McClellan Air Force Base: 1936-1995

Since 1936, McClellan Air Force Base was a significant economic engine and one of the primary employers in Sacramento. For decades, the base itself was the largest industrial facility in Northern California. 

McClellan Air Force Base, formerly called Sacramento Air Depot and then McClellan Field, was first established in 1936 and was intensely developed through 1941 in anticipation of the United States involvement in World War II. 

McClellan was the pivotal supply depot on the west coast during WWII from 1941 to 1945, employing 4,250 military personnel and 17,652 civilians at the height of the war effort. The activity level at the base began to taper off in 1945 with Germany’s surrender to the Allied Forces.

Following WWII, McClellan continued to serve as one of the five major depots in the United States providing repair and maintenance services for military aircraft. 

McClellan supplied major logistical repair and maintenance support for the Korean War, Vietnam War and Operation Desert Shield/ Storm. By 1967, the base reached its peak employment with a workforce of more than 26,000. 

The base also serviced a variety of aircraft, including KC-135s, A-10s, F-15s and F-111s, and housed a variety of tenants including the 1400th Military List Squadron, 940th Air Refueling Group Reserves and the U.S. Coast Guard. 

In addition to its aircraft repair and maintenance mission, McClellan AFB supported activities such as electronics manufacturing, software development, scientific research and supply logistics.

The End of an Era: Closing McClellan Air Force Base

In 1995, McClellan Air Force Base was closed as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. As a result, 11,600 jobs were lost. The base played a major role in the economy of the region as the second largest employer in the County after the State of California. 

In 1995, the McClellan community included 34,000 retired military personnel and 50,000 retiree dependents who relied on the base for medical, dental and retail services. McClellan Air Force Base was estimated to provide a $1.5 billion annual economic impact to the regional economy. 

Announcement of the base closure paralyzed development throughout the North Highlands area. Vital partnerships were formed between the Air Force, Sacramento County and McClellan Business Park, and the facility was not shuttered completely.

Even before official closure, private businesses were brought into vacant buildings and McClellan was able to maintain a minimum level of employment. 

Reimagining McClellan: A Bright Future

Today, McClellan Air Force Base is now McClellan Park, a growing enclave that hosts a diverse mix of companies spread across more than 8.5 million square feet of space of all types. This former military facility is now home to hundreds of private companies as well as state, federal and local government agencies. 

McClellan Park has become a magnet for private investment with a total of $580 million dollars invested across the project in infrastructure and building improvements. 

The former Air Force Base is now a thriving public airport that services general aviation aircraft. As part of McClellan Park, Sacramento McClellan Airport is one of the most successful conversions of a former military base in the country.