NPS Minuteman Missile
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  • 12. Delta Flight

    Map of Delta flight, showing the location of the control center and silos.

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    Delta Flight 

    The facility in front of you was continuously staffed by ten Air Force personnel day and night for thirty years. Two officers stood vigil in the underground launch control center, replaced each morning by a new missile combat crew dispatched from Ellsworth Air Force Base. Eight topside support personnel, including two flight security controllers, two two-person armed response teams, a cook, and a facility manager, worked three-day shifts. 

    A single, manned, launch control facility such as Delta-01, linked to ten, unmanned, underground, missile silos was designated a “flight.” The silos were separated from the launch control facility and from each other by a distance of several miles. There were no missiles at this location. The dispersal of silos and control centers was to prevent the Soviets from destroying two targets with one of their warheads.

    Delta-01 was the hub for Delta Flight, one of five flights assigned to the 66th Strategic Missile Squadron of the 44th Strategic Missile Wing, headquartered at Ellsworth Air Force Base, near Rapid City.

    While it may feel remote, Delta-01 constantly communicated with the missiles under its command, the other control centers in the squadron, and Strategic Air command through a number of high tech systems. 

    If you had driven to the gate of Delta-01 during the Cold War, do you think the armed security police would have given you a warm welcome?