O'Fallon Progress

Celebrating 100 years of history with Scott Air Force Base

Herb Roach
Herb Roach

One hundred years is a long time. There are few, if any, O’Fallon residents that can remember 100 years ago, and what it was like before Scott Field (Air Force Base) existed.

One hundred years ago, a decision was made by the U.S. War Department that would forever change O’Fallon and the surrounding communities. That decision was to lease and construct a “flying field” in the rural countryside of the Midwest. This flying field would become what we now know as Scott Air Force Base. Over the years, Scott has transformed into an extremely important military installation, not only for the O’Fallon area, but for the United States of America.

According to the 375th Air Mobility Wing’s Public Affairs Office, Scott is the fourth-oldest continuously active base in the Air Force, with a history that reaches back to World War I. Scott Field started as a pilot training base, transitioned into lighter-than-air missions, and added a communications school mission during World War II. After the birth of the Air Force, Scott helped usher in the modern jet age, and has grown into the nation’s premier transportation and cyber hub for the Department of Defense.

This year, Scott is holding its centennial celebration — 100 years in existence. Throughout the year, Scott is hosting numerous events to help celebrate. The largest public event on base will be the 2017 Airshow and Open House, held on June 10-11, featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

The Air Show is free to attend and open for all. If you can attend, I highly encourage you to do so. On June 10 and 11, the gates to Scott Air Force Base will open at 9 a.m. The air show ceremonies begin at 11:15 a.m. and are scheduled to continue until 5 p.m. For more information about the air show, go to www.scott.af.mil/airshow2017.

I cannot say enough about the tremendous impact Scott Air Force Base has on the O’Fallon community. As the history of Scott Air Force Base has been shaped over the last 100 years, so too has the history of O’Fallon. Without Scott, O’Fallon, and the entire region, would be very different. My own family owes part of its history to the base, since my wife, Nancy, was born at the base hospital.

So, please join me, and many other O’Fallon residents, in celebrating our 100 years of shared history with Scott Air Force Base, and excitement over what the next one hundred years has in store.

As residents of O’Fallon, you should always be able to reach out to your elected officials and ask questions about what is happening in O’Fallon. Having open communications is important to me and something I care very deeply about. Thank you for reading, and please remember, my door is always open.

How to get to the Scott Open House

By MetroLink (highly recommended): You can take the MetroLink train to the Shiloh-Scott station where free buses will take you to the flight line for the show. Normal MetroLink train fees apply, and there will be limited parking at that location. The MetroLink shuttle bus to the airshow area will be free and is wheelchair accessible.

By auto: Whether you drive from Interstate 64 and take exit 19A or drive from Illinois Route 161, all drivers will be directed to any one of a combination of gates for entry. This will expedite traffic flow and parking. Drivers will be automatically directed to parking areas located on the base. Drivers will not be asked to show ID, as it is an open base from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those with clearly marked handicap parking stickers or signs will be directed to special parking areas designated for the purpose.

Pedestrian: Those wishing to park outside of the base and walk are welcome to do so and catch a shuttle once entering the base. Please note that there are no official parking locations outside of the gate areas and to please be considerate of local business venues nearby.

Bicycles: Those wishing to bicycle on base are welcome to do so as well. Please follow the rules of the road. There are a few bike racks around the base, but no central location for bikes. It’s recommended that you bring a lock to secure your bicycle as it will not be allowed onto the flightline. Please also ensure bikes do not block other pedestrian areas/sidewalks/etc.

Viewing from off base: Please remain considerate of the normal traffic flow wherever you park your vehicle. Remember, Illinois State traffic laws still apply; take care not to park where it may endanger other drivers or inhibit traffic. Scott AFB recommends parking in approved parking lots in lieu of any unmarked areas for safety reasons.

Source: Public Affairs, 375th Air Mobility Wing