Photo courtesy MSgt Leroy Lewis


This is a good way to land an RCAT if you don't want to get it dirty!


On a firing mission Range Control would call Oscura. Our switchboard operator would answer them. Range control would say they needed a target. The operator would then call the launch pad and then the radar and tell them that they need a target. He would then connect them. The controller would turn on the transmitter and the radioman would turn on the drone equipment switch. And then he would tune the radio to the signal that he would be using. The controller would then push the sync button. That would clear any commands that may be in the Drone. They would check out the controls to make sure they all work. They would then start the engine. After the engine was tuned up the engine man would move away from the Drone. The launcher chief would tell the 3rd man to release the launcher cable. The Drone would now move around the track under its own power. The Drone would reach flying speed in about a lap and a half. The launcher chief would launch the Drone the next time it was in the wind.

The Controller would now take over. When the Radar crew said they were locked onto the Drone, the controller would go inside the Radar van. The controller would now be connected to range control. He would give them the Drone number and the time it was launched. They would then tell him where to take it. If it was the first plane launched, they most likely would take it to the PD course. I think the PD stands for position difference. The PD course was a pear shaped course. If the Drone was going to be fired at, it would go to one of the four orbits. A and B orbits were firing courses. The C and D orbits were backup for A and B, like a holding pattern. When range control said to bring it in on a firing run, it would be flown north. It never flew to Red Canyon. To do so it would need to fly over Oscura. Intercept would be over Oscura. I don't think we would have liked that. If the Nike hit the target we would track it to the ground. We needed to know where it landed so we could pick it up. If they did not hit it we most likely would fly it back to one of the orbits. If they hit it, I would sometimes get a call from the commander of the unit that fired the missile. He would like to know if he could have the prop. I would tell him yes, if I can find it.