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Google Earth Plug-in: Boeing EC-135E ARIA at Lake Charles Chennault Airport

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During the early 1960s, NASA and the Department of Defense needed a mobile tracking and telemetry platform to support the Apollo space program and other unmanned space flight operations. In a joint project, NASA and the DoD contracted with the McDonnell Douglas and the Bendix Corporations to modify eight Boeing C-135 Stratolifter cargo aircraft into Apollo/Range Instrumentation Aircraft (A/RIA). Equipped with a steerable seven-foot antenna dish in its distinctive "Droop Snoot" or "Snoopy Nose," the EC-135N A/RIA became operational in January 1968. The Air Force Eastern Test Range (AFETR) at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., maintained and operated the A/RIA until the end of the Apollo program in 1972 when the USAF renamed it the Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft (ARIA).

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