Four Bases in One Day

Copyright © 1998-2010, Scott D. Murdock
21 Nov 2002 - Added photos.
3 Apr 2010 - Added additional photos, upgraded existing photos.

Friday, 3 Jul 1998

Nancy and I drove to Colorado Springs to spend a couple of days with friends we knew while stationed at Barksdale AFB.  In addition to dining out, antique shopping, and going to the Colorado Renaissance Festival, I did manage to visit 4 of the 5 main bases in the area.

My friend works at Falcon -- oops, Schriever AFB. When he offered me the nickel tour of the base I certainly accepted! To get onto Schriever you first get waved through the main gate -- to a parking lot. From there, you go into an entry control building. After logging me in as a visitor and obtaining a temporary pass, we passed through the portals and were then truly "on" the base. We walked over to the appropriate building and arranged to see the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) Master Control Station. That’s where the satellite operators monitor and fly the GPS satellites. Yup, fly them. Adjust the orbits as needed, that type of thing. Pretty cool stuff for a dedicated GPS user like me. We got the okay, and once duly signed in I was able to look into the control center from the visitor observation room. I also saw the U.S. Naval Observatory Alternate Master Clock. Looks like a wall full of computer equipment, and also cool to see. We also took a brief walking tour of the base, with most of my "What’s that…" questions politely deflected. I had done a "drive-by" visit of Falcon AFB back in 1992, so an inside visit to this fascinating base was a definite treat.

We continued our excursion to Peterson AFB. I had been to Peterson several times back in the early 90’s, but I wanted to see what was new at the museum. Unfortunately it was closed for renovation. I did notice a few familiar missiles: Nike Ajax, Nike Hercules, and BOMARC. Must return at a future date.

Then we continued to the Former Ent AFB, now the U.S. Olympic Training Center. This is a gated, secure facility (surely a comfortable posture for this former Cold Warrior) so we did a perimeter drive-around. I have little descriptive data and no layout plans of Ent AFB, so I couldn’t be sure which buildings dated from Air Force days. Several dormitories at the north end of the property had a decided "Air Force look" about them. Must arrange for an inside visit sometime in the future.

After regrouping with our wives, we made a stop at the U.S. Air Force Academy to see the legendary chapel--one of the major tourist draws in Colorado! Fancy building, but I was more interested in the sailplanes flying from the small but busy airfield. I had seen plenty of the Academy back in 1992 -- while TDY to "The Springs."

This fun-filled day made up for the fact that on the drive up and back from Texas, Nancy expressly forbade any historic stops. Imagine my pain as I had to drive through Wichita Falls, Vernon, Childress, Amarillo, Dalhart, and Pueblo without visiting any of the former AAF/USAF bases!