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That Time Austin's Airport Hosted the Crown Prince of Iran

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Iranian government and six other nations, including the U.S., agreed to a deal that would limit the country’s nuclear program in what some see as a historic moment for the country’s foreign relations.

Since country’s regime change, relations between Iran and the U.S. have been peppered with crises. However, shortly before the overthrow of the Shah in January of 1979, the U.S. hosted his family and Austin’s Bergstrom Air Force Base (now Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, even hosted the exiled Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi in 1978.

At this point, Pahlavi had been exiled from his homeland after anti-Pahlavi sentiment and calls for the return of Ayathollah Khomeini boiled to the surface in the late 1970s. Pahlavi left Iran in 1977 at the age of 17, joining the ranks as a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Training Program at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock.

Credit Austin History Center
Reza Pahlavi being presented a patch bearing the insignia of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.

In October 1978, the Crown Prince visited Bergstrom Air Force Base to fly an F-4 Phantom under Lt. Col. Dave Reed, who presented him with a patch bearing the insignia of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.

Pahlavi returned to Lubbock shortly after his visit to Austin, where he stayed with his family briefly during the Iranian coup. Roughly four months later, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was deposed and fled Iran for Egypt, where he later died in 1980. 

Bergstrom Air Force Base was shut down in 1993. A year later, Austin voters approved a measure to transform the base into a commercial airport, replacing Robert Mueller Municipal Airport.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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