According to this story in a 1945
issue of Radio News magazine, Raytheon certainly had an ambitious plan
with its "Sky-top" network of microwave relay stations from border to border and
coast to coast. No orbiting satellites existed at the time, so purely terrestrial
methods were necessary. The basic idea was to build facilities at the peaks of the
highest mountains in the U.S. to enable high bandwidth, reliable, high quality broadcasting
of all known forms of services - television, facsimile, aircraft and nautical navigation,
telephone, emergency, et al. The funding and logistical investment would be enormous,
particularly with getting access roads, materials and electricity to all the remote
sites. Automation was to mitigate the difficulties involved in manning stations
fulltime, but there would be the need for periodic maintenance and repair. Plans
included tests for frequencies into K−band (26 GHz), which was really stretching
the limits of technology at a time when a few tens of MHz were challenging for most
applications. A WWW search for information on the ambitious "Sky-top" project did
not turn up useful results, so I don't know whether it ever became a reality.
New Coast-to-Coast Television Network
Map shows the area which the recently-planned network will service.
A new West Coast television broadcasting chain and microwave relay system, appropriately
called "Sky-top" because it spans the highest mountain peaks from Mt. Adams in Washington
to Mt. Whitney in Southern California and continues eastward to Grays Peak in Colorado,
is presaged by the application filed recently with the Federal Communications Commission
by Raytheon Manufacturing Co., of Waltham, Mass., New York City, and Chicago.
The system augments the Western link of the nationwide microwave communications
project revealed in the previous application recently made by the company.
Initial permission from the FCC is sought for experimental stations to be erected
on Mt. Adams in Washington; Mt. Shasta, Mt. Lassen, Mt. Tamalpairs, Mt. Whitney,
and Mt. San Gorgonio in California; Wheeler Park in Nevada; Kings Peak in Utah and
Grays Peak in Colorado. These mountain peaks range in height from 3,000 ft. to 15,000
Subject to approval, Raytheon envisions building on the summits of the mountains,
stations to provide safety stations for commercial and private airplanes within
a radius of 300 to 500 miles of the respective mountain tops; wide service area
television; FM and AM broadcasting; a microwave relay system; public call systems;
highway control systems and police-radio master stations.
The use of these facilities will be open to all licensees of the FCC.
Before the war Lt. Comdr. Temple V. Ehmsen, USNR, a native of Oregon and now
on active duty with the Navy, conceived the idea of building a station on Mt. Adams.
Meanwhile, company engineers had studied the entire "Sky-top" project as an adjunct
to their proposed transcontinental relay system and Comdr. Ehmsen joined forces
with them in their planning.
One objective of the project is to receive at the mountain top radio stations,
televised news events as they occur at any point within their range and, instantaneously,
to broadcast them to all points in the link. At the same time televised scenes of
important events will be fed into the proposed transcontinental system for transmission
through local stations.
Joseph Pierson, former President of Press Wireless, Inc., and now head of Raytheon's
Communications Division, recently appeared before the FCC and outlined plans for
the coast-to-coast system. It will be operated on super-high frequencies, or microwaves,
of the radio spectrum not now in public use and three groups, at 1,900, 3,900, and
5,800 megacycles, were requested.
Among the advantages in utilizing these microwaves, Mr. Pierson mentioned improved
air safety and navigation systems for airline operations; the ability to transmit
a very broad band of intelligence, thus opening a multitude of channels; and the
ability to relay from city to city high-quality and natural-color television programs.
The first Eastern leg of the system will have terminals at New York, Boston,
and Washington. Later on, the circuits will follow the airline routes via Cleveland,
Detroit, and Chicago to the Pacific terminals at Los Angeles, San Francisco and
Seattle. These circuits may be quickly expanded as new air routes are developed.
The system contemplates terminal stations at each service point, with an automatically
operated relay station every 30 to 45 miles between such terminal points. The system
will be effective along a path from 15 to 25 miles on each side of a solid line
beam, or a total coverage of from 30 to 50 miles in width.
When the necessary high-frequency radio channels have been allocated, Raytheon
services will include:
1. Automatic warning for airplane pilots of approach to other aircraft, natural
obstacles, or the ground, even in zero visibility.
2. Similar protection for ships against rocks, shoals, or collision, and for
railroad trains and highway vehicles against collision.
3. Printing of newspapers by radio facsimile.
4. Greatly enhanced qualities of transmission for relay of broadcast programs,
including high-definition television and motion pictures and, as a by-product, for
public telephone, including regions now without telephone service.
5. Portable-radio transmitting units enabling reporters to file their stories
in the home offices by facsimile and voice recordings.
6. Warnings of impending floods, breaking of reservoirs, forest fires, train
wrecks and other disasters.
In its application for "Sky-top" stations in the Western States, the company
has requested authority for its initial tests on 30.66, 39.55, 90, 200, 400, 900,
1,900, 4,000, 6,000, 10,000, 16,000, and 26,000 megacycles.
The stated object of conducting tests in the West Coast stratosphere is to develop
the following types of public service:
1. Airways beacon systems for guiding aircraft safely over some of the country's
most mountainous and treacherous terrain from an airplane operating standpoint.
2. Television and FM broadcast interstation relays forming a network to serve
the area from Seattle through San Francisco to San Diego and extending eastward
through Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.
3. Forestry and conservation radio service and State police services, affording
long-range communications for the prevention and fighting of forest fires, and for
highway police patrol systems.
4. Weather Bureau observations, automatically or manually relayed to information
collecting points as an aid in forecasting.
To avoid defacing the mountain sites, Raytheon plans to build all facilities,
including living quarters, underground and the only part exposed will be the antenna
systems. As antennas above 30 megacycles are quite short, it is planned to roof
all communication antennas with a Quonset hut type of construction. Access to the
living quarters will be by tunnels below the mountain tops.
Shelter, heat, and cooking facilities will be available to mountain climbers,
forest rangers and scientists.
In its applications Raytheon stated that it is in a position to initiate the
first stage of the West Coast system and the first section of the Eastern circuit
of the transcontinental system during 1945.
Posted July 22, 2021