Willow Grove Naval Air Station
Public Affairs Office
Naval Air Station
Willow Grove, PA 19090
(215) 443-1776

It has been reported, sadly, that Willow Grove Naval Air Station has closed as of September, 2011 and that community relations programs have ceased.

Groups Only -- Except Annual Air Show

Willow Grove is the home of the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base. It's mission is to provide, train, and maintain a ready force capable of meeting any national contingency. Base history extends back to 1926, when aviation pioneer Harold Pitcairn bought a large section of farmland on the west side of Doylestown Pike (Route 611).

Pitcairn built a hangar near the highway and cut a landing strip out of the grasslands. From 1926 to 1942 he developed, tested, built and flew a variety of aircraft, the most notable being the Mailwing and the Autogiro.

The Mailwing, faster, safer and more efficient than contemporary aircraft, went on to carry United States mail. It was also widely purchased by other companies as standard equipment. The Mailwing was so ruggedly built that when a crash did occur, pilots frequently walked away from it.

With the growing threat of war, the United States bought Pitcairn's fields and hangars, establishing a highly classified anti-submarine program. Following World War II, Willow Grove was designated a reserve training station, though it has participated in every major military operation since.

Today the base supports a number of military detachments, including the Naval Training Meteorology and Oceanography Detachment; RIPO, the Reserve Intelligence Program Office; RESASWTRACEN, the Reserve Antisubmarine Warfare Training Center, and others. In addition, two Patrol Squadrons operate from this base, as do HSL-94 Antisubmarine Helicopters.

Every year -- usually in spring or early summer -- Willow Grove is host to one of the nation's outstanding air shows, featuring many aircraft on exhibit, old and new, as well as flying demonstrations and aerobatics by the famous Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, and others. Individuals, families, and groups are invited. Admission is FREE. Parking on the base is limited. Call for more information.

Organized Groups, including School Groups, can enjoy a very interesting and educational Guided Tour of the Willow Grove base. The Tour encompasses the Operations facility, the Control Tower (if available), and a Hangar. Specialized Tours can be arranged that focus on a particular feature of the base, and certain aircraft may be made available upon request.

Groups can consist of between twelve and thirty five people. Participants must be at least eight years old. Groups must supply their own transportation on base.

Hours: Tours may be seasonal. Call for current information.
Group Reservations: At least 2 - 3 weeks in advance.
Lunch: Cafeteria on base can be arranged in advance.
Handicapped Access: Limited access. Call with your group's needs.
Directions: Located in Horsham Township on Rt. 611, 3 miles north of I-276. 30 minutes north of Philadelphia.

Copyright © 1996-2014 by Patrick Tadeushuk. All Rights Reserved.