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.
January 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
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
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
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,
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 schooling needs.
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
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