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1960 - nylon radomes are radar systems for airport traffic


CD 1967071 E&MP117.001


November 2, 1960

Nylon radomes like this one at Newark International Airport, New Jersey, will become landmarks for air travelers as they are erected at airports in other cities across the nation, including New York, Boston, Washington, Seattle, San Francisco, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Portland. Made by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company for Airborne Instruments Laboratory Division of Cutler-Hammer, Inc., the radomes will provide protection for Airport Surface Detection Equipment, a radar system for airport traffic.

additional text found

received October 31, 1960

AKRON, O, Nov. 1, 1960 -- Great nylon "mushrooms" called radomes will be raised atop major airports across the country within the next few months as part of a special radar system which will increase the safety of every air traveler.

The inflatable domes are being built by the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company to protect Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE), a radar system designed by Airborne Instruments Laboratory Division of Cutler-Hammer, Inc., to minimize airport traffic problems.

Scanning the airport 60 times a minute, ASDE projects a detailed picture of surface pattern and movement onto a radar indicator console in the control tower. From this picture, the ground controller can direct airport traffic safely and orderly, preventing ground collisions or traffic deadlocks, according to officials of Airborne Instruments Laboratory. The system remains operative at all times, regardless of weather conditions, it was pointed out.

The radomes, constructed of white hypalon-coated nylon fabric to protect the radar equipment from wind and weather, is a startling enigma; perfectly evident to the human eye, it is “invisible” on the radar picture, Goodyear officials explained. This permits transmission of airport traffic patterns without distortion.

Inflatable with only one-tenth of a pond of pressure per square inch, compared with 24 to 32 pounds in auto tires, each radome is 14 feet high and 17 feet in diameter, Goodyear said, and constructed to withstand winds of more than 100 miles per hour and heavy snow or ice accumulation.

A prototype model as ASDE, protected by an inflatable radome, was installed at Idlewild International Airport in New York in 1958 and has been used there by air traffic controllers of the Federal Aviation Agency as operational equipment.

Since then, the FAA has ordered the special radar systems for nine other airports, including Newark International, New Jersey; Washington (D.C.) National and Chantilly; Los Angeles International; Cleveland Hopkins; Logan International, Boston; Seattle-Tacoma; Portland International and San Francisco International. 

Original Caption by Science Service
©Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company

National Museum of American History


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