[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [TowerTalk] WW II Aircraft Landing Mats as a counterpoise system?

Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] WW II Aircraft Landing Mats as a counterpoise system?
From: "Bob, W3IDT" <>
Date: Sat, 07 Aug 2010 16:21:00 -0400
List-post: <">>
Short answer: The stuff was fabulous for a Radio Shack push-up mast 40m 
vertical and a 20m RV mounted vertical at a w0ups (Northern Colorado 
ARC) Field Day maybe 20 years ago (and maybe they are still using it).

Longer story: About 20 years ago, my late in-laws lived in Ft Collins, 
CO, and we would drive once per year - from the Washington, DC, area - 
to have the (then) kids visit their grandparents. One trip was over FD 
weekend, but the xyl allowed me to join the NCARC for their FD held on 
an exposed hill some miles east of the front range. 'twas only their 
second FD attempt... mostly social. Their 40m antenna was a dipole 
strung between two RS push up masts, each around 30' with very little 
space between the dipole ends and the masts, and simply didn't work. [My 
guess is that the RF was coupled to the masts straight into the ground.]

Walking around, I noticed the matting which I'd describe as 4' x 8' 
sections of the metal mats at ski resorts to wipe snow off boots, and 
was told that it was the helipad for the "stuff" behind the double 
fenced section of the hill (a missile site). And was told that the stuff 
was originally made to serve as tank "roads" on the Normandy beaches in 

I suggested that, since they were not getting out on 40m, we try 
something: Move one of the masts well over the matting and use it as a 
vertical. A (beer?) bottle was found for the insulator, one mast was 
lowered, dipole disconnected, and the mast re-guyed over the matting.
So far so good. But the coax from the 40m station didn't reach - missed 
by maybe 4' (40m station was on chained down picnic table, so it 
couldn't move, and no-one wanted to move the mast again). No-one seemed 
to have the usual "junk box" needed for such FD emergencies. If I could 
find a barrel connector, was about the rip out the 2m FM coax from the 
car when inspiration hit: Battery cable!  With some sheets of paper as 
insulators, the battery clips grabbed the pl-259 of the coax at one end 
and the mast and matting at the other end. Instant pileup on 40m.

The RV with the 20m vertical was then moved over the matting as well, 
and it, too, had an instant pile-up.

Bob, w3idt

. Robert F. Teitel, W3IDT   .
.                           .
.            .
.         .

On 8/6/2010 1:59 PM, wrote:
> I was recently looking up some old drag-racing info about a dragstrip in 
> Northern California,
> the "Vina Raceway" near Chico, CA. I just obtained an old 1968 issue of 
> "Super Stock"
> drag racing magazine, which had a feature article about this Vina Raceway 
> dragstrip,
> which was in operation from 1963 to 1968. I was not able to attend any races 
> there, but I remembered
> seeing the advertisement posters posted on phone poles all over downtown, for 
> an upcoming Sunday afternoon
> drag race at Vina Raceway in either 1965 or 1966, while I was still in high 
> school in Southern Oregon.
> Some of my friends went down to the race, and told me that there was a very 
> good turnout from our town, which was probably a four or five hour drive 
> away. The big turnout was probably due to all the advance advertising that 
> had been done in various Southern Oregon/Northern California towns.
> Many years later (1980's), I learned to fly in northern California. While 
> looking at the
> San Francisco area sectional map for visual navigation, I noticed near Chico 
> that there was
> a place called "Vina Mat." Seeing that on the map reminded me about the drag 
> races back in
> the 60's at Vina Raceway, and I did some research on the 'net to see if I 
> could find any
> info about it. Since that area in northern California is a major agricultural 
> area, I guessed
> that a "mat" must be something to do with grain that was being loaded and 
> transported to other areas.
> I had no idea what a "mat" was, until I did some more searching. I found out 
> that a mat ("landing
> mat") is a large grouping of metal (usually steel) plates tied together, in a 
> configuration
> that can be installed as a big, solid surface for aircraft landing and 
> takeoff. I also found
> that many of these "landing mats" were installed around the country, as well 
> as overseas,
> especially in the World War II era, as auxiliary airfields and airfields that 
> needed to
> be built on short notice. Large areas of land could be covered by these steel 
> mats by an
> installation crew in a short time. Some of the completed mats were square, 
> some circular,
> and some were in yet other configurations. Some mats were simply hooked 
> together, some were
> bolted together, and some were even welded together.
> The Vina Mat was a typical, large (3100 feet rectangular) landing mat near 
> Chico, California
> (north of Sacramento). The National Archives depicted the field as "Chico 
> Auxiliary Army
> Airfield #3" - there were five satellite airfields used by Chico Army 
> Airfield, which was 11 miles to
> the southeast. It was built by the military during WW II, and was used to 
> train fighter and bomber
> pilots. It was a rectangular, paved landing mat, and the rectangular shape of 
> the mats
> permitted aircraft to land land in any direction, eliminating the possibility 
> of a crosswind.
> Some airport guides still list this as a private airport, and it's now called
> "Deer Creek Ranch Airport (CA60), Vina, CA".
> The reason I bring all of this up about the steel landing mat system, is that 
> it appears that there may still be
> many of them around the country. I'd be curious to know if any hams ever 
> bought one of these properties where
> the metal mats are still in place, and if anyone ever attempted to use it as 
> a counterpoise for an HF vertical array. It seems like a nearly solid, 3000' 
> X 3000' steel plate mesh all tied together would be
> a great "radial" system for big vertical arrays.
> Did anyone ever try operating HF mobile, with the car parked on top of one of 
> these mats? It just sounded like something that would be fun to try. You'd 
> have a difficult (and expensive!) project laying down a radial field like one 
> of these old landing mat systems!
> Listed below are some of the articles about Vina and other nearby landing mat 
> airfields, landing mat
> system development and history, and a landing mat manufacturer/dealer. Some 
> of them have excellent
> photos of "now and then" views of a few of the airfields.
> Larry
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The Chico, CA AAF (Aux Army Airfield) #3  (later called "Vina Mat") is 
> described in the
> web site "Abandoned and Little-Known Airfields: Northeastern California:
> Landing Mat Development and History web site (with pictures):
> Here's a web site for Calumet Industries PSP Landing Mat:
> _______________________________________________
> _______________________________________________
> TowerTalk mailing list


TowerTalk mailing list

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>