"The committee has been impressed throughout its study by the pervasiveness of two basic influencing considerations. First, the conflict between communities and air bases operations is not simply an Air Force problem. It is a problem affecting national policies and the national economy as well as national defense. It applies to the civil populace, to Congress, to the other armed forces and to industry, as well as the Air Force. United States Air Force air base utilization is a national problem and there must be a national solution. Second, the answer to the problem must be effective in resolving present conflicts as well as effective in preventing future ones. An effective long-range solution will be cheaper and will give better defense and will be more acceptable than a series of temporary solutions."
The turbojet aircraft we are about to have and the ones we have now are of extremely high performance. They are of high speeds, and we are going to be dealing with speeds of Mach Two, and we already have two supersonic fighters in the inventory. The take-off speeds of these types of aircraft is increasing as the years go by. At the present time, the fighters are touching down at 150 knots at least. They fly the pattern at 200 knots and above, and even when they are coming over the fence, they are using a lot of power in their approach; they are making better than 175 knots. In other words, l they come over the fence at about 175 and might hit going about 150. These aircraft are essentially high-altitude aircraft. They take off, climb to altitude, do their mission and descend swiftly. They must climb in the shortest possible time because the fuel consumption is very high. These aircraft have a very high rate of ascent and descent. The fighters we have coming along will climb subsonically to 35,000 feet. After that, they will go to Mach One, Two or Three, whatever it is to carry out their mission--40,000 feet a minute or better. This is eight or nine miles a minute straight up.
In addition to that, the airplanes are getting heavier. Our fighters are weighing 25,000 to 40,000 pounds heavier and the weights are going up. The B-52 weighs about 400,000p pounds and it is still growing. The performance of the airplane is made possible by the very great power available to us in turbojet engines. We are not satisfied with that, however; we must couple on the back of the engines an afterburner. Even when you have a single engine with an afterburner, you have a terrific controlled explosion.
In addition to the noise we get out o the engines, we also get some noise out of the aircraft itself. … Flights at low altitudes at supersonic speeds are not only noisy, but they are dangerous for things on the ground. You will probably recall the exhibition flight put on at Palmdale, Calif., which damaged glass and so forth. Real damage can be done on the ground, so we have to deep the planes up in the air. The sound comes back to the ground even through the flight is made at very high altitude.
The Air Defense Command--in fact, all of the Air Force--is designed to carry munitions on a mission. The Air Defense Command itself, of which I am head, flies all over the country. We have fifty-five different bases with aircraft that are armed. They are ready to shoot on every tactical mission. They are not armed with machine guns; they are armed with rockets which are 2.75 inches in diameter and each explosive blast is equal to a .75 mm shell. In the F-86D, we have twenty-four of these; in the F-89 you have 104, and we must store these on the base in our normal operations. It must be obvious to you that to you that if we can get better protection for the country by using atomic weapons, we are going to use them. That means in the days that lie ahead--and they are not too far ahead--we will have atomic weapons storage at your various airports, and the various warplanes you see flying around on missions will be carrying atomic weapons. We are going to do as much as we can to make the aircraft, weapons, and procedures safe, but the hazards are still here.
In addition to the airfield itself, you need a relatively clear zone, one free of communities and industrial facilities, on the extensions of the runway. The ideal situation would be to have one seven miles long and four miles wide on each end of the runway. It must be obvious to everyone here that you could not go to Long Island and buy a strip of land sixteen or seventeen miles long and four miles wide. However, we do think it is possible to have zoning in the extensions of the runways so that we will avoid these congested areas which now form at the ends of the flying field where the danger from a forced landing is grave.
Recognizing that we cannot go from where we are to where we would like to be, the Air Force has, however, adopted a three-phase program.
Let's take the physical removal. This is the solution that the communities usually come up with: Get out of here; go somewhere else. But it is an expensive solution and one with which we have great difficulty in adopting, not only from the expense point of view but for other reasons as well. If you pick up a base here and move it over there, you take the problem right along with you, because before you arrive, the real estate people have subdivided all of the land, and they have sold lots all over the place, and you do not have time to zone. They get the word, as the Navy says, before we do. Therefore, the problem of moving out of the community and moving to an adjacent area which is relatively free of civilization is a stop-gap and is not recommended.
We work on the press to try to stress the safety angle, the heroism of the pilot who stays with his aircraft, and so on, and we are having good luck, but it is a long-term process which takes a lot of effort--more than we can afford to give to it.
In the F-102, for example, it is possible to climb at a steep angle after take-off, but the noise level goes up so we do not make much money on this maneuver, but we are trying it. The F-102 has a noise level at an altitude of 8,000 or 10,000, that will wake up children on the ground underneath.
This far, I have been talking solely about the air base problem. We want better fields, and we would like them in a remote area if it is possible to get them.
You may think that I am criticizing the CAA; nothing could be further from the truth. The CAA is doing a wonderful job so far as we are concerned. I could not do my business in the Air Defense Command without the complete and wholehearted cooperation of the CAA. All of the basic information that goes into the air defense problem of traffic control comes from the CAA. I am not criticizing the CAA. I am just saying that we have to do better. We have to have a new air traffic control facility. The system, whatever it is, must take the airplane as soon as it leaves the ground, it must take it to altitude and take it to its destination, put it back down on the ground and put it in the traffic pattern with a minimum of moves and delay. It must be perfect every time. We do not think you can do this on voice radio. The aircraft are at high speed. If a jet airplane is going from here to there, even though the distance is short, he goes up and back down.
There is one thing about jet operations that everybody must understand-- the pilot is fighting the fuel problem from the time he thinks about the flight. He must do flight planning from the time he starts thinking about going up and he fights that fuel problem until he gets back on the ground again. Fuel consumption is terrific, and if you make a mistake in your let-down, you may find yourself at the wrong airfield and no fuel to climb back up to go to the proper one. You cannot make any mistakes on this decision to let down.
So, there are problems. We want a place to fly from and we want somebody to help us get out destination--air traffic control. Up to now, this has been a military problem, but it is going to be a civil problem directly. Just how quickly it is going to be a civil problem, I do not know, but it is going to be a civil problem as well as a military problem as soon as you get your first get transport. ...
I might say one more thing: We are not out there demonstrating our prowess by skipping through the doodle, as we used to say. What we are doing now is flying as conservatively as it is possible for us to fly and accomplish the mission. The Air Force has done a wonderful job in reducing its accident rate. In 1921, it was 461 accidents for 600 flying hours; last year, it was twenty; and it has been going down steadily in the post-war years. We are very proud of this, but we cannot get around the fact that we are causing a lot of commotion; there is a lot of nuisance and hazard involved. Somehow or other, we are going to have to educate the public to the fact that they must accept this annoyance in the interest of national defense.
General Partridge: I join the city fathers. I do not understand it either. [Laughter] I am sorry to say that I am not familiar with this particular regulation. I probably know the contents, but not by that number.
General Partridge: The decision to move into the civil airports was taken during the Korean war when it became apparent that we did not have an air defense system. We just had to barge in and get under way. We would like to move off the civil airports, but we do not have the money to do it. In the meanwhile, the base commanders should get together with everyone who operates on that base and, on a day-to-day basis, discuss every single aspect of the operations. If they are not doing that, we can see that they do do it. It is inevitable that if you put more airplanes on the field than the field will accommodate, then somebody has to give, and, up to now, in the urgency of the defense problem, it is the civil aviator who has had to give many times. I regret this, but I cannot fix it. The only way to solve the problem is to discuss it at the field level in detail and try to work out agreements by which we can live together until we get separated.
General Partridge: This is a very difficult problem for us to solve under our system of government. I do not believe many people appreciate the difficulty of getting a military construction program to agree with the government. There are lots of folks around with red pencils. If you put in a complete base, a package such as we need when we go to a remote area, there are a lot of sharpshooters who go through the items one by one, and they take out the family housing, and take out the gymnasium, the chapel, and the swimming pool, and they say that we can operate a base without all of these thins. We say, "Sure we can, but at the end of four years, the men will get out, and we have lost $15,000 apiece, or something like that, which we have invested in them. They would stay with us if they had some place to have some fun or to live a normal life."
Croaker Snow [National Association of State Aviation Officials]: With respect to the eighteen joint use bases, I think it is safe to say that when you r jet fighters are operating in VFR weather, they make what is called a tactical approach, an overhead break, and all of the other airplanes, including the airlines and everybody else, use what is called the conventional approach in landing. Is it necessary to the performance of your mission that fighters make that type of approach to landing?
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Daily Report: The day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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