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Transition to Lincoln starts with first aircraft arrival

A photo of a hangar for a story on Offutt's move to the Lincoln, NE Airport

Aircraft maintainers from the 55th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron recover an OC-135B Open Skies at the Lincoln, Nebraska Airport February 1, 2021. All 55th Wing aircraft will temporarily operate from the Lincoln Airport during the replacement of Offutt’s flight line, which is expected to be completed in 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt. William O’Brien)

A photo of a hangar for a story on Offutt's move to the Lincoln, NE Airport

U.S. Air Force Col. Gavin Marks, 55th Wing commander, speaks with aircrew members from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron after their arrival at the Lincoln, Nebraska Airport February 1, 2021. All 55th Wing aircraft will temporarily operate out of the airport during the replacement of Offutt’s flight line, which is expected to be completed in 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt. William O’Brien)

A photo of a hangar for a story on Offutt's move to the Lincoln, NE Airport

Aircrew members and 55th Wing leadership pose for a photo with civic leaders from Lincoln, Nebraska after the first 55th Wing aircraft arrives at the Lincoln, Nebraska Airport February 1, 2021. All 55th Wing aircraft will move from Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska to the Lincoln Airport where they will temporarily operate out of during the replacement of Offutt’s flight line, which is expected to be completed in 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt. William O’Brien)

A photo of a hangar for a story on Offutt's move to the Lincoln, NE Airport

One of two aircraft hangars at the Lincoln, Nebraska Airport that will be used by 55th Wing aircraft while temporarily operating out of the airport during the replacement of the Offutt Air Force Base flight line. The replacement is expected to be completed in 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt. William O’Brien)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

Normally a 55th Wing OC-135 Open Skies aircraft landing and taxiing to its parking spot is no a big deal, but this particular landing on Feb. 1, 2021, was unlike any other.

This flight was Offutt Air Force Base’s first aircraft arrival to the Lincoln Airport, where the 55th Wing and its mission partners will operate all flying operations from for the next 18 months as contractors replace the base’s runway.

“This is historic,” said Col. Gavin Marks, 55th Wing commander. “This first flight was the culmination of many years of hard work by a lot of people including not only those from our wing, but also Air Combat Command, the Air Force and our local and federally elected officials.”

In attendance to witness the arrival was Nebraska Lt. Gov. Mike Foley, Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and about a dozen Lincoln Airport Authority administrators and staff.

“Planning for our transition to Lincoln has been very smooth and that is because of the support we have received here from the Lincoln Airport Authority, Nebraska National Guard and the city of Lincoln,” said Lt. Col. Derrick Michaud, Runway Program Management Office director. “We look forward to being great teammates of theirs over the next 18 months.”

The transition process will continue over the next few weeks with all aircraft scheduled to be in Lincoln by the beginning of March.

“We’re being very methodical in our process,” Maj. Brian Ross, Runway Program Management Office deputy director. “We won’t skip a beat operationally.”

Planning for the $144 million runway replacement transition has been ongoing for years at Offutt. Part of that process also included a $30 million upgrade to portions of the Lincoln Airport parking area, renovating an old hangar and building a temporary hangar.

“We’re very fortunate to have a location like this to operate out of, which is very close in proximity to Offutt,” Michaud said.

This is not the first time Offutt has transitioned its operations 50 miles away to Lincoln to repair its runway. However, those repairs were much smaller in scope.

“This is much larger in scale as it is a full replacement,” Michaud said, “and we will be here a lot longer this time.”