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Check Six – 1981/82: Project ALPS (Air Launched Probe System)

July 6, 2020
Back row: unknown, Michael “Boss” Tice, Mick “My Tai” Melich, David Pontes Front row: Howard Hironaka, unknown – Hawaii Air National Guard photograph

This article first appeared in the July 15, 2010 Retiree News e-newsletter.

Project ALPS (Air Launched Probe System) was a tasking that had some 199th Fighter Squadron pilots flying in orange ―space suits. Both Mike “Boss” Tice and Mick “My Tai” Melich provided comments about the photo and Project ALPS.

Boss wrote back saying: I forget the year but Mick may remember because he came aboard as a temp tech with money we got for the project. I think it was called Project ALPS, but I don’t remember what ALPS stood for. It was an Army ballistic missile defense agency thing. They hung a big rocket on the centerline, we went to 40 some thousand feet as fast as we could go and then zoomed at about 30 degrees and launched this thing about 60 thousand feet. Purpose was to gather radar signature data as it came back down simulating a bad guy re-entry vehicle.

Mick and Ed “Easy” Pickering were the ones that flew the profile several times and the actual launch. I got to do one as the backup and played SOF (supervisor of flying) on Kwajalein for the ―shoot.  The two strangers are life support guys that came from Edwards AFB for space suit support. Took place over several months though the actual number of sorties flown was probably somewhere six and ten. The Arizona tankers supported us with lift to and from Kwajalein and air refueling during the missions.

Mick‘s comments: The other two folks were technicians from Edwards AFB or NASA and were there only to support the training and care of the full pressure suits we were using for this project. This all occurred in late 1981 and early 1982 as I recall.

From → History

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