August 11, 2002
At 5:55 am on August 11, 2002, the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport was closed to all operations, all except one. At 6:09 am the K-Max helicopters lifted from run-up area 22 and repositioned over the Air Traffic Control Tower. When the “lift clear” was given the 5000 lb Radar System was lifted from the tower. A cooperative effort between Northrop Grumman, the radar manufacturer, Kaman Aerospace and Northeast Helicopters Flight Services to relocate the radar system to the East Side of the airport was underway.
The ASDE-3 (Airport Surface Detection Equipment) as it is called was being moved to improve radar coverage on the airport. The new home for the system would be an area northeast of the main termnal building near the Potomac River. The dome was placed on a temporary support pedestal until the new to support tower is constructed. A 3500lb steel cover was then placed on the Air Traffic Control Tower to seal the roof area.
Northrop Grumman hired Northeast Helicopters Flight Services to provide the technical support for the operation. Although Northeast provides lift services to the logging an construction industry with our UH1-B Huey, the weight of the dome required the use of Kaman Aerospace K-Max helicopter and a Kaman pilot.
After 2 years of planning, and 16 minutes of flying the lift was complete. At 6:29 am the first commercial flight left the runway.