Flying Space from Dover AFB: 8 Things You Need to Know

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Loading cargo onto a military aircraft

Dover Air Force Base is one of the most active bases for Space-A travel opportunities on the East Coast. It’s also one of the best places to start your journey if you want to “hop” to Europe.

In this guide, find out everything you need to know about flying Space-A from Dover AFB, including where to stay, how to get to and from the base, and where to eat while there.

If you are new to Space-A flying, read this Quickstart Guide to Space-A Military Flights first to get a basic understanding of how the process works.

1. Dover’s most frequent missions are to bases along the East Coast and in Europe.

Dover AFB has regular missions to and from JB McGuire (New Jersey), JB Andrews (Maryland), and JB Charleston (South Carolina). Also, they usually have several flights per week to Ramstein AB, and occasional missions to RAF Mildenhall.

Other regular, but necessarily frequent, missions to and from Dover include Travis AFB (California) and JB Lewis-McChord (Washington).

Please note that these are only the most frequent flights based on historical data. All Space-A flights are determined by mission needs, which change constantly.

Visit the Dover AFB page on the AMC website to see current schedules.

2. Dover AFB is divided into two bases: the main base and the housing base.

The two bases are very close but not adjacent, and you must exit one and pass through the gate to enter the other.

The passenger terminal is located on the main base, along with the BX/commissary, dining facility, and fitness center. The housing base hosts the lodging facility, a small shoppette, and the golf course.

3. Dover AFB has one lodging facility.

Eagle’s Rest Inn is about 1.3 miles from the passenger terminal. As mentioned above, it is on the housing base. Contact them directly for rates and reservation policies.

Pending driver availability, the base Outdoor Recreation Office offers a shuttle between the passenger terminal and Eagle’s Rest on weekdays from 0800 – 1600. The cost is $10/pp, and you can inquire about the shuttle by contacting the front desk at Eagle’s Rest.

* * * Get the full scoop on using Space-A flights and lodging with our free 40+ page Guide to Military Space-A Travel. * * *

The closest off-base hotel with good ratings is Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham, less than 2 miles from the front gate. Most of the other hotels in the area are a few miles north in downtown Dover.

Click here to search for other hotels near Dover AFB.

4. Only certain transportation companies have access to Dover AFB.

The Dover AMC Gram lists taxi and transportation services that have base access.

Other taxis or rideshare/Uber drivers will need to meet you at the Visitor Center by the main gate (unless the driver is a military ID card holder). Note that the Dover passenger terminal is only 0.6 miles from the main gate.

Two military retirees live in the Dover area and offer shuttle services. Contact them directly for rates, service areas, and availability.

  • Wes Loukota: (865) 414-1265
  • Mike Wilbur: (302) 242-5272

5. How to travel between Dover and BWI or other East Coast military passenger terminals.

You must find your own way between these passenger terminals, as there are no military shuttles connecting them. Here are a few options:

Rental Car
One of the most efficient ways to travel between Dover AFB and other bases in the region is by using a one-way rental car. However, keep in mind that many rental car facilities have limited hours on weekends, so if you arrive outside of business hours and need onward travel the same day, you will need to use one of the other options.

Dover AFB does not have an on-base rental car facility. Several off-base rental car companies, including Enterprise, Hertz, and Avis/Budget, are in the Dover area.

Click here to search for rental cars near Dover AFB.

Public Transportation
You can take various combinations of public transportation and taxi/Uber to travel to/from Baltimore Washington airport (BWI) or other military passenger terminals. Use Google Maps or Rome2Rio to find the best combination for your time and budget.

Here are two examples of how to travel from BWI to Dover AFB. We’ve used similar routes to travel to/from JB McGuire:

BWI has a free shuttle to the MARC /Amtrak station. From there, you can take Amtrak to Wilmington, DE and a Delaware Authority for Regional Transit (DART) bus to the Dover Transit Center, which is less than 5 miles from the base. DART also has a bus that runs from the Dover Transit Center to the base Visitor Center, or you can catch a taxi/Uber.

If you want to substitute Greyhound Bus for Amtrak (the train is often expensive, especially for last-minute tickets), you can take a taxi/Uber from BWI to the bus station in Baltimore. From there, take Greyhound to Wilmington. The bus station is across the street from the train station. Greyhound has another bus from Wilmington that goes to Dover and stops at a 7-11 about 5 miles north of the base Visitor Center.

Either of these journeys will take about 4 hours or more, depending on connection times and traffic.

Rideshare from a Military ID Card Holder
The two retirees listed in #4 above may be able to drive you between Dover AFB and other military passenger terminals. Contact them directly for more information.

Also, join the Facebook Group “DMV Military Rides” to find drivers with base access. (DMV is an acronym for DC, Maryland, Virginia but some drivers are willing to service Dover). Read the group rules and pinned posts to learn how it works.

Commercial Shuttle Services

Finally, the Dover AMC Gram lists transportation services that have base access, and many of them will drive you to locations throughout the region.

* * We recommend doing a cost comparison across the various options. We’ve secured one-way rentals for about $50, so if the timing works, this is the best balance between time and cost.

6. To reach Dover AFB from other parts of the country, fly into Philadelphia or Baltimore.

If you do not live near a base with Space-A travel opportunities and want to hop to Europe, flying commercial to Dover is a good way to start your journey.

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is the closest major airport, approximately 75 miles northeast of the base. BWI is about 90 miles west.

Use the transportation options recommended in #5 above to make your way to Dover AFB from the civilian airports.

7. Dover AFB has long-term parking a short distance from the terminal.

The lot is located near the BX (about 0.5 miles from the terminal). You can park for up to 90 days. When requesting the pass to display in your windshield, the terminal staff will ask for your expected return date.

8. Purchase food in the terminal or at nearby base eateries.

You can buy snacks from the unmanned “store” at the terminal, and if the USO is open (Monday – Friday and Unit Training Assembly weekends), they have snacks.

Patterson Dining Facility is open to all ID card holders and is about a mile from the passenger terminal.

The commissary and Exchange mall are about 0.5 mile from the terminal. In a separate location, there is also a Subway (0.6 miles).

Ready to fly Space-A from Dover AFB?

Now that you have the intel you need about flying Space-A from Dover, check out the rest of our Space-A Location Guides to get similar information about other military passenger terminals you might transit.

Also, note that most missions via Dover AFB are on cargo aircraft, so make sure you dress and pack accordingly.

Have a great adventure!

Top photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

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8 thoughts on “Flying Space from Dover AFB: 8 Things You Need to Know”

  1. We flew from Dover to Ramstein last fall. While Dover AFB moves many air missions it’s kind of a sleepy-hollow location. Limited hours at most facilities on base. For example the Burger King closes at 1700 every day. As stated in the article, lodging is 1.3 miles away at the entrance to the housing area. Food options on that side of the base are limited to some snack type items in the lobby and a tiny shoppette nearby. Bottom line is if you don’t have a car your options are extremely limited.
    Speaking of cars, we did a one-way rental from BWI to Dover. When we were selected for a flight I returned the car (in town) and Uber’ed back to base. Several hours later, additional cargo was added to the aircraft and we were pulled off – try again tomorrow. As it was after hours the rental car office was closed for the evening and we were walking everywhere at that point. Next day the possibility of a flight out of BWI appeared so inquired at the car rental office of getting a one-way rental to BWI. Nope, against their policy as they “didn’t want all their cars going to BWI”. This was even though I had brought them a car the day before.
    If you’re driving your own vehicle to Dover none of this is an issue. Just be aware that getting around without a car is a drag.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience! We’ve done a lot of walking and bag-dragging around bases while flying Space-A. I can only name a few that are easy to get around without a car.

      Reply
  2. i agree that Dover is a great jump off to Germany. Its the transportion to diner hall or bx that i don’t understand, plus the $10 to have someone to drive a 1.5 miles? The lodgeing is great but if you don’t get on a space-A flight, what are the steps to get back to the lodge and still maintain a room? Help, Terry

    Reply
    • If you’re competing for a flight with a Roll Call time that’s before the lodge’s checkout time, bring all of your luggage to the termminal, but don’t check out. Let the front desk know the situation and that it’s possible you will come back to your room. Then, if you make the flight, call them and check out via phone. They understand how Space-A works! If the Roll Call time is after checkout, you should check out of your room but consider reserving a room that night, in case you don’t make the flight. Make sure you confirm the cancelation policy so you know what time you need to cancel to avoid a nightly charge.

      Reply
  3. Next year we’d like to get to Germany for my nieces graduation in July. We are retired, what are our chances looking at July historically?

    Reply
    • I don’t have historical data, but no one can really tell you your “chances” for a given time. But I can tell you that PCS season (approximately mid-May to mid-September) is a difficult time to fly Space-A, especially for retirees and others in lower priority categories. Also, Space-A is not a good choice when you need to be somewhere by a certain time. I recommend flying commercial if you want to ensure that you arrive in time for the graduation unless you are comfortable with possibility that you will need to purchase last minute commercial tickets if Space-A does not work for you.

      Reply
  4. RE; OCONUS TRAVEL

     IM 100% DISABLED VET, ….HONORABLE. US ARMY (PHYSICALLY CAPABLE).
    CATEGORY 6
    UNDER USAF THE CURRENT GUIDELINES I CAN ONLY FLY CONUS !

    HOW CAN I GET A;
    WAIVER, SPECIAL PERMISSION TO FLY OCONUS

    I HAVE CALLED LEGAL / JAG, MY CONGRESSMAN (S), BASE OPS, BASE CDR, VET SER OFF (S); & USAF & AMC MANAGMENT.
    RE; 4515. PAGE 47-49

    THIS IS NOT ADDRESSED IN THE PACT ACT; NOR ANY LEGISLATION PENDING.

    ANY HELP ON THIS IS APPRECIATED.

    Z

    Reply
    • As far as I know, you cannot get a waiver or special treatment to receive an exception to the policy. It’s not quite correct that you can only fly CONUS. You can also fly to Alaska, HI, and US territories. You cannot fly to foreign countries.

      Reply

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