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Combien doux les mémoires toujours

For weekly (& some daily) facts about OL-9, satellite tracking, and Seychelles in 1965, 1966, and 1967, send an e-mail to jharper88@earthlink.net



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IOS, Mahé, Seychelles

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HQ Air Force Satellite Control Facility OL #9
(Official name 1 May 1966 -- for months before and after)
Mahé Island, Seychelles

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The Effort to Retain the History of IOS


One important piece of American history could slide away and become lost unless those who were a part of it save the story. That slice of American history is about the network of tracking stations that tracked and communicated with space vehicles and satellites the first thirty years of the Space Age. Where can one go to read such information? Little can be found. As each year goes by, less remains!

This Internet page gives facts about one of the remote tracking stations in this network—The Indian Ocean Station (IOS) on Mahé island, Seychelles.

Mahé is a third of the way into the Indian Ocean moving west to east. It is an island roughly 15 miles long by five miles wide. The tracking station was 3 miles from the ocean at an elevation of 1,995 feet.

The big topics of conversation in homes and downtown in Victoria were: “Which ship will come to port next?” “When will the American seaplane land and who will come in or go out?” and “What household items are in short supply in stores?” It seemed half the people you saw downtown you knew either their name or where they worked.

Station personnel maintained good spirits. There was no television, no radio (with the exception of a couple of hours of local news and someone’s old C&W 45 RPM records at sundown), no newspapers (as we in the USA are accustomed to), few magazines, and few gasoline-powered vehicles. These were also the pre-Internet days.

Most mornings the night crews handed over to the incoming day shift stapled collections of five or six eighteen-inch long sheets of news from the comm center teletype machines. Comm centers kept machines running as much as possible to show whether or not the teletype circuit was open for traffic or “out.” This sounds like new was available daily to all. But, no! You could expect to see 45 to 50 stories of 5 to 10 lines. A few were “front page news.” About ¼ of the paragraphs were repeats. There were a few five-to-eight line gaps. One-in-seven big paragraphs was the middle of some story you never heard of. Many stories covered events in Ponca City, Oklahoma, or Northlake, Ill. You did not learn anything from them.

For station personnel and guests, the mess hall patio had a large cinemascope screen that swung down from an overhead support for movies (considered current in the USA) at 8 pm and 12:15 am. If you had a shortwave radio, after dark you could pick up AFRTS, BBC, VOA (full of LBJ propaganda), and a strong signal from Radio Ceylon.

Everyone on Mahé encountered exciting events. British Shackleton bombers passed overhead unannounced to anyone. The rumor-mill was strong and powerful. Those were Vietnam War years. Russia, an enemy country which supported our enemy in that war, had ships come close enough to the island to be visible on four or five occasions. The Vladimir Vorobjov was the first one. It lingered three days with its side aimed at the USAF La Golfball radome . Then, the Government of Seychelles let it dock for a day!

The Indian Ocean Station was often the primary station that the United States military needed to track and send commands to space vehicles on their first attempt to orbit the earth after launch.

By 1996 IOS had supported more than 90 Department of Defense satellites, NASA crafts, and space vehicles for allied nations.

IOS’s first satellite operation was conducted 27 Oct 1963. By mid-1966 IOS had conducted more than 2100 contacts in the prior six months.

On 1 July 1966 there were 101 tech reps PCS at IOS. Six more were TDY. Approximatly 45 Seychellois were full-time employees.

Each time the station operations crew contacted a satellite, it received the command to transmit to earth information in accordance with program design. The 60’ dish antenna inside the “Golfball” received the radio waves, sent them to a computer, and were recorded on magnetic tape or one of several other means. Station personnel saw only that proper recording was being done. Information sent to earth was read and analyzed in the USA.

All employees knew the importance of data collected at the station. These were Vietnam War years. The following is simply two examples of war situations that occurred while IOS was in operation. This tracking station may well have assisted passing along such sensitive information. First, on 10 Sept 1964 President LBJ approved renewed naval operations. For a second example, on 22 June 1966 the White House approved the bombing of Hanoi’s petroleum facilities.

Today, and in the past, TV and the MSM stories about the Space Program featured only giant rockets being launched into space or astronauts floating around in their cabin waving to the camera. There were no reports about the technicians or equipment that sent electronic signals from the orbiting capsule to the headquarters ground control center. Forrest McCartney, Lt. Gen., USAF, Retired, has stated,”Without a ground system for support, there could have been no space program.


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Station Personnel:
Station Commander: USAF -- Under direction of 6594 ATW & later SSD
Operations: Western Test Range (Philco WDL -- later named Philco-Ford)
Base Support : 1 January 1965 and after – Pan American World Airways
Communications: – Subcontracted to RCA
Operations Computer contract: – Control Data Corp.
Contractor utilizing local laborers: – W&C French

Station Location:
East from Mombasa, Kenya, one fourth of the way into the Indian Ocean.
British Crown Colony. (In the 1960s)
1,094 statute miles east of Mombasa, Kenya.
2,048 statute miles southwest of Bombay, India. (Name in the 1960s)
2113 statute miles north east of Lourenco Marques, Mozambique. (Name in the 1960s)
2287 statute miles northeast of Pretoria, South Africa.
Tech Site: 4 degrees – 40 minutes South Latitude / 55 degrees – 29 minutes East Longitude
The satellite tracking Tech Site property: 262 acres.
Base of TT&C 60’ dish antenna at the Tech Site: 1925’ above MSL.

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North West Bay, Facing WSW

For five months in 1966 my wife and I lived in a
small bungalow.
(For its location, see the white dot
halfway across the picture and 2/3
of the way down and twenty yards
uphill from the high tide line.)        

Sorry to say, the bungalow was later torn down
as part of a new hotel’s enlargement program.

                           ----Jas. and Jeannie Harper dans le soin de la Beau Vallon

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Beau Vallon Beach Hotel / A Rainy Night in December 1964

                                                Photograph saved and maintained by Micheline Frentz
Who were talking about “ big events of the day” at the hotel that cold, rainy night
in December 1964? Back row: Jas Harper & Employee #25 & Raymonde Delorié
(Hotel owner). Middle row: Jeannie Harper and Micheline Delorié. Front row/back
to camera: Simone Delorié. There was a great deal of chit-chat in those days;
remember, there were no radio station (that month), no TV, no newspapers (as we
think of them in the USA today), no magazines (other than those six months old and
left by tourists). "Bits" of news" did come from hotel guests from around the world.

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The Tech Site / Approx 1973 / Facing WSW

                                           Photo provided by Maj. Carroll Michaud, USAF, OL9- Commander 1972-1974

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The Tech Site Facing Southwest / Approx 1973

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM Picture furnished by Monte Antkies / Duplicates by others

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The HU-16B


wwww The Grumman HU-16 Albatross was known across Mahé as the USAF sea-plane that visited the island once or twice a week from late 1963 to about Sept. 1972. Between those dates this is the way station personnel and a few other approved individuals traveled to and from Mahé. Pan American was contracted to fly the plane. Ken Fields, a retired USAF Lt. Col., was chief pilot. With him many years was co-pilot Gil Thomas. One old record stated that Ken began approximately 500 flights and had to abort only once. “Aircraft weight” was a number that was important week-after-week to determine the number of passengers and cargo that would be allowed on a particular flight.
wwwwwwww Empty weight: 20,000 lb---------- (9,100 kg)
wwwwwwww Max takeoff weight: 33,000 lb ---(15,000 kg)
wwww Other HU-16 statistics:
Maximum speed
: 205 knots (236 mph, 380 km/h)
Cruise speed: 130 knots (150 mph, 241 km/h)
Range: 2,477 nm (2,850 mi, 4,587 km)
Service ceiling : 21,500 ft (6,553 m)
Powerplant: 2× Wright R-1820-76 Cyclone 9 radial engine, 1,425 hp (1,063 kW) each
wwwwwwwwwwwwww (2 or 4× 15KS1000 rocket, 1,000 lbf (each)
Fuel Capacity:1,075 gal plus 2-300 US gal drop tanks
wwww First flown as the XJR2F-1 in 1947, the SA-16 Albatross was used by the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. The U.S. Air Force used the Albatross as a search and rescue aircraft. In 1962, both the USAF and US Navy re-designated this aircraft as the HU-16. The USAF version, a modified long wing plane, was fully identified as a HU-16B. Most were phased out of service in the 1970s. The Albatross was designed for optimal 4 ft seas, and could land in more severe conditions, but required JATO (bottle) for takeoff in 8-10 ft seas or greater. (In mid-2009 30 HU-16’s were flight-worthy.)


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The Mess Hall and Housing Units
Approx 1973 / Facing WSW


M Photograph provided by Maj. Carroll Michaud, USAF, OL9- Commander 1972-1974

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La Golfball and the Tech Site atop
La Misère / Approx 1974

mmmmmmmmmm
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Picture furnished by Monte Antkies / Duplicates by others
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TRANET Site, North of the Tech Site


OOOOOOOOOO Picture furnished by Monte Antkies / Duplicates by others

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Front Door of the Tech Site Building [East Door]
and around to the road to TRANET

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Picture furnished by Monte Antkies / Duplicates by others

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CDC Computers Are the Heart of Operations

A compliment to the CDC Engineering Office ---  
Major Norman Beaulieu, IOS’s first permanent Commander, writes the CDC front office in the USA thanking them for doing all necessary
to help the station begin operations two days ahead of schedule.

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CDC Customer Engineering News / Feb 1965


Did Uncle Sam Handle the FR-900 Project Correctly?
The FR-900 Recorder by Ampex ….--..--..--..--..--…. Discarded Magnetic Tape Reels
(Once at 4 or 5 tracking stations) ….--..--..--..--..--…. (Discarded/almost ruined reels)
(In 1992, parts scattered at a closed McDonalds)--..--..--(In 1992, FR-900 tapes saved at the McDonalds)
WWWNASA planned for a manned moon-landing in mid-1969. Apollo 11 was that spacecraft. It was launched and landed safely on the lunar surface
20 July 1969.
WWWBut first, NASA had to choose a safe-as-possible landing site for the space-vehicle. Unmanned lunar orbiters were shot into space and circled the moon taking what at the time were considered high-resolution photos of the surface of the moon. This was to identify safe landing spots for Apollo 11 and onward. Photographs were transmitted to earth and received at three tracking stations around the earth. Received were slow-speed video scans. Signals were analog. Ampex FR-900 Video Recorders placed these pictures on magnetic tape. The two-inch wide reels were sent back to a central location in the USA for study.
WWWPictures have never been seen by the public because at the time they were classified as they might reveal the extreme precision of our spy satellites. All a small number of the public has ever seen are a few grainy photo-of-a-photo images. Those few analog pictures appear slightly blurry.
WWWThe spacecraft did not ship the film back to Earth. Instead, it developed the film on the Lunar Orbiter and then raster scanned the negatives with a 5 micron spot (200 lines/millimeter resolution) and beamed the data back to Earth using a yet-to-be-patented-by-others lossless analog compression. Three ground stations on earth (one was in Madrid & one was Mahé) recorded the transmissions on two-inch wide magnetic tapes.
WWWIn the late 1980's the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) discovered a cache of the only known remaining set of Lunar Orbiter tapes in existence -- stored in a "salt mine." JPL took possession of them in about 1988, as there was some interest in recovering the data so that the images could be digitized and made available to the general public. In the year 2000 the pictures then were bulky 28" x 30" prints.
WWWThe problem at that point was the fact that no one knew what technology created the tapes so the format and method were unknown. A private consulting firm became aware of the project and decided to research the issue. They did little work on the project.
WWWLater, a crew of experts from various fields assembled and located a site to carry out a low- budget "proof of concept" project to digitize and later view the data on the magnetc tapes. The site turned out to be a McDonalds which had been closed due to low-volume business. It was located at Moffett Naval Air Station in Sunnyvale, Calif. When in operation, that McDonalds had the shortest work-hours schedule of any McDonalds in the world.
WWWIt was determined that the Ampex FR900 tape recorder (the first real video tape recorder) was the machine used to create the tapes. More importantly it was revealed that the data was in an analog format with the video format called “Vestigial Sideband Filtering” This is slow scan TV. Experts set about to search for any source for FR900 tape drives. The search covered NASA sites, Vandenberg’s Pacific Missile Range at Kwajalein, the CIA, and Egland AFB's radar test site in Florida.
WWWUltimately a total of four tape drives were obtained. As far as was known in 2002, these are the only remaining drives of the type in the world. In 1965 each new Ampex tape recorder cost $300,000 (in 1965-dollars).
WWWThe team’s first problem was to determine if the drives would read a magnetic tape without destroying it. However, in order to obtain the video from the data, a circuit called the VSB decompressor (or "restorer") needed to be designed and constructed. This was done and a recognizable sync pulse with video data was retrieved.
WWWOne small group of technicians refurbished FR-900 tape heads, ran the tapes, converted analog signal to digital, and released a few sample copies of the lunar photographs that were recorded in the late 1960s. Side-by side picture comparisons show that digital signals produce a noticeably sharper picture than analog. This activity was accomplished sometime around 1992.
WWWThese technicians say almost none of the Ampex equipment manuals, operating procedures, tech orders, and schematics are known to be in existence. They certainly would love to be shown a few pages if found.

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Time Line
10 Jan 1958 -- Explorer I launched. The first U.S. Air Force satellite mission control center is established in Palo Alto, California.
12 July 1962 -- USAF makes plans for a tracking station to be placed in Mauritius. Shortly afterward a US-UK meeting resulted in the station being
planned for immplanned for Mahé.
10 Jan 1963 -- First talks between USAF and GOS.
10 Jan 1963 -- USAF officers arrive by ship for station site survey.
28 Jan 1963 -- Second site survey team arrives Mahé.
28 Feb 1963 -- Lt. Col. Jordan is first TDY station commander. 2d TDY Cmdr was Lt. Col. Lasch. Both men were from the 6594 ATW, Sunnyvale, Cal.
06 Feb 1963 -- GOS-USAF lease agreement (MOA) about OL-9 property signed. [Government of Seychelles and Lt. Col Magowan, USAF,
06 Feb 1963 -- HQ. Space System Division.]
16 Feb 1963 -- GOS makes the first announcement about a USAF satellite tracking station being built on Mahé.
22 Mar 1963 -- On this approx. date Lt. Col. Jordan becomes IOS’ first TDY Commander.
Middle of 63 -- Plans are scrapped for Verlort and Flat-Plane-Array buildings to be placed 400 meters from the Tech Site building. Blueprints
Middle of 63 -- had been drawn and 6594 ATW training material printed stating the two end-items were in place. That had to be changed!
12 June 1963 -- Col. Richardson writes Col. W.R. Hedrick at SSD saying AMR (later called ETR) will provide communications support for IOS.
22 July 1963 -- Lt. Col. Ed Lasch becomes the second TDY Commander at IOS.
Early July '63 -- First HU-16 intended to be the “Mombasa-Mahe seaplane” attempts to land in the Red Sea during a strong storm.
Early July '63 -- The plane is damaged beyond repair.
13 July 1963 -- Six housing modules, mess hall module, and wash house are ready for use.
Late July ‘63 -- Another HU-16 arrives Mombasa for the Mombasa-Mahe-Mombasa route.
Late. July '63 -- It then makes its first trip to Mahe.
25 Aug 1963 -- The Indian Ocean Tracking Station reports to HQ that it is operational.
27 Aug 1963 -- Maj. N.H. Beaulieu becomes IOSs first permanent commander.
04 Sept 1963 -- A USAF chartered HU-16 seaplane makes its first trip from Mombasa, Kenya, to Mahé, Seychelles.
06 Sept 1963 -- The HU-16 is successfully tracked in a fly-by. The station’s 60-foot antenna and receiving gear proved to be in top working order.
Soon afterwardh Soon afterward the plane returned to Mombasa.
02 Oct 1963 -- First entry in station operations log. Subject: Initial Vela program briefing.
09 Oct 1963 -- The Indian Ocean Tracking Station is activated.
17 Oct 1963 -- First satellite tracking operations begins. Vela-Hotel Launch I is supported. The orbital ellipse is 33 degrees north to 45 degrees south.
Mid-Jan 64 -- Station hosts first dance at patio. It was in honor of the helpful local citizens.
28 Jne 1964 -- Tranet-Anna van is operational. This is a US Navy program. This unit is named “Station 717”.
01 Jan 1965 -- ETR becomes responsible for base support. Their contractor is Pan American World Airways. The first contractor was Philco WDL.
28 Jan 1965 -- Syncom II van arrives on the S.S. Maiden Creek.
11 Feb 1965 -- Hughes and Philco personnel conduct the first Syncom II operations.
29 Mar 1965 -- The first office modules are ready for use.
0 1 July 1965 -- IOS given the name “Operating Location #9” (OL-9)
17 Nov 1965 -- Pan Am SSR, Phil Keeler, departed Mahe PCS. But first, he did a favor for Mahé tourists. Phil gives his waterski puller to the
17 Nov 1965 -- Hotel des Seychelles, for use by their guests.
0 1 Dec 1965 -- Site preparation begins for a new 2000KW power station.
0 4 Feb 1967 -- The Seychelles Weekly, a Right-leaning newspaper, ran a headline that had people all across the island talking. The article said James R.
Mancham s defe Mancham is defense attorney in a case where evidence will show that France Albert René and his Seychelles People’s United Party
04 Feb 1967 -- “follow the Communist Party.” (Later: Results were in the eyes of the beholder!)
31 March 1967 -- New Power House begins operation full time.
20 July 1969 -- The USA’s astronauts land on the moon. For a few hours IOS tech rep uses the 60-foot dish antenna to hear them talk to Houston Control.
.i0June 1972 -- The Pan Am seaplane makes its last flight to Mahé. IOS personnel now use the new commercial Air Seychelles.
15 June 1972 -- Maj. Carroll R. Michaud becomes IOS Commander. Work begins gathering old station records to prepare a Memorandum of
15June 1972 -- understanding
with the government-to-be.
15 July 1972 -- Station name changed to “Detachment 4 AFSCF”.
0hMid-1974 -- Local anti-American political zealots start fires near the Tech Site property line. The Commander had to
0 ddMid-19 -- place several station workers on the roof to distinguish hot embers that floated to the roof.
29 Jne 1976 -- The Republic of Seychelles becames a sovereign nation. James Mancham has
29 Jne 1976 -- been elected President.
05 Jne 1977 -- An armed coup in 1977 topples the government of the first president,
James Manchai James Mancham. Military leaders “ask” France-Albert René to be President. Note: F.A. René is not afraid to say “yes.”
19 June 1981 -- The United States and GOS conclude nearly two years of intensive negotiations
19 June 1981 --_concerning a lease agreement for the Indian Ocean Tracking Station.
19 June 1981 --_Upon signing the new agreement, the AFSCF and the United States avoided a
19 June 1981 --_possible forced move of the tracking station from the
19 June 1981 --_Seychelles and thus preserved a valuable network resource.
25 November 1981-- A force of 43 mercenaries led by Col. "Mad Mike" Hoare, attempted a
25 November 1981-- coup on the island of Mahe in the Seychelles. The Government of
25 November 1981-- Seychelles (GOS) imposed a curfew through 2 December. The tracking
25 November 1981-- station secured its technical site and continued normal operation,
25 November 1981-- although available manpower was at 40 percent of authorized strength.
1 July 1987 -- Station name changed to “Detachment 4, 2d Satellite Tracking Group”.
1 October 1991 -- The Diego Garcia remote tracking station and Telemetry & Command
1 October 1991 -- Station-B are operational. (This is the first step to the end of IOS
1 October 1991 -- in Seychelles)
29 Jne 1992 -- Station name changed to “Detachment 4, 750th Space Group.
27 Jan 1993 -- Termination of GOS-USAF lease agreement (MOA) about OL-9 property signed. Public (apparently) not informed of this significant event.
22 May 1995 -- Maj. E.W. Loxterkamp is new IOS Commander and IOS’ last commander.
06 Aug 1996 -- Station tracking operations end.
15 Aug 1996 -- The Indian Ocean Tracking Station in Seychelles is decommissioned.
30 Sep 1996 -- The few remaining Americans leave station property at 1400 hours.
(Those were Mo (Those were: Monte Antkies, Jerry Tipton, and Dave Ryland.)
14 April 2004 -- France-Albert René, the President, resigns and nominates his successor,
14 April 2002 -- James Alex Michel, formerly the vice president of the island nation. (Also a flaming “Pinko”)

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Seychelles Weather Facts

Weather Station – Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles reported the following weather facts (as of 1 April 1966)
Mean Temperature: 80 degrees
Record High: 89 degrees
Record Low: 68 degrees
Average humidity: 75.5%
Rainfall Range: 70 to 135 inches per year.
Long periods of rain from the southeast: June through September.
Long periods of rain from the northwest: November through April.
Months of little rain: May and October
Thunderstorms: 18 per year.
OOOOOOMost rainfall does not come from thunderstorms,
OOOOOObut long periods of slow rain.
Wind Speed: Official high:61 mph. Winds at the Tech Site, almost 2000 feet
OOOOOOabove MSL, have hit 72 mph.
Rainfall Range: 70 to 135 inches per year.

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Tranches of Station History

The HU-16 crew performs important medivacs in late 1965.
       British author and playwright Noël Coward came to Mahé in the fall of 1965 for vacation. He becomes sick in late Nov 1965. The Governor, the Earl of Oxford and Asquith, asked the Commander to have Coward flown to Kenya for medical attention. That was done.
       A senior Philco Operations tech rep, Marty Sheridan, awoke 28 Dec 65 unable to move his legs. He was taken to the Victoria hospital. Doctors diagnosed that he has Type-1 Polio – the worst type! The HU-16 crew was called for an emergency flight to pick up Marty and take him to a Nairobi, Kenya, hospital. The flight was made. Sheridan was placed in an iron-lung.

   

Bing Crosby asks for a tour of the tracking station and briefing about its mission 22 Aug 1973. [In the first picture (L to R) is the Commander, Carroll Michaud; Bing; Unnamed; and at the easel is Philco-Ford SSR Alex Czernysz.] [In picture 2 is American citizen Bill Pomeroy, who has a home on the island; Alex Czernysz, Philco-Ford SSR, Bing Crosby, and IOS Commander Carroll Michaud.] Bing left the station saying he has learned a lot.

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Long Stories and Repeat Information / Pictures

      In the spring of 1958 author Ian Fleming first set foot on Mahé. He had come to the Seychelles for an extended holiday: seeking adventure, sunshine and inspiration for his latest James Bond book, to be called For Your Eyes Only. Later note: Among the five short stories that combine to make up the book, one was set entirely in the Seychelles. Fleming lived in the grand old hotel, Northolme. It is located on the northwest coast of Mahé. In the book the hero complained, “The rainy season here is from December to February. At times the temperature is 80 in the shade and the humidity 90.”
      Other famous authors have come to Seychelles. In mid-1965 Jeannie Harper was invited aboard a British ship where she met British author and playwright, Noel Coward. He mentioned his thoughts behind a play that turned into a movie – In Which We Serve.


Noël Coward (He wanted his name spelled with the diæresis) came to Mahé, without entourage, for a month's vacation on the island. He stayed at the Hotel des Seychelles. He went at the suggestion of Ian Fleming who had recommended Seychelles as an ideal place for him to work on a play he was finishing, A Suite in Three Keys. Pan Am SSR, Phil Keeler, spent some of his off-duty hours with friends at the Hotel des Seychelles. There he met Coward. Noël was a guest of Keeler at the station Mess hall one evening in early Nov. 1965 for dinner and a movie shown at the adjoining patio after sun-down. Days later, Coward and Keeler were dinner guests at Government House with then Gov. and Lady Oxford and Asquith. In early November 1965 Coward became sick. Days later he had to be evacuated by the station HU-16 to Kenya. Recovering, he stated two facts: One, “My last day on Mahé was the end of "the most disastrous holiday I ever had.” The second, “On Mahé I felt an undercurrent of evil.” (Political arguments in town) He was knighted in 1969 in London. He died in 1973. WWII historians claim had the Germans invaded Britain, Coward was scheduled to be arrested and killed, as he was in The Black Book along with other figures such as Virginia Woolf, Paul Robeson, Bertrand Russell, C. P. Snow and H. G. Wells.


17 Nov 1965 -- On this date, Pan Am SSR, Phil Keeler, departed Mahé PCS. But first, he did a favor for the island-nation tourists. Phil had a German waterski puller (that looked like a lawnmower and was powered by a small rotary Wankel engine). He gave it to ex-Royal Marine Jerry LaGrande, owner of Hotel des Seychelles, for use by his guests.


20 July 1969 -- The USA has astronauts to land on the moon. This was the Apollo 11 program. For a few hours that evening IOS had scheduled downtime. Philco Tech Rep Dennis Antilla’s normal duties had to do with the 60-foot dish antenna. Having downtime, Antilla pointed the antenna towards the moon. He picked up over an hour of astronaut conversations with Houston control. They were all business – nothing intended for public relations. Consider this: The antenna had a 60 db gain, space loss was (-) 240 db, and astronauts’ radios had a very small gain. Using the IOS 60-footer, astronaut conversations were clearly heard.


June 1972 -74: Maj. Carroll R. Michaud becomes IOS Commander. Besides running the tracking station he was assigned the job of going through old station records to prepare the station operating in a country that would soon gain independence. Hundreds of GOS-US, GOS-UK, and GOS-IOS agreements had to be gathered. Using that material a Memorandum of Understanding had to be reached with the new government. This was done.


Several months later in 1972:            
_________________________ The HU-16 lands the 500th time to support IOS. When the crew stepped to the ground a celebration began!
_________________________Maj. Michaud (IOS CO), the flight crew, and Len Sluder (Pan Am SSR) are pictured. The HU-16 Mombasa-to
_________________________-Seychelles-to-Mombasa service was discontinued later in 1972 when the Seychelles runway became operational.
_________________________The tracking station then used BOAC for both passenger and freight traffic. Air Seychelles did not exist at that time.

Pictures courtesy of Alex Czernysz__________________


< 22 August 1973 -- Bing Crosby Tours the Station
                
Bing heads up the hill for a tour of the tracking station. [Picture 1 (L to R) -- Alex Czernysz (Philco-Ford SSR), security guard, onlooker, Bing Crosby, and Maj. Carroll Michaud (IOS Commander)]. In picture 2 they hurry for the front door. [In picture 2 – Maj. Michaud, Bing, Alex Czernysz, and Bill Pomeroy (An American citizen who had lived on the island for a number of years.)][Picture 3 - The Major opens the Control Room door for Bing.] It would be interesting to know: On 15 August 1997, a year after F.A. René and his government ushered the Indian Ocean Station off the island, were Seychellois citizens and former IOS employees Gerald Lespoir, Xavier Cadeau, Antoine Balette, and fellow-workers happy with whatever line of work they later found?


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Events on the Island After the Station Closes

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It would be interesting to know: On 15 August 1997, a year after F.A. René and his government ushered the Indian Ocean Station off the island, were Seychellois citizens and former IOS employees Gerald Lespoir, Xavier Cadeau, Antoine Balette, and fellow-workers happy with whatever line of work they later found?


           La Golfball  Once Was the Symbol of Friendship and Assistance ....

                       …In 2010 a UAE palace rises to be the symbol of Socalism/Communism!

In early 2010 the GOS ministry agreed to a UAE diplomatic mission being established in Seychelles. For this purpose, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE, has acquired certain properties at La Misère and Barbarons. A palace being built by Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is taking shape quickly at the top of La Misère. As of mid-January 2010 the palace was three stories high and rising. No one in the public can say how high or how large the structure will be. Such details were not revealed to the public by the GOS planning authorities! No application was completed and placed in the planning register when construction began. None there as of 15 Jan 2010.

A government law states that no building can rise above the skyline. In past months other planning applications were refused because of that rule. In fact, one builder was refused building permission for another spot at La Misère. The Abu Dhabi ruler’s palace, growing in size daily, stands obviously above the island’s skyline.

Concerning Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s palace, the GOS has announced that “the property where the Tracking Station was located is deemed to be diplomatic property and has had the consentof the government of Seychelles … (therefore citizens should realize) properties intended to be used for diplomatic and other sovereign purposes are inviolable under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.” (This rule is incorporated in Seychelles’ Privileges and Immunities Act of 1980.) These legal words mean that diplomatic missions and their agents are immune from the application of local laws and jurisdiction of local courts. (Unless the foreign government expressly waives these immunities – and they simply will not do so.) [Comment: The Sheikh gets these privileges because of his money. Money he has given to Seychelles or to VIP individuals should not allow him and his diplomats to rise above the law. It seems the GOS shows it can be bought!]

A large Chinese building is also being constructed on La Misère. Besides showing up on this mountain, in early 2010 a concerned citizen, born on Mahe, reports that Chinese have taken over former planter Paul Moulinié’s house at Mamelle to turn it in to an embassy (or housing area).


The Condition of La Misère in April 2010 is Worsening by the Day

A village in the Seychelles called La Misère is demanding millions in damages for pollution caused by the construction of a huge palace for the United Arab Emirates president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan. He is also the prince of Abu Dhabi. The Sheikh’s six-storey palace complex will have a 360 degree view of Mahé

The Sheikh is building a lavish compound on the highest spot of the Indian Ocean nation's main island, on the site of a former USAF tracking station. According to Forbes magazine, Sheikh Khalifa is the world's third richest royal and has a fortune amounting to around 19 billion dollars.

La Misère residents now say that farming is no longer sustainable. They complain of noise, as close to 100 trucks toil up and down the mountain with building material. Residents point out, "La Misère was once the place with the best clean drinkable water on the island. Now we have diesel and human waste to drink."

The Seychelles government has acknowledged shortcomings in the way the construction is supervised, but blamed the contractor for the water pollution and environmental degradation. The Emirati prince brought his own construction company, workers and material in huge jumbo planes. [Information is from an article in the April 2010 France 24.


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