Peterson AFB, CO Image 1
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    Peterson AFB, CO History

    Colorado Springs Army Air Base was established in May 1942, adjacent to the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport, and renamed Peterson AAB in December 1942, in honor of 1st Lt. Edward Joseph Peterson, killed in a crash at that base. The initial mission of Peters
    on AAB was as a training center for Photo Reconnaissance Operational Training Units, organizing and training eight photo reconnaissance groups from May 1942 to October 1943 before their reassignment to overseas theaters. These PROTUs had the mission of flying photographic fitted planes over enemy territory to detect troop movements, create maps, identify targets, and otherwise provide aerial intelligence. In early 1943 Peterson AAB was reassigned to training B-24 Liberator bomber crews; in 1944 training was again changed to fighter pilot training for P-40 Warhawks.

    In 1945 Peterson AAB was assigned to Continental Air Forces, but was closed in December, with control of the facility returned to Colorado Springs Municipal Airport. Many of the military buildings were leveled and the rest converted to civilian needs.

    Peterson Field was reactivated and inactivated as an airfield twice in the late 1940s, to support various operations, and finally reactivated on an ongoing basis in 1951, to support the Air Defense Command at nearby Ent AFB, located in downtown Colorado Springs. By the 1970s Ent's location was no longer considered desirable, and 1975 saw the relocation of most of Ent's commands and functions to Peterson, which was upgraded to an Air Force Base.

    Peterson was now the command headquarters for NORth American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Command, the joint Canadian-US Air Forces command providing early warning, air sovereignty and defense for both nations. Accordingly, Peterson units keep a sharp radar eye out for unexpected flights of all kinds in North American airspace, and in the 1980s Peterson units - currently the 21st Space Wing - operated the central observation post for tracking orbital and deep space objects. Orbital flights rely on Peterson to make sure they are not headed into a cluster of high velocity objects, and the Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System (GEODSS) watches for large space objects - asteroids. Most importantly, NORAD tracks the yearly one night transglobal flight of Santa Claus.

    Peterson is the parent command for the Cheyenne Mountain Alternate Command Center, a super-hardened bunker intended to be the command center for missile defense in the event of nuclear war; since the end of the Cold War Cheyenne Mountain has wound down to a warm standby position. Cheyenne Mountain is much better known than Peterson AFB, and has been featured in the movies WarGames, Stargate, and is the base setting for the TV series Stargate SG-1. In the Stargate movie and series, Cheyenne Mountain houses the top secret Stargate, by which the Air Force special forces travel to other worlds to fight alien threats. Cheyenne Mountain features a medical and dental facility, pharmacy, two-bed ward, cafeteria, a landline telephone center, small base exchange, and barber, in addition to very constrained emergency housing. Naturally the bunker stores food and other supplies, 1.8 million gallon water supply, and power systems including half-million gallon diesel fuel storage bunker, four battery banks, and six 1,750 kilowatt diesel generators.