Eaker’s Air Force Base, a Historical Overview


Landon Bivens and Matthew Fox

Gosnell Arkansas: Eaker Air Force Base


What is Gosnell?

In the middle of Arkansas, roughly 20 minutes from Blytheville, is a small town called Gosnell. On the surface it seems rather uninteresting, rows of abandoned buildings and houses, a few small fast food restaurants, it seems no different from any other small town. However, Gosnell holds something far more interesting under the surface, and if you drive down some of the streets, you’ll notice barbed wire fences, an airstip, and some abandoned jets. It may seem like any other airport, but in fact, this is Eakers air force base, and Gosnell is the town built to service the crews working on that base. 


Why was Eaker Airforce Base Built?

Eaker Airforce Base was built in 1942 as a training airfield for 70,000 pilots. This area was selected due to its close proximity to multiple landmarks, flat area good for training, and nearby to the Mississippi River. It was also used as an alert readiness facility in the event of a nuclear war. There were two armed B-52G Bombers with nuclear capabilities at the ready for deployment during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The base received many performance awards for its overall success during these times of conflict. 


So what Happened to the Base?

The bases’ name was changed to Eaker’s air force base, named after World War II general, Ira baker, who was the commander of the 8th air force. Officials hoped the name would be endearing, and would perhaps spare its closure, but still the base remained on the top of the 1991 closure list. Seeing as the cold war was over, budget cuts were seen as a reasonable option, Eaker’s air force base was one of 28 other bases listed for closure, and in March, 1992, the final aircraft left the airstrip. The life of the airbase was over. 


What is the Future of the Base?

There are current plans of restoration to some of the buildings, and work began in February of 2022 to turn the base into a cold war museum. There is an area of the base that’s been turned into an international airport as well. However, beyond plans to turn the base into a museum and its usage as an airport. There are certainly no plans to reuse it as a military asset, and much of it sits abandoned. Some buildings have had to be demolished since its closure, such as the country club, and many others are in questionable condition as well.