In 1940, the U.S. Army sent a representative to Arizona to choose a site for an Army Air Corps training field for advanced training in conventional fighter aircraft. The city of Phoenix bought 1,440 acres of land, which they leased to the government at $1 a year effective March 24, 1941. On March 29, 1941, the Del E. Webb Construction Co. began excavation for the first building at what was known then as Litchfield Park Air Base.
Another base known as Luke Field, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, released its name when the base was transferred to the Navy in June 1941 and the fledgling Arizona base was called Luke Field at the request of its first commander, Lt. Col. Ennis C. Whitehead, who went on to become a lieutenant general as commander of Air Defense Command in 1950.
The first class of 45 students, Class 41 F, arrived June 8, 1941 to begin advanced flight training in the AT-6, although only a few essential buildings had been completed. Flying out of Sky Harbor Airport until the Luke runways were ready, pilots received 10 weeks of instruction and the first class graduated August 15, 1941. Capt. Barry Goldwater served as director of ground training the following year.
- From Luke Air Force Base History, Luke Air Force Base site