The first American woman to go into space, Sally K. Ride, is aboard Challenger on the seventh space shuttle mission (STS-7).

June 10

1989

Captain Jacquelyn S. Parker becomes the first female pilot to graduate from the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, California.

August 7

1990

The United States begins Operation Desert Shield, the large-scale movement of U.S. forces to the Middle East in response to Iraq's 2 August invasion of Kuwait and threat to Saudi Arabia.

January 17

1991

War begins in the Persian Gulf. Operation Desert Shield becomes Operation Desert Storm. More than 1,200 combat sorties are flown, and 106 cruise missiles are launched against targets in Iraq and Kuwait during the first 14 hours of the operation.

February 10

1994

Lieutenant Jeannie Flynn, the first female selected for USAF combat pilot training, completes her F-15E training.

April 27

1995

Air Force Space Command declares that the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite constellation has achieved full operational capability.

January 4

1996

Operation Provide Promise, the longest sustained humanitarian airlift in history, officially ends after delivering 160,536 metric tons of relief cargo to Bosnia-Herzegovina since July 1992. The U.S. Air Force flew 4,597 of the 12,895 sorties. On 9 January there will be a commemorative final flight.

September 18

1997

The United States Air Force celebrates its 50th anniversary.