Rawlins FSS made
its closing broadcast at 10 pm on September 27, 1991. Opening
originally at Sinclair, Wyoming, as part of the transcontinental air mail
route, the station moved to Rawlins Municipal Airport in 1949 and occupied
two "S" type forest service buildings called "watch
houses" that had been joined together. The FSS remained in this
building until it closed.
was built in 1934 by WPA labor and Beacon 29 was located at the
airport. Beacon 29 meant the beacon was located 290 miles fro Salt
Lake City on Green Airway #3. The sequences of the beacon's flashed
gave this information to pilots flying over the filed. In this early
period of aviation, aircraft radios were unknown and the flashing beacons
and earlier beacon fires were their only navigation and communication
aids. Mr. Ben Ashlock was the airways maintenance man in the early
days at Rawlins and maintained all the GARBO (green, amber, red, blue, and
other color) beacons so they would flash the correct information to
Rawlins FSS's 24-hour
operation ended the summer of 1982 due to a staffing shortage, but
part-time operation continued as aviation traffic declined with the
decline of the energy boom in Wyoming. During the energy boom, gas
and oil production, coal mines in the Hanna area, and the refinery at Sinclair
brought daily executive jets to Rawlins. A large fixed base
operation and the thriving Rawlins Flying Club provided training and
charter flights needing the services of Rawlins FSS.
navigation aids monitored by Rawlins FSS were Sinclair NDB which was part
of the old low frequency airway, and Cherokee VORTAC which was located at
the site of an earlier light beacon on the 1920's beacon airway across
southern Wyoming. A third aid, Rawlins VOR/DME, was purchased and
installed by the City of Rawlins in 1983. Just prior to the VOR/DME
installation, the main runway was lengthened from 5,000 to 7,000 feet and
a crosswind runway was built and paved.
the 50th anniversary of Air Mail Service, pilots reenacted the mail
flights. Personnel at Rawlins FSS provided services similar to those
offered by personnel of the Beacon stations. During its 42-year
history, Rawlins FSS played host to pilots of NORDO (no radio) aircraft
and aircraft with mechanical problems. Movie actor William Hurt and
astronaut Gordon Cooper both received weather briefings from Rawlins FSS specialists.
The singing group the Bee Gees were stranded in Rawlins when their bus
broke-down and chartered an airplane to get them to a concert on time.
FSS had its share of trainees who received early FSS training and
experience, and then moved on to management positions in the FAA.
One trainee arrived in 1952, checked out as a specialist and stayed until
he retired 39 years later. From the first Field Station Manager, Mr.
Charles W. McIntosh, to the last Manager, Mr. Tom Rorabaugh, Rawlins FSS
was vital to the safety of flight along a major east-west route across