AFMC Command News

AEDC celebrates 70 years with open house

  • Published
  • By Jill Pickett

The AEDC “Hap Arnold Day” 70th Anniversary Celebration Open House on June 26 afforded members of the community a rare opportunity to see behind the fence and learn about the contributions the men and women of Arnold Engineering Development Complex have made to national defense and the advancement of technology.

AEDC, headquartered at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., was dedicated on June 25, 1951, by President Harry Truman and named after five-star General of the Air Force Henry ‘Hap’ Arnold. Since then, organizations and locations have been added to AEDC bringing the total number of test cells, facilities and offices operated nationwide by AEDC personnel to 68, with more under construction.

“Arnold Air Force Base and Arnold Engineering Development Complex are really central to the way that we develop air and space power for the nation,” said Col. Lincoln Bonner, chief, Test Division, AEDC. “Nearly every high-performance aircraft and missile since 1951 in operation today in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and United States Air Force has part of its roots here at Arnold Air Force Base. And that’s not something that most of the public gets to know or gets to see. Having the opportunity to share that with the community, to let them know how important the workforce here is to the nation, helps us better communicate and just say ‘thank you’ to the community for all that they do to help support us. Certainly, we are here to support the nation, but the community, the American taxpayers, the citizens, they’re the ones who provide for all of this; and they should know just how valuable it really is and everything that it’s done to support our national defense.”

During the open house, attendees drove along a pre-planned route to see the test facilities at Arnold AFB. An estimated 1,075 people attended the event. COVID-19 pandemic policies necessitated the open house be a drive-thru event. Along the route, members of Team AEDC eagerly shared information about the test capabilities. Attendees could also scan QR codes on a provided map to watch videos about select facilities. Those videos can be viewed at

The open house was also an opportunity for members of Team AEDC to share with their families where they work.

“It’s not every day that we get to bring our families out,” said Nick Hibdon, programming chief, Test Engineering Section, Civil Engineering Branch, AEDC. “Getting to actually bring them out and let them see the size of what we’re dealing with and some of the capacities that we have is really the goal for today.”

At the end of the day, AEDC Commander Col. Jeffrey Geraghty held a retreat ceremony, with two flyovers, for AEDC military and Department of Defense personnel. The first flyover was a T-38 Talon of the 586th Flight Test Squadron, 704th Test Group, AEDC, out of Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. The second flyover was a pair of F-15 Eagles of the 96th Test Wing out of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

“Since we at Arnold aren’t on the front lines of our defense, I think a lot of times we forget what we’re here for,” Hibdon said. “We’re making sure that pilots are safe, that our weaponry systems are safe; and I just wanted my kids to get to see that and feel that a little bit. And, of course, they’re really young, so the excitement of getting to see jets fly over is something they’ll probably remember for a long time.”