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Contrails signs off with final printed issue

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Genevieve Morris
  • 22nd ARW Public Affairs
The base paper spans fifty-six years of history, stories, photographs and memories. Every week McConnell's mission has been documented in the base newspaper since July 27,1951; more than half a century. That era is coming to an end this week. This is the last issue of the McConnell base newspaper in print.

When the first issue of the base newspaper was published, it didn't have a name. A contest was sponsored by the base, then the 3520th Combat Crew Training Wing, to come up with one. For two weeks in 1951 the banner on the newspaper read "What would you name your newspaper?" Staff Sgt. John Bradley submitted the winning entry with the name "The Sweepback." The name referenced the swept back wing design of the B-47 Stratojet, which the wing flew at the time.

In the early 60's, the name of the newspaper was changed to "Contrails" when fighter training became the wing's primary mission.

Over the years, the newspaper has gone through many changes, not only cosmetically, from changing fonts and adding color photos, but also content changes. In the 70's a photograph was run almost every week showing a "Page Three Girl" giving her likes and dislikes and physical measurements. In the mid-70's the practice was discontinued in fashion with the changing climate of the Air Force toward a more gender-friendly environment.

The newspaper also shifted from news about Wichita to almost exclusively news and features about McConnell Air Force base and the Air Force.

The 22nd Air Refueling Wing Historian's Office has bound copies of the base newspaper dating from it's inception to the present time, with the exception of the 1955-1965 year's editions.

Currently there are two public affairs members on the Contrails staff, and with assistance from the other four members of the public affairs staff and guest authors on base, the staff spends approximately 40 man hours working on the printed publication. The layout and design of the newspaper is done by the newspaper staff on a computer with a special program and once the final layout is complete, the electronic version is taken downtown to the commercial publisher. The publisher adds advertisements and then takes the product to the printer. The final product is delivered to the base on Friday mornings.

With the changing times and technological advancements, the Air Force has decided to maintain pace with the civilian journalism world and put our base news and information on the internet.

Although the printed version of the Contrails is ending, the e-Contrails will start production Feb. 9. The e-Contrails, an electronic shortened version of the Contrails, will be sent out by e-mail weekly.The e-Contrails will contain news briefs, local information and links to stories and photos, as well as other items of interest, on the public Web site.

The address for the public Web site is
People not on the 22ARW/All e-mail distribution list should sign up to receive the e-Contrails by sending their names and e-mail addresses to People should send submissions for the e-Contrails to

The commercial contractor that has been publishing the Contrails will now be independently publishing the "Tanker Times" newspaper, incorporating stories and photos from the McConnell public Web site. This new publication will be delivered to base on Fridays.

For more information, call Public Affairs at ext. 3141.