Puntzi Mountain Air Station
Puntzi Mountain Air Station (1952-1966) - A Cold War U.S. Air Force Radar Station established during the Korean War. Located near Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada. One of the Pinetree Line radar sites. Initially assigned a Permanent ID of C-19 and a Sage ID of C-19. Turned over to the Canadians in 1963 and then known as RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain. Closed in 1966.
Constructed between March 1950 and May 1952 and partially accepted for occupancy on 20 Oct 1952. Established as an AC&W radar site effective 5 Nov 1952 with approximately 3 officers and 54 airmen from the 917th Aircraft Control & Warning (AC&W) Squadron, Geiger Field, WA.
Initially designated a surveillance Station, Puntzi Mountain AS was directed to become a Direction Center in the fall of 1957 with implementation during 1958. Changes were required in the operations building and the communications systems and required the assignment of additional weapons controller teams. With the eventual goal of the site becoming a full-fledged automatic SAGE site upgrades to the site and the radar equipment began.
In November 1960 the FPS-6B height-finder became operational and the old TPS-502 height-finder was removed. In November 1962 the FPS-7C search radar became operational, the FPS-3 became backup the backup search radar and the old FPS-502 was removed. In 1963 a FPS-26 was added as a second height-finder radar. The FPS-26 was to have been maintained by Air Force technicians but a last minute decision was made to contract the maintenance.
This configuration (a SAGE qualified FPS-7 long-range search radar and two SAGE qualified height-finders, one FPS-6B, and one FPS-26) met the requirements for transition to SAGE System operation.
SAGE System Transition
The transition of the manual GCI system to the automated SAGE system began with the installation of the FST-2 coordinate data transmitter and search radar upgrades. The FST-2 equipment digitized the radar returns and transmitted the digital returns to the SAGE direction center. Under the SAGE System, interceptor aircraft were directed to their targets by the direction center computers and controllers, greatly reducing the need for local controllers and equipment at every radar station.
The FST-2 was a very large digital system using vacuum tube technology. Over 6900 vacuum tubes were used in each FST-2 requiring 21 air-conditioned cabinets, 40 tons of air conditioning, 43.5 kva of prime power, and usually a large new addition to the operations building. The FST-2B modification added two more cabinets but with newer solid-state (transistor) technology to process coded responses from aircraft transponders.
The SAGE annex to house the FST-2 and SAGE operations were started early in 1961 and completed except for air conditioning in the 3rd Quarter 1961. The FST-2 Equipment arrived on 25 Aug 1962 and installation began when the Burroughs Team arrived shortly thereafter.
On 15 Nov 1962 the FST-2 was accepted but before the site could become SAGE operational it was transferred to the Canadians and became RCAF Station Puntzi Mountain. The station actually began automatic SAGE operations on 1 Oct 1963 and reached full SAGE operations capability on 23 Mar 1964.
SAGE System Operation
The site began operation as a SAGE site in 1960 initially manually feeding the McChord SAGE Direction Center DC-12. The station began automatic SAGE operations on 1 Oct 1963 and reached full SAGE operations capability on 23 Mar 1964.
On 30 Sep 1966, the RCAF abruptly ordered the site to cease operations. On 30 Nov 1966 a Western GEEIA team arrived to dismantle USAF electronic equipment and ship it out via C-124 and other USAF aircraft. Final closure of the site occurred on 28 Dec 1966.
The physical plant of the site was divided into the main site, a cantonment area, and radio sites. The main site housed the operations buildings, the radar towers, and the backup generators. The cantonment area housed the enlisted barracks, the bachelor officer's quarters, the orderly room, the dining hall, the motor pool and other support buildings.
A separate radio site housed the radio equipment for directing aircraft intercepts. Like most early radar stations, Puntzi Mountain originally had a radio transmitter site and a separate radio receiver site used by local controllers for voice direction of fighter interceptors to their targets. With the SAGE System, the SAGE Direction centers had the primary task of directing intercepts and the local radio sites were reconfigured, usually into a single site that was known as the Ground to Air Transmitter Receiver (GATR) site. The GATR site communicated with the interceptors from either the local site or the SAGE direction center via voice commands and/or a digital data link. The SAGE System GATR radio site building at Puntzi Mountain AS was completed in the 1st quarter of 1961.
Abandoned, no intact structures.