Skip to main content

Archives at The Museum of Flight

James R. McLeland U.S. Air Force Missile Test Center Photograph Collection

 Collection — Box: One
Identifier: 2019-04-04
The James R. McLeland U.S. Air Force Missile Test Center Photograph Collection documents missile and rocket launches at the U.S. Air Force missile test center at Patrick Air Force Base as well as at Kennedy Space Center from the mid 1950s through about 1970 with 52 color and black-and-white photographic prints.

The photographs are primarily official Air Force photographs taken by McLeland as well as other staff and contract photographers. They are all 8x10-inch prints, with six being in color and the rest black-and-white. The bulk of the photographs (47) are offical U.S. Air Force photos taken by McLeland and other photographers depicting a variety of missile and rocket launches at the former Missile Test Center. Most are identified with stamps on the backs of the prints but some are not. Among the identified images are the Minuteman missile, Bomarc missiles, Thor missiles, and the launch of Apollo 10. Some rockets are seen being readied on the launchpads while others show them in the moments after launch. Two photographs depict McLeland with his photography equipment. Three prints were images that McLeland took off-duty on personal time showing the Patrick AFB beach mess, the Patrick AFB range radar, and the causeway onto Cape Canaveral.


  • 1957-1970


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


.2 Cubic Feet (1 letter-size half-width document box)

Biographical Note: James R. McLeland

James R. McLeland was a photographer and darkroom manager at Kennedy Space Center in the 1960s-1980s.

James Rary "Whitey" McLeland was born May 7, 1929 in Hiawatha, Kansas to Roy Whitman and Helen Irene (Swartz) McLeland. At 13 years old he had his first newspaper photography assignment: to photograph a housefire for the local Hiawatha newspaper. After graduating from high school he worked for a short time at G.N. Winter Motor Company. He studied psychology at Kansas State University but also worked as a photographer for the school newspaper. He served in the military during the Korean War and received further photography training during that time. He worked as staff photographer for the Bend Herald Tribune in Kansas before transferring to the Hollywood Sun-Tattler in Florida in about 1957.

McLeland started working at Kennedy Space Center in 1958. He worked as a contracted as a staff photographer, dark room lab manager, and manager of the media center. His contract initially began through RCA but was later through Boeing. He worked there until 1988. Following his work at Kennedy Space Center he ran a private photography business shooting weddings, fashion, car races and drivers and more until the 2010s.

McLeland married Vida Mae Scheck on March 30, 1957 and they had two children but divorced in 1968. James McLeland died December 20, 2017 in Palm Bay, Florida. He is buried at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by McLeland's daughter.


Guide to the James R. McLeland U.S. Air Force Missile Test Center Photograph Collection
Completed - Level 2
Nicole Davis
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st edition

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
Contact us with a research request