A NAVY RADIO STATION HIDDEN IN AN EXTINCT VOLCANO? . . UNBELIEVABLE!
The teen age sailor who gave me my first ride down this road, drove as though he were willing to sacrifice both his life and mine for the simple pleasure of scaring me witless. . . . . He succeeded!
Highlighted: The Auloa road: Onto which the Driver suddenly swerved from the Pali highway. I doubt this trail saved us any time! Crop of a 1943 drawing distributed to the military to show the location of all USO clubs.
KANEOHE – EARLY 1940’s After driving through what appeared to be rice patties and jungle we passed several houses, a few small stores and a gas station converted to a bar. The driver/tour guide announced, "This is Kaneohe and the bar is Honey's bar. We all hang out there."
We turned left and headed up a narrow road toward towering cliffs. The driver negotiated several nasty twists and blind turns and finally approached a Marine guard post.Photo provided by Annette Lancaster
The Marine guard saw us approaching and waved us by. The Jeep climbed the grade toward what appeared to be a barracks. I noticed several hundred telephone type poles spaced at regular intervals throughout the broad valley. It amazed me to learn that these poles supported a ground wire system.
The actual antennas consisted of several cables, each over a mile long, strung across the valley at heights exceeding 2300 feet. That was the first of several shocks in store for me that afternoon.
Transmitter building - East side Radioman 2/c Stankiewicz volunteered to show me around the transmitter building. I quickly agreed. I felt confident that due to my previous work with navy transmitters, I could resolve any problems. We walked up the hill toward an immense bomb proof building.
Transmitter building - West side My self confidence faded when I spotted a tremendous round hole in one wall. Three separate groups of multiple strand wire secured around a series of circular metal spacers, each over a foot in diameter, exited the building and spread out toward the valley and up into the mist overhead. The large insulators and huge corona shields indicated that tremendous radio frequency power at extremely high voltage traveled through that system.
We entered a cavernous room filled with a wide variety of motor-generator sets. The building interior reminded me of a hydro electric power plant.
I glanced around seeking conventional radio equipment but saw none. So - I had to ask, "Where are the transmitters?" Stankiewicz, obviously pleased by my confusion, pointed to the gigantic motor and generator that filled one end of the building and announced, "That's it!"
Ernst Alexanderson testing his alternator, c. 1916 I had never heard of an Alexanderson Low Frequency Alternator. It looked like a motor-generator on steroids. These amazing devices came into use prior to World War One. This monster sent radio signals to submarines throughout the South Pacific even when the subs were submerged. Its signal reached Bombay India and Long Island, New York.
At this point I doubted if I could ever make a technical contribution at this station. The photos continue → ☻
The cage arrives at the upper hoist house.
Upon leaving the cage I looked around for radio equipment but only saw Stankiewicz disappearing out a side door, up a flight of cement steps and headed for a wooden walkway built on the knife-like top of a ridge.
Next we traversed a twisting wooden walkway. Finally, another steep climb. During that first unreal scramble to the peak, I felt I might awaken from a dream at any moment! It remains the most unique experience of my lifetime, filled with many competing adventures.
Upon our return to the upper hoist house, Stankiewicz phoned the hoist operator to report our readiness to descend. He hurriedly replaced the phone receiver, closed the hoist house door, jumped in the cage and closed its doors; anxious to complete these tasks before the operator began lowering the cage.
I felt both excitement and satisfaction that my new assignment would involve repeatedly riding this tiny cage and becoming familiar with every step of the upper portion of the Haiku ladder. Return to Home Page → ☻