Laughlin AFB is located in the southwestern part of Texas, only 8 km away from Del Rio. It is controlled by the Air Force and represents the largest military base dealing with pilot training sessions in USAF. During the weekdays, the airport deals with more flights than any other airfield in the United States of America.
The base was initially established as Laughlin Army Air Field in 1943. It was named in the memory of Jack T. Laughlin. He was the first victim from Del Rio in World War II, after the plane he was in was lost above the water. He passed away while in one of the two missions aiming Japanese ships in the Makassar Strait. When World War II drew to an end, the base was closed, in 1945. It was reopened less than 10 years later, in 1952, after the Korean War started. It was taken over by the Crew Training Air Force and worked on training and preparing pilots for flying and bombing incursions in Korea. It performed training missions on aircrafts like F 84 Thunderjet or F 80 Shooting Star.
The base troops are responsible for taking the first pictures of the Soviet missiles located in Cuba, in the autumn of 1962. Other than that, the base was not part of any notable events in the upcoming conflicts. These days, it performs training sessions for cadets, “releasing” over 300 pilots every year. They are trained on aircrafts like T 1A Jayhawk, T 38C Talon and T 6A Texan II.
Other than its military purpose, Laughlin AFB represents a common place for the people living in the area who look after some entertainment. Outside of the camp, people come for the huge reservoir for fishing and the surrounding lake for diving activities. Most other recreational spots are in Del Rio or in Ciudad Acuna, over the borders. A small part of the base – more precisely the residential area – is a census designated place. Judging by the 2000 census, there were a little over 2200 inhabitants in the area.
Laughlin AFB is the hosting site of the 47-th Flying Training Wing. It is proudly among the first pilot training wings in the world. With more than 300 students graduating every year, it is also one of the most active schools. The courses take a whole year. The 47-th Flying Training Wing consists of a medical group, a mission support group and an operations group. Each of these groups includes multiple squadrons and has particular missions and objectives.
Your first stop after you arrive at Laughlin AFB is at the Airman and Family Readiness Center, the local housing center that aims to provide the newcomers with a pleasant and friendly welcome, willing to make them feel like home. Your sponsor will present you all the relocation tools. The housing system deals with both off and on site accommodation. Just make sure you get in touch with it early. If you plan to stay for a short period of time, you might consider the local inns and hotels.