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Having grown up near a naval air station, I was accustomed to seeing the jets flown by pilots who were training for carrier duty. Those jets flew so high and fast, they were not part of our everyday lives.

After moving to Arkansas in the 1960s, I was delighted to see the C-130s flying their low and slow formations in the skies around Little Rock--unaware that I would have a more personal experience with these aircraft in my future.

In 1992, I was on the island of Kauai when Hurricane Iniki devastated the island, including its airport. After three days, we were airlifted off the island in a C-130, with a crew from the North Dakota Air National Guard. One of the pilots told us that he had trained at Little Rock Air Force Base.

I now understand that C-130 aircraft use a VOR system for navigation. This acronym stands for Very High Frequency Omnidirectional Range. It is a type of short-range radio navigation, enabling a receiving unit to determine its position and stay on course. It uses a network of fixed ground radio beacons.

Modern avionics and satellite-based guidance systems have replaced VOR technology, except in the case of natural disaster and in more primitive Third World country airports. These countries and U.S. Air Guard units send their pilots to Little Rock Air Force Base for C-130 flight training on the VOR system.

The Little Rock VOR cone was located many years ago within what is now the Little Rock Port Authority, now used by the C-130s that fly from the airbase, and would serve as a vital backup system for our airport in a natural disaster.

Bryan Day, executive director of the Little Rock Port Authority, looked to the FAA for approval to move the VOR installation for the purpose of economic development expansion. After two years of fruitless appeals, he called on 2nd District Congressman French Hill. Hill enlisted the help of Sen. John Boozman.

Within a short time, the senator arranged a meeting of FAA officials in his office to resolve the matter. Representative Hill and Senator Boozman convinced the FAA of the importance and viability of the request. Recently Representative Hill announced that a new site has been located and approved for testing, which will begin in a short time.

We remember to thank our military personnel who serve us and respond in times of need. It is equally important to be grateful to our Arkansas delegation who serve us in the halls of Congress on a daily basis.

Thank you for your service to all Arkansans.


Carol P. Williams is executive director of Land Trust of Arkansas.

Editorial on 04/20/2019

Print Headline: Those who serve


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