Hanscom Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, Meeting

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

MIT Lincoln Laboratory Auditorium

Refreshments: 3:30 PM, Talk 4 - 5 PM

Joint Meeting with the IEEE Life Members


The Development and Deployment of GCA:

a WW II Radar System for Landing Aircraft

Charles "Bert" Fowler, C.A. Fowler Associates

This talk describes life at the MIT Radiation Lab and the development, production and operational usage of the Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) radar system. The GCA program, a radar system for landing aircraft in night and bad weather, used narrow microwave beams to precisely locate in three dimensions an incoming aircraft and that information was then used to direct the pilot by voice radio to a safe landing. The system also included an additional radar for overall traffic control. Upon completing development Fowler's boss, the "inventor" of GCA, Luie Alvarez, took the experimental system to England in spring of 1943 for operational tests with the RAF. Luie Alvarez later won the Nobel Prize in physics. Because the GCA system depended only upon radio contact with the aircraft and did not require special training of the pilot, the US Army Air Corps and Navy quickly adopted it. This is your opportunity to listen to Bert Fowler give a first hand account of this historical program.

Charles "Bert" Fowler received his BS in Engineering Physics (High Honors) from the University of Illinois in 1942. From 1942-45 he was a Staff Member at the MIT Radiation Laboratory working on the GCA radar landing system and an air traffic control system. .From 1946-1966, he was at the Airborne Instruments Laboratory (now AIL Systems Inc.) where he was involved in air traffic control and radar systems. From 1966-1970, he served as the Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Tactical Systems in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. From 1970-1976, he was Vice President and Manager, Equipment Development Laboratories, Raytheon Company Equipment Division. From 1976-1985, he was with the MITRE Corporation serving as General Manager, Bedford Operations and Senior Vice President. He is currently a private consultant to industry and government (C. A. Fowler Associates, Sudbury, MA).

The meeting will be held at the Lincoln Lab Auditorium at 4:00 PM. Refreshments will be served at 3:30 PM.  Registration is in the main lobby.  Foreign national visitors to Lincoln Lab require visit requests.  You may also pre-register by e-mail to reception@ll.mit.edu; please indicate your citizenship. You will not receive a confirmation of your pre-registration, however, your badge will be ready for you when you register.   Please use the Wood Street Gate.  For directions go to http://www.ll.mit.edu For other information, contact Ed Altshuler, Chairman at (781)377-4662 or edward.altshuler@hanscom.af.mil