Copyright © 2005-2010, Scott D.
3 Oct 2009 - Corrected information on Richards-Gebaur AFB munitions storage area, removing reference to Belton Training Annex.
11 Jul 2010 - Added additional photos.
Since my lovely wife had to work on the 4th of July weekend, she gave me the nod for a solo road trip. The adventure began in Plano, Texas, on Friday morning, and ended back home in Arlington on Monday afternoon. This trip was planned around a visit to Richards-Gebaur AFB (informally known in the Air Force by the nickname "Dickey-Goober"), a base I have long wanted to visit.
After working a half day, I departed the office at 1045 and drove north out of the D-FW Metroplex on US 75, then US 69. My first stop was the former Oklahoma Ordnance Works, 36-13-25, 95-18-03, near Pryor, Oklahoma. This W.W.II explosives plant, operated by Du Pont, produced smokeless powder. I had hoped to see some of the Corbetta "beehive" ammunition storage bunkers (a W.W.II alternate design that used less concrete than the standard vaulted-arch igloo). However, my efforts were in vain as that portion of the former ordnance works was inaccessible. In fact, I saw no buildings that I could confirm to be of W.W.II origin.
My next stop was a bit farther north, in Kansas. I looked for Atkinson Municipal Airport (PTS), 37-27, 94-44, just NW of the town of Pittsburg. This was a W.W. II contract flying school (liaison pilot) known as Pittsburg Airport and operated for the AAF by McFarland Flying Service. No obvious W.W.II remnants were visible.
The last stop for the day was SE of Fort Scott, Kansas, at 37-45-40, 94-38-51. This was the former Garland Gap Filler Annex (P-72A), reporting to Olathe AFS. The building still stands, but the brush was too thick for me to observe the antenna supports.
At this point it was time to find a motel for the night; I had planned on staying in Fort Scott, but since I was way ahead of schedule I pushed on and stayed in Ottawa, Kansas. I covered 499 miles in 9.25 hours, checking in to a Super 8 at 2000.
I checked out of the motel at 0630 and pushed west for my first stop of the day. The former Forbes AF Missile Site #2 (6985) is located near Lawrence, Kansas, and I visited the blocked access road at sunrise. This property was acquired in 1959 and disposed of in 1967, and it served as an operational missile site from 1961 to 1965. One of the distinctive Atlas E ventilation structures was visible from the public road.
Driving east toward Gardner, Kansas, I looked for the components of the KC-60 Nike site, operational from 1959 to 1969. The Kansas City Defense Area had four Nike batteries, and I would look for two of them on this day. KC-60C, 38-46-35, 94-55-42, was easy to find and is now used as Nike Intermediate School. Most of the Army buildings are being reused as parts of the school, some virtually intact (on the exterior, at least) and others with major modifications. I could not find any trace of the radar mounts, possibly because of extensive grading work in progress.
The launcher component, KC-60L, 38-45-38, 94-56-05, offered me only a view down the access road from the gate.
Just a couple miles to the east of KC-60 was the former Naval Air Station (NAS) Olathe, 38-50-00, 94-53-30. This former Navy airfield, which had its start in W.W.II, is now a commercial airport and industrial park. Some Navy buildings still stand, amid lots of new development.
Tucked on the grounds of the airport is the former Olathe Air Force Station (3246), 38-50-06, 94-54-16. This was a long-range radar site from 1953 to 1968, also known as P-72. Olathe was my last Kansas visit on this trip. Driving east, I crossed into Missouri on my way to Grandview.
My next stop was the namesake of this trip report, the former Richards-Gebaur AFB, 38-51, 94-33. This airfield was known as Grandview Airport in W.W.II, when it served as an auxiliary field for Sedalia AAFld (later Whiteman AFB). Declared surplus in 1945, it was reacquired by the government and designated Grandview AFB on 1 Oct 1952. It was redesignated Richards-Gebaur AFB on 27 Apr 1957. Richards-Gebaur was transferred to the Air Force Reserves in 1977, and Air Force activity was further reduced in 1994. Significant portions of the base are under USAF or USMC control. The Marines control the base housing and operate a billeting facility. There is even an AAFES BX, and yes, I stopped in for provisions. The base also has three nice examples of historic air defense architecture. First, at the north end of the base, I found the fighter-interceptor alert hangar. This was one of the first-generation ADC hangars, built by Butler, and has the modified (bulged) rear doors. Because of its location at the end of the runway, I had to photograph it from the north, from outside the airport fence. The hangar seems to be in very good condition, except for a cinder block infill under the control booth. The second feature I looked for was the SAGE Direction Center. It remains in good condition, although the adjacent power plant has been painted. The adjacent, distinctive communications tower also remains. Third, I found the type 4 Air Defense Direction Center (which preceded the SAGE DC). This somewhat-hardened, gas proof building seems to be abandoned, and the dense brush really obfuscated my photographic intentions. I also photographed the wide variety of aircraft maintenance hangars on the flight line, the control tower, a chapel, and a renovated dormitory.
Just south of the base I looked for two annexes. The Belton Communications Facility Annex (BFWD) sits abandoned, still fenced and gated, at 38-49-47, 94-33-05. The communications building is visible from the gate. This property was first used by the Air Force in 1959.
A short distance to the west sits the former ADC munitions storage area. Also abandoned and gated, a few of the site's buildings and structures were visible from outside the fence. (I initially thought this was the Belton Training Annex, but I later learned this was not so. Belton Training Annex is a few miles away and I did not visit it.)
Time for the second Nike site of the day, this time KC-30, operational from 1959-1969. It looked like the buildings on KC-30C, 38-49-51, 94-09-43, had been demolished in recent years. A couple of basketball hoops were the tallest objects I could see from the gate.
Most of the buildings on KC-30L, 38-49-01, 94-09-20, were in reasonably good exterior condition, as seen from outside the gate. The launcher area itself looked like it is used for farm storage.
Leaving the Kansas City area, I drove toward Warrensburg, Missouri. On my way I stopped at a few of the former Whiteman AFB Minuteman missile sites, which had been destroyed in accordance with nuclear weapons treaty provisions. These Launch Facilities (LFs) were assigned in 1963 and disposed of in 1999.
Whiteman AF Missile Site M-09 (YWQH) 38-44-12, 94-02-46
Whiteman AF Missile Site M-06 (YWQE) 38-42-26, 93-51-21
Whiteman AF Missile Site M-05 (YWQD) 38-42-08, 93-43-03
Whiteman AF Missile Site O-08 (YWRE) 38-38-20, 93-33-50
I did get a look at one Launch Control Facility (LCF), Whiteman AF Missile Site F-01 (YWLH) 38-28-48, 93-26-00. It was assigned in 1962, excessed in 1999, and disposed of in 2002.
South of Whiteman AFB, I found the former Whiteman Communications Annex (Transmitter) (YWHU) at 38-41-56, 93-32-05. This facility, acquired in 1953 and declared excess in 1977, now appeared to be a residence.
Purely by chance, I drove right past Whiteman ILS Outer Marker Annex (YWPB). Assigned in 1957 as Sedalia OM Annex, it was renamed sometime before 1975, and is still an active navaid.
Then I made my way to Whiteman AFB (2317, YWHG) and checked into billeting for the night, ending my driving day at 1600. This was my first visit to Whiteman. This was Sedalia AAFld during W.W.II. Inactivated in 1946, it was activated in 1951 as Sedalia AF Auxiliary Field, then redesignated Whiteman AFB on 1 Oct 1955. Of course, I made the obligatory BX run while I was there. I also looked through the fence at the on-base Minuteman Launch Control Facility O-01, now preserved as a museum piece. This was a short day, covering only 282 miles in 9.5 hours.
Sunday, 3 Jul 2005
I made a slightly earlier start, getting on the road at 0615. I had lots of ground to cover, since today's stops were all in the vicinity of Little Rock, Arkansas. These were Titan II missile sites; assigned in 1960 or 1961, and disposed of between 1990 and 1997.
Little Rock AF Missile Site #10 (374-1) (NKCP) 35-13-36, 92-49-18
Little Rock AF Missile Site #12 (374-3) (NKCR) 35-18-41, 92-43-25
At this point I took a "shortcut" that seemed logical to my mapping software. Lone Grove Road was a convenient way to get to my next stop without a lot of backtracking. However, mapping software does not distinguish between a nice paved county road and a county road of dirt, gravel, and it's own water crossing. I'm glad I was in the Forester and not my former Saturn!
Little Rock AF Missile Site #13 (374-4) (NKCS) 35-17-15, 92-43-51
Little Rock AF Missile Site #11 (374-2) (NKCQ) 35-11-19, 92-37-50
Little Rock AF Missile Site #07 (374-7) (NKCL) 35-26-08, 91-34-06
I also made a failed attempt at Little Rock AF Missile Site #08, but while preparing my target folder for this trip I marked the map for this site incorrectly. I was scratching my head trying to find the access gate on the east end of the missile site... and had no luck. Once I was settled in the room for the evening, I took a closer look at the TerraServer photo and realized I should have been approaching from the west. Ack! Oh well, as many places as I visit I'm bound to goof once in a while.
Next, I drove to Lonoke and found the location of the former Eberts Field, at 34-47-50, 91-55-20. The line of hangars for this W.W.I airfield runs north-south, at the east edge of the former flying field. I had access to the hangar foundations -- about a dozen of them -- via a paved road running north-south just to their west. A historical marker describes the field and its wartime contribution. Much of the area of the flying field itself is now bermed up and used as a fish farm. Construction on Eberts Field began in 1917, and it was operational from 1918 to 1920. I believe (but have not confirmed) that this was also the site of a W.W.II contract glider school, operated by Kenneth Starnes Flying Service for the AAF.
I stopped on Little Rock AFB (4045, NKAK) at 1745, covering 554 miles in 11.5 hours. My billeting was in a 1955-vintage SAC dormitory (Building 880), my suite consisting of two former airman rooms and the connecting bath. I have stayed in this same building on all four of my overnight visits to Little Rock AFB. (And yes, of course I did the BX thing. Shoppette, too.)
Monday, 4 Jul 2005
Okay, time to make an early start and get home. I released the brakes at 0500 and made my only stop of the day during twilight, just before sunrise. Little Rock AF Missile Site #08 (NKCM) 35-18-16, 91-39-08, was gated. Ah yes, it works much better when you approach from the proper direction....
Then I headed west. This final day of the trip took eight hours and covered 483 miles. Total mileage for the trip was 1,818.
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