Klamath Air Force Station

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Klamath Air Force Station (1950-1981) - A Cold War Air Force Radar Station first established in 1950 near Klamath, Del Norte County, California. Named Klamath Air Force Station after the location. Initially assigned a Lashup-Permanent ID of LP-33, later a Permanent ID of P-33, a Sage ID of Z-33 and finally a JSS ID of J-83. Manned by the 777th AC&W Squadron that later became the 777th Radar Squadron (SAGE). Deactivated as a USAF facility in 1981 and turned over to the National Park Service and the FAA. The FAA continued operation of the site until 1997 as Cresent City FAA Radar Site. Also known as Requa Air Force Station.

Klamath Air Force Station Operations Area circa 1960s.

History

Established in 1950 and became operational in April 1952 as Klamath Air Force Station manned by the 777th AC&W Squadron. The station initially had both a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and early warning mission. The early warning mission involved tracking and identifying all aircraft entering their airspace while the GCI mission involved guiding Air Force interceptors to any identified enemy aircraft. Controllers at the station vectored fighter aircraft at the correct course and speed to intercept enemy aircraft using voice commands via ground-to-air radio.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) provides a slightly different view of the site name and origins:

"Requa Air Force Station was established and activated on 1 Jun 1949 and assigned to the Tenth Air Force, with logistical support from Kinsley Field. The property was originally leased in 1950 and then acquired from P.J. Murphy, et al., by condemnation filed on 3 Aug 1955. Approximately 43 acres were acquired in fee and an additional 10 acres of easement interests were also acquired from the Murphy's. The Air Force constructed 64 buildings and 27 family housing units on the Requa sites, totaling 141,000 square feet."

The Lashup-Permanent site operated the outdated TPS-1B combination search and height-finder radar as early as April 1951. The permanent site initial equipment included the FPS-3 search radar and FPS-4 height-finder radar became operational in April 1952.

In 1956 a GPS-3 was added to the facility. By 1958 the configuration included an FPS-20A search radar and an FPS-6 height-finder. In 1959 an FPS-6A height-finder radar was added, and that established the initial configuration for SAGE operation, one long-range search radar, and two height-finders.

SAGE Transition

The transition of the manual GCI system to the automated SAGE system began with the installation of the FST-2 coordinate data transmitter and search radar upgrades. The FST-2 equipment digitized the radar returns and transmitted the digital returns to the SAGE direction center. Under the SAGE System, interceptor aircraft were directed to their targets by the direction center computers and controllers, greatly reducing the need for local controllers and equipment at every radar station.

The FST-2 was a very large digital system using vacuum tube technology. Over 6900 vacuum tubes were used in each FST-2 requiring 21 air-conditioned cabinets, 40 tons of air conditioning, 43.5 kva of prime power and usually a large new addition to the operations building. The FST-2B modification added two more cabinets but with newer solid state (transistor) technology to process coded responses from aircraft transponders.

SAGE System Operation

Former Adair AFS SAGE Direction Center DC-13

The site began operation as a SAGE System radar site in 1960 initially feeding the Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13.

Klamath AFS Direction Centers & Sectors
Assigned Direction Center Sector
6 Feb 1952 - 1 Mar-1959 Hamilton Manual Direction Center P-48 28th AD
1 Mar 1959 - 1 Mar 1960 McChord Manual Direction Center P-4 25th AD
1 Mar 1960 - 1 Apr 1966 Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13 Portland ADS
1 Apr 1966 - 15 Sep 1969 Adair SAGE Direction Center DC-13 26th AD
15 Sep 1969 - 1 Oct 1979 McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12 25th AD

By the end of 1961, the FPS-20A had been upgraded and redesignated as an FPS-66. By 1966 there was an FPS-27 long-range search radar in place, and a FPS-26A height-finder radar in operation there. A FYQ-47 Common Digitizer was probably placed in service by February 1973 when the USAF/FAA FST-2 to FYQ-47 replacement program was completed.

Site radar operation was taken over from USAF by FAA in 1978. The site came under TAC jurisdiction beginning in 1979.

Closure

Klamath AFS and the 777th were deactivated on 30 Sep 1981. Forty-one acres of the property was turned over to the National Park Service (NPS) by the GSA on 10 Mar 1983. Two acres surrounding the FPS-27 radar tower were transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a Joint Surveillance System (JSS) site. The FAA renamed the new facility as Cresent City FAA Radar Site. Some specific functions, including height-finder operations and the GATR site, were continued by Air Force personnel operating as an Operating Location (OL). The last Air Force personnel reportedly left the site in 1990.

Crescent City FAA Radar Site

In 1979 the FAA assumed operation of the site as a JSS site and the FPS-27A search radar was removed and replaced with an FPS-64A search radar intended for unattended operation. In 1981 the two acres around the old FPS-27 tower were transferred to the FAA. Included in the transfer were several buildings including building #98 the former FPS-27 tower, an admin building #106, a service garage building #102 (old Powerhouse), and two concrete slabs. Building #106 became an FAA dorm and the old powerhouse became an FAA garage and storage building.

The Crescent City FAA Radar Site continued in operation until the FAA/USAF joint-use Rainbow Ridge FAA Radar Site (J-83A), with it's then state of the art ARSR-4 radar, was operational on 30 Jun 1997.

Gap Fillers

Klamath AFS was responsible for the maintenance of one remote unattended gap-filler radar site. The unattended gap filler sites were placed in locations where the main search radar lacked coverage. These sites were equipped with short range FPS-14 or FPS-18 search radars and FST-1 Coordinate Data transmitters that sent digitized radar target data to a SAGE direction center and to the main radar site. Both the radar set and the FST-1 were dual channel to increase site up time. Maintenance teams were dispatched for regularly scheduled maintenance or when fault indicators on the FSW-1 remote monitoring equipment suggested the site had problems. The FSW-1 also allowed remote operation of specific functions such as channel changes for the radar and for the FST-1, it also allowed remote operation of the diesel generators at the gap filler site. The Klamath AFS gap-filler radar was located at Capetown, California.

Klamath AFS Gap Filler Radar Sites (edit list)
ADC NORAD Location State Type From To GPS Notes
P-33A Z-33A Capetown CA FPS-14, FST-1 1958-01 1967-12 40.44455,
-124.39099
Building exists but damaged

Physical Plant

Klamath AFS Composite Plan (rev. 3). Click on Image to Access a Higher Resolution Image.

The geography of Klamath AFS dictated a number of unusual features for this type of radar site. The hilly terrain and lack of contiguous flat space resulted in the construction of two separate housing areas and construction of multi-family housing. The physical plant of the site was divided into a small hilltop main operations area, a lower cantonment area, the two housing areas, and three radio sites. The main operations area housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, and the backup generators. The cantonment area housed the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the dining hall, the motor pool, and other support buildings. Apart from the main site were the two housing areas for married personnel. The housing areas had five, fourplex buildings for enlisted family quarters, three duplex officer's quarters, and the commanding officer's single quarters for a total of 27 housing units. Separate roads led from the housing areas to a common junction with the road to the cantonment area but there was not a direct road from the housing areas to the cantonment area.

A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Klamath originally had a radio transmitter site and a separate radio receiver site used by local controllers for voice direction of fighter interceptors to their targets. With the SAGE System, the SAGE Direction centers had the primary task of directing intercepts and the local radio sites were reconfigured, usually into a single site that was known as the Ground to Air Transmitter Receiver (GATR) site. The GATR site communicated with the interceptors from either the local site or the SAGE direction center via voice commands and/or a digital data link. The Klamath GATR site was consolidated into the former receiver site located in a separate fenced compound about 1/4 mile southeast of the operations area. The vacant transmitter building became the commissary building after modifications and additions.


Klamath AFS Major Equipment List
Search Radar HF Radar Data Systems
Unit Designations
  • 777th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron (1951-1960)
  • 777th Radar Squadron (SAGE) (1960-1981)
777th Assignments


Klamath Air Force Station Partial Commanders List (edit list)
Assumed Relieved Rank Name Cullum Notes
1954~ 1956~ Major Cassidy, Edward G. N/A
1959-08~ 1961-01-03 Major Cahill, Robert J. N/A
1961-01-03 Major Easley, Frank N/A
1962~ 1964-04~ Major/Lt Colonel Lawrence, Keith L. N/A
1964-04~ 1967-06-12~ Lt Colonel Cavalli, Ralph L. N/A
1967-06-12~ 1969-05~ Major King, Robert E. N/A
1969-04~ 1970-11 Major Mays, Glenn E. N/A
1970-11~ Captain Kelly, Wilfred L. N/A
1975~ Major Zsedeny, Garnett J. N/A

Source is Newspaper Accounts
Note: Reported dates overlap and may be incorrect or reflect periods of intermittent temporary command.

Current Status

Former Klamath AFS Locked Entry Gate 2019.

The former Klamath AFS has been completely demolished except for the TELCO building. Satellite views indicate that even building foundations have been removed. Both housing areas have been demolished along with the roads leading to both sites. The GATR site building appears to be intact and repurposed on current satellite views. There are a couple of later communications structures and antennas in place. Entry is prevented by a locked bar gate across the access road.


Klamath AFS Structures (edit list)
Number Building Exists Notes
1 Base Flagpole 1951 Cost $500
3 Radar Tower No 1951
10 Civil Engineer Covered Storage No
98 Radar Tower FPS-27 No 1963-2003 Cost $387,079 4 Story Bldg
99 Radar Tower FPS-26A No 1962-? Cost $248,638
100 Operations No 1950-? Cost ?
101 Water Pump House & Treatment Bldg 1951 Cost $44,061
102 1951 - Power house
1960 - Squadron HQ
1964 - Classroom
1967 - Unit Supply
No 1951-2003
103
1025
Water Tank No 1951 Cost $10,000
104 Radar Tower FPS-3 (AB199A) No 1952-????
Vacated 1964
Base Supply 1964
FPS-27A Radar Tower 1977
FPS-64A RadarTower 1979
Radar Tower FPS-116
105 TELCO/Storage Yes 1955
106 Supply/Admin No 1951-2003
107 Transmitter Building No 1951-? Cost $29,475.31
108 Bachelor Officer's Quarters (BOQ) No Cost $30,833.94
109 Auto Maint Admin No 1960
110 Air Police No
110 Auto Hobby Shop 1971 Cost $20,843.50
112 Base HQ 1951
BOQ 1953
BAQ 1962
No 1951 Cost $42,354.56
113 Gate Shack No 1951
114 Receiver Bldg 1951
GATR Bldg 1960
No Cost $23, 430.34
116 Chapel No
118 Guard House - Secure Area No 1958 Cost $1,197.81
116 MARS Radio Bldg No 1952 Cost $2,114.86
117 Ammo Storage 1953
Base Oil and Grease Storage 1960
No 1953-1960~
118 Tech Training 1955
Squadron HQ 1961
Base Exchange 1965
No Cost $15,799.20
120 Power Plant (2 Story) No 1960
121 Fuel Pump Station (Power Station) No 1960 Cost $12,041
150 Receiver Bldg
GATR Bldg
No 1960 Rx moved to 114 in 1975
198 PX/Gym/NCO Club No 1956
199 Bowling Alley 1962
Tennis Court 1954
No
200 NCO Bachelor Qtrs 1951
C Barracks
Multi-purpos
No 1951
201 Hobby Shop 1953
NCO Club 1964
Multi-purpose Rec 1965
No Cost $12,262.76
202 NCO Bachelor Quarters 1951
B Barracks
No
208 NCO Bachelor Quarters 1951
A Barracks
No Cost $44,965.39
210 Airmen’s Dining Hall No 1957 Cost $71,352.81
212 Administration and Recreation Supply 1952
Squadron HQ 1960
Multi-Purpose Rec Bldg
No 1952
213 Base Supply and Equipment Warehouse
Recr Workshop
No 1953 Cost $8,725.23
214 Central Heating Plant No 1951 Cost $40,593.00
215 Above Ground Pool & Bath House No 1974 Cost $30,942 (pool); $12,052.60 (bath house
217 Base Engineer Maintenance Shop No 1955 Cost $19,349.96
218 Motor Pool No 1960 Cost $22,275
301 Airmen’s Family Housing, Fourplex No 1961 Cost $58,731.75
302 Airmen’s Family Housing, Fourplex No 1961 Cost $58,731.75
303 Airmen’s Family Housing, Fourplex No 1961 Cost $58,731.75
304 Airmen’s Family Housing, Fourplex No 1961 Cost $58,731.75
305 Airmen’s Family Housing, Fourplex No  ?
310 Officer’s Family Housing, Duplex No 1961 Cost $38,955
311 Officer’s Family Housing, Duplex No 1961 Cost $38,955
312 Officer’s Family Housing, Duplex No 1961 Cost $38,955
313 Commanding Officer’s Quarters No 1961 Cost $31,915.35
1000 Base Diesel Fuel Storage 43,000 gallons No 1962 Cost $7.000
1024 Water Tank 75,000 gallons No 1959 Cost $17.988.59
1025 Water Tank 75,000 gallons No 1951 Cost $10,000
1030 Navaid Tower No 1950 or 1951
1031 Radar Tower FPS-90 No Cost $40,000

Location: Near Klamath in Del Norte County, California.

Maps & Images

Lat: 41.55917 Long: -124.08611


GPS Locations:

See Also:

Sources:

  • Cornett, Lloyd H. & Johnson, Mildred W., A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization (1946-1980), Office of History ADC, Peterson AFB, Colorado, 31 Dec 1980, 179 pages, Pdf, page 167.
  • Winkler, David F., Searching the Skies: the Legacy of the United States Cold War Defense Radar Program, USAF Hq Air Combat Command, 1997, 192 pages, Pdf, page 102.
  • Strategic Project Implementation Plan for the Yurok Tribe, Draft March 2004, Prepared for: The Yurok Tribal Council Klamath, California and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento, California, Prepared By Yurok Tribe Environmental Program, 65 pages, Pdf.
  • USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 2086561


Links:

Visited: 9 May 2018


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