Southwest Oklahoma

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

Another weekend of record-breaking heat, good thing the air conditioning works well in my car.

Saturday, 5 Sep 1998

The trip got a late start due to some needed vehicle repairs. See Scott get frustrated as daylight burns while his car is on the rack. See Scott pace the waiting area. See Scott haul ass when his car is finally ready!

First stop was the Altus TVOR Annex (AGNH), at 34-31-10, 99-16-28. My information showed this in use as recently as 1993 as the Humphreys VOR, but it has since been inactivated and the antenna removed. All that remains is a round metal building in the middle of a field. No signs were posted, and the access gate was open so I wandered up close for photos. As I was moving up to look in the single open window, I was startled by a large bird, which flapped its way out of the window and flew quickly away. I believe it was a Golden Eagle--quite a spectacular sight!

Next attempt was the Altus Radio Range Station, 34-36-10, 99-16-50. My only positional reference for this was a W.W.II aeronautical chart. Assuming I transcribed the coordinates correctly, there is no visible trace of this installation.

Then I visited Altus AFB (AGGN), airport code LTS, 34-39, 99-16. The retiree I.D. card does come in handy on these trips! Saw a nice variety of aircraft here, C-141s, C-5s, C-17s, and KC- 135s.

The highlight of the day was a guided tour of an Atlas F missile site, courtesy of the current property owners. As a condition of the visit, I agreed not to disclose the site designation or location.

The fences were mostly intact, as were the Quonset huts and the distinctive personnel entryway. The twin launcher doors have been welded in the open position. The salvage crew who, many years ago, removed some of the internal structural steel for scrap may have done this. Stepping as close as we dared to the launcher opening, we saw the many pigeons (and at least one owl) that live in the upper reaches of the silo. (We also saw an owl in one of the Quonset huts, and another owl perched on the ladder partway down in the communications silo.) I was surprised at how large in diameter the silo was. It looked huge! We scouted around in the weeds and found the sighting tube and the communications silo, both of which the owners saw for the first time.

Then we ventured downstairs and through the blast doors into the operations building. This is a two-story, underground structure. The two floors are spring-mounted away from the outer walls, to allow for some shock absorption in the event of an atomic near miss. The equipment had long ago been removed, and the most obvious presence was that of hundreds of bats! The bats dampened our enthusiasm for exploration, almost as much as the huge piles of bat waste which covered the floors. Proceeding through a short tunnel and more blast doors, we went to the silo entrance. We could not go into the silo from this point, as the flooring from that level had been salvaged. So, we could only look out into the expanse of the silo. We could not see bottom, because of the remaining flooring and scaffolding. Quite an interesting view, and considerably cooler than the blazing heat topside. A fun visit -- I’m grateful to the owners for their kind hospitality.

Sunday, 6 Sep 1998

An early start to try and make up for yesterday’s mechanical delay.

First stop was the former Clinton-Sherman AFB (DZRS), 35-20, 99-12. This is now Clinton Sherman Industrial Airpark (CSM). The Oklahoma State Police use the former alert facility (the "mole hole"). I knew that the 2d Bomb Wing had occasionally used this airport for exercises, but I was still a bit surprised when I saw a large 2d Bomb Wing emblem adorning the center column of the water tower!  Some hangars and other buildings on the flight line look vintage USAF, as do some warehouses, a fire station, and base housing.

The former Hobart AAFld is now Hobart Municipal (HBR), at 35-00, 99-03, and has been stripped of most of its Army Air Forces buildings. Only one W.W.II building remains, apparently serving as a residence. This airport still lists in the DoD Geographic Locations database, code KUJJ.  I noted a wind tetrahedron on the flight line, and a beacon.

I didn’t have a detailed layout map of the Altus Atlas F sites, but knew that I would pass fairly close to three of them on this drive down highway 183. So, I kept on the lookout and found all three!

Altus AF Missile Site #3. The outer gate is labeled “Snyder Show Barn” and was wide open with no keep out signs, so I ventured in and discovered a well-sealed site. The distinctive personnel entryway was completely gone—not a trace. The silo doors were shut and the surrounding ventilating shafts filled with concrete. There was no sign of the smaller communications silo, or even the sighting tube. Both original Quonset huts were intact and in use, and one well house and the security fence were intact.

Altus AF Missile Site #5. This one was gated and locked. The personnel entryway and Quonsets were standing, but I couldn’t see much else from the road.

Altus AF Missile Site #6. Also gated and locked. This one has one Quonset intact (with “J & S Automotive Salvage” painted on it) and some newer buildings alongside. The personnel entryway remains. Couldn’t make out much more detail from the gate.

Next stop was Frederick NEXRAD Site (GZQJ), on the grounds of the former Frederick AAFld. This weather radar falls under Altus AFB, even though AF activities at the neighboring airport fall under Sheppard AFB! The fenced compound has some Controlled Area signs, and the AF Form number on these signs is the only thing identifying this as an Air Force site.

The neighboring Frederick AAFld, 34-21, 98-59-30, is now Frederick Municipal Airport (GZPZ), airport code FDR. It is still used, on a shared basis, as an auxiliary by Sheppard AFB. This fact was supported by the sign at the airport terminal, as well as by the Runway Supervisory Unit (RSU) on the airfield. Some buildings, hangars, and foundation piers remain from the W.W.II days.

Next stop was a rare (for me) visit to a Navy installation, the Lake Kickapoo Space Surveillance Station (MRGD).  I included this in my plans because it is a fascinating system, and it is an important asset that feeds data to Cheyenne Mountain AFB.  A local road crosses the site, dividing it into north and south sections. From that center point, the radar transmitters stretch for a good distance both north and south, perhaps close to a mile in each direction. About half a mile SSW of this intersection is the main part of the site, marked “Lake Kickapoo Station.” Some small buildings are spaced up and down the site, to the west of the antenna array. The antenna units are small, and mounted on what looks like metal HVAC ducting, in a sort of shallow trench. It is actually a bit lower than the surrounding terrain. Fascinating place, and it would have been a complete mystery to me if I’d stumbled across it a year ago.

Heading toward Wichita Falls, I sought and found Sheppard Small Arms Range Annex (VPFV), which is at 33-59, 98-37 (approximate center of the property). I wasn’t certain of the location, but I suspected “Rifle Range Road” might lead me to it. I recognized it by the range flagpole still standing just inside the gate (Ah, memories--I raised range flags many times in my younger days). Some of the range berms were visible through the trees. Site is gated, locked and posted.

Stopped at Sheppard AFB (VNVP), airport code SPS, for food and fuel. Was amazed at the difference since I last saw the base in the early 1980s. The W.W.II buildings have disappeared, and massive new construction has taken place. Quite a variety of aircraft here for maintenance training, F-15, F-16, F-111, A-10, B-52, and KC-135 to name a few. And of course the active ramp was just swarming with T-37s and T-38s. Pausing in the BX, I looked at a Wichita Falls map. The rifle range was clearly shown, even though it inactivated back in 1979.

Covered over 750 miles on this 1 day expedition.