Otis radar plane aids C-118; guides craft to safe landing

An aircraft which lost the use of its navigational equipment while crossing the Atlantic was assisted by a radar surveillance and control aircraft of Otis last Monday, landing at Washington safely.

The radar aircraft, a C121 Constellation of the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing (AEW&C) was at its station 300 miles east of the Cape when a C-118 (military version of a DC-6) was reported in trouble.

"We received a radio call from the Wing Command Post at Otis that a special air mission aircraft had lost NAVAIDS," said Major John Mirick, commander of the AEW&C aircraft. "At the time, we had been on station for eight hours and had been taking part in an operational readiness inspectlon.

The C-118 referred to as a "Liftmaster," had departed Lojes Field, in the Azores, with a load of passengers and, according to the operations section at Andrews AFB, Md., which serves the Capitol, "had VIP's aboard." It lost use of navigational equipment but still had a single-sideband radio operative.

Using the last-known position of the C-118, navigators aboard the Wing radar plane "dead reckoned" its course and positions. One of the navigators, Maj. Bobbie Wagnon, said it was like running an intercept on the special

mission aircraft. "It was a perfect intercept," he.said. "With Maj or Bill Reboli doing the plotting, the commander turned the radar aircraft to where we thought the aircraft would be. A radar intercept controller aboard the Constellation, Capt."Ho Chee" Chin had just completed 'bumping heads" with four of the F-101 "Voodoos" of the 60th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. The jet interceptors had been used in upgrading Captain Chin to a "skilled controller" rating and had returned to Otis. "I was completing logs on the three - on - one missions when we learned that the C-118 was in trouble," said Capt. Chin.

The radar controller noted positions of the VIP aircraft on radar andr made radio transmissions to advise its aircrew of course and bearing. "We made transmissions over guard and gave them the intercept

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point and time," said Capt. Chin. "It was a routine thing for us." As a radar controller, Capt. Chin flew with the airborne command post last year while at Udorn, Thailand. "I've got over 2,000 tanker hook ups. Since coming to Otis, I've run more than 120 intercepts with l0l's and 102' s. "

"Our only concern was for fuel," aircraft commander Mirick said. "We had nearly completed our on-station time and were to return to base soon. But the flight engineers computed the fuel requiremeets precisely. We ran a precautionary intercept, looked up and there he was..."

The Constellation ushered the C-118 into a course for Andrews and, accepting a "thank you for the assistance," returned to station,

"It was just a normal mission, said Major Mirick. "My crew and the radar operators and controllers are experts..."