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Skyspot Training


The Skyspot training program was called BUSY SKYSPOT.

Ground crew training took place at two units.

The initial training was accomplished at the Matagorda Island detachment. The RBS/Skyspot training site was a tenant unit on the Matagorda Air Force Range installation, which was run by the 4004th Air Base Squadron. The 4004th included their headquarters, a chow hall, barracks, a small motor pool which included a number of Willys type jeeps, a fire department, facilities for operating a flight line, range spotters, an all-ranks club, and of course, the all-important and rather sumptuously appointed Distinguished Visitors' Quarters.

It was not unusual to see a veritable galaxy of stars  on Matagorda Island, as some of the most famous of the Air Force's active duty and retired generals gathered, undoubtedly for the purpose of discussing high-level strategy on how to go about keeping the Soviet and Chinese hordes at bay, and so on. That these meetings seemed to always fall on the opening day of duck and goose season, or turkey season, or during the best of the fishing, was equally undoubtedly mere coincidence.

At any rate, crews preparing for deployment to Southeast Asia would arrive at Matagorda, and go through training and certification for conducting ground-directed bombing operations. Live drops were included in this training. B-52's would orbit the range, hitting (usually) the Palacios IP (initial point), and from there to be guided in by the Skyspot crews. Each crew would drop a specific number of bombs, which had to fall within the established accuracy criteria.

The bombs were M-124 training devices. These were 250 pound iron bombs which contained a load of concrete and black powder marking charges. They were scored by the 4004th's tower crews as a cross-check on the MSQ-77 trainee crews.

The BUSY SKYSPOT program was taken over by Detachment 50, at Bergstrom Air Force Base, transitioning through late 1970 into 1971. Better facilities and a cheaper and less complicated logistics train were the main reasons for the change. And, the targets and the resultant tracks were further out, requiring the use of beacon tracking, which was more in line with operations at that time. And then there were the whooping cranes...


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