1954 the government entered into negotiations with Marquette County for
Sawyer's lease. After several months of meetings and negotiations, a 99
year lease was signed on January 24, 1955. Construction started almost
immediately. Approximately 850 people were employed during the
construction and several local contractors were involved.
24, 1956 Lt/Col Robert L. Blocklehurst became the first commander of
K.I. Sawyer AFB. The runway was completed in 1957 and in 1958 25 F-102
Aircraft were sent TDY (Temporary Duty) from Kinross AFB at Sault Ste.
Marie to operate out of Sawyer for several months, while the runways at
Kinchelo were being repaired and extended.
62nd F1S from O'Hare airport in Chicago was transferred to
Sawyer and became an operational F-101 "Voodoo" squadron in
1959 after the runways at Sawyer were extended to 12,300 feet.
Strategic Air Command (SAC) became operational as a tenant unit with
the assignment of a KC-135 Air Refueling Squadron and soon was replaced
by the 46th Air Refueling Squadron. The first B-52H arrived
at Sawyer in August 1961 along with the 410th Bomb Wing.
Sault Ste. Marie Air Defense Sector (SAGE) continued in operation until
September 1963 and in January 1964 control of the base was passed from
the Air Defense Command to the Strategic Air Command, leaving the 410
Bomb Wing as the host unit to date.
f-101 equipped 62 Fighter Interceptor Squadron remained at Sawyer as a
tenant unit until April 1971 when it was deactivated and replaced by
the 87th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and its F-106 Delta
Dart aircraft were transferred from Duluth Municipal Airport,
Minnesota. The 87th F1S was deactivated and the F-106
aircraft left in 1985.
aircraft assigned to Sawyer over the years included H-43B and HH-1H
rescue helicopters leaving in 1977. FB-111 aircraft assigned to Pease
AFB, New Hampshire were on satellite alert at Sawyer in 1974 and 1975.
The last aircraft assigned to Sawyer were six T-37 jet trainers of the
71 FTW assigned to "Accelerated Copilot enrichment Program"
in 1977 and are presently assigned to the "Companion Trainer
Program" under the 410 Bomb Wing and the Air Combat Command.
On June 1, 1995, an Inactivation Ceremony was held. By August of the
same year, the Base Deactivation Ceremony was held.
last B-52 left in November of 1994. Sawyer was closed on September 30,
1995. Chief Master Sergeant Vaughn Stewart, the last military member,
left in December, 1996.
on over 5,200 acres of land in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, K.I. Sawyer
was one of the newest major U.S. bases built by the Air Force and is
extremely well suited in its new civilian role. It offers world class
industrial and aviation businesses a place to develop. With state of
the art air facilities, an excellent highway system, and access to
nearby rail, water and highway transportation, demands of all
businesses can be met.
and housing are available on site. Sawyer comprises an outstanding
mixture of commercial and industrial facilities which encompasses well
over one million square feet of floor space. Additionally, the unique
location can provide companies to grow on a regional, national and
global scale. The area's work force is among the most productive and
loyal in the United States with a cost of living index averaging 10 -
30 % lower than many other national locations with similar facilities.
Gwinn is located a few miles from Sawyer and provides most shopping and
September 25, 1999, air carrier passengers were entering and leaving
from Sawyer. A new terminal building was completed by September 25,
1999 and is next to one of the longest runways in North America.
Located on the original airport site picked by Marquette County's first
road commission superintendent, Kenneth I. Sawyer, the new airport is
ideally positioned for serving the central Upper Peninsula.
International Airport is one of 12 airports nationwide that competed
for and was selected for inclusion in a special funding category
created by the U.S. Congress. As part of the military airports program,
Sawyer International Airport received special funding.
International Airport is ready for the next century's airfleets,
including jumbo jets with a 12,500 ft. runway.
6, 1998 - WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator, Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and U.S.
representative, Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, announced that redevelopment
efforts at K.I. Sawyer have reached a milestone that skeptics once said
was impossible. There are now 919 full time civilian employees working
at Sawyer which tops the figure of 788 when the base was active. Many
more projects are soon to be announced. Many homes are now rented, but
more are available. The street names have remained the same, and the
buildings are changing to businesses, but now civilians live at Sawyer.