West Texas Trip

Copyright © 1998-2010, Scott D. Murdock
12 Oct 2002 - Minor editing and content changes.
22 Nov 2002 - Added photos.
12 Sep 2010 - Added additional photos.

June, 1997.  Terminal Leave, the final phase of an Air Force career.  A time to celebrate.  And a time to job-hunt.  Why not combine the two with a road trip?

Sunday, 15 Jun 1997

Departed Haughton, Louisiana, at 0520.  My first destination was Dyess Nike Site DY-10, north of Abilene just to the west of Fort Phantom Hill Lake. The control site, DY-10C, 32-33-53, 99-42-59, is now used by the Abilene Independent School District (AISD). Most of the buildings seemed to be in good condition

The launcher site, DY-10L, 32-34-50, 99-43-03, was gated and locked.

Since I was so close, I stopped at Fort Phantom Hill, 32-38-30, 99-40-40, and took a couple of photos.  Nearby is the Phantom Hill Cemetery -- is that a great spooky name for a cemetery?

Then I headed South of Abilene to Dyess Nike Site DY-50. The control site, DY-50C, 32-17-04, 99-56-37, was gated and locked.

The gate at the launcher site, DY-50L, 32-16-16, 99-57-35, was open, and I struck up a conversation with the site owner. I was rewarded with a guided tour of the entire property! The outer perimeter fence is extant. The launcher bays are fairly intact minus the launchers and equipment. The maintenance building, generator building (minus equipment), sentry dog kennel, and sentry shacks are fairly intact. The owner has power to the ready building and the maintenance building. Also still standing are two security observation towers -- we climbed one for the view. Much of the fence of the inner secure area is also still standing, as is the gate.  The launch blast shelters are intact in the berm behind each launch bay.  The well house is also intact although an adjacent elevated water tank is gone.  The warheading building is also intact.

While I was in the area, I stopped at the gate to Dyess Small Arms Range Annex (FNXA), 32-19-30, 99-52-00, to take in the view. I also noted the location of the Camp Barkeley historical marker, at the site of the camp’s main gate. The marker is on the east side of Highway 277 at 32-21-24.   The small arms range annex is part of the original Camp Barkeley rifle range.

My next stops were the Dyess Transmitter Site (FNXC) and Dyess Receiver Site (FNXH), both active, and both near Dyess AFB (2563, FNWZ), FAA code DYS. 

I obtained a nice suite in Dyess billeting for $10.00.  I called up our former neighbors and good friends Brad and Robin and had a nice dinner with them. Covered 539 miles.

Monday, 16 Jun 1997

On the road at 0600. First stop was Avenger Field, 32-28, 100-28, FAA code SWW, a W.W.II contract flying school.  Several buildings, including hangars, remain from the wartime days. 

The radar site Sweetwater AFS (3314, WNWC) was built on the grounds of the former airfield.  I found a dormitory and recreation building; the dorm is empty but the recreation building is used by a college.  An old swimming pool is near the dorm.  A security guard told me the neighboring dining hall was also from the radar site, and he told me the radar tower was obliterated by construction but had been near the WASP memorial, at 32-27-49, 100-28-20. 

At the east end of the airport I found the former Sweetwater Family Housing Annex (WNWQ), 32-27-36, 100-27-18.  Labeled "Avenger Village" on maps, it is fenced, gated, and uninhabited.

On to Big Spring and the former Webb AFB (YQAZ), 32-14, 101-31.  It is now the Big Spring / MacMahon-Wrinkle Airport (21XS).  Clearly visible from the Interstate were the interceptor hangars at the end of the runway. Two maintenance hangars in obvious disrepair dominated the flight line area.  I saw no aircraft, although it is still listed as an airport. A large area of the base is now a federal prison.  I noted several dormitories, the control tower, fire station, administrative buildings, and others I could not identify. I also saw the weapon storage area with multicube storage buildings and maintenance building.

Then a trip a few miles into New Mexico to the former Hobbs AFB (1183), 32-46-30, 103-11-30.  It is now a private industrial airpark (HBB).   It is also home to the National Soaring Foundation.  There is not much to indicate Air Force roots here. A couple of decrepit munitions igloos, an elevated water storage tank, and a few hangars were the best visible evidence.

Back into Texas, and to Lubbock to see the former South Plains AAFld, 33-39-30, 101-50-00.  Now Lubbock International (LBB), it doesn’t show much evidence of Army Air Forces heritage.

Reese AFB (1178, UBNY), 33-36, 102-03, FAA code REE, was still open -- barely.   It closes in a couple months, on September 30.  Quite a ghost town, although it was maintained better than other near-closure bases I have seen. I stopped at the lodging office and booked a comfortable suite for $8.50. I didn’t do much sightseeing on base due to thunderstorms; I did see a couple of hangars on the flight line, the control tower, and parachute training equipment. Covered 406 miles.

Tuesday, 17 Jun 1997

Got an early start, 0430, and proceeded directly to the former Pecos AAFld, 31-24, 103-31.  It is now Pecos Municipal Airport (PEQ). The airport manager told me the only original items were the airfield pavement, the wind T, and the beacon tower. He let me drive out on the flight line across the runway to the wind T for a picture. He stated that Interstate 20 had cut right across the northern end of the main runway. In fact, a car dealership on the access road of I-20 was built on the airfield parking ramp.  I noted the foundation from an old hangar, and a fence across the ramp.

Backtracking on I-20, I looked for signs of Pyote AFS (3300) and may have seen it from a distance at what I estimated to be approximately 31-29, 103-09.  It was more than a mile from any public road, on oil field property.   From a distance it appeared to be a cluster of low, windowless, cinder block buildings. USGS maps showed nothing distinctive in that area.  Later research showed the location to be 31-28-40, 103-10-07.  I believe I was looking at the right place, although my estimate of the coordinates (using compass triangulation from GPS-plotted positions) was a bit off the mark.

Pyote AFB, 31-31-00, 103-08-30, was also visible from I-20 but not accessible on public roads. Some remnants of a hangar stand out in the distance, reminiscent of Stonehenge.

The housing area for Pyote AFS was built on the former Pyote AFB cantonment area at 31-31-36, 103-07-41.  It is now owned by the state of Texas, and used for the adjacent state school.  The receptionist at the state school confirmed the former and current ownership of the Pyote Housing Annex.

On to the former Midland AAFld, 31-56-30, 102-12-30.  It is now Midland International Airport (MAF).  AAF use was fairly well obliterated with just a few buildings and hangars left. I visited the Confederate Air Force museum.

Traveled on to San Angelo. Attempted to get a room at Goodfellow AFB (1146, JCGU), 31-25-50, 100-24-20, but no luck. I stayed overnight in town. Covered 547 miles.

Wednesday, 18 Jun 1997

Hit the road at 0600. Passing Eldorado AFS (ELAW) at dawn, I hadn’t planned on visiting but couldn't resist.  It occurred to me the site had inactivated since I was last there.  I noticed he signs at the main gate, and up the road closer to the site, had been removed, and the large parking lot was completely empty. The only sign of life was the bright light at the entry control point. A sign said to pick up the courtesy phone for assistance, so I did.  I talked with the night shift caretaker, an employee of Raytheon Corporation. They keep the facility in operating condition in case it is ever needed again.

Back on the schedule, I headed for the former Ozona AFS (3232, RSQZ). I had driven by it in ignorance over three years ago when I visited the Ozona Airport. That was before I knew of the AFS. I had a suspected target location from a map and sure enough that was it, 30-42-15, 101-07-01. The housing area is in private use, as "Crockett Heights." The main AFS area is a curious mix. Just past the guard shack is a sign saying "Posted, Private Road, No Trespassing, etc." I saw a man exit a mobile home and walk down the road so I gained his permission to look around. There were several mobile homes on the property; and a couple of the Air Force buildings are converted into homes. Most of the complex, including a row of dormitories, sits abandoned in tall weeds (and trees). At the rear of the site is a large radio antenna in a fenced compound. I'm guessing that is also where the former radar towers were sited.

Then it was on to Randolph AFB (1219, TYMX), FAA code RND.  No billeting was available so I tried Lackland AFB (1234, MPLS).  No luck there, either.  I did see the FAA Long Range Radar, formerly an AF-operated air defense radar. This concluded the sightseeing portion of the trip!  Covered 442 miles.

Thursday, 19 Jun 1997 and Friday, 20 Jun 1997

Spent all of Thursday, and Friday morning, job-hunting.  I drove straight home with no sightseeing on Friday afternoon (7 hours). Total trip was 2,449 miles.