|Fairbanks Area : Pipe Line & Golf Ball
| I needed this picture. ===>
Looked like somebodies back yard. What we called in the Air Force, a
"golf ball". We also didn't use them so I am not sure what the Airmen who
worked in them, called them for sure.
After I was out of the AF, I was running a stereo repair shop in Marin. A
part time technician who worked for me also was in the AF and was stationed
on and lived at the radar site on top of Mt.Tamelpias, 2,571 feet. The ray
domes could have been similar in size, the one on the mountain possibly
Because I had worked on radar in the AF he offered me a look see at their
systems. They let me pass security, they trusted my host and I knew enough
of the jargon to fit in. I had only been out of the AF a few years by then.
| I was actually allowed to go inside the ray dome. They actually took the radar off the
air for not more than a minute, else contact Cheyenne Mt. We scrambled up to below the
BIG parabolic. They moved it around a bit. Big heavy and quick. It was the first time I
had seen a mechanical fuse. Maybe a metal bar 3 feet long and 3 inches thick. It was
intended to break before mechanical stress could damage the maybe 20 foot dish
assembly. We were in and back out in only a few seconds. Interesting though.
The radars on Mt Tam were AC&W, Aircraft Control & Warning and were involved with
directing aircraft that are not on approach, or finding them. My radars were at the
opposite end of the power and size range of AF radar.
I was told that AC&W radar had enough power to light a 4 foot florescent tube at 300
feet from the antenna, no wires. When I was in radar school, it was not uncommon for
the florescent lights in my barracks room to flash from GCA, Ground Control & Approach
radars perhaps half a mile away. Half the size of AC&W.
The range of AC&W was on the order of thousands of miles. Anomalous propagation,
mostly relates to the effect of, the boundary region between different densities of air, on
RF propagation. It played a big factor as to how far AC&W could see on any given day.
By detecting the A.P., and making use of it, the Soviets could fly to within only several
hundred miles of the US coast, without being detected.
The main job of AC&W is to warn of approaching targets. They traded range
resolution for distance compared to my type of radars.
I don't think my radars could light a match. We only put out about 250k watt peak, with
less than a micros second pulse width, and low PRF. Or range with a skin return was
tops, 400,000 yards, but with a 35 yard tracking gate. I worked on target tracking
radars, used to pilot drone aircraft or control antiaircraft guns or missiles, radar bomb
scoring and bomb directing.
Some of the target tracking radars, in the mid 70's could place a 1 foot square piece
of metal to within 3 feet at a thousand miles. I was told that the space tracking radars in
Guam used crash debris on the Moon as calibration targets.
The job of the radars on Mt Tam were replaced by newer Phased Array radars at
Beale AFB, in Marysville CA. Previous home of the SR-71.