Goose Bay, Labrador

1990 - Additional Details - Ren L'Ecuyer

Construction began in 1951. The station was supposed to be a self-contained, self-supporting unit that would operate on a continuous basis. The Melville Air Station had the good fortune of being located some six miles from the Goose Bay airport - where a very large contingent of American Air Force personnel were also located. One of the first AC&W installations to be constructed, this unit was a part of the Pinetree Line which was a back-up for the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line Project.

Sites for AC&W stations had to be located on the highest altitude possible, so the Melville radar station was constructed on the top of "Dome Mountain" which was approximately six miles from the Goose Bay airfield. This was to eliminate any type of surface interference with the delicate and sophisticated radar equipment.

Space was at a premium at Melville since the complex was located on the top of Dome mountain. Permanent buildings had to be constructed. Because of its elevation, the station was subject to severe winds and excessive snow accumulations. It was, therefore, necessary to include structures with inter-connections between the buildings and the operations centre.

Radar operators in the AC&W squadron tracked the movements of aircraft sighted and passed speed, height and direction information to "Direction Centres" (DC's) and fighter interceptor squadrons. Fighter aircraft were airborne in minutes after an alarm was given, and closed in on unidentified planes by means of radar detection equipment in the fighters. Another of their functions was furnishing navigational aid to friendly aircraft operating in the area. Their detection of "May-Day" calls contributed to quick search and rescue efforts.

--Ren L'Ecuyer