A resolution was presented and approved at the most recent meeting of the Texarkana Airport Authority to allow an Ohio aviation museum to remove, relocate and restore the Raydome located at Texarkana Regional Airport.
The Air Force Radar Museum Association approached airport officials about acquiring the Raydome a few years ago. The AFRMA describes its vision as “Honoring every Airman’s story with a permanent home to inspire future generations.”
Executive Director of Aviation Paul Mehrlich welcomes interest from the museum, “I want to make sure that it does get preserved or has the opportunity at least to be, but if it remains where it is over time it will just fall apart, and it will be lost.”
“Unfortunately, we don’t have the money to make sure that all the cracks are filled in the asphalt. We can’t maintain it. So, to try to make sure it can be properly saved, restored, and kept; going forward, this museum has approached us and said they’d have to disassemble it and take a look at it to see if it is repairable or is it too far gone at this point,” Mehrlich added.
Here is a brief history of the Raydome provided by https://www.theclio.com/entry/80877
“With the threat of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the Air Force had to protect its nuclear-armed bases. In 1955, the airport was used by the Air Force for fear of the Soviets attacking during the Cold War and was renamed the Texarkana Air Force Station. The Air Force built a radar that at the time was state of the art. The radar was used to look for threats in the four-state area to Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier, La. Barksdale is a nuclear-armed Air Force Base located south of Texarkana, Arkansas. In 1960 the United States Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration used the radar dome for military and civilian purposes. At one point there were at least 50 men stationed there to monitor the air space in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.”
“According to The Camden News newspaper from March 29, 1959, the location in Texarkana was important because a plane could leave Siberia to enter a southern Jetstream that cross the United States at different times of the year. A Soviet plane could use the Jetstream to fly over Northern Mexico. Once they made it to Northern Mexico, they would have been able to enter the United States, making the Texarkana Radar Dome essential for safety.”
“The radar dome was decommissioned by the United States Air Force in 1968 when newer technology made the radar site unnecessary for security. However, the Federal Aviation Administration continued to use it for civilian purposes until 1983. Reminisce of the 703rd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron can still be seen today. The radar dome is one of the last that still exist in the US from the Cold War.”
The anti-Soviet sphere still has a few steps before salvation. As Director Mehrlich indicates he alone cannot approve action.
“If it is still in good condition, they would like to move it to Ohio to be a part of this museum. That is an example of something I just can’t give away. I’ll have to get approval from the two cities and the Board,” said Mehrlich.
If the museum determines the Raydome to be defunct, they will still remove it from the site.
“At some point in the future, if we want to be able to develop over there, we will have to do the environmental mitigation cleaning that site up,” Mehrlich assured.