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Ellsworth Airbase, and the South Dakota Air and Space Museum
Military bases have often been independent and self sustaining; but this has often served to make them less communities of their own, and more like isolated enclaves. The services are trying hard to change this; but there is often still friction. Ellsworth,. like most military bases, is surrounded by those who seek to profit from the base. In most cases, this is a good thing, as restaurants, bars, and assorted stores set up operation nearby. In some cases this is not such a good thing, as pawn shops, payday loan operators, and liquor stores attempt to fleece servicemen.

Bases have often been large; but until you are actually on one, it is hard to fathom just how huge they are.
The population of Ellsworth AFB is approximately 7,017.
The approximate number of families is 1,876.
The base measures approximately 2 miles by three miles, and has a two mile long runway.
    There is a bus tour of the base, and photographs are permitted, however we were not allowed to photograph the front gate, probably to protect the identities of the men assigned to it's protection. Before boarding the bus, we were required to submit our drivers licenses so that a quick background check could be run. At the gate, the driver gave a passenger list to the gate staff.

Looking almost as if we are about to board a stray B-1, we line up for a bus ride of the base. Our guide is a retiree of the Air Force.

 The tour bus is comfortable, and the guide is very informative. The bus must negotiate a maze of concrete blocks, designed to deter car bombs. Cameras are permitted; but, needless to say, suitcases are not.

This is the front gate at Ellsworth, as seen from the Museum grounds. Visitors are not allowed to photograph the gate during entry, since the guards of not particularly want their pictures circulating. The gate is designed in the shape of a giant wing, and was given to the base as a gift, from the town of Rapid City. This was in gratitude for the rescue  services rendered by the base during a flood of the city, some years ago.

This is some of the newer family housing on the base. The Air Force has recently spent a considerable amount of time and money, putting up new housing. This is an attempt to improve the historically dismal state of military housing. One of the big problems the military has, is retention of skilled personnel. One of the big reasons for this is that no one wants to spend a lifetime living in a barracks. New housing is nice, and on a par with suburban civilian housing.

This is the housing for single personnel, what had at one time been called BOQ (Bachelor Officer Quarters).

These are ROTC students, who spend summers in training, and attend college during the fall and winter. This is a major source of recruits for the officer corp.

Some older areas of the family housing units on the base.

Yet another section of family housing. There are over 1800 families living on the base.

This is the youth center, for the children of base personnel. There is a real attempt at normalizing the environment, and changing the old stereotype of the Army (in this case, Air Force) brat.

Some of the halls housing the ROTC trainees.

This is the entrance to the training silo, shown in a previous section.

This is the silo training facility, where the personnel assigned to operate nd maintain the Minuteman missile force is trained.

The reason for the base, is to support the air strip, and the assigned air wing, which is this case is the 28th Bombing Wing.

Left and Below:

Some of the extensive hanger and maintenance facilities at the base.

The base is like a regular city, complete with railroad access. The hangers, and storage facilities seem to go on forever.

Hangers and pre flight areas abound. Note the stadium style lights, for night operations.

Maintenance facilities line the airstrip. The Black Hills show off in the distance.

This is not part of the security system. A number of these towers were put in place for a series of training maneuvers.

A B-1 bomber, coming in for a landing. This is our premier heavy bomber, and is capable of hitting targets anywhere in the world, from this base.

The B-1 lands at Ellsworth's two mile long runway.
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