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NEWS | May 5, 2023

Colorado Air National Guard celebrates 100 years of military aviation in Colorado

By 140th Wing Public Affairs 140 Wing

FOR RELEASE: Friday, May 5, 2023

CONTACT: U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Ben Kimble, 720-847-9435, 140wg.pa.org@us.af.mil

BUCKLEY SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. – The 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard will celebrate the 100th anniversary of military aviation in Colorado by hosting a family day for its members May 7, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hangar 801, Buckley Space Force Base, Aurora, Colorado.

The COANG has been a pioneer in utilizing aviation as a means of defense for state and nation for a century and has continually adapted and innovated this technology to remain “Always Ready, Always There.”

“We honor the trail blazed for us by our predecessors in Colorado aviation, and the countless achievements by the Colorado Air National Guard that have followed this milestone,” said

140th Wing Commander U.S. Air Force, Col. Christopher “Wedge” Southard. “100 years later we continue our proud aviation heritage by patrolling Colorado’s skies with the F-16C+ Fighting Falcon while also broadening our scope of capabilities towards space and cyber defense.”

The COANG has a proud history that can be traced back to June 27, 1923, when the 120th Aero Observation Squadron, 45th Division Air Service, mustered as a part of the Colorado Army National Guard.  The 120th was the first military aviation unit in Colorado.

Initially composed of eight officers and 50 enlisted members, the unit flew Curtis JNSEs (better known as Jennies) – an aircraft which proved to be unsuitable for flying at Denver’s elevations. One year later, the 120th began flying out of Lowry Field, the brand-new airfield named in honor of 2nd Lt. Francis B. Lowry who was shot down and killed near Crepion, France, in 1918 while on a photographic mission.

The 120th persevered by flying the Jennies just before sunrise and after sunset, when the air was less turbulent. In later years, the unit would transition through a variety of more powerful observation aircraft such as the Douglas 0-2, Consolidated 0-17, and Douglas 0-38. The unit eventually started flying the 0-47 – a three-seat, all metal, single-engine aircraft – that took them into World War II.

Today, the 140th Wing flies and maintains F-16C+ Fighting Falcon aircraft under Air Combat Command and stands alert 24/7 to protect the central U.S. from airborne threats.

The anniversary event will include refreshments, a “Shine & Show” car show, the new COANG tail and jet wrap design, live music, face painting, a bouncy house, a static aircraft display, an explosive ordnance robot, and booths from the Civil Air Patrol and community partners.  

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. D. Micah Fesler, assistant adjutant general, Air and commander of the Colorado Air National Guard, will also attend.

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