The Amarillo International Airport was once the site of Amarillo Air Force Base, which was for many years the home of an Air Force Training Command Facility. In 1959 the Air Force made a decision to disperse the B-52 and KC-135 fleets which were concentrated on large Strategic Command Bases. The 13,501 foot long runway was constructed to support the B-52s when performing a maximum gross weight take off. The unit sent to Amarillo was located at Ellsworth AFB in Rapid City, SD. The designation the dispersed unit was originally the 4128 Strategic Wing and the first B-52s arrived in February 1960. The KC-135s arrived later in June 1963. In February 1963 the unit was renamed the 461st Bombardment Wing in memory of the famous unit which had an outstanding history during World War II, the 461st Bombardment Group (H). This renaming was part of an Air Force policy to maintain the history of those famous units of WWII.
The adjoining painting is of a B-52D and a KC-135A refueling. The tail numbers on each aircraft are of those actually part of the 461st. The “City of Amarillo” and “Miss Amarillo” was placed on these aircraft as a show of appreciation by the Air Force of the Amarillo community support of the Air Base. The KC-135 crashed on the runway when landing in May 1966 and all on board were killed. The painting is in memory of all those men and women who served in the 461st and especially to those who lost their lives serving our country.
Colonel William R. Calhoun, Jr., Commander of the 461st Bombardment Wing