Don't tangle with this E-6B

 - August 4, 2008, 8:36 AM

In aviation’s early days, long-distance HF communications used wire antennas trailing behind the aircraft. Stored on a reel inside the fuselage, the 100- to 200-foot antenna was usually hand-cranked out and back in. Reeling in was important–to keep the antenna taut when trailing, its end carried a heavy lead weight, which became a lethal weapon if the antenna remained extended while landing.

Trailing antennas are still used in 16 Boeing E-6Bs (derivatives of the 707) operated by the DOD as airborne national command posts to cover national emergencies and other situations. Officially called TACAMO ships–a John Wayne-sounding acronym standing for “take command and move out”–E-6Bs can even communicate with submarines, using very powerful, very low-frequency transmissions and a trailing antenna.

Steer clear of E-6Bs, though. Rockwell Collins has just won a ground-support contract for the TACAMO antennas, which the company notes are 28,000 feet, or 5.3 miles, long.

June 2017
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. has restructured the MRJ development program and built one of the best teams in the industry.