Alexandria Business Trip

Copyright © 1998-2010, Scott D. Murdock
17 Nov 2002 - Added photos.
10 May 2010 - Added additional photos, upgraded existing photos.

My employer sent me to corporate headquarters, in Alexandria, Virginia, for new employee orientation. The company asked me if I would be willing to stay in the D.C. area until Sunday instead of flying home Friday evening. They would save considerably on airfare, and would pay my hotel and meals for the weekend stay over. Since it was for the good of the company, I agreed to make this sacrifice.

Saturday, 6 Dec 1997

The flight home is not until Sunday afternoon, and the rental car has a full tank of gas.  The landscape beckons!  I departed Alexandria at 0730. Took I-95, US 50, US 301, and State Route 302 to across Maryland, then State Route 11, State Route 44, and State Route 8 to Dover. Ran into some snow flurries in Delaware, and it was a very windy and cold day. I made a quick visit of Dover AFB (FJXT), FAA code DOV.  I stopped at the BX, and the museum.  The museum has a hangar for display aircraft, with more aircraft on the ramp outside. It was too cold to linger outside, but I paused long enough to photograph the D-21 drone. I noticed the former ADC alert barns (Strobel & Salzman, first generation, eight bays). The former SAC alert facility (now Transient Maintenance and the Aero Club) still sports the old corrugated metal entry tunnels.

From Dover AFB I headed north on US 13 to the Newcastle County Airport (JLWS), 39-40-30, 75-36-50, FAA code ILG. This was formerly Newcastle Army Air Base, and briefly Newcastle Air Force Base (honest -- I have a photocopy of the order). It is still home to a Delaware ANG unit, flying C-130s (notice the former ADC alert facility, a typical four-bay Butler first-generation alert hangar with a four-bay Strobel & Salzman first generation hangar -- minus crew quarters -- attached to it).  I noted several hangars on the airport.  Several different companies use the flight line.   I was back at the hotel by 1500, driving 293 miles on this day trip.  Shame on me for wasting the remaining hours of daylight!

Sunday, 7 Dec 1997

I took I-95 back into Maryland, then State Route 214 and State Route 424 to Governors Bridge GLOBECOM Annex (1002, JEBX).  This is an active installation, so I turned around at the controlled area signs instead of visiting the buildings visible in the distance.

Then I went to Queen Anne Bridge Road to find Nike site W-25. I found the control site, W-25C, first.  It is now a mix of community-use facilities such as a radio club, boy scouts, preschool, and others at 38-54-13, 76-39-08. The front gate was open so I drove in and had the site to myself for a photo opportunity. Most buildings and three radar towers seemed to be fairly intact. Nearby on Elmer F. Hagner Lane is the launcher site, W-25L, 38-54-10, 76-38-28, now the Anne Arundel County Police Academy -- gated and locked. Driving back past the control site, I noticed the housing annex right across the street. I might have missed it, but the USAF installation sign caught my attention.  It was transferred to the Air Force after its Nike service, becoming Davidsonville Family Housing Annex (FBJS), 38-54-23, 76-39-05.  The housing area was gated and locked, and the houses were boarded-up.

Next, I took State Route 214 to US 301 and headed south to Croom Road in search of Nike Site W-35. Taking a left on Mt Calvert Road led me to Croom Vocational High School, 38-46-31, 76-44-41.  This was the control site, W-35C, as Mark Morgan indicates in Rings of Supersonic Steel. I did not find the launcher site, but I did stumble onto the housing annex at 38-46-34, 76-44-13.  It is still U.S. Govt Housing, according to a sign. Three multi-family buildings; two inhabited, one empty and in disrepair.  I noted a fireplug dated 1956. This is one of many Nike housing areas closed under the 1988 BRAC process.

Went to Brandywine via State Route 381in hopes of finding a few sites there.  I saw the radio towers of Brandywine GLOBECOM Annex (1003, CFJG) in the distance, and turned onto Air Force Road as a likely access point. To my dismay, a large "Private Property, You Are Trespassing!" sign greeted me.  I turned around and went on my way.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I paid a quick visit to Andrews AFB (1001, AJXF, FAA code ADW), then Bolling AFB (BXUR) and the earlier Bolling Field (now the active Navy installation to the north of Bolling AFB -- no photos allowed). My last visit to Andrews AFB was in 1992, and to Bolling AFB was in 1993 (both TDY).

Then I headed back to Virginia and went northwest on State Route 7 toward Herndon and Nike Site W-83. My Virginia atlas showed Great Falls Nike Park in the area where Mark Morgan indicated W-83.  I found it as advertised, playground and ball fields to the east of State Route 717, AKA Utterback Road, and just north of State Route 7.  The park shows a few signs of Nike use; much of the barbed wire perimeter fence is in place, and a couple of monitoring wells have Corps of Engineers markings.  This was the launcher site, W-83L, 38-59-31, 77-19-35.  No Nike buildings remained, but I did find this fence post. There has been considerable filling and grading to accommodate the park’s ball fields. A fiberglass radome is assembled on a concrete pad near the playground area; two panels are removed from opposite sides to form a shelter -- sort of a cold war gazebo. The radome is marked with an AF contract number, and later research showed this to be an Air Force radome for a gap filler radar.   I wonder how it ended up on an Army Nike site?

Then, it was time to head to the airport.   I turned in the rental car at 1445, covering 189 miles on this Sunday drive in the country (492 miles total in 43 hours).  I like to get my money’s worth from a rental car.  And as for Washington National Airport, a nice new terminal building is in use.  My server at lunch said it just opened last July.  Makes travel in and out of DCA much easier than in the past.  All in all a pleasant, though brief, visit.