Patrick AFB Editorial by Ralph Williams
Patrick Air Force Base, Brevard County Florida
Patrick AFB is a US Air Force base located in Brevard County, Florida in between the coastal cities of Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach. It is the home base of the 45th Space Wing which is responsible for the base and many nearby space related facilities such as the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Eastern Range. Patrick AFB is in the area of the major United States space launch facilities on the East Coast.
Originally a navy base, Naval Air Station Banana River housed patrol and training aircraft during World War II. Transferred to the newly formed U.S. Air Force in 1948, many buildings from the navy time-frame remain in place now. It was named Patrick Air Force Base in 1950 in honor of Major General Mason M. Patrick, the first Chief of the Army Air Corps, the forerunner of today’s Air Force. In the 1950s postwar years it was used as one of the main rocket testing and launch facilities for the country. It continues in this prominence with a new generation of private and government space launches. The base’s website lists the Wing’s mission is “One Team...Delivering Assured Space Launch, Range, and Combat Capabilities for the Nation.” Their vision is “The World's Premier Gateway to Space.” Their motto is “Control of the Battlefield Begins Here.”
Facilities and Quality of Life
The base is open to all military ID holders, including retirees and their families. The military population in the area with all active duty, reservists, retirees, dependents and others numbers exceeds 100,000. As a base with a cutting edge mission, the base facilities are continually updated. Recent major improvements include major upgrades to the 49,500-square-foot fitness center as well as recent improvements to the marina and it’s waterfront club. Being a waterfront base in central Florida adds tremendously to the quality of life for those stationed here and those choosing to settle down after their military service. It’s a beautiful region and the base is a desired place to be stationed at. The many nearby attractions and monthly space launches draw many from around the world to visit. Recreational facilities include, an 18-hole golf course (which also offers foot-golf), a marina with rental craft, many nearby hiking trails, picnic areas, a bowling alley and other facilities. The surrounding area is a popular tourist era and offers Orlando attractions and other attractions nearby Cape Kennedy such as the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The area surrounding Patrick AFB is on prime central coast Florida beachfront looking over the Atlantic Ocean. Many describe the beaches there as “pristine,” “unspoiled” and some of the best beaches in Florida. Compared to Macdill AFB, the online comments of people stationed there or familiar with the bases rave about both places beaches with the exception that the immediate area around Patrick AFB such as Satellite Beach is quieter then the large city of Tampa where Macdill AFB is located.
The housing available on base is open to active duty and retirees with space being available depending on the base’s needs. The Space Coast Inn on base is modern and has amenities such as free Wi-Fi, also on base are beachfront house rentals with direct beach access. For campers, there is the campground which has 156 RV spots with water and electrical hookups, as well as 10 primitive camping sites, two laundry and shower facilities, a 24-hour community center and a private beach.
Military Displays and Shows
With regular rocket launches in the area, those at Patrick AFB experience some of the most memorable sites to watch in person. There is a schedule of the launch times on the base’s website, it’s a great resource to use if you are in the area to watch a live launch. Annual air shows are held nearby at the Melbourne airport complex, these feature the thrilling U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds along with current military hardware and vintage airplanes. In nearby Merritt Island, visit the Veterans Memorial Center which is run by a nonprofit Veteran’s organization and honors all branches of the military. The major attraction locally is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with access to it’s impressive displays of rockets. From the visitor complex, take the bussed tour of the Air Force Space and Missile Museum where you can visit vintage rocket launch sites and view dozens of rockets and missiles displays.
Space Coast Area/ Summary of Patrick AFB
Located on the Space Coast along with the cities of Palm Bay and Melbourne in Brevard County, Patrick AFB is a sought-after place for many to live and visit. Bordering with the Atlantic Ocean and it’s pristine, fine beaches, with rocket launch areas like Cape Canaveral to its North, one could spend the day relaxing in the sun by the waves and view a rocket launch into space that same night. The area, although close to larger cities like Orlando, has a smaller town feel to it. A base set inside some beautiful Florida wildlife scenery, it also offers visitors a glimpse at our travels into space.