Grenier Field New Hampshire, the Early Days

Provided by: Charles (Chuck) Sutton

The formation of the TDY Squadron at Grenier Field in 1966 was a real piece of work. The Man responsible for it was a Major at AF Systems Command Hdqs and a Captain in the pentagon who were AF Project Officers for Phillis Ann. I can't remember the Major's Name, although I work with him after returning from Nam at AFSC where I was in the Research and Development field of Electronic Recon.

Anyway I was a Major at the time of my TDY to Grenier Field. When I arrived there was nothing there but a couple of old W.W.II hangers, a National Guard outfit and some run-down W.W.II buildings. In the hanger was the original Hawkeye test plane and the first operational EC-47 fresh out of Sanders Associates.

The next day after I arrived folks from all over the Air Force started showing up, including the Squadron Commander, Can't remember his name, but he was from Wright-Patterson AFB. The Squadron was set up and functioning in very short order and I think there were approximately 60 total folk in the squadron. We started flying calibration missions the second or third day.

The calibration missions were very unique and flown at night off the coast of Mass. The purpose of these calibration missions was to match the Sanders equipment with the aircraft to minimize Direction Finding errors. Sanders personnel would set up IR and visual tracking equipment on the coast and we would fly flat circles approximately 15 to 25 miles off the coast with landing lights on. Sanders Associates would operate the airborne equipment also. Each mission would be 3 to 6 hours in duration depending on the weather and equipment, both land and airborne equipment.

This was some strange flying as it defied a lot of standard flying techniques trying to hold a flat turning circle. Each Operational EC-47 went through this calibration mission until 360 degrees of calibration was satisfactorily achieved. When I left after 6 month TDY, things were still going strong and other folks from all over the AF would rotate in for their 6 months.

I don't know how long the TDY squadron existed, but it was still going when I was at AFSC in 1969. One interesting outcome from the calibration flights was a numerous number of UFO reports coming out of folks that lived on the Mass coast. Finally there was an article in the local papers stating that the Air Force was conducting some classified flight testing at night off the coast.

I noticed on the reunion attendee list, Roy Winkler was there. He was one of my co-pilots on the trip from Grenier Field to Tan Son Nhut. Wish I could have been there and I'll try to make the next one.

Thanks for your outstanding efforts in putting together this EC-47 program. Chuck

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