Aviation first arrived at Quantico in July 1918, when two kite balloons were flown to spot artillery fire. These forerunners of today's spotter aircraft were soon augmented with the assignment of four sea-planes which operated from the muddy junction of Chopawamsic Creek and the Potomac River.
In 1919, a flying field was laid out and the land leased to accommodate a squadron returning from World War I combat in Europe. The facility was later named Brown Field, in memory of 2ndLt Walter V. Brown, who lost his life in an early accident at that location. The present site of MCAF Quantico was selected in 1931, when larger and faster planes brought recognition of the limitations and hazards of Brown Field - its single, crosswind runway, bound by trees, hills, swamp, a high tension line, and a railroad.
The new airfield was constructed by changing the course and flow of Chopawamsic Creek and reclamation of the marsh land from that area. The new facility was named Turner Field - after Colonel Thomas C. Turner, a veteran Marine aviator and head of Marine Aviation, who lost his life in Haiti in 1931.
By 1939, four squadrons - 68 bombers, scout bombers, fighters, transports, utility and observation planes - were based here. In July 1941, the 1st Marine Air Wing (1st MAW) was established at Turner Field, and on 1 December 1941, the field was officially named Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Quantico and placed under operational control of the Commanding General, Marine Barracks.
During World War II, MCAS Quantico was primarily used as a training and staging base for aircrew and aircraft maintenance personnel deploying to the Pacific theater. Following World War II, MCAS Quantico maintained its role as a traininig base, but also became a major overhaul and repair facility for Marine Corps aircraft located at what is now Larson's Gym (scheduled for demolition in 2018).
In 1947, Marine Helicopter Squadron One was established at Quantico to pioneer an entirely new concept in air operations; to evaluate and test, in coordination with the Landing Force Development Center, the theory of carrying troops to the battle zone by helicopter.
By the close of the Korean conflict, helicopters had gained permanent acceptance by the military for tactical and logistical support operations, and for the next several decades MCAS Quantico remained a primary test center for the development of helicopter tactics, techniques, and procedures.
Following the wholesale reorganization of Marine Corps aviation, effective 15 November 1976, MCAS Quantico was redesignated as Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF) Quantico, Virginia, which became the home of Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) - MCAF Quantico's only tenant unit.
HMX-1, in addition to its tactical development mission, flies the President of the United States as "Marine 1" and provides helicopter support for numerous Marine Corps units in the Quantico and National Capital Region.
On 1 October 2015, MCAF Quantico was officially reorganized under the Commander, Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region - Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCINCR- MCBQ), headquartered at Quantico, Virginia.
Today, MCAF Quantico executes a "no fail" mission to support HMX-1 and their Presidential lift mission.