Nav Canada to dismantle 1960s navigation tower on Hunters Range near Enderby

Aviation history sits derelict

An interesting piece of aviation history has reached the end of the line in the North Okanagan.

Nav Canada says an old navigation tower at Hunters Range near Enderby will be dismantled and removed after changing technology made it obsolete.

The tower was the world's first underground radio range, according to an article in the Enderby Commoner from 1961.

The Enderby & District Museum & Archives shared a photo of the relic on its Facebook page, bringing new attention to what was once a cutting-edge piece of technology.

Jonathan Bagg with national aviation authority Nav Canada says the global industry has for several years been transitioning from ground-based systems to satellite-based GPS navigation.

The VOR (very high frequency omnidirectional range) is a ground-based navigation aid that provides information via radio signals to pilots.

"The VOR in Enderby was built on top of a mountain to maximize line-of-sight capabilities, though it made accessibility challenging for maintenance purposes," says Bagg.

Over time, reliance on VORs decreased based on the proliferation of GPS navigation and other infrastructure.

Nav Canada is reducing its VOR inventory across the country and decommissioned the Enderby site on Feb. 25, 2021.

It has sat there unused since, but the "hardware will be dismantled and removed from the land in the future," says Bagg. No timeline has been given on that work.

The 1961 article states the Department of Transport awarded a $200,000 contract to build the tower, which included an underground military tactical air navigation (TACAN) station.

The unmanned station became operational in 1962.

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