Air Force Bases

Bolling Air Force Base, Washington DC

Location: Located in southeast Washington, DC, south of confluence of Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, October 2nd 1917-November 15th 1937; base moved immediately south of first site, November 15th 1937.

Origin of current name: Named in honor of Col Raynal Cawthorne Bolling (1877-1918). Assistant Chief of the Air Service Colonel Bolling was killed in action near Amiens, France on March 26th 1918 while defending himself and his driver, Cpl Paul L. Holder, from an attack by German soldiers.

Date current name was assigned to base: June 24, 1948

Previous Names: Flying Field at Anacostia, October 2nd 1917; Anacostia Experimental Flying Field June 1918; Bolling Field, July 1st 1918.

Date Established: October 2, 1917

Date Occupied: October 2, 1917

Construction Began: May 17, 1918

Changes in Capability: Flying activities commenced July 1918; base accommodated proficiency flying for aviation personnel in the Washington, DC area and supported pioneer flying activity during the 1920s and 1930s; original installation area doubled with purchase of 345 acres June 19th 1930; four new runways constructed at new site 1937-1938; large construction program including messhalls, airman and WAC billets, and a six-building BOQ-VOQ complex 1941-1943; Bolling served as a protective base for the Washington, DC area and as a training base for combat organizations, and provided air transportation for military and civilian personnel to and from Washington, DC, 1941-1945; Headquarters Command’s move to Andrews AFB sharply reduced proficiency flying 1945-1950; base mission changed from flying to administration and support July 1st 1962, though helicopter operation continued; 1,500-man airman dormitory and 300-unit family housing project completed spring 1967; last assigned helicopter transferred and all flying ceased September 7th 1968; multistoried federal office building completed March 11th 1975; Defense Intelligence Agency building to be completed 1985.

Changes in Status: Inactive, September 10th-December 10th 1920 and January-June 1922; USN assumed jurisdiction of site first occupied by Bolling, and Bolling operations moved to new site immediately to the south on November 15th 1937.


While the last fixed-wing aircraft left Bolling in 1962, the names mentioned in the history of Bolling AFB read like the who's who of early aviation: Charles "Lucky Lindy" Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, Billy Mitchell, H.H. "Hap" Arnold, Jimmy Doolittle, Ira C. Eaker and Wiley Post.

Situated on the banks of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., Bolling is located in the nation's capital. Bolling's men and women proudly accept their responsibility as a showcase for the Air Force because of its proximity to the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and the White House.

The base officially opened July 1, 1918, and was named in honor of the first high-ranking air service officer killed in World War I, Col. Raynal C. Bolling, who died March 26, 1916.

Bolling's early years chronicled the growth of the entire U.S. Air Force and served as a proving ground for the new air service as it spread its wings. Bolling Field also served as a research and testing ground for new aviation equipment, and its first mission provided aerial defense of the capital and accommodated pilot proficiency.

Already well established as one of the world's best aviation bases, Bolling rapidly grew during the years 1939 through 1945 as it once again met the challenge of a world war. The core units at Bolling at the beginning of 1939 were one housekeeping squadron, the base headquarters, the 14th Air Base Squadron and two air base maintenance squadrons -- the first and second staff squadrons.

For the remainder of World War II, Bolling served as a training and organization base for personnel and units going overseas, and it became the aerial gateway to the nation's capital.

In 1962, due to airspace congestion around National Airport, which has since been renamed "Ronald Reagan-Washington National Air-port," fixed-wing flying activities left Bolling for nearby Andrews AFB, Md. Without a flightline, Bolling's role changed to that of a support base and a new era began.

The land that formerly made up the runways on Bolling became the site of family housing and office buildings.

Today it serves as the headquarters of the Air Force District of Washington and the home of the 11th Wing and continues to be the keeper of the Air Force's heritage.

Important dates:


President Woodrow Wilson sent Bolling pilots on the first permanent airmail route from Washington, D.C. to New York.


The First Army Air Tournament, the forerunner to today's open house, took place at Bolling.


"Lucky" Lindy's "Spirit of St. Louis" returned to Bolling after its historic transatlantic flight. It was reassembled at Bolling for Lindbergh's goodwill flight to Mexico and South America.


Lt. Col. Henry "Hap" Arnold led a bomber flight from Bolling on a 4,000-mile aerial journey to Alaska to demonstrate the capabilities of strategic long-range bombing missions.


The 11th Bombardment Group (Heavy), which suffered heavy losses during the attack on Pearl Harbor, was formed.


Brig. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle was decorated at Bolling for heroism after leading a carrier-launched B-25 raid over Tokyo.


The first company of Women's Auxiliary Army Corps appeared.


Bolling re-designated as Headquarters Command U.S. Air Force.


President Truman and Roosevelt's official aircraft, "The Sacred Cow," retired from service at Bolling.


Because of airspace congestion around National Airport, fixed-wing flying activities moved from Bolling to nearby Andrews AFB, Md.


Bolling entered a new phase of its long history when it was assigned to the Military Airlift Command.


Bolling officially became known as the headquarters for the Air Force District of Washington.


Air Force District of Washington was re-designated as the 11th Support Wing, then re-named the 11th Wing the following year.


Terrorists hijack commercial airliners and crash them into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon (which is located across the Potomac River from Bolling) and into a field in rural Pennsylvania. The 11th Wing supports emergency workers during the response to the attack, recovery and Pentagon reconstruction.


The secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force chief of staff jointly direct reactivation of the Air Force District of Washington effective Jan. 1, 2005. The 11th Wing becomes its subordinate unit.