Military Wiki
Whiteman Air Force Base AFGSC
Part of Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC)
Located near: Knob Noster, Missouri
B-2 Spirit 060810-F-6701P-004
509th Bomb Wing B-2 Spirit over St. Louis
Coordinates 38°43′49″N 093°32′53″W / 38.73028°N 93.54806°W / 38.73028; -93.54806 (Whiteman AFB)
Site information
Controlled by Flag of the United States Air Force United States Air Force
Site history
Built 1928
In use 1963 – present
Garrison information
Garrison 509th Bomb Wing 509th Bomb Wing
Airfield information
Elevation AMSL 870 ft / 265 m
Coordinates 38°43′49″N 093°32′55″W / 38.73028°N 93.54861°W / 38.73028; -93.54861Coordinates: 38°43′49″N 093°32′55″W / 38.73028°N 93.54861°W / 38.73028; -93.54861
KSZL is located in Missouri
Airplane silhouette
Location of Whiteman Air Force Base
Direction Length Surface
ft m
1/19 12,400 3,780 Concrete
9/27 (Closed) 7,310 2,228 Asphalt
13/31 (Closed) Unknown Unknown Asphalt

2d Lieutenant George A. Whiteman (1919–1941)


B-2 Over Whiteman


A-10s of the 442d Fighter Wing


T-38C of the 509th Bomb Wing


Main Gate, now known as "Spirit Gate"


Memorial Park


Fairchild Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II, AF Ser. No. 76-0530 on static display


Boeing B-29A-40-BN Superfortress, AAF Ser. No. 44-61671 on static display by the Spirit Gate.

Spirit Gate - Whiteman AFB

Spirit Gate during winter

Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB) (IATA: SZL, ICAO: KSZL, FAA Location identifier: SZL) is a United States Air Force base located approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Knob Noster, Missouri; 70 miles (110 km) east-southeast of Kansas City, Missouri.

The host unit at Whiteman AFB is the 509th Bomb Wing (509 BW), assigned to the Eighth Air Force of the Air Force Global Strike Command . The 509 BW operates the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, designed to be employed to strike high-value targets that are either out of range of conventional aircraft or considered to be too heavily defended for conventional aircraft to strike without a high risk of loss.

Whiteman AFB was established in 1942 as Sedalia Glider Base.


Whiteman AFB is a joint-service base, with Air Force, Army and Navy units. Its host unit is the U.S. Air Force's 509th Bomb Wing (509 BW). Tenant units include the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing (131 BW), the Air Force Reserve Command's 442nd Fighter Wing (442 FW), the Missouri Army National Guard's 1/135th Aviation Battalion and the U.S. Navy Reserve's Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 114.

Whiteman AFB is the only permanent base for the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. Whiteman can launch combat sorties directly from Missouri to any part of the globe, engaging adversaries with nuclear or conventional weapon payloads. The 509th Bomb Wing first flew the B-2 in combat against Serbia in March 1999. Later, Whiteman B-2s led the way for America's military response to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. in September 2001. B-2 bombers were the first U.S. aircraft to enter Afghanistan airspace in October 2001, paving the way for other coalition aircraft to engage Taliban and Al Queda forces. During these operations, the aircraft flew round-trip from Missouri, logging combat missions in excess of 40 hours – the longest on record.

Other aircraft assigned to Whiteman include the A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack fighter; the T-38 Talon jet trainer, and the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.


The 509th Bomb Wing consists of the following groups:

  • 509th Operations Group (Tail Code: WM – carried on main landing doors of tailless B-2) B-2 Spirit; T-38 Talon
13th Bomb Squadron
393d Bomb Squadron
  • 509th Maintenance Group
  • 509th Mission Support Group
  • 509th Medical Group

The 509th Force Support Squadron is a part of the * 509th Mission Support Group at Whiteman AFB Missouri

The 131st Bomb Wing is a unit of the Missouri Air National Guard. It is located at Whiteman AFB as an associate unit of the 509th Bomb Wing

The 442nd Fighter Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit controlled by the Tenth Air Force

  • 442nd Operations Group (Tail Code: KC) A-10 Thunderbolt II
303rd Fighter Squadron
  • 442nd Maintenance Group
  • 442nd Mission Support Group

In addition, the wing boasts the 442nd Medical Squadron, as well as a wing staff. There are also two geographically separated units that report to the 442nd Fighter Wing. The 710th Medical Squadron and 610th Intelligence Operations Flight, both located at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, look to the 442nd FW for support in accomplishing their missions.

The 476th Fighter Group, stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, is an Air Force Reserve Command unit linked to the 23rd Fighter Group at Moody. The 442 FW oversees the 476th FG's administrative and mission-support needs not provided by Moody's host, active-duty wing. It consists of the following squadrons:

  • 76th Fighter Squadron (Tail Code: FT) A-10 Thunderbolt II
  • 476th Maintenance Squadron
  • 476th Medical Flight

Missouri Army National Guard 1st Battalion 135th Attack Reconnaissance Brigade, AH-64 Apache

The Navy Reserve's Maritime Expeditionary Security Division 11, which provides light, mobile, short-duration, point defense Anti-Terrorism Force Protection forces for USN ships and aircraft and other high value assets in locations where U.S. or host-nation security infrastructure is either inadequate or non-existent.


Named in honor of 2d Lieutenant George Allison Whiteman (1919–1941). On 7 December 1941 Lieutenant Whiteman attempted to take off from Bellows Field during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Hit by enemy fire, his P-40 Warhawk crashed and Lieutenant Whiteman became the first member of the United States armed forces to die in aerial combat in World War II.

World War II[]

The base had its beginnings in 1942 when U.S. Army Air Corps officials selected the site of the present-day base to be the home of Sedalia Army Air Field and a training base for WACO glider pilots.

In May 1942, construction workers descended upon an area known to locals as the "Blue Flats" because of the color of the soil and began building a railroad spur for the new air base. The new railroad line, laid by the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, was only the beginning. The runways, the main impetus for the base, required 27,800 square yards of concrete. The entire runway was poured in 18 hours during a driving Midwestern rainstorm. The base reached a major milestone on 6 August 1942 when the Army declared the field officially open.

In November 1942, the installation became Sedalia Army Air Field and was assigned to the I Troop Carrier Command of the Army Air Force. The field served as a training site for glider tactics and paratroopers. It was one of the eight bases in the United States dedicated to training glider pilots for combat missions performed by the Troop Carrier Command. Pilots flew C-46 or C-47 transports and several types of cargo and personnel gliders, usually the Waco CG-4A. The forest green, fabric-covered gliders could carry 15 fully equipped men or a quarter-ton truck plus a smaller crew. They were towed in either single or double tow behind the transport aircraft and could land on fields not equipped for larger aircraft.

In the opening months of 1945 Sedalia AAFld began converting from C-47s to C-46s. By July and August 1945, the base had assumed the function of providing central instructor training for all combat crew training bases throughout the I Troop Carrier Command. This program provided skills and teaching methods in all aspects of troop carrier flying.

During the massive demobilization in the mid-1940s, the base closed and most of the buildings were abandoned.

Cold War[]

In August 1951, SAC selected Sedalia AFB to be one of its new bombardment wings, with the first all-jet bomber, the B-47 Stratojet, and the KC-97 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft assigned to the unit. Construction of facilities was conducted by the 4224th Air Base Squadron until 20 October 1952, when the base was turned over to the 340th Bombardment Wing. The first B-47 arrived on 25 March 1954 and the first KC-97 arrived six months later.

On 3 Dec 1955, Sedalia AFB became Whiteman AFB in honor of 2nd Lt George A. Whiteman. A native of Sedalia, Whiteman was one of the first American airmen killed in World War II when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 7 Dec 1941. During the attack of Bellows Air Field, Oahu, Lieutenant Whiteman managed to reach his fighter aircraft. While attempting to take off, enemy fighters attacked his plane and Whiteman's P-40 crashed, fatally injuring the mid-Missouri native. By the time rescue teams reached the aircraft, Whiteman had died.

Construction on Whiteman continued throughout the 1950s. During this period, the Air Force built military family housing units as well as a base pool and gymnasium. However, a project on a much grander scale soon overshadowed this flurry of construction.

In June 1961, the Department of Defense chose Whiteman to host the fourth Minuteman ICBM wing. On 17 Jan 1962, the joint venture team of Morrison-Knudsen, Paul Hardeman, Inc., Perini Corporation, and C.H. Leavell & Co. received the prime contract for construction of hardened, underground launch facilities and 15 launch control centers. The project called for the excavation of over 2,000,000 cubic yards of earth and rock.[1]

The contractors used 168,000 yards of concrete, 25,355 tons of reinforcing steel and 15,120 tons of structural steel. In addition, the project called for the installation of a vast underground intersite cable network. If laid end to end in a straight line, this cable would stretch from Whiteman AFB to 100 miles (160 km) beyond Los Angeles. Construction of the complex was officially completed in June 1964 at a cost of $60,665,000.

Before completion of the construction, SAC activated the 351st Strategic Missile Wing at Whiteman on 1 Feb 1963. The 340th BMW gradually phased out operations during the same year with its remnants transferring to Bergstrom AFB, Texas, on 1 Sep 1963.

After the mission change in 1963, life on Whiteman remained relatively stable throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Still, there were programs to continually update and improve the base's weapons systems.

Whiteman initially employed the Minuteman I weapons system until the mid-1960s, when a force modernization program converted the Minuteman I to the Minuteman II. Throughout the ICBM's tenure at Whiteman, it went through a variety of modifications to keep it at the forefront of America's defense.

Several new buildings emerged from time to time as the base matured. However, with the beginning of the 1980s, a new construction phase started. New missile operations, maintenance and security police facilities as well as several enlisted dormitories marked the start of a new era.

Meanwhile, the base continued to lead the way. In the late 1980s, the 351st fielded the first female Minuteman missile crew, the first male and female Minuteman crew, and the first squadron commander to pull alert in the Minuteman system. Under the provisions of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the Minuteman II system is being inactivated.

Then came an announcement that would change Whiteman forever. On 5 Jan 1987, Congressman Ike Skelton revealed that the first deployment of the B-2 Advanced Technology Bomber would be at Whiteman. Beginning in 1988, a massive construction wave that created new buildings designed for B-2 operations, maintenance and support activities swept over the base.

On 1 July 1990, the 100th Air Division activated at Whiteman and assumed host responsibilities for the base. Accordingly, the 351st Combat Support Group and the 351st Security Police Group, along with their assigned units and the squadrons under the deputy commander for resource management, inactivated at Whiteman. Concurrently, the Air Force activated equivalent squadrons bearing the 800th designator to replace the inactivated 351st units.

Modern era[]

Several months after the air division's activation, on 30 Sep 1990, the 509th Bomb Wing moved its headquarters to Whiteman albeit in an unmanned and non-operational state.

However, the 100th AD's tenure at Whiteman did not last long as SAC inactivated the unit on 26 July 1991. Similarly, Whiteman's host unit responsibilities reverted to the 351st.

During the next two years, Whiteman's building infrastructure continued to grow as the arrival date of the first B-2 drew nearer. Meanwhile, another change developed in the Air Force.

With the end of the Cold War, the Air Force disestablished Strategic Air Command, Tactical Air Command and Military Air Command on 1 June 1992. In their place arose two new organizations, one of which was Air Combat Command, the 509th's newer, higher headquarters.

On 1 April 1993, the 509th returned to operational status when people from Detachment 509, the base's B-2 overseers for the past two years, were formally assigned to the wing. Then, on 1 July 1993, the 509th accepted the host responsibilities for Whiteman from the 351st and a new era dawned for the base. Several days later, on 20 July 1993, flying operations returned to the base after a 30-year hiatus when the first permanently assigned T-38 landed at Whiteman.

Then, on 17 Dec 1993, the event that Whiteman had long awaited finally arrived. On that day, at approximately 2 pm, a dark jet bomber swooped from the sky and landed on the Whiteman runway. Amid much fanfare, the first operational B-2, The Spirit of Missouri, had arrived. Less than a week later, on 22 Dec 1993, Whiteman again made history as it generated the first B-2 sortie from the base.

On 12 June 1994, the base welcomed the 442nd Fighter Wing (442 FW). The 442nd, an Air Force Reserve Command unit operating the A-10 Thunderbolt II was previously assigned to Richards-Gebaur AFB, Missouri, transferring to Whiteman after the closure of Richards-Gebaur.

Yet, the 442nd was not really a newcomer to the base. On 1 Sep 1943, the then-called 442nd Troop Carrier Group activated at Sedalia Army Air Field. It subsequently remained at the base until December 1943.

In 1995 the base also lost one of its long-time resident units. On 31 July 1995, the 351st Missile Wing officially inactivated, ending its 33-year association with Whiteman AFB.

Throughout its history, the base has always been at the forefront of national defense. With the arrival of the first B-2 and the subsequent assignment of others, the future for the installation does, indeed, look bright for many years to come.

On 1 Feb 2010, the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base became part of the newly created Air Force Global Strike Command. In February 2010, the 20th Reconnaissance Squadron, a ground control station for unmanned aerial drones, began operation at the base.[2]

Previous names[]

Established as: Sedalia Glider Base, 1 March 1942

  • Army Air Forces Station at Sedalia, MO, c. 1 May 1942
  • Sedalia Army Air Base, 8 August 1942
  • Army Air Base, Warrensburg, MO, 23 September 1942
  • Sedalia Army Airfield, 27 October 1942
  • Army Air Base, Knob Noster, MO, 31 October 1942
  • Sedalia Air Force Auxiliary Field, 24 June 1948
  • Sedalia Air Force Base, 1 August 1951
  • Whiteman Air Force Base, 1 October 1955

Major commands to which assigned[]

Air Materiel Command, 14 December 1947 (during inactive status)

Major units assigned[]


Whiteman AFB is located at 38°43′58″N 93°33′17″W / 38.73278°N 93.55472°W / 38.73278; -93.55472 (38.732758, −93.554851).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 13.4 km² (5.2 mi²), all land. Part of the base is a census-designated place (CDP); it had a population of 3,814 at the 2000 census.

Nearby towns include Knob Noster and Warrensburg. The nearest major city is Kansas City, Missouri.


As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 3,814 people, 931 households, and 901 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 284.8/km² (737.7/mi²). There were 982 housing units at an average density of 73.3/km² (189.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 81.8% White, 9.7% Black or African American, 0.7% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.5% Pacific Islander, 2.2% from other races, and 3.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.7% of the population.

There were 931 households out of which 79.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 90.1% were married couples living together, 4.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 3.2% were non-families. 2.7% of all households were made up of individuals and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.53 and the average family size was 3.56.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 37.6% under the age of 18, 25.7% from 18 to 24, 35.5% from 25 to 44, 1.2% from 45 to 64, and 0.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 21 years. For every 100 females there were 125.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 130.9 males. The median income for a household in the CDP was $33,664, and the median income for a family was $32,586. Males had a median income of $22,095 versus $16,466 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $11,538. About 5.6% of families and 7.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.3% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.

Whiteman in pop culture[]

Whiteman was one of the settings for the television movie The Day After. In the Dale Brown novel Plan of Attack, the base is destroyed by two Russian nuclear-tipped AS-17 Krypton cruise missiles. In the aftermath, only two B-2 stealth bombers survive.

See also[]


  1. Staff. “Minuteman Base in Missouri.” The Em Kayan, August 1962.
  2. O'Connor, Phillip, "Unmanned Aircraft Emerge As Key in Targeting Terrorists", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10 May 2011, p. 1.
  3. O'Connor, Phillip, "Unmanned Aircraft Emerge As Key in Targeting Terrorists", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10 May 2011, p. 1.
  4. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£ (2011-02-12). "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  5. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

Other sources[]

External links[]

All or a portion of this article consists of text from Wikipedia, and is therefore Creative Commons Licensed under GFDL.
The original article can be found at Whiteman Air Force Base and the edit history here.