Rapid City Maneuvers

Copyright © 2001-2012, Scott D. Murdock
30 Nov 2002 - Replaced selected photos with larger, clearer scans. Incorporated D-01 underground photo page into this report.
16 Nov 2012 - Added additional photos, upgraded existing photos.


I've been a member of the Council on America's Military Past (CAMP) for several years.  They have their annual conference in a different city each year, and for the first time since joining I was able to attend the conference.  Lucky for me, three of my frequent correspondents also attended, and we had some adventures together.

Monday, 7 May 2001

Getting an early start, I took I-35 north past Wichita, Kansas, then I-335 and US 56 to reach my first stop of the day, Forbes AF Missile Site #4, 6965.  This was an Atlas E site.  I had a glimpse of the site behind the gates and no trespassing signs.

US 56 north, then east to US 75, then US 75A, to Forbes Field (FOE), formerly Forbes AFB, 1091, GUQE, 38-57, 95-40.  Back in W.W.II this was Topeka AAFld, becoming Topeka AFB in Jan 1948, and Forbes AFB in Jun 1949.  Forbes closed in the mid 1970s, although it is still home to an ANG outfit.  The Combat Air Museum is also on the airport, and well worth a visit.  They have quite a few aircraft on display or under renovation, including an EC-121 that you can walk through.
(Maintenance dock)

(Building)

Just west of the airport, across US 75A, is the former Topeka AFS, 1749, 38-56-40, 95-41-30.  Starting life in W.W.II as the 832nd AAF Specialized Depot, it was renamed in 1955, disposed of in 1968, and is now a civilian industrial park.

US 75 north toward Fairview, on the west side of the road sits the Fairview L-3 Switching Station, 39-45-31, 95-44-01.  This facility actually has two distinct components.  To the southeast is a partly underground structure with drive-in door and an entry portal, inside a fenced compound.  A few antennas are mounted at the rear (west end) of this facility.  Tim Tyler tells me the two matching monopoles are soft UHF units, while the third hardened one is an AS-1735/SRC UHF MUX GEP. To the northwest is a larger AT&T facility, unfenced, with a tall microwave tower.  It also has an underground facility, which I was told is about three stories deep and very large.  The entry portal, ventilation shaft, and a nuclear blast detector were still in place.  I chatted briefly with an AT&T technician, who told me this had been a switch for L-3 coaxial cable running from Blue Rapids, KS, to Offutt AFB.  Also, the coax had long since been inactivated, the microwave tower had recently been sold, and the only function of the facility now was a single fiber optic cable. 
(General view)

(Top of tower)

(Structure)

(Access portal)

(Vehicle storage building)

US 75 north to Nebraska City, and a short jink to the west on SR 2 to the former Lincoln AF Missile Site #4.  This was an Atlas F site, and the fence line seems intact.  New structures have been built and it is not easily recognizable from ground level.

US 75 north to Offutt AFB, SGBP, 41-07, 95-55.  I checked with billeting, but there was no room at the inn, so I pressed on.

While I was in the area, I found a partially-underground communications site, 41-08-18, 95-55-11.  I haven't found any information on this facility, which I am tentatively calling Bellevue AT&T Facility.  Although now surrounded by homes, aerial photos from a few years ago clearly show a buried facility.  Perhaps this received the L-3 coaxial cable from Fairview? 

This was the longest day of the trip -- 15.75 hours, 822 miles.

Tuesday, 8 May 2001

Back to the interstate, and I-29 north to Sioux City.   The current Sioux Gateway Airport (SUX) was formerly Sioux City AAB, 42-24-30, 96-22-55.  During W.W.II this was Sioux City AAB, under 2AF.  It was known as Sioux City Municipal Airport starting in 1948, hosting ADC units.  The ANG has had a presence on the field since 12 Sep 46, except for two years during the Korean War (thanks to Bernie Shearon for this information).  I was somewhat surprised to find a Capehart housing area (formerly 290 units, according to a 1961 document).
(Fighter-interceptor aircraft ready shelter)

(Chapel)

The airport was also home to a SAGE direction center (DC-22), at Sioux City AFS, VSRB, 42-23-53, 96-22-19.
(SAGE DC-22)

(SAGE DC-22)

(SAGE DC-22)

(SAGE DC-22)

I-29 north to Sioux Falls and Joe Foss Field (FSD), 43-34, 96-44.  This was Sioux Falls AAFld during W.W.II, and has hosted ANG flying operations since 20 Sep 46, again with a hiatus during the Korean War. 

I-90 west to Mitchell, then north to the Mitchell Municipal Airport (MHE).  During W.W.II this was Mitchell AAFld, 43-46, 98-01.  Mitchell was a 2AF base, active from about 1942 to 1944.

I-90 west to exit 127, and Ellsworth AF Missile Site D-01, FXFB, 43-52-40, 101-57-41.  This site, along with D-09, is being transitioned from the Air Force to the National Park Service.  Within a few years they should be open to tourists!  This was a Minuteman Launch Control Facility (LCF), later called a Missile Alert Facility (MAF).  Some of the more prominent aboveground features are the support building, garage, UHF aircraft band pop-up antenna, SHF/UHF SATCOM antenna, extendible HF/SSB receive antenna (note also the satellite television dish), housing for the HF/SSB transmit antennas, helipad, and sewage lagoons.
(General view)

(Entrance)

(Entrance)

(Entrance)

(Launch Control Building)

(Launch Control Building)

(Launch Control Building)

(Launch Control Building)

(Launch Control Building)

(Launch Control Building)

(Hardened Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) antenna)

(Hardened UHF antenna detail)

(Hardened high frequency receive antenna)

Because of my participation in the Council on America's Military Past conference, I was able to arrange a brief but fascinating tour of the underground facility.  I kept quiet about this part of my visit until after the Sep 2002 transfer of the property to the NPS, to prevent the over-tasked Ellsworth civil engineers from being inundated with requests for similar tours.  The captions were kindly written by Bill Huey, SAC missileer 1964-68.  Thanks Bill!

Photo 1  Great view of the "Room."  From left to right: Sleep Mod, Communications Rack, Shock Isolator, Power Supply Group, Launch Control Console, Shock Isolator, Three Digital Data Racks.  Note the "rearview mirror" on the ceiling so the crew commander could see his deputy.  Also note the TV mounted on the ceiling.  The TV was way after my time. The unit above the crew chair with the round black dials is the HF Radio Control Panel.  The Panel was equipped with two metal shields to keep your active HF frequency selection from the prying eyes of visitors.   In every LCC I was ever in the crew had rotated the covers 180 degrees so that they had a clear view of the HF frequency dials.  I see that these two shields are rotated up just like we all used to do.

Photo 2  The launch control center.  You can see the refrigerator below the stainless steel cabinet. Originally the refrigerator was the "Oven-Refrigerator" with a small electric oven made into one unit with the refrigerator.  The blue curtain shields the bed from light and is what we called the "Sleep Mod."   Charlie Flight at Whiteman got the Sleep Mod in about 1966, and the mod was never installed at another Whiteman LCC until after I left in 1968.  We hung army blankets by paperclip "hooks" from the cable racks every night to fashion our own Sleep Mod.  Visible on the ceiling are emergency lights (they look like small sun lamps).   They are not on in this photo, but in actual service they always remained on.

Photo 3  Tube bringing chilled air through the inlet blast valve to the LCC equipment racks from the surface environmental equipment.  To the left of the yellow tube is an Emergency Shut-Off Valve.  It automatically closes off a plumbing line if the room "bounces" inside the capsule during an attack.  Two shock isolators are in the view.

Photo 4  View outside the LCC "Room."  Probably a view of the housing for the Surge Arrestors.

Photo 5  View from outside the "Room" looking at the bottom of the capsule.

Photo 6  Emergency Escape Hatch Cover.  The Dash-One had a big warning that this cover weighs over 500 lbs.  I never did figure how I would remove it without killing one of the crewmembers.

Photo 7  Steps from walkway to right side of LCC, outside the "Room."

Photo 8  LCC Entry Tunnel and Blast Door.  To the right is the Hydraulic Control Unit used to open and close the LCC Blast Valves.

Photo 9  LCC Blast Door taken from outside the LCC.  The door weighs 16,000 lbs.   There is no power to the door.  Opening, closing, and "pinning" the door are all done manually.

Photo 10  Elevator Shaft and Emergency Ladder.  Note that the Emergency Ladder was equipped with a Safety Landing half way up to the surface.

Photo 11  Security Control Center / Flight Security Controller's office.  The door behind the chair was electrically controlled by the missile crew, although the FSC had a key to use if the power went out.  That little door was the only locked door between the surface and the LCC Blast Door.

Here is additional information about Photo 11 from Steve Lente, a long-time friend of mine, who was a SSgt Flight Security Controller at Ellsworth in 1980.  "In photo 11 of the security control center, look at the angled top of the desk area.  I built those consoles (15, one for each LCF) when I was assigned there.  The tables were originally the standard issue gray desks that we modified to look like the one in the photo.  The angled tops of the desks were originally made from plywood and painted black.  There were Plexiglas surfaces for writing with grease pencils which covered the area maps and the most used checklists."  Thanks, Steve!

I-90 west to exit 116, and Ellsworth AF Missile Site D-09, FXFK, 43-55-53, 102-09-36.  Originally housing a Minuteman I missile, this was replaced by a Minuteman II in 1973.  The silo lid and other items are visible from outside the fence.  Nearby, I located an azimuth marker and a pair of markers for the Hardened Intersite Cable System (HICS).   HICS was the web of hardened, pressurized cables that connected launch facilities to launch control facilities, and to Ellsworth AFB.  Just this month (May 2001) it was announced that the HICS cable in the Ellsworth AFB missile field is to be abandoned in place.
(General view)

(General view)

(General view)

(General view)

(Silo area)

(Silo area)

I-90 west to exit 84, detour a few miles on local roads to find Ellsworth AF Missile Site #1, FXDH.  This is the Titan I site near Wicksville.  The gate was closed, with no contact information visible and no one around to ask for permission.

I-90 west to Rapid City, and the historic Alex Johnson Hotel.  I met up with Tim Tyler and Ron Plante, and we plotted our strategy for the next few days.  This was a "medium effort" day -- 9.67 hours, 521 miles.

Wednesday, 9 May 2001

After breakfast, Tim Tyler, Ron Plante, and I headed out to find some local communications sites.  Tim was kind enough to drive us in his spacious command & control vehicle.

First, we found the Ellsworth Communications Annex (Transmitter), FXCV, 44-08-40, 103-07-38.  The buildings looked intact, though no antenna were present.  The fence was still up and marked with USAF signs, and a handwritten sign on the gate listing the acreage (2.37) seemed to indicate this site is going through the disposal process.
(Building)

(Building)

Not far away, we saw the Ellsworth Radio Range Annex, 44-07-42, 103-06-34.  This was a "four course," or A/N, radio range at one time.  We were quite surprised to still find this empty field fenced with USAF signs!  One post from the old security fence still stands.

Making our way to the east of Ellsworth AFB, we saw the Ellsworth Communications Annex (Receiver), 44-07-48, 103-01-38.  This one was still recognizable, although it has had some modifications since USAF use.

Our next target was not visible from public roads, so we located the landowner and gained permission to access the property.  The Box Elder Communications Annex, 44-10-20, 103-03-21, was established in 1960, and construction was started on one building.  Construction was stopped suddenly, and the property was disposed of in 1965.  Until recently (within the last two years) the building shell sat as an open concrete framework with no roof or walls.  Only recently has the building (which resembles the large building on the transmitter site) been modified.
(General view)

(Building)

(Building)

(Building)

Several miles southeast of the base, we located the Ellsworth ILS Outer Marker Annex, FXNB, 44-03-20, 102-59-31.  The fenced compound remains, but the original building(s) have been modified beyond clear recognition.  One mystery here -- was the Ellsworth TVOR Annex co-located on the outer marker site, or was it at a different location nearby?   

Then we went to Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP) to pick up Mark Morgan, completing our fearless foursome of gung ho military base researchers (from left to right: Scott Murdock, Tim Tyler, Ron Plante, Mark Morgan).

Thursday, 10 May 2001

Tim drove the four of us out to the South Dakota Air & Space Museum.  This is an Air Force museum on the south edge of Ellsworth AFB, 2564, FXBM, 44-09, 103-05-30.  It is housed in the former fighter-interceptor alert hangar, relocated from the flight line.  We met Ron Alley, Museum Director, and he very kindly gave us a tour of the base (we had arranged this well in advance through the Public Affairs Office).

We saw the perimeter of the former Rushmore AFS, 1759, UNSB, 44-10-00, 103-06-20.  This was one of the very early nuclear weapon storage locations, supporting the B-36 bombers at Ellsworth.  It was activated in 1952, and merged back as part of Ellsworth AFB in 1962.

Now little more than an empty field, we looked over the former Ellsworth AC&W Site, 44-09-14, 103-04-59.   There is a raised mound of earth on this property, but we don't know if that was built up to support a radar, or if it is from later construction.  No buildings from the radar site remain.

We also saw the Minuteman II Maintenance and Procedures Trainer (MPT).   This is a mock up of a Minuteman II Launch Facility, or silo.   We were able to see interesting features like the sighting tube that allowed a view of the North Star for calibration of the guidance equipment.  Continuing our drive, we passed the former alert facility and alert aircraft parking area, and also passed by the two experimental steel dormitories built in the 1950s.  We also had a look inside the largest hangar on base, known to modern day base personnel as the Pride Hangar, but known to our crowd as a monolithic concrete B-36 hangar.  After thanking Ron for his time, we made a mini-mart stop and headed west.
(MPT)
(MPT)
(MPT)
(Training missile in silo)
(Training missile in silo)
(Turkeys in silo)
(Dormitories)
(Dormitories)
(Steel dormitory)
(SAC alert facility)

East of Sturgis, we found Ellsworth AF Missile Site #3, FXDK.  We had secured landowner permission for our visit, but we still had to park outside the gate at the county road and climb / walk in to the site.  We explored the entire site on foot -- in pouring rain!  This was my first visit to a Titan I site, so getting soaked was a minor inconvenience.  We looked at the twin guidance antenna silos, a few equipment hatches, the three silo doors, and another single communications silo.
(Silo lid)

(Silo lid)

Continuing west into Wyoming, we visited the Sundance AFS cantonment site, 44-25-15, 104-25-19.  The support buildings still have a military look about them, but the housing had been modified to the point it was hard to recognize as former USAF.

Continuing up the road to the top of Warren Peak, we found the radar and operations area of Sundance AFS, 6999, WMJP, 44-28-44, 104-27-06.  Sundance was the only USAF installation to have a nuclear reactor (the PM-1) providing its electricity and heat.  There are remnants of a few building foundations and an active radio facility on the site (although the site was wide open, we stayed away from this radio facility since it was operating).  Slightly below the top, in a separate fenced and locked area, is what we believe is the former reactor location.   Once again, we braved the cold and rain.  A thunderstorm hit while we were heading up the mountain.  On our way down the mountain, the temperature dropped to 38F and we had a hailstorm.   
(Building)

(Building remains)

We stopped in Sturgis to eat lunch, and made a windshield tour of Fort Meade, 44-24-35, 103-28-15.  This was originally a cavalry fort, and served the Army up through W.W.II.  Now, there is still an Army NG presence and a VA hospital, along with other users.

Friday, 11 May 2001

The morning was spent in the conference, with several speakers presenting papers on topics of interest.  Longtime friend and correspondent Mark Morgan spoke on "Black Hills Defenders: Voodoos, Titans, and Ajax."  Barbara Rust, who I know from my visits to National Archives and Records Administration - Southwest Region, discussed their Places finding aid in a talk titled "Have we got a database for you!"

We joined our fellow CAMP attendees for lunch at the Ellsworth AFB officers club.  Mr. Tim Pavek, Minuteman II engineer from Ellsworth, was our guest speaker.  He gave an excellent talk on the history of the Minuteman program at Ellsworth, from construction of the sites to current efforts to preserve one site as a National Park Service historic site.  He also took time after lunch to answer our questions.

After lunch we parted company with the main CAMP group, and sought out Ellsworth Nike Site E-20.  Our first stop was the launcher area, E-20L, 44-09-02, 103-00-12.  It was in great shape, and the owner was kind enough to show us around and even let us go down into one of the missile storage magazines.  This site had three magazines, each with four aboveground launchers.  The four aboveground features shown here are (left to right) Ron Plante, Scott Murdock, Tim Tyler, and Mark "Mr. Nike" Morgan.
(General view)

(General view)

(Fueling area)

(Magazine topside)

(Magazine doors)

(Magazine entrance)

(Magazine interior)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

Immediately east of the launcher area is the 16-unit housing area, 44-09-15, 103-00-06.  After the Nike site shut down in 1961, the housing was transferred to the USAF.  Officially known as Ellsworth Family Housing Annex #3, FXDE, it was more commonly called East Nike Housing.  The houses are boarded up (pickled), and USAF signs remain.  This housing was used by the USAF until the late 1990s, and is now in excess status awaiting disposition.

Heading to the east, we found the IFC site, E-20C, at 44-09-31, 102-58-52.  This property owner also allowed us to look around.  A couple buildings remain, including the interconnecting corridor.  We found three radar pads in a row, as well as this structure near the gate that we could not identify.
(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

Heading south of the base, we located Ellsworth Nike Site E-40.  The IFC site, E-40C, 44-05-18, 103-05-12,  is up on a hill.  It was fenced and locked.  We could see a few buildings and some radar components inside, along with a newer satellite communications antenna that was not part of the Nike setup.  Typically, Nike IFC sites are placed nearer the defended target, with the launcher toward the direction of the threat.  Three of the four Ellsworth sites differ from this pattern, with the launchers closer to the defended area -- forcing the missile tracking radar to swing up then back "over its shoulder" to follow the missile during a typical engagement.  Strange.  E-70 has the more typical layout.
(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

About a mile north of the IFC site, we passed the E-40 housing area.  After Nike use, this one also went to the USAF, as Ellsworth Family Housing Annex #2, FXDD, 44-06-11, 103-05-32.  The USAF used it from 1961 until the late 1990s, and it retains USAF signs (South Nike Housing) although the windows are boarded up.

Now a storage area and junkyard, the launcher site, E-40L, 44-06-13, 103-05-55, has only recently had most of the buildings demolished.  The current owner allowed us to look around and enter one of the three magazines.  In 1963, several years after the Nike operation shut down, part of this site was transferred to the USAF and designated Ellsworth Academic Annex, FXBS.  It remained in use until sometime in the 1990s, and appears to have since been disposed of.  Part of the site was used for many years as a school bus storage facility.
(Fueling area)

(Magazine topside)

(Magazine topside)

(Magazine topside)

(Magazine topside)

(Magazine doors)

(Magazine interior)

(Magazine interior)

We headed back to the hotel and met up with Nathan Barton, fellow CAMP attendee who made advance arrangements for us to visit Ellsworth AF Missile Site #2, FXDJ.  Nathan and his young son joined us for this adventure, at the Titan I site near Hermosa.  This time the sun was out, and we came and went through the gate!  We saw the footings for two Quonset huts.   This site had a large square concrete pad that we believe was a helipad.
(Silo lid)

(Silo lid)

(Silo lid)

(Silo lid)

(Communications silo)

Saturday, 12 May 2001

Our first stop today was north of Ellsworth AFB, to Ellsworth Nike Site E-01.  This was the only one of the four Ellsworth sites converted from Nike Ajax to Nike Hercules.  The first component we saw was the former housing area, 44-11-57, 103-05-59, which was transferred to the USAF after the Nike operation ceased.  The USAF designated it Ellsworth Family Housing Annex #1, FXDC, and used it from 1963 to 1970.  The houses were removed at some point, leaving 16 basements exposed.

Immediately east of the housing is the launcher area, E-01L, 44-12-09, 103-05-50.  It is still fenced, and some buildings are visible from the road, but we were unable to find anyone to ask permission to enter past the gate.   From aerial photos, this is a three-magazine site, with 12 launchers.
(General view)

(General view)

Further to the northeast we could see the IFC site, E-01C, 44-13-35, 103-04-21.  It remains fenced, and some original buildings are visible.   One area looks like it might have been built up to support a radar.  This one was locked up also, so we looked from outside the fence.   

At one point in the morning's driving we passed near the former Ellsworth Small Arms Range Annex, also referred to as a ground gunnery range. This gated access road may have been the entrance to the range.

Moving right along -- three Nike sites down, one to go.   West of Ellsworth AFB, we found Ellsworth Nike Site E-70.  Again, the housing area was the first thing we saw, at 44-09-01, 103-12-10.  It was transferred to the USAF in 1961 and used until just a few years ago.  Now boarded up, it awaits disposal.  This was commonly called West Nike Housing, although officially it was Ellsworth Family Housing Annex #4, FXDF.

Continuing on, we encountered no trespassing signs and stopped at a house to ask permission to proceed.  After some discussion, we were cleared to proceed and contact the landowner at the IFC site, E-70C, 44-09-22, 103-12-30.  Several buildings are intact, although we could find no sign of the radar mounts.  The road continues on to the launcher site, although one of the buildings (possibly the assembly building) was relocated and now blocks the road

After more discussions, we were cleared to follow the roadbed to the launcher site.  Much of the road surface was pulled up for use as gravel fill.  E-70L, 44-09-11, 103-12-59, was different from the other Ellsworth sites in having only two underground magazines.  The magazines had been filled in at some point in time.  We had been warned about rattlesnakes, and we did encounter a couple of them.  Fortunately, we were moving cautiously so we had no problems.  The fueling area was free of debris and allowed a great view of the wavy design of the concrete.  Peter Snowberg, volunteer at Nike Site SF-88, explains this concrete formation was an "acid pit."  The sumps and bumps served to elevate the missile during fueling to eliminate air in the tanks, and were also used for draining the propellants if the missile had to be serviced.  There are two sumps, so that both fuel and oxidizer could be drained without mixing (and exploding).   Thanks Peter!
(Buildings)

(Launcher area)

(Launcher area)

To the southeast of the launchers, we discovered four concrete positions that had us a bit baffled.  None of us had seen these at any other Nike site.  We first suspected they may have been gun emplacements, but Peter Snowberg identified these as Nike temporary launcher pads with their blast deflectors.  We believe these four pads comprised a temporary launch facility while the underground Hercules magazines were under construction.  Similar pads exist at a couple of the San Francisco Nike sites.

Having completed our main objectives, we returned to the hotel and had lunch.  My companions were staying for the CAMP annual banquet that night, but I chose to depart early to spread my return drive over an extra day.   Before taking to the interstate, I looked for the Ellsworth ILS Middle Marker Annex, 5817.  Although originally a separate off-base installation just south of the base, it was inactivated in 1962 and disposed of by merger with the primary installation.  (In other words, the base boundary was moved out to encompass the site.)

Near the southeast edge of the base, a vacant field is all that remains of Ellsworth Family Housing Annex #1, Skyway, 44-08-14, 103-04-06.  This was Wherry Act housing, assigned to the base in 1950.  Sources show it as being disposed of in 1973, although it is still fenced with USAF signs. 

South of Skyway is another demolished housing area, also still fenced with USAF signs, which was known as Renal Heights.  Based on information from layout plans, it was built between 1952 and 1957, but I have not found it specifically listed as an off-base installation.  I was told this housing was demolished the same time as the separate Skyway complex.  This one is a bit of a mystery -- was it carried on the real property books as part of the main base, or part of Skyway, or as a separate annex?  Public Law 105-85, from fiscal year 1998, calls this location the Renal Heights Military Family Housing Area, and authorized the SECAF to transfer the land to the Greater Box Elder Economic Development Corporation.

Another mystery housing site is "Air Base Terrace," in use during the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Air Base Terrace was probably a W.W.II civilian war worker housing project built under the Lanham Act, but I have been unable to confirm this fact or identify the location.

I-90 east past Murdo to US 183, then south to Winner, SD for the night.  From Rapid City, this was a short drive of 256 miles, in 5.5 hours.  Winner is a bit off the beaten path.  As I checked in at the hotel, the clerk asked me "Are you here to shoot prairie dogs?"  No ma'am, but thanks for asking.

Sunday, 13 May 2001

South to US 30, then east past Kearney, Nebraska, I found the Kearney Municipal Airport (EAR), 40-43-30, 99-00-30.  This was Kearney AAFld during W.W.II, and after the war had a short life as Kearney AFB starting in January 1948.  It listed as an AFB as late as the April 1949 USAF Installations Directory, but was inactive during this time.

After this I took a slight detour to scout another of Lincoln's Atlas F sites.  Lincoln AF Missile Site #10 is now owned by a business and posted with no trespassing signs.  I tried the phone number but no one answered -- no surprise on a Sunday morning.

Continuing east, then south on US 81, I went to the Fairmont State Airport (FMZ), formerly Fairmont AAFld, 40-35-15, 97-34-05.   This was a W.W.II bomber training base under 2AF.  Foundations of several specialized training buildings remain behind one of the hangars.
(General view)
(Airfield pavement)

(Airfield pavement)

(Hangar)

(Celestial navigation training building foundation)

(Celestial navigation training building foundation)

(Hangar and celestial navigation training building foundation)

(Elevated water storage tank tower)

US 81 south past Concordia, and to the former Schilling AF Missile Site #11.  I found an azimuth marker post near the gate, alongside the county road.

Continuing on US 81 south toward Minneapolis, and to the former Schilling AF Missile Site #12.  Here is the view from ground level, and another view from about 40 feet up in the air (note the roof of my Subaru in the foreground).
(General view)

(General view)

US 81 south to SR 18, and east to former Nike site SC-01L, 39-00-22, 97-36-31. The launcher site was the aboveground type, housing six launchers within a pattern of berms. A short way to the south, I found SC-01C, 38-59-00, 97-36-35.  Both components were hidden from view by trees, and were marked as private property.  This site was built in the mid 1950s but apparently was never operational. 

US 81 south to Salina Municipal Airport (SLN), formerly Schilling AFB, 2276, at 38-47-30, 97-39-00.  Several different hangars remain, along with the concrete water tower. In the former weapon storage area, some of the ammunition storage igloos are in a fenced off area, but many are accessible and seem to be used as private storage buildings!

The base housing area had a later life of its own as Schilling Family Housing Site, VBLM, 38-47-00, 97-37-40.  After Schilling AFB closed in 1965, the Capehart housing area became a sub-post of Fort Riley with the name Schilling Manor.  It was used to house families of military members sent overseas (primarily Vietnam) under the "Waiting Wives" program.  In 1967, the housing was assigned in detached status to Francis E. Warren AFB, and redesignated Schilling Family Housing Site.  An article in Airman magazine in Oct 1974 stated that 350 Air Force families lived there.  By Dec 1975, this was shown as inactive in the USAF Installations Directory.  I don't know the disposal date, but this is now civilian housing.

While driving toward the former WSA, I noticed the former Schilling ILS Middle Marker Annex sitting out in a field south of the runway, at 38-45-56, 97-38-45.  I had no prior knowledge of this site, but based on its location and appearance I'm confident of its purpose. 

Taking local roads to the south and east, I located the former Camp Phillips hospital area -- now a municipal landfill.  During the late 1940s and the 1950s this was assigned to Smoky Hill / Schilling AFB as Smoky Hill Residential Area, 38-45-45, 97-41-50.  Several wings of the one-story hospital had been converted into temporary living quarters, and my parents stayed there in Apr 1958.

Not far to the south, I located former Nike site SC-50C, 38-40-02, 97-41-13.  The radars were, and a guard shack still is, on a hilltop separate from the three buildings on the IFC site. 
(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

Weaving my way to the south and west, I located the entrance to the launcher site SC-50L,  38-38-54, 97-43-06.  Like it's companion site to the north of Salina, this one was built but never operational, and had bermed aboveground launchers.

Another part of the former Camp Phillips that was later assigned to Smoky Hill AFB was the Smoky Hill Warehouse Area, 38-43-50, 97-42-29.   I found the complex, but could not determine the present use.

My next stop was Smoky Hill AF Range, 2280, VUBV, now called Smoky Hill ANG Range.  After W.W.II, most of the Army's Camp Phillips became the Camp Phillips Air-Ground Gunnery Range, under Smoky Hill AFB.  By 1964 it was redesignated Smoky Hill AF Range, and in 1974 it transferred to the ANG.  The range covers a lot of land, with small arms, bombing, and aircraft strafing ranges.   The main entrance and support building are at 38-45-16, 97-47-27.

My final stop in the Salina area was Schilling AF Missile Site #5.  It's a good thing I had verified the location from aerial photos, as this site is not recognizable from the present access gate.

I took US 81 south to Wichita, Kansas, and followed signs to McConnell AFB, 1253, PRQE. This was a long day, 13.67 hours, 694 miles.  That billeting bed sure felt good.

Monday, 14 May 2001

I departed just after sunrise, pausing to photograph the Titan II and C-135 displays.  From McConnell, talking SR 15 south past Udall took me to the water system site for McConnell AF Missile Site #7, 37-23-26, 97-00-37.  Fenced but without USAF signage, it was still quite recognizable.   Although a physically separate parcel of land, this was carried under the same installation code as the missile site itself.

Less distinctive was McConnell AF Missile Site #7, 7429, PRQY, 37-24-28, 96-59-58.  It shows clearly in aerial photos, but from the access road outside the gate it was hard to tell it had been a missile facility.  From outside the fence, some grading of the land was the best clue to its history.

US 77 south to Winfield, and Strother Field Airport (WLD), 37-10, 97-02.  As Strother AAFld, this was a training command pilot school starting in late 1942.  In about 1944, it transferred to 2AF and was known as Strother Field.  Two original hangars and two wooden buildings remain from the W.W.II era.

Mission complete, I took I-35 south to Arlington and home!   A short day of 9 hours, covering 445 miles.  My total drive was 2,738 miles (not counting the hundreds of miles Tim hauled us around in his vehicle).   The Subaru Forester averaged 24.5 MPG, even with the 75mph speed limits up north.


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