AFRL NM celebrates 100 years of AF science, technology

1st Lt. Steven McNamara (left) and Maj. Gen. (ret.) William Neil McCasland (ret.), cut the cake celebrating 100 years of heritage for the Air Force Research Laboratory Nov. 6 at the Heritage Annex.

1st Lt. Steven McNamara (left) and Maj. Gen. (ret.) William Neil McCasland (ret.), cut the cake celebrating 100 years of heritage for the Air Force Research Laboratory Nov. 6 at the Heritage Annex. McNamara, from AFRL NM, and McCasland, a former AFRL Space Vehicles director and HQ AFRL commander, represented the storied past and promising future of AFRL's two New Mexican directorates.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

One hundred years ago on Dec. 4, 1917, the U.S. Army established a home for science and technology research at McCook Field, Ohio. The organization was dubbed the Aircraft Engineering Division and would ultimately become the Air Force Research Laboratory. On Nov. 9, the Air Force Research Laboratory's New Mexican directorates celebrated a century of evolving lineage from their ancestral unit at McCook.

The early pioneers at McCook understood that research was the key to military supremacy, a fact that was not lost on presenters at Kirtland's celebration, according to Dr. Kelly Hammett, director of AFRL's Directed Energy Directorate. 

"When looking forward into the future, it's good to take a look back and know who you are, where you came from and what got you here," he said. "Soon the role that this organization locally, and the role that the greater Air Force Research Laboratory has will chart the course of the Air Force for the next 50 years. So it's just important and special to pause for a couple hours and look back at the tremendous accomplishments we've made here." 

The event lauded breakthrough technologies developed in the Directed Energy and Space Vehicles directorates, including harnessing lasers and high-powered microwaves, and composite applications like the Roll-Out Solar Array. 

AFRL NM also offered presentations on the "Impacts of Generational Development in Science and Technology," and "Agile Innovation," as well as the Counter Electronics High Power Microwave Airborne Missile Program. 

AFRL NM's Matt Fetrow said the day was also special because members of the community and Team Kirtland outside AFRL joined in the celebration. 

"The Air Force has been around for 70 years, but our technology history dates back to 1917," Fetrow said. "We are inviting the community and the rest of the base, and we are just thrilled to see civic leaders and other folks here to celebrate with us. 

The celebration also served as an unveiling of the Heritage Annex, which includes historical memorabilia ranging from wooden bolts from the Trestle to parts from the MAX POWER counter-IED system. What was once a storage area near northeast corner of the intersection of Aberdeen and Kirtland Avenues, has become a showcase of AFRL history and a gathering place for Team Kirtland. 

"This is now serving as a gathering place where we have a lot of informal meetings and it's really decked out. We are really thrilled to introduce this facility," Fetrow said.