Final Controlled Imagery Project


A Mapping Radar

Declassified, now it can be told

By:Gordon Barnes, April, 2010


In the early 1970's a Side Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR) was installed in one of the Photomapping RC-130A aircraft as a part of a day/night, all weather mapping system. It and associated components comprised a system designated the AWTMS (All Weather Topographic Mapping System). After what seemed to be an entirely successful OT&E (Operational Test and Evaluation) of that system by obtaining HIRAN Controlled radar mapping imagery of the entire island of Puerto Rico, the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) shut the system down and it was never operationally deployed. This caused all sorts of confusion and frustration among the Photomappers of the time.


A little later, the Photomappers were tasked to fly ground truth photo over a variety of terrain and cultural features while at the same time a high flying U-2R aircraft collected radar imagery of the same features. Again there was frustration among the Photomapping participants as they got little info on the purpose of the flights and no feedback on the results. These missions were flown in support of a highly classified program called SENIOR LANCE.


The problem was that both of these efforts were early, essential parts of an even more highly classified effort to get a constellation of mapping capable radar satellites into space and extremely strict "need to know" rules were enforced. The resultant satellite systems were later designated LACROSSE and ONYX and even these code names were classified TS/SCI (Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information). It was not until mid 2008 that these systems's existence was acknowledged and they were declassified. The imagery from these systems can be used in the mapping process and is currently being exploited by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) on a contingency basis for updating and gap filling where current optical imagery is not available.


If you'd like more info on the Photomapper's role in the development of these systems scroll down to The Final Three Years 1972-1975 article below


If you'd like more info on the LACROSSE and ONYX systems you can get it via the following internet links:CLICK HERE and HERE 


(One Man's View)

By: Gordon Barnes

 Author's Note: Over the years it seems that whenever I run into a former Photomapper and we discuss our years in that business, invariably the person would express his opinion that Photomapping, using aircraft to collect the needed data and imagery, came to an end in 1972 with the inactivation of the Aerospace Cartographic and Geodetic Service (ACGS). I thought that odd but it caused me no concern until I later noted that professional organizations and entities with historical interests in the field were also reflecting that view. For example, The Constitution and By-Laws of The Air Force Photo-Mapping Association (AFPMA) when outlining the Purposes of the Organization lists the military units involved since World War II but stops with the ACGS. And the "Aerial Surveying & Photomapping History" website stated, "This site is dedicated to preserving the history of the Aerial Surveying and Photomapping that was conducted by the USAAF/USAF between 1943 and 1972." Although I was able to contact the Webmaster and convinced him there were three years missing from the end of his history, there appears to still be a real disconnect somewhere. I decided that something needed to be written to document that three year period. I was involved with Photomapping during that period and was intimately involved in convincing the Air Force to extend the life of the Aircraft Photomapping Program beyond 1972, so figured maybe I was the one who should do it. However, note the subtitle of this article; this is only my view and is not meant to be complete or completely definitive. It is written almost entirely from memory and from a few documents available to me. Corrections and supplements are encouraged and will be welcomed.


 "NNlose the capability." I am firmly convinced that those three words alone resulted in three additional years of life for aircraft Photomapping. But I'm getting way ahead of myself. Let's go back to 1970 and review the status of Photomapping at that time. Times were good! The Photomapping resources had left Turner AFB, GA for Forbes AFB, KS in 1967 and at that time they had been elevated in organizational status from a Wing to one of the Technical Services of the Military Airlift Command (MAC). By being assigned as the ACGS (Aerospace Cartographic and Geodetic Service) directly under a Major Air Command, the Photomappers enjoyed the highest organizational status in their history.

 The Photomapping project assignment chain looked like this. Photo and electronic surveying requirements of the military Services and other authorized customers were submitted to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) who validated them and then assigned them to the Photomapping Program Element Manager (PEM) for the Air Force. The PEM was a subset of Air Force Intelligence known as the Air Force Intelligence Service (AFIS). In fulfilling its role, AFIS was charged with anticipating requirements; assuring the AF had sufficient manpower, money and equipment to satisfy the requirements; prioritizing the various projects assigned from the DIA by the application of an Air Force Precedence Rating; and finally assigning Mapping, Charting and Geodesy (MC&G) projects to the Operational side of Headquarters Air Force (AF/Ops) for accomplishment. AF/Ops would then coordinate the projects with Unified and/or Specified Commands in whose areas of the world the Photomappers would be operating and upon whom they would be dependent for support, and then assign the projects to the Photomappers thru the Military Airlift Command (MAC).

 Personally, in 1970 I was assigned as a Staff Officer in Cartographic and Geodetic Operations at Headquarters ACGS. In that capacity I would receive the project requirements from MAC, coordinate specific project specs with the requestor, arrange support requirements with a multitude of providers, get the necessary clearances to get to and operate in the applicable parts of the world, write an operations plan/order, and then assign the project for accomplishment to one of the flying Squadrons. In performing these functions I would have almost daily contact with AFIS, AF/Ops and MAC, so felt I had a good appreciation for what was done at each level of command but little idea of just HOW it was done at those levels. I was soon to find out, however, at one of the levels.

 In late 1970 my boss told me I had to report to the Pentagon in two days to fill in for the newly assigned Photomapping Action Officer at AF/Ops. His was a one-man function and it seemed he had some personal emergency that would take him away from his duties for an undetermined period of time. I had been selected to replace him. I was excited about the opportunity but somewhat apprehensive as I had only been in the Pentagon on one occasion and that was as a tourist. And, as noted previously, I had no idea how one got things done in that environment. I also wondered why I had been selected and not someone from MAC, but I wasn't about to protest as I welcomed the chance to experience Air Force life above the operational level. I had time for one brief telephone conversation with the guy I was replacing before he left. Both he and my boss assured me that there was nothing "hot" on the horizon and my job would consist mostly of reviewing incoming traffic to the office, doing my thing and then passing it on to MAC. It should be no sweat.

 When I reported into my office in the basement of the Pentagon, I was given a very brief orientation by my new boss who was a full colonel (O-6) and the head of Reconnaissance Operations under a Three Star head of Ops. He explained that physically his office had two sections. One was "Behind the Wall" where action officers like me managed the Earth Satellite and Strategic Aircraft recon programs. This vaulted area operated in a Top Secret/SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information) environment where each individual had access to some of our country's most sensitive information, but only enough of it to do his job and no more. I did not have the requisite SCI clearances at that time so was assigned, along with the Tactical Aircraft recon action officers, to the second section which operated in the normal Top Secret environment. Like my boss at ACGS and the guy I was replacing, he also assured me that my job should be routine and would consist of reviewing correspondence into and out of the office and taking the appropriate actions. He then told me to take the rest of that day and the next off to find a place to live and to get settled in. I was invited by one of the guys who worked behind the wall on U-2, SR-71, and Drone programs to move into his apartment. He was single and had an extra bedroom so I took him up on it. Since I had no idea how long I would be in the Washington D.C. area, this seemed like a nice arrangement.

 I think now would be a good time to discuss some facts that would later prove germane to the decision to extend the life of aircraft Photomapping. First, in 1966 I graduated from The Ohio State University with a Master's Degree in Geodetic Science. During my work there, I took a couple of fairly basic courses in Photogrammetry. In them they mentioned the fact that some innovators were looking into using panoramic cameras for Photomapping applications, but that the problems associated with removing errors from the very high resolution but largely uncalibrated lenses, and the timing problems involved with using moving camera lenses on moving platforms would be extremely difficult to overcome. Therefore their use would be at least 10 years away if ever. Second, at the time I reported to the Pentagon I had only the basic Top Secret security clearance. I had no SCI clearances and didn't even know they existed by that name. About three years previously, during an earlier Photomapping assignment, one other Photomapper and I had gone to Wright-Patterson AFB to serve on an Air Force Systems Command Working Group charged with designing payloads for future satellite programs. We did not recommend particular cameras but concentrated on coming up with weight and cube requirements for systems that would satisfy the known mapping and charting imagery requirements from space. Because the camera systems used by the Photomappers of that time were designed for geometric fidelity over resolution, those are the ones we were familiar with and were the type recommended by our Subgroup to be placed in the satellites. We were made aware, however, that there was a separate subset of the Working Group doing the same thing as we were doing but at a different security level. Though I wasn't told so, I assumed they were working the problem of using high resolution panoramic cameras in the mapping process. I could see how these types of cameras could meet the Air Force requirements for relatively low accuracy aeronautical charts, but not for the high accuracy topographic maps needed by the foot soldiers of the Army and Marines, or for carrying geodetic control photogrammetrically over long distances to accurately determine target coordinates. Third, from my work at the ACGS I was aware that the U-2, SR-71 and some tactical aircraft such as the RF-4 were capable of carrying mapping cameras and had at times been used to obtain mapping imagery on a very limited basis. However higher priority, more conventional intelligence gathering requirements, the cost of operating these systems, and aircraft performance capabilities prevented using them routinely for mapping imagery collection. Fourth and finally, what I knew for CERTAIN about the U.S. satellite programs at that time was almost nil. However, from reading the normally reliable military oriented magazines available to the public such as Aviation Week and Space Technology (often referred to as Aviation Leak because of their practice of printing classified material at an unclassified level based on leaked information, or the intelligent guesses of their knowledgeable editors and writers) and reading the journals and technical papers of professional organizations such as the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and from conversations with friends working in related areas, I felt I had a decent general knowledge of what was going on in space as it might pertain to electronic surveying and mapping. Anyway, this is the knowledge base I brought to the job and would soon have to call on.

 Now, let's go back to my getting started with my temporary duty in Recce Ops at the Pentagon. After finding a place to live and getting settled, I reported back to work. For the first few days it was as predicted. I read the incoming traffic and acted on the few things that pertained to Photomapping. There was nothing very exciting or interesting and I was out of the office at quitting time leaving behind a clean desk. On a Thursday afternoon of either my first or second week there, however, our O-6 called everyone together and advised us that the following day the POM (Program Objectives Memorandum) would be coming to the office and would require the concurrence or non-concurrence of each Action Officer on each of his programs. And, that this would have to be completed by the end of the day so the document was to be kept moving. He said there would be a single copy and it was to go first behind the wall and then out to us in the less secure environment.

 I was excited by the chance to actually see a copy of the POM. I had been introduced to the Document in each of the two Professional Military Schools I had attended and knew it to be the primary Programming Document for what is called the mid-term. As such it summarizes the manpower and funding levels for each program for the current year; defines those levels for the following year; and projects, based on known and anticipated requirements, what the Operating Commands should anticipate for the five years beyond that. The inputs to the POM come from the PEM for each Program which in our case was the AFIS as noted above. Once coordinated with all applicable offices within AF Headquarters, the info is then sent to the Operating Commands for each program as what is called POM Guidance.

 I spent all that night and most of the next day trying to anticipate what the draft Guidance would be for Photomapping. I anticipated that the Aerial Electronic Surveying mission may well be significantly reduced at sometime during this seven year period as I knew the Navy Navigation Satellites were being used with significant accuracy at much lower cost than HIRAN and SHIRAN. I assumed, however, that these systems would still be required to some degree through the period to position the AWTMS (All Weather Topographic Mapping System) which was in development and used a SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar) in an RC-130 aircraft to collect radar imagery to be used in mapping. I also would not be surprised if the RC-135 part of the program were zeroed out sometime in there as I had heard frequent complaints from both the PEM and AF/OPS about the poor reliability of its Photomapping suite of equipment and the high cost of maintaining it--particularly its unique inertial navigator. Although when working properly the RC-135 was a mapping wizard, because of its poor reliability, in the eyes of Headquarters Air Force, it was only marginally better than the RC-130 and cost a lot more to operate.

 The POM is a hugely thick document, and as I mentioned it was circulated behind the wall before it got to me. This took forever and, in fact, it did not get to me until shortly before 5:00 PM. It took me quite awhile to even find the Photomapping Program in the Document but when I did I was absolutely shocked! It had the entire Photomapping Program inactivated at the end of FY 72. A million questions went through my mind in just nanoseconds. Was I the only one who didn't know this was coming? Had this action been coordinated with Recce Ops prior to publishing this draft? Had the mapping mission been reprogrammed into the missions of some other Air Force Programs such as the U-2, SR-71, or RF-4? Are mapping capable, future optical satellite systems becoming operational well before I thought possible? Had the more stringent Army mapping requirements been properly considered before publishing this Guidance? Do I have time to get all these questions answered so I can make an intelligent concurrence or non-concurrence? Should I just assume that those above me had already addressed all these questions, and they were considered in preparing the Guidance, and therefore concur? If I choose to not concur, how do I convince those above me in Ops that it is the correct thing to do? I finally decided that if nothing else I should remain an advocate for the ACGS and press for its retention until someone in Ops with higher clearances and more knowledge tells me to shut up and concur!

 So, it was in that posture that I went running to the O-6's office and briefed him on what the POM said re Photomapping. I asked him if he was aware this was coming and asked if AFIS had coordinated it with him or his office. He said he was not, and they had not to the best of his knowledge but perhaps they had done so with my predecessor. He asked me to check with the Strategic Recce guys behind the wall and the Tactical Recce guys to see if mapping photo had been added to any of their missions in the POM. If not, he asked that I call AFIS and ask if they had coordinated it with anyone in OPS. In the interim, he was going to list Photomapping as a non-concur and take it as such to the One-Star Assistant to the Three-Star head of OPS as soon as he could set up a meeting. He asked me to be prepared to brief the One-Star at a moment's notice.

 I quickly contacted both the Strategic and Tactical Recce guys and learned that Photomapping imagery collection was not mentioned in any guidance to them. I then called AFIS. My military counterpart in that office had gone for the week as had his civilian counterpart; however their boss was still in the office. I asked him if their Guidance had been coordinated with AF/OPS before putting it in the POM. He said he assumed so but couldn't be sure. I told him that in that case we planned to non-concur with the POM Guidance as written. Since we were on an unsecure phone I didn't go into any details but I mentioned that I thought the Guidance given was premature. His answer was, "Non-concur if you want, but it will do you no good because this action and its timing have been coordinated at the very highest levels of government." I told him I would relay this to my Generals but that I intended to recommend non-concurrence.

 I hurriedly returned to the O-6's office and told him what I had learned from the other Recce Action Officers and from the head of AFIS. While I was in his office he got a call from the One-Star who said he was ready to be briefed on our problem. By this time it was about 5:30 on a Friday afternoon so I assumed nothing would be resolved this week. At least I hoped it wouldn't as I had no time to prepare any briefing aids or get my thoughts ordered in any concise and convincing manner. My boss and I just sat around his desk and talked informally. He was completely unsympathetic to my point of view and recommended we just concur with the POM Guidance as written. He didn't bring any new information into the argument such as the status of satellite systems or their capabilities or schedules, but based his whole rejection of my suggested non-concurrence on a statement I heard then for the first time, but subsequently have heard many times. That statement was, "Money is tight for this POM cycle and we are only funding bombs and butter." In Pentagonese that means if your program doesn't contain an actual weapon system or is necessary to support the lives of our troops, it isn't going to be funded.

 Of course I had no answer to that logic, but my boss (bless his heart) insisted that we take the issue to the Three-Star level. The One-Star relented and asked me to prepare a briefing of not more than 10 minutes and preferably five to be presented yet that day to the Chief of Ops. He reiterated that the Three-Star was on the hook to provide final Concurrence/Non-Concurrence on the entire POM before the end of the day; and at that very time he was in the process of being briefed on those programs with Non-Concurrence being recommended. He had no idea when he would get to us. He said it could be in minutes or it might be in hours.

 That gave me an unknown length of time to prepare a briefing. I grabbed a butcher paper flip chart pad and tried to organize my thoughts. I quickly decided that I couldn't base my briefing on anything to do with the satellite programs as I knew nothing for certain regarding their status; so I decided to base it on a capability we currently had that photo satellites did not. That was the ability to obtain cartographic quality photo flying under a high cloud deck. Next I had to develop a realistic scenario that would take advantage of that capability. I decided to use a hypothetical urgent requirement in one of the equatorial countries of South America. The ACGS and its antecedent organizations had been pecking away at requirements in that area of the world every year for many years and had barely made a dent in the total requirements. These are areas of historically poor weather. During the short period of the year when the weather is clear is the time the farmers burn their crop lands in order to return the nutrients in the crop stubble to the soil. The resulting smoke and haze makes obtaining acceptable photography very difficult. That which we had been able accomplish was often obtained by flying under high cloud layers. To add further credibility to this scenario were the facts that these countries in our own Western Hemisphere were extremely important in our overall world strategy, and they are frequently ruled by unstable and extremist governments. I thought if I combined this scenario with the fact that AFIS had NOT coordinated their proposed action with Ops, it might get the Three-Star's attention and give him something to think about. I prepared maybe five charts and was ready to go by 6:30 P.M. I then began dry-running the briefing in my mind as I awaited my summons to present it. It seems that seven programs in Recce Ops had problems with the proposed Guidance. Four had been rejected at the One-Star level leaving three of us to go forward. Since my briefing was at the lowest security clearance level, the O-6 decided I should go first and then leave the General's office; thus I had nothing on which to model my briefing. Unlike any other organization I had ever been a part of, nobody above me asked to hear a dry run. Thus I was going to present a briefing at the Three-Star level that had been heard by no one, and no one even knew on what basis I was going to appeal the proposed Guidance!

 It was after 7:30 in the evening when we were finally called to the General's office. I quickly set up my briefing easel and began. I have given literally thousands of briefings-some before this and most after, but this was absolutely the most discouraging one ever!! The General glanced at me for maybe three seconds when I was initially introduced. He then leaned forward in his chair with his arms on his desk and stared directly down at his desk top. He did not once look at me or at my charts during the whole briefing. I proceeded as best I could but concluded he was either very tired from his long day or he was completely uninterested in anything I had to say-maybe both. He had absolutely no way to know where I was in my briefing until I intended to say, "In summary, if we go with the POM Guidance as written, we will completely lose the capability to obtain cartographic quality photo under high cloud decks at the end of 1972; and this would eliminate photo collection over large areas of the world for significant periods of time."

 Immediately after I stated, "N.lose the capability", the General's head snapped up and he said to his One-Star, "Is that true? Will we lose a capability?"

 The One-Star stammered the reply, "Well, as he defines capability, yes we will."

 The Three-Star then said, "This is no time to be losing capabilities. Get in touch with Intel and try to get them to change their mind. If they won't, tell them that WE will fund the Program for an additional three years." He obviously knew a lot more about the Photomapping Program than I had feared for nowhere in my briefing had I mentioned three years as the proper extension of the aircraft oriented Program.

 I grabbed my easel and headed for the door-absolutely flabbergasted but thrilled beyond words! Aircraft Photomapping had just been given three more years of life!! The One-Star who had been against proceeding with the non-concurrence was now completely on board. He followed me to the door and told me to have a message to MAC on his desk the first thing Monday morning. He wanted the subject to be "In Lieu of POM Guidance", and in it he wanted me to direct them to cut the Program to the minimum that made sense. What that was he would leave to me. He wanted to show Intel that Ops was serious about taking over PEM responsibilities for the Program if necessary, and he wanted them to know we were ready to act in that capacity immediately.

 I spent almost the entire weekend going over and over in my mind just what the message should say. What should the "Minimum posture that makes sense" for Photomapping look like? I realized immediately that I couldn't talk numbers of resources but had to only address capabilities. I knew the capabilities had to be bare bones or there would be no chance of agreement between Intel and Ops. I knew Intel must be highly " betting on the come" in assuming the Nation could get the right kinds of cameras in orbit; that the film could routinely be recovered back here on earth; that the right kinds of image processing equipment could be designed and built to exploit the film in map-making; that analytical photogrammetry, including the millions of lines of computer code needed, could be developed and brought to an operational status; that computing speeds could be obtained that could process the analytical photogrammetric equations in an operational environment; and that an adequate workforce could be hired and trained in this relatively new field of imagery exploitation. I knew that attempting to do this would take a gigantic amount of money, and they were attempting to save every dollar of their budget to devote to this effort. Therefore, if they were to agree to change their Guidance it would have to be to something logical but cheap.

 Likewise, I knew with the "bombs or butter" philosophy of Ops, it would be hard to sell anything but a small, contingency type of Program. I speculated that neither Ops nor Intel would want to raise a relatively small Program like Aircraft Photomapping to the Chief of Staff level for resolution, so a compromise would be sought. So again I told myself to be very logical, but keep it small and cheap.

 First, I decided to make those cuts that I knew had already been considered at all levels from the DOD to the MAC. As I mentioned earlier, the RC-135s were considered only a marginally better collection platform than the RC-130s while being much more expensive to operate. So they must go. Doppler receivers using Geodetic and Navy Navigation Satellites were obtaining impressive results in geodetic positioning in extremely short periods of station occupation. Therefore, while a one-on-one comparison test had not been performed, it appeared that aerial electronic surveying using HIRAN/SHIRAN was no longer required. However, I knew that HIRAN was required to position the SLAR based AWTMS. So, while the majority of that capability could be eliminated, some would have to be maintained.

 Second, I had to address just how small a residual capability could be and still be viable. Since my argument for extension had been based on contingency requirements in historically poor weather areas of the world, these would probably not be in the U.S. Thus a domestic capability only large enough to support required training and to accomplish only high priority stateside projects is all that would be required. The main thrust would be a capability to respond to high priority, outside the Continental United States (OCONUS) projects either to fulfill established mapping agreements or unanticipated, contingency requirements. I knew whatever I put in my message regarding these capabilities would be subjective, but that would not be all bad. After all, there would be nearly two years to refine this Guidance and it would give both Ops and Intel some areas for compromise, and that is always a good thing.

 And lastly, with these reductions in size, one would no longer require the Command and Staff functions of the size associated with the ACGS.

 So, as I recall, my draft message to MAC said this:

 1. By the end of FY72, inactivate the ACGS and reassign all remaining Photomapping resources elsewhere within the MAC Command structure.

 2. By the end of FY72, phase-out the RC-135 fleet and work with Hq. USAF in finding a non-Photomapping home for these aircraft.

 3. By the end of FY72, retain only enough HIRAN electronic surveying capability to support Developmental and Operational Testing of the AWTMS and a 6-month, annual OCONUS deployment of that system.

 4. At the end of FY72 retain enough RC-130 Photomapping capability to maintain a continuous homestation Aerial Survey Team (AST) manned and equipped to accomplish small, high priority, Stateside cartographic photo collection, processing, and evaluation efforts. In addition this homestation capability should be sufficient to accomplish all required training.

 5. At the end of FY72 retain enough RC-130 Photomapping capability to annually man and equip two non-simultaneous, two aircraft cartographic photo AST's at OCONUS locations. Each AST should be assumed to be of 90 days duration. These AST's are to support existing mapping agreements or high priority contingency requirements.

 On Monday morning I went over my recommendations with my O-6 boss and we delivered the draft message to the One-Star as requested. I then called my military counterpart in AFIS to explain what had happened since he left work on Friday and to ask why their POM Guidance had not been coordinated with OPS. He laughed and said he had already heard about what had happened, and that it had created a real furor in Intel. There was a flurry of activity going on right then deciding how to respond. He said that they had not coordinated the guidance with Ops because it had been presented to him and his civilian counterpart as a done deal decided on by the DIA and AF/IN and as requiring no coordination.

 A few days later I asked my boss the status of my message. He said that it was still being worked at levels way above his, but he would let me know when he heard anything. I completed my six more weeks of TDY to the Air Staff without hearing a thing on the subject. Just before I left to return to the ACGS I again asked the status and was told not to worry, that we were assured of three more years of Aircraft Photomapping. He said that the non-concurrence had stimulated a more thorough study by the DIA and AF/IN of requirements against anticipated earth satellite capabilities for the three year period. And this was in progress. Now only the final Photomapping capability posture was in doubt.

 I returned to the ACGS anxious to see what the POM Guidance would look like as it came down to the operational level. To my utter amazement it was nearly exactly as presented in my draft message. MAC then set to work developing a plan to implement the Guidance. The POM Guidance was subsequently supplemented by a formal DIA Study of Requirements that in effect justified, after the fact, what was in my revised Guidance. Using these two documents, MAC published MAC PROP 72-3 (MAC Programming Plan 72-3), entitled "ACGS Inactivation and Mission Realignment". This plan reduced ACGS resources to a Squadron level and placed them under the Air Weather Service's 9th Weather Reconnaissance Wing.


 From the time I returned from my TDY in late 1970 until it was time to inactivate the ACGS, life at the operational level went pretty much as normal. However, I would like to point out that a few of the higher priority projects assigned during this period were in direct support of the systems being developed to put us out of business:

 1. Project AF 71-42, The Phoenix Island Survey, carried an Air Force Precedence Rating of 1-25. The project requestor was the Space and Missile Test Center (SAMTEC). Its purpose was to precisely survey, using SHIRAN, the relative positions of five islands in the Phoenix Island Group which would subsequently contain instrumentation to support the new Minuteman III Terminal Test Area. These islands had previously been positioned by Doppler receivers using Geodetic and Navy Navigation Satellites. The project results showed the SHIRAN relative positions to be extremely precise. The largest CEP (Circular Error Probable) was eight feet. Of greater interest to the Geodetic community were the shifts in the WGS-66 (World Geodetic System-1966) Doppler positions resulting from the best fit to the relative SHIRAN positions we derived. The largest shift was 19 feet. This extremely good fit proved the value of Doppler receivers as Geodetic tools, and the results greatly supported the DIA's decision that aerial electronic surveying was no longer required.

 2. Of even higher priority were Projects AF 71-19 and 71-52 which carried the very highest Air Force Precedence Rating of 1-1. These were Special Studies Projects for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. Over 107,000 square miles of precision black and white photography was taken of an area in Arizona by the RC-135 aircraft. The photo was used to photogrammetrically establish identifiable control points for use as a calibration range for extremely high altitude aircraft and satellite photo systems. It is important to remember that whereas aircraft Photomappers had always used precise and precisely calibrated camera lenses, reconnaissance camera systems like those flown on recce aircraft and satellites value resolution over geometric fidelity, so must use post- launch calibration to facilitate their imagery's use in mapping. This range would help allow a production capability using imagery from the CORONA, ARGON, and LANYARD satellite systems (also known as the KH-1 thru KH-6 series of optical systems) that were flown from 1960 thru 1972 and, of course, subsequent still classified systems. This capability would assure military requirements would no longer need dedicated Photomapping aircraft.

 3. Although not of as high a priority, a third project also influenced the need, or lack thereof, for dedicated photomapping aircraft. The AWTMS radar system had been added to one of the RC-130 aircraft of the ACGS. SLAR radars such as the one that was the basis of the AWTMS certainly had the resolution required to be of potential value in the mapping process, and their ability to provide imagery 24/7 in nearly all weather conditions makes them an attractive source of imagery. However, all radars have some inherent errors because they are pulsed systems and depend on reflected energy. These characteristics result in "layover" and other errors that can seriously affect the amount of useful data displayed in an image and the accuracy of the data if not compensated in some way. The important consideration, however, was that if this prototype system should prove to produce imagery potentially useful in the mapping process, then the requirements for optical systems in either aircraft or satellites would be significantly diminished.

 THE FINAL THREE YEARS (Organizational Environment):

 I frankly don't know if AF/OPS ever officially took over the PEM functions for the Photomapping Program. I suspect they didn't because an overriding event occurred that rendered moot which AF office was the PEM. Based on the success of the photo satellite systems flown between 1960 and 1972 in acquiring imagery, and the progressively expanding ability of the mapmaking organizations within the DOD to exploit it, the decision was made to combine all the Mapping, Charting and Geodesy resources of the three Military Services into one new agency to be known as the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA). The DMA took over the PEM functions for the Air Force Photomapping Program Element effective on its activation date of 1 July 1972.

 In early March 1972 I was selected as one of 44 individuals assigned on a TDY basis to the newly designated Director of the DMA to assist him in the formation of the new Agency. These individuals were 11 from each of the three Military Services and 11 more from the MC&G resources at the DOD level and from related civilian agencies. This group became known as the DMA Start-Up Staff. One of the first things we addressed was how to handle the Photomapping resources of the Air Force then known as the ACGS. The new DMA Director was an Army Lt. General and he wanted nothing to do with operationally controlling an Air Force flying unit-particularly one with only a three year life span. It was determined that DMA would perform the PEM role but that operational control would remain with the Air Force. Thus, the formation of DMA had almost no influence on the implementation of MAC PROP 72-3.

 In the MAC PROP, the quarter July-September 1972 was set aside for the transition of the remaining Photomapping resources from the ACGS at Forbes AFB, KS to the 9th WRW at McClellan AFB, CA and Keesler AFB, MS. The Staff functions were sent to the 9th WRW; and the Command function along with the aircraft and the operational units were sent to Keesler as the 1st Aerial Cartographic and Geodetic Squadron (1ACGS), where it was collocated with the 9th's 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron.

 Almost as soon as I returned to the ACGS from my Start-up Staff duties on 1May 1972, I was sent PCS to the 9th Wing as the Chief of Current Operations for the Wing. I was the second ACGS person to arrive at the Wing and found an almost complete lack of knowledge of what the Photomapping mission was all about but a great deal of enthusiasm to learn it, a fascination for what we did, and a desire to welcome us in the most gracious manner possible. MAC could not possibly have found a better home for what was left of Photomapping. The 9th operated a large number and a wide variety of aircraft on multi missions (Weather Reconnaissance, Storm Tracking and Air Sampling) from Detachments and Operating Locations around the World, so adding one more aircraft type and one more Worldwide mission seemed no biggie to them. They quickly added an aerial camera icon to the vacant white field on their Wing patch and away we went! Of course it wasn't that simple but everyone did their best to overcome any problems that arose, and all did so with a positive attitude and that helped greatly.

 The 9th's concept of operations for their three other missions was to issue daily Frag Orders to Operational Plans as the way to control their operational aircraft. No operational aircraft launched without one. I felt this was unworkable for Photomapping aircraft and unnecessary, and I convinced the Wing Commander of that. As a part of my job I had to brief the Commander every morning on just where each Wing aircraft on an operational mission was, and what they were doing on that day. When I would come to the Photomapping aircraft operating at OCONUS locations I would just say I had no idea, or I would clearly state that I was guessing what they might do based on what they had been doing in recent days. I explained to him that our AST Commanders were truly Commanders in every sense of the word, were highly trained and experienced, and were more than adequately aware of their mission and priorities from our possibly overly thorough Operational Plans and Orders. I convinced him that there was no possible way we could know the conditions in the project areas better than the AST Commander, and therefore we could be of no help to him unless asked. He never directly challenged me on this. But shortly after we were assigned to him we had AST-9 operating out of Quito, Ecuador with staging bases in Peru, Colombia and Venezuela. I could sense he was getting more uncomfortable and agitated by the day when I would talk Photomapping. One day he asked me to stay after the briefing. I'll paraphrase what I remember him saying. He said, "Gordon, I am worried about me having a lack of control over our AST and my being able to direct them in case of an emergency. It is now 8:20 AM. I want you to try to get in touch with the Aircraft Commander on duty today at the AST and get back to me on when and how you were able to get in touch with him." I ran back to my Office, and I and two of the Officers assigned to me in Current Ops immediately set about trying to make contact. Thirty minutes later I was in the Wing Commander's office advising him that within 20 minutes we had contacted the Aircraft Commander at Base Operations in Cartagena, Colombia by four different routings. Three consisted of telephone patches and HF radio links. One of the four was by commercial telephone between my office and Base Ops in Cartagena. He was greatly assured, and neither he nor his successor ever voiced a concern in this area again in the three years we were assigned to the 9th.

 Though I am very complimentary of the 9th, I cannot be so of their parent organization the Air Weather Service. I CAN say one good thing about it. Its people really appreciated the need for our ASTs to have the best possible weather support, and they did their very best to provide it wherever in the World we were operating. With the possible exception of AST-4 in Ethiopia in the 1960's, I'm certain that Photomappers never had better forecasting than that provided by the AWS during these final three years. Other than that however, their staff seemed to have absolutely no grasp for what they had inherited or how to handle it. They proved to be a largely invisible layer between MAC and the 9th, and when they tried to get involved in something related to Photomapping, they seemed to invariably be out in left field somewhere in their decisions and recommendations, and were nearly impossible to work with on solutions to problems. This was particularly true in applying civilian manpower cuts directed by MAC and/or Air Force. In one instance they unilaterally deleted three completely unique and absolutely essential slots from the 1ACGS without coordination with the MC&G OPRs at any level above or below them. We at the Wing then spent over three months trying to work with their staff on getting this corrected. Suggested alternatives included offering substitute slots from our Weather related functions. It finally took a clearly critical letter from our Commander to theirs to get this resolved. Enough said.

 THE FINAL THREE YEARS (Mission Accomplishments):

 Naturally, with resources being cut to five operationally assigned and one NOA (Non-Operationally assigned, non-funded) RC-130s, the scope and character of assigned missions changed dramatically. With electronic surveying and imagery positioning being a thing of the past (except for radar imagery control for the AWTMS), a straight cartographic photography capability was all that remained. Projects became more unique and ad hoc, but if anything, of higher visibility and priority; and this made them interesting. The 9thWRW continued to make annual deployments to the equatorial countries of South America to chip away at already validated requirements there in accordance with established U.S. Mapping Agreements. Also, the Wing accomplished many routine projects stateside to satisfy requirements of several military and civilian agencies. What I'd like to briefly discuss, however, are a few of the higher priority ad hoc missions accomplished between July 1972 when the ACGS was inactivated, and July 1975 when aircraft Photomapping was phased-out:

 1. The first of these was assigned during the period when the ACGS resources were in the process of being moved to their new homestations. The project was designated AF 73-1 and entitled "LANCE Photography". The purpose was to obtain mapping photography along the East and West German border on which to identify and position photogrammetrically many missile launch sites for the U.S. Army. The LANCE was a mobile missile system hauled along the roads and highways of West Germany on transporter/launchers. If an individual missile crew were given the order to launch, it would drive to the nearest pre-positioned launch site, erect, and fire against a pre-determined target. The LANCE was capable of firing either nuclear or conventional warheads. The project was time critical in that the LANCE system was programmed to be operational in Germany within a year after project assignment, and there was much work to be done using the imagery before the launch sites could be configured and exercised. This made it impossible for us to delay deployment until the best weather season in Germany.

 On 16 September 1972, AST-5, which was made up of resources still at Forbes AFB, KS, deployed to Rhine-Main AB in West Germany. In spite of bad weather on many days, by 4 October the AST had successfully completed the approximately 2,000 linear miles of photo required--safely and without incident. That in itself doesn't sound extremely impressive now, but if you knew the potentially hazardous environment at the time you'd realize it was. The Cold War with the Soviet Union and the East Germans was in full bloom, and the East German border bristled with ground-to-air defensive systems and was heavily patrolled by fighter aircraft of the bad guys. The West German side was protected by a no-fly buffer zone of several miles just to assure no inadvertent penetrations of the border by friendly aircraft, which could result in a major international incident. The AST's job was to acquire stereo coverage of that border and the whole buffer zone by flying long, straight and level flight paths well within range of enemy defensive systems. EUCOM (the European Command) had issued advisories through international channels that AST aircraft would be operating in the border area, but these were not acknowledged by the Soviets or East Germans so no one could anticipate their reactions--if any. The project required a tremendous amount of planning and coordination between many EUCOM, USAFE, Rhein-Main, and German Controller personnel and units. Nevertheless it came off without a hitch and ahead of the anticipated schedule. The AST then recovered at its new home at Keesler AFB, MS.

 2. In late 1973, development of the AWTMS had reached the point where it was ready for operational testing. For this test it was decided to deploy the system to Puerto Rico and accomplish HIRAN Controlled SLAR imagery of the entire island. Four HIRAN stations were established to do this-one located near each corner of the island. The project was completed in just a few days because of the ability of the system to obtain radar imagery day or night and in almost any type of weather. The DIA was extremely happy with the results of this imagery collection effort, but noted that the map makers could not yet use the imagery in any meaningful way to produce acceptable maps or map products because of the errors inherent with radar. It also noted that because of altitude limitations the RC-130 was not an acceptable platform for an operational mapping radar. And finally, based on recently proven successes of Doppler satellite receivers for positioning and the anticipated advent of the operational GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites in just a few years, there was no justification for keeping a HIRAN capability within the DOD. Therefore they suggested Air Force phase-out this capability in early 1974, and this was done. That action, in turn, had another repercussion. With the loss of this capability and the related resources, AWS felt that the Photomappers no longer warranted Squadron status; and since they were already collocated with the 53rd WRS, it placed them organizationally as C (Cartographic) Flight under the 53rd.

 3. With the completion of Operational Testing of the AWTMS, the Photomapper's direct involvement with development of a mapping radar was over. However, support of this development wasn't. During this period a project to support the testing of a Single Aperture Radar (SAR) in a high altitude U-2R aircraft was assigned to the 9th WRW as part of the extremely high priority program nicknamed SENIOR LANCE. This was a logical next step in the development of a radar capable of providing high resolution and metric quality imagery for both conventional intelligence gathering and mapping. The goal of this effort was to be able to mathematically model the errors inherent in radar, under a variety of conditions, and then be able to remove them. This was to be done to an extent that would make possible the use of the imagery to revise or update maps, or be used as a gap filler in areas where optical imagery doesn't exist. Of course the ULTIMATE goal of the mapping community was to be able to produce original, large scale maps from radar imagery obtained from satellite altitudes.

 The SENIOR LANCE Photo Project was a tricky effort in that it required the Photomappers to obtain mapping quality photo over a variety of terrain and cultural features at exactly the same time as the U-2 was obtaining radar imagery while flying the same flight lines at more than twice the RC-130's altitude. The photography would then be used as ground truth against which the radar imagery could be manipulated to remove the errors that masked some data and distorted others. The goal of the project was successful to the extent that eventually the radar imagery was useable as a contingency mapping source material.

 4. Recall that earlier in this article I mentioned that in the 1971 timeframe the RC-135s had flown ground truth photo used to establish a 107,000 square mile camera calibration area for high flying optical aircraft and satellite systems. In performing and evaluating the aerotriangulation needed to position the vast number of photo identifiable points to be used on the photography, the photogrammetrists noted unacceptable systematic errors in one portion of the area. Many possible sources for these errors were proposed including aerotriangulation software, ground survey error, and camera lens calibration errors for the RC-135 camera. As a part of the corrective actions, the problem portion of the area was reflown by the RC-130s. As mentioned earlier this project carried an Air Force Precedence rating of 1-1, thus the cost of this extensive trouble shooting wasn't a huge factor. Errors in all three of the potential sources mentioned were found to some degree. Corrections allowed the adjusted positions to meet program specs for the Calibration Range. It became operational and has been used.

 5. On 23 July 1970 the Photomappers of the ACGS had obtained multiple types of photography from directly over the detonation of 1,000,000 pounds of TNT. This high explosive "Event" was called DIAL PACK, and it simulated the detonation of a 1 KT (kiloton) nuclear weapon. The imagery collected by the ACGS was used by project scientists to study the development of the fireball and shockwave in order to better determine and model the weapon effects of nuclear weapons.

 During the 1972 thru 1975 timeframe two more of these Events were supported in the same manner. They were Event MIXED COMPANY in Colorado on 20 November 1972 and Event PRE-MINE THROW IV at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site in August 1974. What made these Events so challenging was the requirement to be exactly over Ground Zero at the exact instant of detonation to within plus or minus 2-seconds. This would seem impossible, but the crews' success rate was three for three. Other organizations had tried the same thing before the Photomapper's involvement but without success. The Weapons' Effects guys of the Defense Nuclear Agency were elated with the imagery obtained by the Photomappers on these three Events and sure hated to see their mission phased-out in 1975.


 I have documented only a few of the many projects accomplished during the final three years of Photomapping. It was a busy period and constructively so. I don't think anyone in the business ever regretted extending aircraft Photomapping's life for that period. However, I was a LITTLE disappointed that the hypothetical, high priority contingency requirement on which I had based my argument for continuing the Program had not materialized. That changed in September 1973.

 On the 11th of that month the armed forces of Chile under the command of Army General Augusto Pinochet staged a successful and nearly bloodless Coup, overthrowing the Socialist President Salvador Allende. This was an event unofficially welcomed by the U.S. as our leaders feared Allende's trend towards Communism. However, they were unsure of how the people of Chile would accept the military rule of Pinochet. They hesitated to openly back his regime while there were still questions about the degree of his oppression against civilian and military opponents of the Coup and about his threatened violation of some human rights of the population at large.

 In October 1973 I was contacted by Air Force Ops. They advised that the Government of Chile had requested help from our State Department and the DMA in resolving some mapping problems identified in executing the Coup. Their Military, National Mapping Agency called the Instituto Geografico Militar (IGM) had formally submitted the requirement through the DMA IAGS (Inter-American Geodetic Survey). The U.S. welcomed the invitation to help, but was still trying to formulate the content and tone of their reply. Air Force Ops wanted to discuss a time that I could go to Chile and determine the feasibility of operating an AST there safely. We discussed that the best photo collection season was just beginning, so if it were to be done, we would have to go immediately. A few days later Ops called back and said it would be impossible for DIA and DMA to research and publish U.S. photo requirements in the form of Specific Project Data in less than a month or so. Also, IAGS/Chile didn't think they could get all the coordination done necessary for our entry into Chile, and for operations while there, yet this photo season. Therefore, we should aim for a fall 1974 AST deployment. However, they wanted me to go down there as soon as practical to do the feasibility determination. This would show interest and give us a feel for what was required. I advised AF/OPS that I intended to attend the SOUTHCOM (U.S. Southern Command) Mapping Conference in the Canal Zone in early December 1973, so immediately after that would be good for me. They concurred.

 At the end of the SOUTHCOM Conference I was joined by one additional person from 9th WRW Current Ops and a Logistics guy from the Wing, and we headed to Chile. We were met by the Chief of the IAGS/Chile Project. He had arranged for us to meet several of the key people that would be involved. We met briefly with the U.S. Ambassador and his staff. From them we learned that they would welcome our AST operations. Not only would that allow us to satisfy U.S. and Chilean photo requirements, but it would also allow the Ambassador to have more American eyes and ears on the ground, and that would be important during this sensitive post-Coup period. Also, he felt that our photo collection to support the mapping necessary for the future development of their country would be looked at by the people of Chile as humanitarian aid from the U.S. rather than military aid, and that would be a good thing. Finally, the Ambassador suggested we operate from a location away from Santiago as our presence would seem less pervasive and it would be safer.

 We next met with the General who was Commander of the IGM and his staff. He outlined the reason for requesting our aid. He pointed out that Chile measures nearly 2700 miles from its northern border to its southern tip. Its capital, Santiago, has ten times the population of its next largest city and is clearly the home of all political power in the country. He who controls Santiago controls Chile. That is the reason Gen. Pinochet was able to take over the country so quickly and easily with nearly all military action being confined to Santiago. Although the Coup appeared surgical, it was not without problems; and many of them related to the maps being used by the military forces involved. The Commander then laid out copies of the maps that were used. Four map sheets joined within Santiago, and the mismatches at the borders of those sheets, within 60 miles of the city, were not measured in meters but some places in miles. Foot soldiers from outside the Santiago area had been brought into the city to participate in the Coup because Pinochet feared some of those stationed near the city might remain loyal to Allende and turn on his forces. As a result the troops brought in were not familiar with Santiago and depended on their maps to locate their targets. Their targets were in many cases located many blocks or more from where shown on the maps. Finding them created a problem and disrupted the timing of the government take-over.

 The IGM Commander had also invited the Commander of the Fighter-Bomber Wing from Puerto Montt, Chile to our briefing. The Wing Commander had led the aerial attack on Santiago during the Coup, and he was there to brief us on his experience. As the lead aircraft his mission was to strafe and bomb a particular government building located at the end of a particular road. He came in low and depended on this road to lead him to his target. The road did not dead end as shown on the map and the building wasn't there. He had to break off his run, and as a result the primary target of the aerial campaign was not hit.

 The IGM Commander ended the briefing by stating that of course his organization wanted imagery from which to map the large areas of the country without photo coverage, but BY FAR the highest priority would be a 10,500 square mile area surrounding Santiago from which a new City Map could be made. If only one thing could be delivered from this project, they would like it to be this photography. This was the first of about a dozen times that key Chilean personnel stressed this fact to us.

 The other thing that the IGM emphasized over and over was their desire to have the photo processing and evaluation done at their facility in Santiago regardless where the AST was based. They had been told that the Photomappers would shortly be phased-out and that if assigned, this would be a one time deployment. The Commander felt his people were not adequately trained in these functions and wanted to use this opportunity for on-the-job training. I told him the priority issue was not mine to decide, but that we would consider doing the photo lab work in Santiago if the project were assigned.

 Several of the people we talked to in Santiago, in addition to the Ambassador, recommended we base away from Santiago, and several had mentioned Puerto Montt as a good location. Since the Wing Commander from there was at the IGM briefing, I took the opportunity to discuss this with him. He said he could not make the final decision but he was sure operating from there would be approved, and he would be pleased to host us. Based on that we took the IGM Liaison Officer that had been assigned to us, and the four of us proceeded to Puerto Montt to check it out. We weren't prepared to do a complete recon, but all looked plenty adequate to us. Although we had not been provided Specific Project Data, we had a rough idea of where the photo voids were. Puerto Montt would be fairly centrally located to them. After the Coup, Gen. Pinochet had replaced all the civilian Provincial Governors with General Officers, the Mayors of major cities with Colonels, and on down the line. We had a brief visit with the Brig. General who was governing the Province that included Puerto Montt and spent extensive time with the Colonel who was acting as Mayor of Puerto Montt. Both knew of the possibility of our coming to Chile, and both were eager to help us in any way. Like so many others who had participated in the Coup, they stressed the need for a new City Map of Santiago.

 On our last night in Chile, I looked down on the city of Santiago from the roof of our hotel. A 9:00 P.M. curfew had been in effect since the Coup. The only people allowed on the streets of this city of nearly 3,000,000 people after 9:00 were the soldiers enforcing the curfew. The other thing I noted was the very limited damage done to the government buildings which were attacked during that conflict. Often there would be a few bullet holes in their walls and the roofs would be blown out from bombing, but from street level one could see almost no damage. It was eerie, almost like a huge ghost town.

 At the end of this trip we could identify no major obstacles to our safely operating an AST in Chile. And from our cursory examination of support currently available coupled with the many "No problemas" we were given when mentioning things that weren't, we concluded that AST operations should go smoothly. Plus we liked the positive attitudes of all involved and their eagerness to have us come. The two major shortfalls that we felt could cause problems were there was no aviation fuel contract for our planes presently in effect in Puerto Montt, and our photo processing equipment's power requirements were not compatible with that available in Chile. No one knew of a generator available that could provide the needed current. I briefed Air Force on all this and submitted an Operational Concept for the mission as they had requested. We were told to assume the project would be assigned and to proceed with planning with that in mind.

 In June 1974, DMA officially validated 116,700 square miles of photo requirements in Chile. They also approved the 9thWRW Concept of Operations and assigned the collection effort to Air Force. In July, Air Force Ops assigned deployment to the 9th WRW thru channels. They designated the project CHILE, AF 75-1 and proposed 15 October as the beginning date for a 60 day AST operation.

 From 11-22 August I led a full Theater Recon Team to the Canal Zone and Santiago, Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas, Chile to formalize support agreements and finalize an Operational Plan. We went to Punta Arenas to arrange for its use as a staging base while flying the southern areas assigned. By this time, the nation-wide curfew in Chile had been relaxed from 9:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. IAGS/Chile had arranged to borrow a large generator from a NASA Station located in Chile to supply our photo lab power, and a fuel contract was being negotiated to provide aircraft fuel for us at Puerto Montt. Thus all shortfalls noted in our previous visit had been satisfied.

 All went well until I briefed the IGM on the Specific Project Data validated by DMA and approved by Headquarters Air Force. It showed the priority of their City Map requirement as last among the four areas assigned. Further, they had designated it only a Target of Opportunity. The Chileans were crushed. The General who commanded the IGM reminded me that on my previous visit he had made it very clear that the City Map was his country's highest priority, and that he wanted this to be relayed clearly to the DMA and my superiors in the Air Force, and I had promised to do this. As nicely as I could I reminded him that I had previously told him that I would NOT be involved in establishing priorities, but I would relay his desires to those that were, and I had done that. I also told him that I would once again relay his concerns to Air Force and DMA at the end of this trip and ask them to reconsider, but I could guarantee nothing in that regard. In trying to placate him, I stressed that because his City Map area was so far north of the other requirements and because the southern ones were all in areas of historically poor photo weather, I was sure that sometime during the 60 day deployment it would be clear while the others were cloud covered, and we could get coverage of at least part of it. I also told him we had worked out an arrangement to use their national airline (LAN CHILE) to fly our exposed film each evening from Puerto Montt to Santiago for photo processing in their lab overnight. The evaluations could then be passed back to the AST in Puerto Montt by phone or radio, so the aircrews would have the results early the next morning. While this would be a bit clumsy, it should work; and it was being done ONLY because of his request to get on-the-job training for his lab people in Santiago. He was still very upset but somewhat appeased. Upon return to the States, I did relay the General's concerns re priorities and asked for reconsideration. I was told that they understood, but the priorities would not be changed.

 The rest of August and September were spent coordinating specifics with the many organizations involved and in writing the 9th WRW Operations Order. The Order would direct a two aircraft AST-9 to Chile for a 60 day period beginning on 15 October. It would be stationed at Puerto Montt, and Santiago and Punta Arenas were authorized as staging bases. All film processing and evaluation was to be done in Santiago.

 The AST became active on 15 October as scheduled. Its first flight was one of its most successful as the whole Santiago City Map area was flown and accepted. During the recon in August, I had discussed with the designated AST Commander the dichotomy of the City Map photo being the top priority with the host country while being only a Target of Opportunity for the DMA and Air Force. I told him of a previous personal experience regarding another South American AST where the IAGS had tried to interject itself into flight scheduling based on ITS and HOST COUNTRY priorities rather than those of the AST Ops Order. It had put the AST Commander in a sticky and uncomfortable position. I told him that if I couldn't get the priorities ironed out to everyone's satisfaction, he might anticipate such interference on the part of the IGM and IAGS/Chile if, toward the end of the deployment, they hadn't gotten any City Map photo. However we didn't take it any further in our discussions because, at that time, I still thought I could influence a change in relative priorities. As mentioned above, however, I could NOT get them changed. So just prior to departure, I suggested to him that the first time clear weather was forecasted for the Santiago area and ANY cloud cover was forecasted for the southern areas, he fly at least a portion of the City Map area. In my opinion by doing so he would preempt unwanted scheduling help, and he would make a lot of Chileans happy. That in turn would positively influence the quantity and quality of the support received from them. I guess he got the message, but I never expected that he would fly it on the first day!! Within hours after MAC and AF learned of this, I received calls wondering what in hell we were doing flying a Target of Opportunity first. I didn't know the details but based on my verbal recommendation to the AST Commander, I assured them that Santiago had been clear and the primary areas MUCH further south had some cloud cover. Plus the AST Commander wanted to use this as a shake-down flight to exercise the film delivery ability of LAN CHILE before entrusting them with more valuable film of the higher priority areas. I don't know if they believed me, but at least they accepted that explanation. What I do know is that the Chileans were ecstatic! From then on the AST could do no wrong. Their subsequent support was outstanding.

 Based on climatology the AWS had performed a study to predict how much acceptable photo could be anticipated during the 60-day deployment. Because these were historically poor weather areas, they came up with 30,000 square miles. Air Force then requested an immediate notification if this goal were met, so they could consider cutting the deployment short if it were near the end of the period and bad weather was being forecasted. As it turned out, this goal was met fairly early in the deployment. The AST went on to complete the 60 days with over double that in production. It was an outstanding performance by all involved. It was also recognized as such by some very high level people in subsequent correspondence.

 The AST returned home in time for Christmas from what proved to be the last foreign AST for the aircraft Photomappers. Normally I do not like to mention names when I write this sort of article because I'm afraid I'll omit someone who was even more deserving of recognition. However, in this case I want to acknowledge Major Rey Baldwin as the Commander of AST-9. He commanded a group who had seen their organizational level fall from that of a Technical Service directly under a Major Air Command to that of a Flight under a Squadron whose major mission was something else entirely, who knew their days in Photomapping were short, who were at the end of long lines of communications and logistical support, who were operating in areas of historically poor weather, who were on a 7-days per week schedule, and whose opportunities for off duty diversion were almost nil due to the post-Coup curfews. It would be logical to expect some discontent and lack of motivation within the AST. This emphatically was NOT the case. In spite of this challenging environment, Maj. Baldwin and his people doubled anticipated production and did so without incidents. To me he epitomized the focused, can-do people of Air Force Photomapping as a group over the 30+ years of their existence.

 Phase-out of aircraft Photomapping was programmed to be completed by 1 July 1975, and it was. During the phase-out quarter of April thru June people went on to other assignments, and the RC-130A aircraft were deconfigured as photo birds and assigned to the Air Guard units of several states.


During the period from AST-9 redeployment to the phase-out, I was particularly pleased to note a multitude of Favorable Communications that came in from the very highest levels of the DOD, the Air Force, and major customers noting the superior performance of Photomappers over the years. I have attached a couple of the more significant ones.

General Ellis           Admiral Cramer

Although the signers differ in the periods they acknowledge for Photomapping operations, I'm sure this is attributable to the drafters of the letters. I'm absolutely certain the intent was to recognize and honor ALL Photomappers.

 On a personal level, I always have to smile when I reflect on this final three years of aircraft Photomapping. I judge them as very productive, and I'm amazed at the close correlation between the scenario I hypothesized in late 1970 to justify the extension of a capability beyond 1972, and what proved to be the final major effort. Both were contingency requirements in areas of historically poor photo weather in a South American country experiencing a period of political unrest. To me, that is vindication of my thought processes back then and validation of the decision to add an additional three years to the life of Aircraft Photomapping.

 December 2008