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BKV Gunnery Backstop Project

Historical Point-of-Interest Transformation

Long referred to as "The Bunker," little is widely known about the distinctive concrete structure at the entrance to Brooksville - Tampa Bay Regional Airport (BKV). Thanks to some local aviation history enthusiasts, that will soon change.

The structure is original to the airport, which was built during WWII and named Brooksville Army Airfield. Its purpose was to help bomber pilots calibrate their weapons during training. From an aircraft anchored with a chain to an iron ring in the ground nearby, pilots aimed guns into the concrete and sand beneath. So - never a bunker - the  structure was actually a gunnery backstop.

Envisioned by Don Etchison and architecturally illustrated by Ed Hoffman, both long-time BKV pilots, the plan is to complete the transformation in time to commemorate the airport's 80th anniversary in November 2022.

Key Proposed Site Upgrades

Structural

Upgrade structure.

  • Sidewalks
  • Low perimeter rail
  • Brick walkway
  • Concrete central retaining wall
  • Small vehicle pull-over area

Aesthetic

Enhance appearance.

  • Turf-based landscaping
  • Existing tree retention
  • Bench seating
  • Interior overhead lighting

Interpretive

Tell the story.

  • Historical Marker
  • Monument (possible B-17 propeller) with plaque
  • Information plaque at entry 
  • Visual back wall displays 

Get Involved!

Brooksville Army Airfield was a place where many young men trained to become bomber pilots, serving - and sometimes dying - during the Second World War. The BKV Gunnery Backstop Historical Point-of-Interest will memorialize their service and sacrifice. The Hernando County Veterans Council will participate as the project moves forward and at its unveiling.

Key to ensuring its official status has been the Hernando Historical Preservation Society. The organization has arranged listing by the Florida Department of State Division of Historical Resources and soon a two-sided Historical Marker will grace the site as well.

Interested in playing a role in the BKV Gunnery Backstop Project?

Here are some ways that you can participate:

  • Share WWII-era Brooksville Army Airfield photographs and stories. Upload images or documents through the form link below.
  • Consider sponsorship with products, professional services or personal expertise. Your generous contributions will be recognized!
    • Some products and professional installation needed -
      • Concrete
      • Pavers
      • Fencing
      • Landscape Design
      • Lighting/Electric
      • Plaques and Display fabrication

Make a financial donation

About your donation:

Thank you for your interest in making a financial contribution toward the creation of an airport memorial, reflecting its role in WWII pilot training. Contributions can be any amount. All funds will go to the BKV Gunnery Backstop Project and are processed through the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce non-profit division, CETA (Chamber Education Training Association).

Online credit card donations can be made through the MAKE A DONATION button link below.

Should you prefer to make a donation by check, please make it payable to CETA and drop off or mail to:

Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce
15588 Aviation Loop Drive
Brooksville, FL 34604