[ Baden Soellingen ]

Air Traffic Control

Air Traffic Control at CFB Baden Soellingen over the past 40 years has experienced many changes and trends. They have come about from the shifting roles and aircraft (a/c) that have come and gone. These roles and a/c have each had a substantial effect on operations throughout the years. The changes were mainly in the equipment and operations side as well as on personnel and organization.

The first recorded Canadian Air Traffic Controller, or Flying Control Officer as it was known at the time, in Baden was Flying Officer L. Dowsett who arrived in Europe on board the "S.S. Ariantic" on 14 May 1953. The next four months proved to be extremely busy setting up the necessary facilities in anticipation for the arrival of the aircraft from Canada. All this work paid off on 04 September 1953 with the arrival of 62 Sabre MK 4s.

The remainder of the 50s and most of the 60s were growing years for ATC, and also years with many firsts; the section participated in its first exchange on 30 September 1953 with 4 French Ground Control Approach (GCA) controllers for training on Canadian equipment; it took part in its first recorded exercise, "Shooting Star", on 23 September 1954; and it recorded its first landing on the parallel taxiway on 13 October 1956, by Flight-Lieutenant Red MacDonald -unfortunately it was wheels up but with little damage.

These years were also very trying on the controllers as far as working conditions went. They were given the task of controlling three squadrons of Canadian a/c along with holding alternate status for other NATO airfields in Europe, using only one runway, a small airspace, and old equipment. This situation made the separation of large numbers of aircraft, on the average over 5,500 movements a month, extremely difficult, but this they accomplished day after day.

Throughout the remainder of the 60s, 70s and 80s ATC in Baden went through many changes. The biggest one of these was in the area of radar equipment; the original APG/30 radar was replaced with the MPN 1 and shortly thereafter by the MPN 11, which was destroyed in a fire on 15 March 1985. After the fire, the ATC Communication Unit in Trenton initially provided a portable Quad radar, which was later replaced by an MPN14/FPN16 loaned from and operated by the USAFE 1 CCG platoon, and was in use till June 1987 when the TRADS system and the new radar building (RAPCON) was commissioned; the TRADS was the last radar system to be used at Baden. The COMM NODE 2 radio communication system was also installed in both the tower and RAPCON at the same time as the TRADS.

All these changes made the job of controlling much easier, something necessary in order to keep up with the demands put on the unit by the acquisition of new fighter aircraft. Each new aircraft was faster and more maneuverable than the last- except for the CF104 which was just fast.

One of the highlights during this period for ATC was "TAM 88"; this NATO exercise brought over 50 allied aircraft to Baden with daily launches of more than 70 aircraft at a time. Strict procedures were implemented for departure and arrival by the section to ensure minimal delays, the only delay recorded was due to an F- 16 emergency.

The 90s brought the Gulf War and the Canadian phase-out in Europe. The first of these had little to no effect on ATC, until the end of the war. The second brought mixed reactions, happy because no more exercises of living in NBCW "submarines", and sadness. because after 40 years of varied and dedicated service the section would close its doors forever in March 1993.

The phase out of the section started in early June 1992 with the closure of the silent launch sites (which were used to clear aircraft for take off using lights to minimize radio transmissions). The next phase-out was the alternate control tower on the far side of the runway also in June 1992. The remainder of the shut down will come after 10 February 1993, with the departure of the remaining aircraft.

The way to describe the Baden Soellingen Air Traffic Control Section over its long and distinguished history is best exemplified by the motto:


[ Baden Remembered | Forty Years ]