Ellsworth stays

Panel rejects closing South Dakota air base

The BRAC hearings are full of emotion and are “politically delicate”, as the article states.

The only reason I note this particular result is that as a kid at summer Bible camp one year, the farm trailer that about 20 of us younglings were jammed onto for a hay ride or something suffered a flat tire. The camp was in South Dakota, though I don’t know exactly where. As we all sat there waiting for a counselor to run back to camp for a spare tire, a long line of B-52 bombers appeared and flew over, one after the other. They were LOW, and the ground shook as each one roared past trailing a fair amount of black exhaust.

And when I say LOW, I mean L-O-W. We could almost feel the heat as those BUFFs passed almost directly overhead our broken-down trailer.

I don’t know if we were close to Ellsworth and they were taking off or landing, or if they were on some sort of exercise, or what. But they about shook us out of our socks.

I must have been about 10 or 11 at the time, and when one flew past I shouted “B-52 STRAT-O-FORTress!!!” and held my arms up, fists clenched, in victory like some referee signaling a touchdown. Probably looked more than a bit goofy. But as each one followed in turn I repeated the arm pumping, though I refrained from yelling any more.

Remember. This was summer Bible camp for elementary-aged kids. And it was about 1979 or 1980, so visions of B-52 formations had a very different connotation for most adult Americans. One of the counselors told me to tone it down.

But who listens to camp counselors when they’re 10 or 11?

UPDATE: Just noticed this pic at Frontline Photos:


A decommissioned B-1 bomber with the markings of the 28th Bomb Wing is seen against the sunset on Wednesday at the Air and Space Museum at the Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., one of several bases under consideration on Thursday for closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC).

I visited the museum last fall and don’t recall seeing a B-1, so this must a very recent addition. Ellsworth traded in B-52s for B-1s in the late 1980s.


  1. Seeing that B1 at sunset brought back old memories. I grew up on Ellsworth A.F.B, my dad was a E7 that worked on them when I was a kid. I live near Minneapolis MN now. Going into the Air Force as soon as I finish College. Another year left. Hate to think they would ever close that place down. Used to love sitting out on the base watching those big glowing afterburners at night. Never got old. Great picture. Thank you