WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Sheppard Air Force Base has always been considered a busy airfield, but now it can officially be called the busiest joint-use air-field in the Air Force.
That is according to a post on the base's website. With help from civilian air traffic, Sheppard has surpassed Eglin Air Force Base in Florida for the 2017 fiscal year.
Lt. Col Jason Turner said there are several factors that play into the crunch to determine this. One of them is the fact that student classes at the base have been larger as of late.
"A lot of people say, 'you've got this pilot shortage that you're trying to solve,' and part of what we're doing is trying to maximize our production to the maximum extent given the facilities we have available to us. So, that's one of the driving factors in that we've seen larger student classes over the last six months," Turner said in an article on SAFB's website.
The Lt. Col went on to say the loss of an auxiliary field in Frederick, Oklahoma also played a role in the designation. That field had its runways repaired and until the work was completed last year, trainees took off and landed at Sheppard.
As its designation is joint-use, the base's success is in its partnership with the city of Wichita Falls and civilians. The location of the Wichita Falls Regional Airport on the base along with civilian pilots create great potential for growth.
"It's easy to see the value added," Turner said. "When we can support them, it makes our city a better place to live. And when they support us, it empowers us to be able to do more. It's a great partnership that we really have both ways between the civil side and the military side."