RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain
|RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain|
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RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain (ADC ID: C-19) is a closed General Surveillance Radar station. It is located 202.6 miles (326.1 km) north-northwest of Vancouver, British Columbia. It was closed in 1966.
As a result of the Cold War and with the expansion of a North American continental air defence system, The site at Puntzi Mountain was selected as a site for a United States Air Force (USAF) radar station, one of the many that would make up the Pinetree Line of Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) radar sites. Construction on the base began in 1950 and was completed in 1953.
The base was manned by members of the USAF's Air Defense Command (ADC) 917th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, being known as Puntzi Mountain Air Station. On 8 November 1952, operations began at the unit's permanent home. The station was equipped with the following radars:
- Search Radars: AN/FPS-3C, AN/FPS-502, AN/FPS-7C, AN/FPS-107
- Height Radars: AN/TPS-502, AN/FPS-6B, AN/FPS-26
As a GCI base, the 917th's role was to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the unit's radar scopes. These interceptors were based at the 26th Air Division, McChord Air Force Base in Washington.
In the early 1960s, the USAF relinquished control of the base to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). This was part of an arrangement with the United States that came as a result of the cancellation of the Avro Arrow. Canada would lease 66 F-101 Voodoo fighters and take over operation of 12 Pinetree radar bases.
On 1 February 1963, the station was turned over to the Royal Canadian Air Force. The operating unit was re-designated 55 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron and the base became RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain.
Radar operations at 55 Squadron were automated on 1 October 1963 by the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, and the station became a long-range radar site. It would no longer guide interceptors but only look for enemy aircraft, feeding data to the Seattle Air Defense Sector SAGE DC-12 Direction Center of the 25th NORAD Region at McChord AFB, Washington.
RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain closed on 1 October 1966. The closure was not expected and the community was shocked. When no agencies of the Canadian or BC governments could be persuaded to take over the bases buildings for use by such groups as the RCMP, Medical Services, the Department of Highways or Meteorological Service, the base was, in time, systematically destroyed.
A very few buildings survived the razing. The mobile equipment garage was left standing, destined to become a community hall for those who remained in the area. The guard/gate house, which went into service as a pump house, was left intact and the domestic site water distribution system was left undisturbed. Flattened and cleared area are, along with storm sewer manhole access points and the odd bit of ancient pavement, the only other signs left to mark the location of the installation.
- List of Royal Canadian Air Force stations
- List of USAF Aerospace Defense Command General Surveillance Radar Stations
- A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, by Lloyd H. Cornett and Mildred W. Johnson, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
- Winkler, David F. (1997), Searching the skies: the legacy of the United States Cold War defense radar program. Prepared for United States Air Force Headquarters Air Combat Command.
- Information for Puntzi Mountain AS, BC