Army Reporter information
for 1 AVN BDE

For date 690113

1 AVN BDE was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
South Vietnam
Location, Long Binh
Description: The following is an edited version of an article titled "Flight towers add insurance for pilots" dated 13 Jan 1969. Twenty new flight control towers have appeared throughout Vietnam in the past year to assure pilots they are being controlled by "the finest communications equipment Army Aviation has ever owned." MAJ William M. Johnson, assistant avionics officer, USARV Aviation Section, describes the joint U.S. Army - Federal Aviation Administration project in that way. The new towers will provide the most modern control equipment for the more than 4,000 Army aircraft now flying in Vietnam. "There's hardly any comparison at all with the old system," said SP4 James D. Fossey, tower operator at the Long Binh tower. "Working in the old tower compared to this was like working in a jeep. Here we have better visibility and we can hear better, because the radios are no longer with us in the tower," Fossey said. "The program began in November 1967," Johnson said. "The requirement was to provide adequate and safe control for aircraft in and out of our high density airfields." The towers went up in a two step process. "Local engineers poured the concrete pads and built the tower structure," Johnson said. "The FAA came with installation teams to install the electronic equipment," he said. "The equipment was put together at the FAA depot in Oklahoma City. Fifty GIs finished the avionics (Aviation electronics) equipment repair course at FT Gordon and went to the FAA depot for seven additional weeks of work with the new systems. They are now over here operating that same equipment," Johnson said. Each new tower, including equipment and construction, cost $400,000, Johnson said. "Seven systems came complete with control tower cabs. CH-47 helicopters lifted the entire system and put it on top of the platform." In other cases the construction team built the cab on top of the tower and the equipment was lifted up piece by piece to be installed inside. Each of the systems can communicate with any kind of aircraft operating in Vietnam. Tower operators have their choice of five UHF channels, four FM, three VHF, two high frequency single side band channels, a low frequency beacon monitor and a multi-channel tape recorder. The tower operator depends on good radio communication throughout the complicated sequence of events that get a plane on or off the ground. During a landing, Johnson explained, the pilot first contacts the tower. The tower gives him landing instructions, telling him the direction of approach, the wind speed and direction, and how to enter the traffic pattern. The pilot enters the pattern. Then, finally, the pilot must receive clearance from the tower before he can land. It is a delicate process, and the new tower system has "vastly improved the safe operations and control of aircraft." Johnson said. A high density airfield usually averages 45,000 takeoffs and landings a month, with three enlisted controllers on duty to handle the traffic. During the intricate installation phase, the highly skilled FAA teams - as many as three six-man teams were in Vietnam at one time-put together the avionic equipment and gave it the necessary operational testes. MG Robert R. Williams, USARV aviation officer and commanding officer general of the 1st Aviation Brigade, commended the FAA for its outstanding contribution to the Army Aviation effort. With the construction complete. Weaver said, the FAA will leave "two people to provide technical support for the towers."
Comments: MAJ Johnson, William M.; USARV AVN Section; ; SP4 Fossey, James D.; tower operator; ;

The source for this information was 6901AR.AVN supplied by Les Hines

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Date posted on this site: 05/13/2023