Friday, March 4, 2011

Air Power on Display

What secures the United States? People do. People who are aided by powerful delivery platforms secure our safety daily with, among other things, extensive aerospace technology. Near Rapid City, South Dakota’s Ellsworth AFB at the entrance to the active base is a collection of former war birds that include WWII era aircraft to Cold War missiles and today’s modern bomber.

South Dakota Air and Space Museum features outdoor static displays as well as an expansive indoor hanger area with a missile silo mock-up, bomber training simulator and much more.

A Rockwell B1-B bomber stands as the centerpiece to the museum. An active number of these bombers are based at Ellsworth AFB. Training missions involving the B1-B can be observed as we did on that day.

At the side of the museum hanger is a Vietnam-era B-52. These venerable bombers were introduced in the 1950s and are still in service today – not bad for a fifty year old warrior. This particular BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fellow) as they were politely called is painted in jungle camouflage.

Another member of the Ellsworth family is the World War II B-29 bomber which is seen here. B-29s delivered the final blows to end the war in the Pacific. This particular B-29 is called Legal Eagle II.

Located around Ellsworth AFB were silos that once housed the Minuteman II missile (photo above.) These nuclear tipped missile traveled at 15,000 mph with a range of 7,000 miles – enough to reach targets in the Soviet Union. A treaty with the Soviets eliminated the Minuteman II missile (and their Soviet counterpart.) In response the Minuteman III missile was developed and deployed to help guard our nation. Know that.