Recent Photos of Thomasville AFS, AL

June 2008 photos contributed by William Scott

Looking into the former front gate of the radar squadron

The following photos taken from the top of the FPS-35 tower.

Former radar ops building in the foreground.

Power plant, orderly room and NCO club picture shows the dining hall is gone and the airmens barracks is gone. The officers barracks is now administrative offices. In the background on the left is inmate dormitories.

School building on ball field is the new classroom buildings where trades are taught by Alabama Southern Community College.

September 2002 photo by Mark Morgan

GATR Site for Thomaville AFS, AL

February 1999 Photos and notes by Tom Page

Tom writes:
"I followed mostly back roads to Thomasville, AL (i.e., Mississippi Routes 27 and 28, to US Route 49 south and US Route 84 east into Alabama, then US Route 43 north into Thomasville). I proceeded under the assumption that the "TerraServer" image I had found earlier was indeed the former Thomasville AFS radar site, which would place the site on the north side of town. It turns out that this was the correct assumption — that image is of the former Thomasville AFS site. However, to me, it appeared that the site was east of US Route 43, just off state route 5 east. When I went to that location, there was a very-tall fire lookout tower, but nothing else. Returning to Rte 43, I saw a sign for the "Thomasville Mental Health & Rehabilitation Center." This seemed like a logical use for a former military facility, so I followed the signs. About a mile west of town, on Choctaw Road, I rounded a curve and — voilà — there stood the old AN/FPS-35 radar tower! The security folks of the Thomasville Mental Health & Rehabilitation Center allowed me to take pictures of the tower and buildings, but told me to make sure I didn't photograph any of the residents — there's a court order in place that prohibits photographing the patients there. The eastern side of the station, where the radar towers and LRR Ops building stood, was less restrictive, as that part belonged to the state Alabama Department of Youth Services. There, I located the footings and cable trough of one of the AN/FPS-90 towers (east of the LRR Ops building, which stood south of the AN/FPS-35 tower). The other AN/FPS-90 tower must have stood west of the LRR Ops building, but no traces remained. As before, I concluded my tour with a quick drive through the old family-housing area, then I headed east for Eufaula."

Comment: I was surprised that the experimental AN/FPS-35 VHF FD radar at Thomasville AFS was on a "permanent" concrete tower (same as the production models of this radar type and the production AN/FPS-24 radars). I thought this prototype model might have been placed on a steel tower like the prototype AN/FPS-24 radar at Eufaula AFS (and probably the prototype AN/FPS-28 radar at Houma AFS). This observation suggests to me that maybe the Air Force had already selected Sperry Gyroscope to produce AN/FPS-35 radars, while Raytheon and GE were perhaps still competing to see if the other VHF FD radar type would be the AN/FPS-28 or the AN/FPS-24 (????). Obviously, the AN/FPS-24 won out, but it's not clear to me why.

The prototype AN/FPS-35 search-radar tower at the former Thomasville AFS, AL, as seen from Choctaw Road just north of the site; view is to the east-southeast.

Another view of the prototype AN/FPS-35 search-radar tower, as seen from the approximate location of one of the AN/FPS-90 heightfinder radar towers (both removed), east of the LRR Operations building. Note the plaque to the right of the center door (see photo #3). View is to the west-northwest.

Plaque commemorating the development AN/FPS-35 by Sperry Gyroscope, etc.

Photo of a photo, aerial view of the former Thomasville AFS, AL, after site closure. [Facility is now the Thomasville Mental Health & Rehabilitation Center {southwestern 75%} and an Alabama state Youth Services center {eastern 25%}.]

LRR Operations building, looking ~ southwest.

View of the cantonment area, looking ~ south.