An obsolete radio tower went down at CFB Suffield on Tuesday.
An Unmanned Aerial System (UAS or drone) was able to get a close-up of the tower demolition while all other spectators remained a safe distance away. An initial blast took out the guy-wires and the second blast took out the 90-metre tower.
“I’s old technology from back in the day when we were still using analog radio systems,” said Stephen Bjarnason, director of the Suffield Research Centre. “We now have digital radio systems out here, so the tower is of no value to us, we can’t even climb it anymore.”
The plan is to put in a structure that will be used for further field research. Bjarnason explained the site could be used for chem-bio work or possibly aerial systems work. The site is on the experimental proving grounds, which comprises about one-third of the total base.
“It is the area where we do field trials in various types of defence-based research,” stated Bjarnason. “The plan is a structure that is big enough we can actually do things inside of it, such as aerosol generation and those sorts of things. Out here we can control what is going on and we can keep very stringent control over the conditions.”
The site needs to be cleaned up before it can be repurposed. All metal will be recycled and other technology, such as cables, removed before the ground is prepared for the new structure.
Taking down the tower itself evolved into a celebratory atmosphere.
“We decided to let the crew come out here and observe the destruction of the tower,” said Bjarnason.
Some attending had a key interest in where the tower was going to fall as the demolition was turned into a 50/50 type contest with 90 tickets sold at $50 a shot.
Half of the money will go to the Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter and the other half to the person who picked the right spot where the tower fell. A UAS flew over top of the tower and took an image, which was used to draw a circle around the tower and divide it into 90 pieces of a pie. The hope was the tower would come down like a tree, which is what ended up happening.
Following the blast, a fire broke out, but the base was well prepared and had a fleet of fire vehicles ready, and crew members managed to put it out before it spread very far. Once safe, a large part of those attending were invited to go down to the tower site itself to observe the fallen tower up close.
SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News