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TACAMO Glossary

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ABNCP - AirBorNe Command Post - the former Strategic Air Command system of EC-135 command and control and relay aircraft that connected to nuclear forces and the TACAMO E-6B replaced them in 1998.

ACO - Airborne Communications Officer - the Naval Flight Officer charged with all the mission execution and responsibility for the classified materials used by the crew. The ACO boxes where one on two heavy foot lockers owned by the ACO and ACS.

ACE - Animated Communications Effectiveness - two propagation prediction tools first used by TACAMO for HF and VLF mission planning in 1997. Developed by former Rockwell engineer Dick Buckner and marketed through Long Wave Inc. and its leader Phil Miller, another former Rockwell engineer.

ACS - Airborne Communications Supervisor - the Radioman or Inflight Techician (AT) who leads the communications crew.

ADIZ - Air Defense Identification Zone- the imaginary line along the US coastal regions which if crossed at the wrong time or place gets the crew intercepted. Between the Navigator and the pilots, they need to be on time and on location with 25 NM.
ADWS - Automated Data and Word Processing System

AIREP - Air Report - periodic position report while crossing the oceans. A voice report read by the pilots or navigator over a noisy HF radio to global air traffic control centers. Position, time, altitude, next position and time, and sometimes winds and temperature were in the reports prepared by the navigator.

Alert - Crew and aircraft ready for immediate start up and launch in support of current airborne aircraft or other emergent condition.

ALTREV - Altitude Reservation- Area above the oceans where VLF TWA operations could be safely conducted because it was reserved by air traffic control centers.

Anti Yo-Yo - Flight maneuver first flown by LT Ed Hampshire (later Captain Hampshire and TACAMO program manager in Naval Air Systems Command) with EC-130Q TACAMO IV two trailing wire aircraft in 1973. Designed to changed angle of bank to offset the effects of winds on TWA's extended in the orbit. Less yo-yo meant less VLF signal variation and greater communications range.


Bermuda - NAF Kindley Field, Bermuda, British West Indies. Site of VQ-4 alert from late 1974.


C-12 - Beech King Air transport aircraft flown by TACAMO Wing at Tinker from 1996-1998. Call sing Cowboy 27 and Cowboy xxÇ were flown by Wing pilots, NFOÇ as copilots, and flight engineers as crew chiefs under Navy Air Logistics Office tasking.

CW - Continuous Wave transmission that created Morse code for VLF messages.

COG - Communications Operators Guide- a procedural notebook prepared ahead of deployments and used to guide crews during execution of communications missions.

Crew Wheel - Operations departments used this to allocate crew duties among officer and key enlisted leaders to crew assignments opposite their ground job partners to ensure best coverage of crew and ground jobs.

Cannon Ball - Nickname of Bermuda alert crew bus. Originally, it didn't have a starter and crew pushed it to get it going.

CTL - Cleared To Land- Issued after a PLE when a crew pulled back on the power and hung on the props to give every minute of airborne mission capable time while the relieving crew solved its issues and took off or the alert or standby alert took off and assumed the guard.


Drogue - orange cones attached to the end of each TWA for aerodynamic stability. Reel Operators had to mount them to the end of the wire along with a 90 pound weight. Pilots sometimes smashed them with a high angle of attack landing, resulting in considerable Wardroom ribbing.

DTWA - Dual Trailing Wire Antenna- Came about in 1973 with TACAMO IVB system. Earlier TACAMO I, II, and III were single TWA systems.

Dump Mast - Red tubes at each wing tip used to adjust the fuel load in an emergency. At least one crew dumped fuel over a Navy base golf course, making the local news.


ETP - (Equal Time Point) - The point at which the time to continue to destination or return to point of origin are equal.


FUBAR - *F'd*- Up Beyond All Recognition.


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HOWGOZIT - Fuel and Range Management chart. Navigator created this fuel remaining-distance to go line graph and then plotted each hourly fuel readings from the Flight Engineer and distance from his latest position fix.

HPTS - High Power Transmit Set- A solid state Rockwell Collins replacement for the TACAMO IVB vacuum tube and variometer system. Designed and built in the mid-1980s and held in abeyance until it could be combined with the ABNCP mod in the late 1990s. Originally designed to replace the USAF EC-135 transmit set and E-4 NEACP along with TACAMO. USAF cancelled when ABNCPs were determined to be replaced by E-6B. E-4 kept the TACAMO IVB long after E-6s became Bs.


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LTA - Launch The Alert - Issued when crew discovered they were hard mission down, had an emergency, or otherwise could not continue to hold the airborne guard. Scrambled the alert crew and then explained what in the world had happened.

LTWA - Long Trailing Wire Antenna - about 5 miles of it


MCA - Must Commence Approach - When a crew has been airborne on a mission and it has been extended by a PLE, a time is computed by the Flight Engineer and Aircraft Commander at which they have just enough fuel left to shoot an approach to their intended destination.  In plain English, it means they MUST land then to do so safely.  From a Maintenance Control view point MCA means "JTYA= Jump Through Your Ass and hope the relief was at the end of the runway taking off while keeping your fingers and toes crossed!" Note: Thanks to Master Chief Bob "Master Blaster Wicker for the maintainer definition.


NATOPS - Naval Air Training and Operations Procedures and Standardization - the bible for flight operations of both aircraft and missions system. The Blue Pill, the Gouge, the source of all.


OPCON - Squadron Operations Control center.

OPORD - Operations Order- higher headquarters policy and mission operations guide.


PLE - Prudent Limit of Endurance - Issued by Operational Control Center or relieving crew when it became apparent the next mission turnover was in jeopardy. Some crews pulled out a cake mix to give the crew a morale boost. PLE meant your mission was extended until further notice.


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STWA - Short Trailing Wire Antenna - about a mile.

Swedge - A press technique whereby the Reel Operators attached the drogue to a TWA. Also the call sign of many a famous Reel Op.


TOP - TACAMO Operating Procedures - The squadron-written red bible. Detailed mission procedures, requirements, standards and measures of effectiveness.


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Verdin - Binary digital processor used with VLF transmission system. Rockwell Collins designed and upgraded. You need this patch to have a complete flight suit.

VLF - Very Low Frequency


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