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Abandoned Air Force base home for emerging Boeing safety technology

A place that used to house B-52 bombers for the Air Force in remote Montana is now where Boeing is creating aviation safety tools of the future.
The former Glasgow Air Force Base in St. Marie, Montana, is now home to the Montana Aviation Research Company. This is where Boeing is testing aviation safety technology of the future. (Credit: KING)

A former Air Force base is now the center of Boeing's initiative to create new technologies in collision avoidance.

St. Marie, Montana is located off Highway 24 in the northeastern part of the state -- about 35 miles south of Canada and about 120 miles west of North Dakota as the crow flies.

There you will find Glasgow Air Force Base. It was part of SAC -- the Strategic Air Command. It used to be home to B-52 bombers. But as the global political situation changed, the government simply packed up and left.

It's now called MARCo -- the Montana Aviation Research Company. It's a Boeing subsidiary, but other aviation companies can and do rent it out on occasion.

In many ways, it’s a place frozen in time. The prices in the mess hall are still posted. Breakfast for 50 cents and lunch for $1. The mess still serves meals to flight test crews today.

Surplus buildings remain boarded up. There’s peeling paint. The fence has paid the price of many Montana winters.

The control tower, which still has dial telephones, doesn't have to control much these days.

The loneliness of this place has its advantages, though.

"Because we’re remote. It's a great airspace. They can get a lot done. Like today, they can use the whole airfield and not have anyone else bother them," said Darcell Wesen, MARCo Site and Airfield Manager.

Boeing has even used this place for noise testing because it is so remote and quiet.

A place that once defended the nation is now helping develop tomorrow’s technologies.

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