Spring is in the Air

Copyright © 2002-2010, Scott D. Murdock
3 Nov 2002 - Updated style and format.
5 Jul 2010 - Added additional photos. Added Plainview NG Armory and Dyess Small Arms Range Annex and Camp Barkeley, which I had mistakenly omitted.

This report consolidates several trips I made during April - June 2002.

Saturday, 20 Apr 2002

Heavy rains for several weekends had postponed this jaunt.   Today's forecast looked like lots of clouds but only light to moderate rain, so I went for it.  Temperature varied from 70 when I left home, to 54 near Childress, to 85 when I returned home.  Ah, Spring in Texas!

Heading west before dawn, my first stop of the day would be the farthest point from home.  Southwest of Childress, I looked for the former Childress AAFld, 34-26, 100-18.  Currently the Childress Municipal Airport (CDS), this base was a bombardier school in W.W.II.  It was raining during my visit, so I just photographed a couple of hangars and an old building from inside the car.  These were the only structures I saw that seemed to date from the 1940s.

From Childress, I started a looping return trip.  Next stop was the former Arlie Intermediate Field, at 34-40-15, 100-07-30.  The location is currently farmland.   This was site 9 on the AQ-FV airway.  I don't find it listed under any specific AAF base, but it is shown on a 1944 map of AAF facilities.

Moving east, I crossed into Oklahoma.  Near Hollis, I looked for Altus AF Missile Site #9.  This was one of 12 Atlas F sites controlled by Altus AFB in the early 1960s.  This site looks like it is used as part of a farm.

From there, I made my way down the back roads to the former Altus Training Annex, AGNJ, 34-31-30, 99-42-00.  I don't know the specific use of this property, but Altus AFB controlled it from 1943 until an unknown date, then again from 1975 to 1996.  It covers 1,280 acres of land, and has reverted to farmland with hunting leases. 

Near Creta, I found Altus AF Missile Site #8.  From the access road, one Quonset hut was visible.  From the access gate of a neighboring business, the launch control center access portal was visible.

Making my way east to the town of Olustee, I looked for the current Olustee Municipal Airport (F09) south of town, at 34-31, 99-26.  During W.W.II this was Olustee Auxiliary Field #3, to Altus AAFld.  None of the buildings looked old enough to be W.W.II vintage.  Visibility was limited with a low ceiling during my brief visit, and I could hear a small aircraft flying nearby.  So I kept a cautious watch as I walked around the end of the current runway looking for signs of the other two old runways.  The outlines are visible in recent aerial photos; I was disappointed that I could not see traces of them on the ground.  When I returned to my vehicle, the aircraft engine was still audible, although I never saw the airplane.  I hope he wasn't lost in the overcast.

Okay, time for an anomaly.  Missile buffs know there was only one ICBM main base in Texas -- Dyess AFB.  It had 12 Atlas F silos.  But there were 13 ICBM silos in Texas.  One of the 12 sites controlled by Altus AFB, OK, was located just across the state line, in Texas.  This was Altus AF Missile Site #7.  One Quonset hut was visible from the gate.

Heading south toward Vernon, I paused along the way to view the location of the former Vernon Intermediate Field, at 34-16, 99-18.  The published coordinates are in this overgrown area.  This was site 15 on the AQ-FV airway.  It was shown in 1943 and 1944 airfield directories with military use authorized, although it does not seem to have been under AAF control, or assigned to a specific base.   

Just a few miles further south, closer to Vernon, I visited the current Wilbarger County Airport (F05) at 34-13-30, 99-17.  This was used in 1944 and 1945 as Vernon Municipal Airport Auxiliary Field #5 to Frederick AAFld.  This hangar looks like it might be from the AAF days.

I made it home shortly after 1600, making this a 10.5 hour trip covering 570 miles.  In spite of the rain and mist, it was a nice day's drive.

Saturday, 27 Apr 2002

Another trip out west!  First stop on this journey would be Plainview, Texas, to check out a couple of airfields.   I covered some wide-open spaces getting to Plainview.  At times, while driving straight and level on cruise control, strong headwind gusts were causing the car to downshift.  Just south of town is Hale County Airport (PVW), 34-10, 101-43.  This airport was used as an auxiliary field to Reese AFB, during 1952 and 1953.  A T-33 pulls gate guard duty.

On the airport grounds, I noticed the Plainview National Guard Armory, constructed in 1956.

Several miles north of town, I sought remnants of the civil glider school operated by Clent Breedlove Aerial Service for the AAF during W.W.II.   (Some sources spell the name "Clint" but most spell it "Clent.")  Listed simply as Plainview in most directories, this contract flying school at 34-16-15, 101-43-00, only operated until late 1942 or early 1943.   The airport apparently continued to operate until at least 1944, with use by Army aircraft authorized.  The published coordinates are in this field.

From Plainview I drove toward Amarillo, stopping at the former Hereford Communications Site GWEN 892, KLZY.  Disposed of in 2000, this site had been in use since the late 1980s or early 1990s.   Also referred to as Summerfield, this was a detached installation of Cannon AFB.

Driving across the New Mexico border and into Clovis, I looked for Cannon Place Family Housing Annex, CZRP.  This housing area, an off-base installation to Cannon AFB, was activated on 31 May 1991.  Covering 40 acres, it provides 200 homes.

Before calling it quits for the day, I wanted to find Melrose Air Force Range, PXLY.  This bombing range has been used by Cannon AFB since the early or mid 1950s, and may have originally been called Clovis Air Force Range #2.   Covering over 87,000 acres, it is several miles west of Cannon AFB, roughly centered on 34-17, 103-47.  I managed to find the east gate to the range complex (me, and about a hundred tumbleweeds.  Did I mention this was a very windy day?)  In addition to air-to-ground weapons delivery, the range hosts an Electronic Scoring Site (ESS).  One component of the ESS, a Mini-Mute site, is visible from the east gate.  I'm told this is Mini-Mute site #3 (also called "C PED").

Driving west, my next stop was Fort Sumner, New Mexico.  Just northeast of town I visited Fort Sumner Municipal Airport (FSU), 34-29, 104-13.  During W.W.II, this was Fort Sumner Army Air Field.  During most of the war it was a flying school under the training command; first an advanced glider school then advanced two-engine.  Late in the war the base transferred to Second Air Force.  One vintage hangar stands, and I saw the floor of another. Foundations remained from some older buildings. NASA has a facility on the airport. A short distance from the former main gate of the base, I found a sign for the Zia Rapid Assessment Area (ZRAA).  Seems that AFOTEC used part of the airport, along with thousands of acres of ranch land, for a field test of an unmanned aerial vehicle in 1998.  I don't know the details, so it is unclear to me if there was any real property interest in the land used for this test.  So, I hesitate to label the ZRAA as a separate installation -- but it is an interesting use of the former army air field.  (It sure got my attention to see a current Air Force emblem on a crumbling old airfield!)

A few miles outside of town, I located a more contemporary installation; Fort Sumner Mini-Mute Radar Bomb Scoring Site 8, HKWN.  This site was activated on 12 Jan 1995, as a detached leased installation of Cannon AFB.  This installation supports the Melrose ESS.

Final stop of the day, Cannon AFB, CZQZ, where I checked into billeting and made the mandatory BX / Shoppette runs before settling in for the night.  When I stopped at the main gate to show my I.D., the sharp young Security Forces troop gave me directions to billeting, followed by "Sir, I like your shirt.  It's cool."  (I was wearing a Van Halen t-shirt at the time.  Rock on, airman!)  Today's drive covered 673 miles in 13 hours.  Great weather, low eighties in the afternoon.

Sunday, 28 Apr 2002

My first stop of the day was a sunrise visit to McAllister Mini-Mute RBS Site 5, PQGT.  Virtually identical to Site 8, this one was activated slightly later, on 4 Apr 1995.  It also supports the Melrose ESS.

My last New Mexico stop on this trip was another off-base installation of Cannon AFB.  Clovis NEXRAD Weather Site, EAPP, was activated 1 May 1994.  Part of the Next Generation Weather Radar system, it features a WSR-88D weather radar. 

From there, I headed back into Texas toward home.   One stop along the way was a brand new Mini-Mute site, Lone Star Electronic Scoring Site, #72 Lancer MOA Emitter.  This one is so new I don't have any orders showing an activation date or official designation.  In fact, it is so new it is not in use, and there are no signs up.  But the fence is in place, and is very shiny!  (Okay, I'm easily entertained -- I'm not used to seeing security fencing until it's thirty or forty years old, at least!)  This facility supports the ESS complex in Snyder. 

Since my path home took me through Snyder, I checked out the Scurry County Airport (SNK), 32-42, 100-57.   This airport, now also called Winston Field, was used as an auxiliary field for Webb AFB from 1963 to 1968.  One vintage hangar is still in use, as is a wind tetrahedron.

On the west side of the airport, under construction, is the Lonestar Snyder Electronic Scoring Site, SNYD.  This new electronic scoring complex is described in an environmental survey published in 2000, and newspaper reports indicate construction began in 2001.  The sign at the site proclaimed an estimated completion date of Dec 2001, which was four months late at the time of my visit.  The Lonestar ESS is the product of the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative, designed to provide effective training for B-1s from Dyess AFB and B-52s from Barksdale AFB.  This facility in Snyder is replacing the ESS in Everton (Harrison), Arkansas, and is expected to be operational later this year.  NOTE:  The RBTI program includes a similar ESS complex near Pecos, Texas, which is already in use and replaced the ESS at La Junta, Colorado.  A later review of orders published by Air Combat Command shows this site was activated as Snyder Winston Field Electronic Scoring Site on 1 Dec 2001, and renamed to the above on 6 Mar 2002.

Near Dyess AFB, I sought out the off-base Dyess Receiver Annex, FNXH, and Dyess Transmitter Annex, FNXC, to determine their current use.  The RBTI environmental survey mentioned these as potential sites in the Lone Star ESS.  The receiver annex was still marked as such, and I saw no new equipment to indicate an ESS role.  Same with the transmitter annex; both sites looked unchanged from my first sighting five years ago. 

My final tourist destination of the day was Dyess AFB, 2563/FNWZ.  After stops for fuel and food, and a windshield tour of the Dyess Linear Air Park (I really need to walk that whole thing one of these days!), I headed home.  This was a 581-mile day, covered in 11.25 hours.  More great weather: after a brisk morning (42 degrees in Clovis) it warmed up into the low eighties.   Total miles for this overnight trip: 1,254.

Saturday, 11 May 2002

My first stop was the former Howard County Airport, 32-18-20, 101-26-17, to the north of Big Spring.  Back around 1970, the Air Force based T-41s from Webb AFB at this airport, and conducted the T-41 phase of training here.  Now the airport is mostly abandoned, with a few industrial businesses and a RC model airplane activity.  The southernmost hangar, with attached control cab, grabbed my attention.  The red-and-white greenhouse structure looks very much like GCA facilities I've seen at other Air Force auxiliary fields.  My belief is this was part of the USAF operation from thirty years ago.

I made an attempt to confirm a suspected location for the Big Spring GFA, south of town, but was unsuccessful.  Gated private property prevented a close inspection.

Moving north out of Big Spring, toward Ackerly, I picked up FM 1584 and headed to a point just west of the former Big Spring Army Glider School, 32-30, 101-33.  This was a glider school (probably a contract school) in use from about 1942-1944, but I have discovered very little information beyond that.  This photo is looking east at the location of the coordinates.

Driving through Lamesa on US 87, I cut west a couple miles on dirt roads to the site of the former Lamesa Field, 32-50-45, 101-55-00.  This was an AAF contract flying school in W.W.II, operated first by John H. Wilson Glider School then switching in 1943 to liaison pilot training by Clent Breedlove Aerial Services.  For at least a few years after the war, this served as Lamesa Municipal Airport.  Currently, the airfield area is farmland, and the building area has a few private driveways leading in, with lots of trees blocking the view.  Aerial photos and maps suggest that one of two old hangars is still standing.  I believe this is the hangar, seen here from the west near the main gate of the flying school, and here from the southeast.

The first part of this trip was in search of the old; now I shifted gears and sought out the new.  A couple weekends ago I had seen a couple components of the brand new Lonestar ESS.  Today I intended to check the remaining published locations to see what I could find.

I struck out big time while searching for Lone Star ESS #66 Lancer MOA Emitter and Lone Star ESS #67 Lancer MOA Emitter.   I couldn't find the sites at the published locations.  Maybe they just haven't built these sites yet, or maybe they were relocated or dropped from the program.

Better luck awaited me at Lone Star ESS #65 Lancer MOA Emitter.  The shiny new fence caught my attention!  Note:   I have not confirmed this, but I believe this site was activated 1 Dec 2000 as Lake Thomas Emitter Site.

The now-familiar new fence also showed me Lone Star ESS #64 Lancer MOA Emitter.  Like #65, it is fenced with pads and power, needing only signs and equipment.  Note:  I have not confirmed this, but I believe this site was activated 1 Dec 2000 as Union Emitter Site.

When seeking Lone Star ESS #95 Lancer MOA Emitter, I was about to call "No Joy" and depart the area, when I noticed a small metal sign on the fence.  I do believe "95" marks the spot.  Perhaps this one is soon to be constructed?

Next I headed to Anson, and cut north a ways to revisit Dyess Missile Site #12.  Specifically, I looked for Dyess Missile Site #12 Water System Site, west of the missile site on Lake Anson.   I was met by gated properties with no access to that part of the lake, and no sign of a water system building visible through the trees.  I did notice a theodolite mounting post just east of the entrance gate to the missile site.  I overlooked this on my previous visits.  In this photo, the missile site is in the background.

After a Dairy Queen stop in Anson, I headed down through Abilene to home.  This was a long day, 14 hours covering 785 miles.

Saturday, 25 May 2002

We spent Memorial Day weekend in Colorado Springs, visiting good friends from various Air Force assignments.  Naturally, I managed to see a few old bases while we were there.

The former Ent AFB, GBUZ, is now the Olympic Training Center, at 38-50-24, 104-47-51.  They offer tours on a regular basis, so we dragged my former coworker Steve and his wife Brenda to the former USAF base.   A few barracks and other buildings look original.  Many of the buildings are either new or altered since the Air Force days.  Ent had its start in 1943 as Headquarters Second Air Force; by the time the base transferred from the Army to the Air Force in 1948 it was known as Headquarters 15th Air Force.  It was designated Ent Air Force Base on 10 Jun 1949 -- and the designating general order called it the former Colorado Springs Tent Camp.  Ent AFB was inactive from Dec 1949 to Jan 1951, and then stayed open until 1975.  It was then assigned to Peterson AFB, and may have been known as Ent Annex.  Records I've seen are a bit confusing after this time.  One Air Force book says Ent was declared excess on 30 Jun 1976 and disposed of 7 Feb 1978; a DAF order shows Ent AFB transferring from ADC to SAC on 1 Oct 1979; and a Space Command order shows Ent AFB disposed of on 12 Dec 1990. 

Monday, 27 May 2002

My buddy Steve and I had a day to ourselves; so we hit the road for some historical "site" seeing.

We first headed south to Pueblo, and caught a peek of Vineland Communications Site GWEN 665, XZGM.  We didn't get a close look since the former USAF site is on the still-active Pueblo Chemical Depot.  But the tower was easily seen from a public road about two miles to the west.  This GWEN site was in use from sometime in the 1980s until 1999.

We also stopped at Pueblo Memorial Airport (PUB), 38-17-30, 104-29-30, which was Pueblo Army Air Base during W.W.II.  The only building that looked like it was wartime vintage was this hangar.  There is a museum on the airport grounds, which has some nice aircraft.  Only problem was we were "assigned" to a docent, who led us step-by-step through the displays and didn't want us getting ahead of him.  I handed him my card and explained my research, in hopes he would realize we were smart enough to browse the museum on our own.  That didn't work, so we waited until he was distracted and made a run for it.  The museum has potential, but I won't return unless they change their procedures. A vintage airways beacon, moved from another location, is on display outside.

Motoring back to Colorado Springs, we headed east of Peterson AFB and onto the former Peterson Ground Gunnery Range, centered approximately 38-51-30, 104-34-30.  We didn't see any traces of the W.W.II range activities, but we did find the former Ellicott Communications Site GWEN 880, FWHK, which was built on part of the former range.  (As I told Steve, this was a base researcher's "double tap.")  The GWEN tower had been removed, but it once stood between this short tower and the taller tower.  The equipment shelters are probably among these, or possibly they were in this empty enclosure.  This GWEN site served from sometime in the 1980s until about 2000.

A few miles to the southwest, we looked for Bullseye Auxiliary Field, CTCN, which supports the USAF Academy.   We got as far as this gated access road, which according to aerial photos leads to the airfield.  I believe this field has been active since the 1980s.

Our last stop of the day was near Elizabeth, where we found the former Lowry Missile Site #2 (725-C), NTNM.  This was a Titan I site, in use from about 1960 to 1965.  Now controlled by the county, the site didn't show us many clues.  We could make out what I think were the guidance antenna silos, and possibly a pair of orientation targets, but not much more.

Tuesday, 28 May 2002

On our drive home from Colorado to Texas, we found ourselves in Wichita Falls at a convenient time to stop on Sheppard AFB, 1278/VNVP, 33-59, 98-31, for food and fuel.  Sheppard is still an active training base, and those airmen look younger every time I visit.

Saturday, 8 Jun 2002

Just another one-day romp across west and central Texas.  First stop was the south shore of Lake Brownwood, where I checked out the former Dyess Recreation Annex No. 2, 31-49-20, 99-03-12.  This property was donated to the U.S. Government by Brown County in 1957, and was used by of Dyess AFB until early 1966.  Now, much of it is in private hands although there is a public boat ramp.

Next stop was a small patch of land adjacent to the Bruce Field airport, outside Ballinger.  I was searching for Ballinger Gap Filler Annex, in hopes of determining if any construction for the USAF had taken place.  This would have been site M-89A, operated by Detachment 1, 683d AC&WS, out of Sweetwater AFS.  Air Force records tell us the site was planned, but never built.  A USACE document suggest the facility was constructed at about 31-40-55, 99-58-30, used for about four years (1956-1960), and that all traces of the site had vanished by 1996.  The conflicting information made me curious to see the place for myself.  I did not see any telltale signatures of a gap filler site, but the land is thickly covered with cactus plants, so I did not scout every square foot of the land.

I paused for a quick look at the former Dyess Small Arms Range Annex, on the W.W.II Camp Barkeley. The road up the mountain looks much like it did when I drove it many times in the late 1970s.

Next stop was Eldorado Air Force Station, ELAW.  I saw this site in 1994 when it was active; then in 1997 when it was in caretaker status.  Since then, the radar components have been removed from the facility and shipped to Alaska.  Instead of seeing the eight-sided antenna arrays, it looks like those sections of the building are covered with protective siding.   Aside from some unruly weeds and a tattered windsock at the helipad, the site looks very much like it did in years past.

Driving back north into San Angelo, I found the location of the former Goodfellow Radio Range, 1150, at 31-23-35, 100-23-00.  This site was in use from about 1940 to 1964.  Ground observation confirmed what aerial photos suggested; the site has been pretty well obliterated.   This view from the south shows the general area.

Not far to the northeast, I looked for the former Goodfellow Direction Finder Annex, 5225, 31-24-25, 100-22-55.  This site served Goodfellow AFB from the early 1950s to 1960.  Comparing layout plans to aerial photos, I could find the site quite easily.  Here is the view from the north.

Next, I stopped on Goodfellow AFB, 1146, JCGU, for fuel, food, and the mandatory BX visit.  Then I headed for home, wrapping up this 670-mile trip in 13 hours.