Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wurtsmith Air Force Base

About a month or so ago, I was looking through some of my old pictures and I found some that I had of what was Wurtsmith Air Force Base. I think they are at least 19 years old as the last B-52 flew off the base on December 15, 1992. I don't really remember when I took them but I'm pretty sure that I was either still in college or had just graduated from college. Anyways, here the pictures (these were scanned in).

This is a picture from highway F-41 which is a farm to market road or county highway. I think this was the alert area where planes would be ready to go on a moment's notice. I wish my picture was a little clearer, but this was the best I could get given that it was an active base at the time.

This is another shot from a slightly better spot.

I think we might have stopped the car so that I could get out and take a picture from closer to the outer fence. At the time, the base had B-52G Stratofortresses and KC-135 Stratotankers. These planes were used during Desert Storm. It was pretty cool to come up here to look at the planes, sometimes I could see them flying.
Wurtsmith Air Force Base started in 1923 as Loud-Reames Aviation Field as a soft landing spot for aircraft from Selfridge Field. In 1924, it was renamed Camp Skeel for a pilot from World War I and was used as an aerial gunnery range until the onset of World War II. In 1942, a 5000 foot hard surface runway was built and the Camp was renamed Oscoda Army Air Field (it is just outside of Oscoda). It was used to train Free French pilots and as a transient stopover point.
It became a permanent installation in 1951 when the US Air Force decided to use it as a Fighter-Interceptor training base. It served in this capacity until 1973. In 1958, it first housed B-52 bombers and in 1960, it housed the B-52H model bombers until 1977 when those were changed for the B-52G. They started to retire the G models in the 1980's but there was a brief reprieve when they were used in Desert Storm. The Base was also designated to base the MX missiles on rail cars but that plane was scrapped in 1992 with the demise of the Soviet Union. It was closed as a base in 1993.

Now the base is used as a repair falicity for Kalitta Air which is based out of Ypsilanti. I'm not sure what these planes are being used for as they have Northwest livery. I wonder if they are being converted.

747's are cool but not as cool as B-52's.

Some of the Kalitta Air 747's.

Another shot of one of the 747's.

This would have been the alert area but looking from the inside of the base this time. I would have loved to have this shot with B-52's in it. But oh well, I guess it's better this way because I got to thinking this area would have been incinerated if we had come to blows with the Soviets.

Another 747.

One of the base's watertowers, this is the logo of one of the air wings that was here.


annonmous said...

This is very cool to me as a Rose City Michigan Native now living in Allentown PA. I have been on this base, and my mother always told me stories of it as a kid. Although I never thought there to be icbm's placed here at one point in time. Talk about a wow factor. It is amazing thinking that I have got to check this facility out since it has been deactivated now. I actually did have a friend that used to wrench on the birds your now seeing there. They are no longer doing military work, just simple mechanics of the jet engines themselves to bring them back into spec from everything he has told me. I had another friend of a relative that used to work for the airforce here I beleive he was stationed here, he used to work on jet engines also, and make new parts for them by machine. Thus, they have alot of equipment here that these airliners in need probably can not find elsewhere in the state with as accessible and away from praying eyes and the media that there are issues with engines on aircraft as oscoda mi. This area is highly rural, and no where other than around the Rose city, Mio, grayling area would you find better places to hide your doings. Not many people even know what Oscoda is. Even though it is a beautifull place to visit. You can tell the soldiers here had a lot of fun on their off time too. The local area would have been extremely fun, with pubs, and beach on lake huron alore.

Anonymous said...

They never did get the ICBMs or similar weapons but the B52's did carry two nuclear weapons that were launched as a 'smart navigation' weapon which could, once given its coordinates before launch, fly with no external control to its fixed target. The two that I worked on while I was stationed there were the AGM69A SRAM (Short Range Attack Missile) and the AGM86B ALCM (Air Launched Cruise Missile). I was there from 85 to 92.
I worked with a great bunch of people and had fun despite the seriousness of the job and I am glad the weapons were never really used.
The base has a number of other facilities that are using it. There is a motorcycle parts business in which there is a motorcycle museum (this is well done and very cool to see), an Air Force museum, and some other businesses of which I do not know the names.
There was also an access to the Ausable River from the base (in the old base housing area near the back gate I believe). When the salmon are spawning, it is full of fish. Otherwise it might have trout and a few other species.

Anyway it is a nice place to visit, a bit sad and definitely nostalgic for me but at least it is seeing some use. It is hard to look at something knowing you spent years of your life there and it isn't nearly full of the same life as when I left it but that is life isn't it --- change.
Sgt. Frederick. 379th MMS (and others).

Jane said...

Hi there!
My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
I was looking for blogs about Oscoda to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
Hope to hear from you soon!