By Marv Howell, Colonel, USAF(RET)

Col. Bill Smith was a great lead Navigator (1969-70) in the 361st TEWS. I was working in Stan Board not long after I got there because he recognized the need for continuity and they had been adding new Stan Board Navs based on longevity up to that time. He was very innovative and it was a pleasure to work for him. Col. Smith created the "Doppler GCA" after we lost a bird into a mountainside because of a thunderstorm and perhaps a GCA problem.

Col. Smith had me layout an approach grid for Phu Cat which allowed us to monitor our position on the chart during some of those hairy weather letdowns. We took a new Doppler set before we started home and then closely monitored the aircraft position on the grid during the let-down and approach. He and I both tested it in clear weather and then it became a standard for the Squadron. We didn't make any attempt to "steer" the bird as you would with GCA. We just developed the procedures so the Nav could monitor the approach and give an early warning for any hazardous position.

I don't know of any case where that system saved any airplanes, but it did become a good backup for the GCA and also to backup the usually unreliable weather radar. Colonel Smith's photo is in the 361st year book provided by Dave Brooks. Dave and I shared a trailer at Prong City and just last Tuesday got together for a couple of hours to swap war stories. Hope to make the next reunion