History of the Airfield at Wiesbaden

Host nation media articles about architectural influence of U.S. military on Wiesbaden

The Airfield Today
The Airfield in the 1990s.

The area that is presently Lucius D. Clay Kaserne has a long history of use as festival grounds. As early as 1184 a national festival was held on the grounds and the German emperor Friedrich I, knighted his sons there.

Racetrack times
Racetrack times.

In later years a racetrack, which was well known throughout Europe for its excellent horse racing competition, was built on the site. On May 11, 1913 Prince Heinrich of Prussia landed in a field near the racetrack, thus completing the first recorded landing by an aircraft on what is now the airfield at Clay Kaserne. Around 1917, due to a decline in racetrack attendance, sponsors included aerial demonstrations as a regular part of the program. During these flying programs some of the most famous German stunt pilots made their appearance at Wiesbaden. Wiesbaden was not used as a military aerodrome during the First World War.

The 20s: Opening of the airport
The 20s: Opening of the airport.

In 1926 a retired German Flying Corps officer, Joseph Aumann, conceived the idea of turning the racetrack into an airfield. Although Aumann's idea did not win public approval he managed to convince city officials that the airfield would attract more visitors to the Spas of Wiesbaden and stimulate business in Wiesbaden and Mainz.

In the spring of 1929 the Wiesbaden-Mainz airport was opened. Private and sport flying grew in popularity in Wiesbaden through 1933 when the Third Reich came into power. Flight training was organized for future Luftwaffe pilots at Wiesbaden during this time.

The 30s: A Fliegerhorst for the Luftwaffe
The 30s: A Fliegerhorst for the Luftwaffe.

In 1936, Luftwaffe Headquarters in Berlin designated Wiesbaden Airfield as a fliegerhorst or air base. Construction of the military kaserne, the runway and hangar complex was completed in 1938 and the first German military unit, the famous "Ace of Spades" fighter wing, occupied Fliegerhorst Wiesbaden. Wiesbaden was used by the Luftwaffe throughout the Second World War as a fighter and bomber base. At the peak of its use as many as 40 bombers took off every 3 hours on assigned bombing missions. Naturally, Wiesbaden was the target of numerous allied bombing missions and at one time as many as 76 bomb craters were counted on the runway. To this day unexploded ordnance from those bombing raids is occasionally found during construction projects close to the airfield.

The war and the time after
The war and the time after.

In late March 1945 Fliegerhorst Wiesbaden was abandoned by the Luftwaffe and occupied by advancing American soldiers. U.S. troops remained on Fliegerhorst Wiesbaden after the war, and in September 1947, the U.S. Army Air Corps became a separate service — the U.S. Air Force. At that time in 1948, Fliegerhorst Wiesbaden was designated Wiesbaden Air Base and was the home of Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Europe.

The time of the Berlin Airlift
The time of the Berlin Airlift.

During the Berlin Airlift of 1949, airmen from Wiesbaden distinguished themselves in support of "Operation Vittles". C54's and C84 "Flying Boxcars" of the 60th Troop Carrier Group flew missions daily from Wiesbaden to Tempelhof Airport in the beleaguered city of Berlin. During one day's operations more than 80 tons of food and supplies were airlifted from Wiesbaden Air Base. The streets on Wiesbaden Army Airfield are named after servicemen that gave their lives during the Berlin Airlift.

President John F. Kennedy visits Wiesbaden (German video on YouTube)

In 1976 USAFE and all USAF flying units moved to Ramstein and were replaced at Wiesbaden Air Base by an U.S. Army Mechanized Infantry Brigade. During this period flying activities at Wiesbaden were greatly reduced. In 1984 the unit was deactivated and the decision made to use the Air Base for its primary purpose — that of an aviation facility. Although it retained the name Wiesbaden Air Base, at that time Wiesbaden AAF became the primary airfield of the U.S. Army V Corps.

In 1998 the Air Base was officially renamed Wiesbaden Army Airfield. Prior to the Army's ongoing global rebasing and restructuring coupled with the global war on terrorism, the airfield served as the home for 3rd Corps Support Command, V Corps Combat Support elements, First Armored Division Support Command and First Armored Division Headquarters and Combat Support elements.

Today, USAG Wiesbaden hosts a number of military units and service organizations, including 5th Signal Command, the Headquarters of the V Corps, the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade, 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, American Forces Network-Wiesbaden and several U.S. Air Force units (To view a list of current tenants click here).



Berlin Airlift