Thursday, September 18, 2008


Sometime in the 1960's our grade school class toured Ellsworth Air Force Base in western South Dakota. I remember they let us look inside the KC-135 tankers, but not the B-52s. Until the mid-80's, you could see the giant tails of parked B-52s as you drove past the base on I-90, and occasionally you would see one the behemoths lumbering through the sky.

The base switched over to the B-1B in 1987. There is only one B-52 remaining at Ellsworth, at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum just outside the main gate. Unlike the Strategic Air and Space Museum near Omaha where the gigantic aircraft are crammed into two hangers, the 20 aircraft on display at Ellsworth are mostly outside. Much better for taking photos, but I wonder what effect the weather will have on them.

In addition to the B-52, other significant aircraft are a B-1B, a B-29, and a B-25 that was Gen. Eisenhower's personal transport during WWII. The museum is free. There also is a tour of the base featuring a Minuteman missle training silo for $7, but the last tour for the season is tomorrow and they don't resume until June.

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