Ellsworth Echoes

Copyright 2010, Scott D. Murdock


A long weekend drive to South Dakota allowed me to complete my visits to Ellsworth AFB's former Minuteman II Launch Control Facilities (LCFs). Being late August, I had wonderful "severe clear" weather.

Friday, 20 Aug 2010

I departed Denver at 0500, rolling past the city limits sign at Rapid City at noon. My first stop was Ellsworth AFB SD (2564, FXBM). At the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, I took a good look at the fighter-interceptor alert hangar. This is a Butler type, and was relocated from the flightline to the present location to serve as the museum building. The doors have been modified to handle larger aircraft (F-101 or F-106 rather than the tiny F-86 the hangar was designed for) and the hangar is now assembled backwards -- the rear doors face forward, and the front doors are on the rear of the hangar.
(General view of alert hangar from front)
(General view of alert hangar from front side)
(Outside view of modified front door)
(Inside view of modified front door)
(Outside view of modified rear door)
(Inside view of modified rear door)
(Center crew quarters with control cab -- brick infill was added for museum)

The museum offers bus tours of Ellsworth AFB, so I signed up. Photography is allowed and encouraged on the tour! The tour route offered a distant view of the hospital, an elevated water storage tank, jet engine test cell, former Rocket Checkout and Assembly Building (that supported the fighter-interceptor alert mission back when the Butler alert hangar was new!) and perhaps the most significant building on base, the thin-shell monolithic concrete B-36 hangar.

The bus took us to the Minuteman Maintenance & Procedures Trainer -- a mock up of a missile silo used for training. Topside, the museum has added missile maintenance trailers and a Peacekeeper armored vehicle. We entered the stairwell (not found at operational sites, this is to allow easy access for trainees and visitors) and explored the silo area.
(General view of Minuteman Maintenance & Procedures Trainer)

(Minuteman Transporter-Erector)

(Peacekeeper armored vehicle)

(Payload Transporter trailer positioned over silo)

(Personnel access area)

(Personnel access area)

(Silo lid)

(Artwork inside access stairwell)

(General view inside silo)

(General view inside silo)

(Bottom of personnel ladder)

(View up personnel ladder)

(Autocollimator Bench)

(Autocollimator Bench detail)

(Lifeline anchors)

(Elevator work cage)

(Work platform)

(General view inside silo)

(Training missile in silo)

(Training missile in silo)

(Training missile in silo)

Once the tour was over, I departed Ellsworth AFB and continued east, hoping to see the two most-eastern Launch Control Facilities (LCFs) this evening.

Ellsworth AF Missile Site C-01 SD (8896, FXEQ) To my surprise, I found this LCF is now operated as the Missile Inn Bed and Breakfast. Owners George and Sandee Gittings have decorated the individual dormitory rooms and if you've wanted to stay in a former Minuteman missile facility here is your chance. Contact them at 605-859-2265 or mobile 605-685-5497, or 22024 10 Mile Road, Philip SD 57567. Also, they are seeking information on the artwork on the dayroom wall; so contact them if you know the artist or when it was created.
(View of LCF from access road)
(Mural inside the Launch Control Support Building (LCSB))

(Water cisterns at side of LCSB)

(Security gate and access road)

(Security gate, LCSB, and vehicle garage)

(View of helipad from access road)

(LCSB)

(LCSB)

(LCSB)

(LCSB)

(LCSB)

(LCSB and security gate)

(Vehicle garage)

(Hard High Frequency (HF) receive antenna)

(Hard HF receive antenna detail)

(Hard HF receive antenna detail)

(Hard Ultra High Frequency (UHF) antenna)

(Hard HF transmit antenna)

Ellsworth AF Missile Site A-01 SD (8795, FXDS)
(General view of LCF)
(General view of LCF)
(General view of LCF)
(Security gate and LCSB)
(Vehicle garage)
(View of helipad from access road)

Along the way I saw a few Launch Facilities though I didn't bother to stop and photograph them: B-05, D-03, and C-06. After 638 miles in 13.5 hours, I stopped for the night in Wall, SD.

Saturday, 21 Aug 2010

I knew this was going to be a long day, so I got on the road at 0600.

Ellsworth AF Missile Site H-01 SD (8521, FXGX)
(View of LCF from access road)

(Security gate and LCSB)

(General view of LCF)

(LCSB)

(LCSB)

(Vehicle garage and LCSB)

(View of LCF from helipad)

(View of helipad from access road)

(Hard UHF antenna)

Ellsworth AF Missile Site I-01 SD (8353, FXHJ)
(View of LCF from access road)
(View of LCF from helipad)
(View of helipad from access road)
(Gate and obsolete USAF sign)
(Security gate and LCSB)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(Vehicle garage)
(Hard UHF antenna)

Ellsworth AF Missile Site G-01 SD (8337, FXGL)
(View of LCF from access road)
(Security gate and LCSB)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(General view of LCF)
(Helipad viewed from access road)
(Vehicle garage)
(Vehicle garage)
(Current sign)
(Hard UHF antenna)
(Hard UHF antenna detail)
(Hard HF transmit antenna)
(Hard HF transmit antenna)
(Hard HF receive antenna)
(Hard HF receive antenna)
(Hard HF receive antenna detail)
(Hard HF receive antenna detail)

Ellsworth AF Missile Site J-01 SD (8906, FXHV)
(View of LCF from access road)

(General view of LCF with current sign)

(View of helipad from access road)

(View of LCF from helipad)

(General view of LCF)

(General view of LCF)

(Hard HF receive antenna, and repositioned wind vane)

(LCSB)

(LCSB)

(Vehicle garage)

(Hard UHF antenna)

(Buried cable sign)

Ellsworth AF Missile Site F-01 SD (8807, FXFZ)
(View of LCF from access road)
(View of LCF from helipad)
(View of helipad from access road)
(General view of LCF)
(General view of LCF)
(LCSB and security gate)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(Vehicle garage)
(Vehicle garage)
(Security gate)
(Water cisterns)
(Hard UHF antenna with cover in place)
(Hard UHF antenna with cover removed)
(Hard UHF antenna detail)

Ellsworth AF Missile Site O-01 SD (8947, FXLE)
(General view of LCF)
(View of LCF from helipad)
(View of helipad from access road)
(Security gate and LCSB)
(LCSB and security gate)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(LCSB)
(Vehicle garage)
(Vehicle garage)
(Hard UHF antenna)

Ellsworth AF Missile Site N-01 SD (8939, FXKT)
(View of LCF from access road)

(View of LCF and cable marker)

(Distant view of LCF)

(Distant view of LCF)

(Distant view of LCF)

Ellsworth AF Missile Site M-01 SD (8911, FXKG)
(General view of LCF)
(General view of LCF)
(General view of LCF)
(Launch Control Support Building)

Ellsworth AF Missile Site K-01 SD (8909, FXJG)
(View of LCF from access road)

(General view of LCF)

(General view of LCF)

(Gate and signs)

Ellsworth AF Missile Site L-01 SD (8372, FXJT)
(View of LCF from access road)
(View of LCF from helipad)
(View of helipad from access road)
(General view of LCF)
(Security gate and LCSB)
(General view of LCF)
(Vehicle garage)

Ellsworth AF Missile Site #3 (850-C) SD (6944, FXDK) This was the first Titan I site I ever visited, during 2001's "Rapid City Maneuvers" trip. I read recently that this site was being dug up and demolished, so I drove by to check it out.
(View from access road)

(Security gate)

(Earth moving in progress)

Including the three I visited previously, I have photographed all 15 of the Ellsworth LCFs! When I stopped for the night in Sturgis, I had covered 490 miles in 11.75 hours.

Sunday, 22 Aug 2010

I departed Sturgis at 0630, driving back through the Black Hills into Wyoming then south. I made a fuel stop on Francis E. Warren AFB WY (1298, GHLN) then continued south. I was back home in Denver at 1545, covering 458 miles in 9.25 hours. Total trip was 1,586 miles (about 200 of those on dirt / gravel roads). The trusty Forester averaged 25.3 MPG on this trip.


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