Homestead Air Reserve Base Editorial by Ralph Williams
Located on the Florida Gold Coast, Homestead ARB is approximately 30 miles south of downtown Miami and near the Miami suburb of Homestead, Florida. Formally Homestead AFB, in 1992 the Air Force Base experienced extensive damage from Hurricane Andrew and was later rebuilt as an Air Force Reserve base.
The base has its origins as a civilian air field for Pan-American Ferries, Inc., a civilian company that specialized in ferrying aircraft from the U.S. to Britain. With the U.S. entry into World War Two the airfield was expanded and base turned into Homestead Army Air Field in 1942. This original base was damaged by a hurricane in late 1945 and with the war over, it was inactivated. With the growing Cold War threat, the now named Homestead Air Force Base was reactivated in 1955 and served as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) installation with military hardware such as the B-47 Stratojet and KC-97 Stratotanker. In 1968, the base’s mission changed resulting in its transfer to Tactical Air Command (TAC) and it would remain in this role hosting tactical fighter wings until 1992. In 1992 the base again suffered extensive damage from a hurricane, Hurricane Andrew. The base was considered for closure but was instead rebuilt as a reserve base, Homestead ARB, hosting the 482nd Fighter Wing where it continues to function in this role.
Facilities and Quality of Life
Rebuilt as a reserve base, Homestead ARB has some of the facilities that the prior active duty base had, but not all of them. This is a point of contention for many of the retired military community that live in the large Miami population area and its lack of full sized bases nearby. For instance there is no golf course (the prior course was converted to a public park), bowling alley, or RV camping here. There is a small exchange located on base, but no commissary. Also, most of the facilities located on base, such as the gym and gas station are open only on weekdays and drill weekends. One facility that is open and used by travelers is the Air Force Inn located on base. Many traveling south to the Florida Keys or back north on their return trip say it offers convenient access to an affordable night's accommodation. The area surrounding Homestead ARB is comprised of mostly working class families with a diverse ethnic makeup representing many immigrant families. Outside of the immediate Homestead area about 40 miles away lies exotic Miami Beach and 30 miles south is the start of the Florida Keys with Key Largo.
The housing available on base is open to active duty and retirees with space being available depending on the base’s needs. The Homestead Air Force Inn offers convenient lodging on base at an affordable price. As stated earlier, there is no RV camping available. Other military lodging in the greater area includes Coast Guard cottages and RV spots at Hillsboro Beach and Marathon Key.
Military Displays and Shows
Perhaps the most popular aspect for visitors to Homestead ARB is when they have an air show happening. Many online comments praise the entertainment of the shows and it is a great way for the large Miami population to experience up close the military hardware and precision flying. The main air show is performed at Homestead every two years with the next show slated to happen in 2020. Besides the large air show there are other types of exhibitions held on base such as the Army Golden Knights, a precision parachute team, performing shows.
Florida Gold Coast Area
Located on the warm Florida Gold Coast along with the city of Miami, Homestead ARB offers the Air Force Reserve an excellent location to train. It also represents the largest military base in the large City of Miami, giving its residents an opportunity to see our military up close with its awesome air shows. Although not as large as an active duty base, it offers a convenient location for the passing traveler looking for affordably priced military lodging and other amenities.