Wishing Tinker a happy 75thPublished: Monday, May 15, 2017 By: Journal Record Editorial Source: The Journal Record
Most of this legislative session has been dedicated to talking about the budget. And part of the discussion has centered on gross production taxes, a conversation that leads invariably to talking about the importance of the oil and gas industry as an economic driver.
This weekend, take a few hours off from worrying about the fiscal havoc the Legislature seems determined to wreak and get up close with the economic driver no one is arguing about. Tinker Air Force Base is celebrating its 75th birthday this year. The base has more than 26,000 military and civilian employees and is the state’s largest single-site employer. The base covers 9 square miles and has an estimated annual economic impact of $3.51 billion. It is responsible for about 33,000 secondary jobs around the state.
Oklahomans are generally familiar with the 72nd Air Base Wing, the 552d Air Control Wing and several of the other Air Force and Navy wings based at Tinker. Less familiar might be the 38th Cyberspace Engineering Installation Group, which has the worldwide responsibility to establish, extend and enable the cyberspace domain for the Air Force. Part of the 688th Cyberspace Wing headquartered at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, their mission is to “plan, engineer, and deliver a survivable and resilient infrastructure to establish the cyberspace domain and enable the Air Force to conduct net-centric offensive and defensive air, space, and cyberspace operations.”
You might also have overlooked this bit of trivia: In 1957, Buddy Holly and The Crickets recorded An Empty Cup, Rock Me My Baby, You’ve Got Love, and Maybe Baby in the Tinker Air Force Base Officer’s Club.
This weekend, the Star Spangled Salute Air Show will return and it’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate Tinker’s unique place in Oklahoma’s history and culture. There will be acts recreating a World War II dogfight and a downed pilot rescue, a comedy act and plenty of demonstration flights. There will also be static displays of aircraft.
But let’s be honest. The main attraction is the Thunderbirds. Activated on May 25, 1953, the Thunderbirds’ first air show was two weeks later, on June 8 at Luke AFB in Arizona. Their first Oklahoma appearance came on June 28, 1954, at Vance AFB, and their first Oklahoma City visit came on Aug. 30, 1956. Their most recent performance in the Oklahoma City area was at Tinker in 2014.
By all means, go see the Thunderbirds. But while you’re on the base, wish Tinker a happy 75th, and consider what those 26,000 people do for Oklahoma’s economic vitality.