A new book
from Arcadia Publishing concerning the historic and unique Patrick Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida is due to be available on December 12. Patrick AFB is located on a narrow strip of land along Highway A1A between the Atlantic Ocean and Banana River in Brevard County, Florida, south of the community of Cocoa Beach, and is part of an area called Florida’s Space Coast.
The book has been in the works for nearly two years, and is filled with many rare photographs. As author, it was my goal to show the facilities, hardware, and some of the people that have made this place so special and worthy of inclusion in Arcadia’s Images of America series.
Patrick AFB has the unique distinction of having been a former Navy facility that was given a new role and later became named for a distinguished Army General. Before it became an Air Force facility, the World War II ear base was known as the Banana River Naval Air Station, named for the river that formed its western border.
In the late 1940s, the United States Government was looking for a new site to be used by all branches of the military for testing long range missiles and launching rockets. Several areas were considered, but an area of land known as Cape Canaveral on Florida’s east coast was selected. The Florida site offered easy access, the ability to launch toward the east to take advantage of the Earth’s rotation, the opportunity to launch over the Atlantic Ocean with small islands along a missile’s flight path for construction of tracking stations, and a nearby military base for use as a command and control headquarters.
The first rocket lifted off from the Cape Canaveral launch area in July 1950, the following month the military base located about 15 miles south of the launch pads was named Patrick AFB in honor of Major General Mason M. Patrick, chief of the Army Air Corps from 1921 to 1927. Since that first launch, Patrick AFB has played a role in thousands of missile tests and rocket launches. Part of the book covers the air operations at Patrick AFB, telling the story of this historic base with the unique responsibility of managing a military airport and a spaceport. Today Patrick AFB is the administrative headquarters of the 45th Space Wing, part of Air Force Space Command, the Wing operates with the motto of “World’s Premier Gateway to Space.”
The mascot for the 45th Space Wing is “Sharky” the shark. He attends many functions on base and in the local community. Wing personnel are known as sharks, with the base commander as “Shark One.” As with any team mascot, Sharky is a source of pride, a champion of the fighting spirit and dedication to duty of wing members. GO SHARKS!
This Air Force base, that was once a Navy base, before being named for an Army General, has a unique history and important story to tell about America’s national defense and its efforts in space. I hope I have captured some of that history in the pages of this new book. Click here to buy now!