HALL OF FAME
E-Mail: Museum Director
Mr. Frank S. Hemingway
National Range Operations
Mr. Hemingway began his civil service career at White
Sands Proving Ground (WSPG) in 1947 as a grade P-4 assistant chief technical
supervisor for the Ballistics Research Laboratories, White Sands Annex. By
1961 he was the PL-313 Technical Director of National Range Operations. Over
the years until his retirement in 1977, he was responsible, more than any
other individual, for the technical leadership that transformed the Range from
a lashed-up facility for exploring the potential of missiles as weapons to the
modern missile range it is today.
In his early career he was active as a designer and evaluator of range
instrumentation systems necessary for obtaining comprehensive measurements of
missile performance. In his role as Director of National Range Operations he
was effective in fostering innovations necessary to meet test support
requirements of new systems still in the conceptual stage. Over his 30-year
career he participated in literally hundreds of tasks, which ensured
continuous improvements in test support capabilities. Some of the more
significant improvements realized during the Hemingway era are outlined below.
In the early WSPG it took days and often weeks to prepare for a single test
and the total capacity of the Range was consumed in the effort. By the time of
Mr. Hemingway’s retirement the Range performed over 6,000 tests per year and
normally operated with two or three tests being conducted simultaneously.
Tracking a single test object was a problem of great difficulty in the early
days, particularly if it had to be acquired during flight. Today the Range
automatically points its instruments to the test objects and provides highly
reliable tracking of several objects at one time. In the early days optical
data reduction was accomplished with crude reading devices, and computations
were performed on manually operated mechanical calculators. This process took
6 to 8 weeks and the mathematics was necessarily unsophisticated. Today much
greater accuracy is obtained in one week through use of especially designed
film readers and computations performed by modern S&E computers. Best Estimate
of Trajectory techniques combine optical data with data from other systems to
produce composite data of higher quality than any single system could provide.
Early flight safety decisions were dependent on observers watching through sky
screens to determine that the missile was headed in generally the right
direction. Today Range instrumentation systems feed data to the Range Control
Center where real time computations provide "instantaneous impact predictions"
and other performance data. This enables the flight safety officer to know at
all times whether or not a missile is behaving appropriately and where the
pieces would fall if the flight termination were necessary.
In the early days Army activity was confined to the area south of the White
Sands National Monument. During the 1950’s, Mr. Hemingway was instrumental in
the integration of White Sands Proving Ground (WSPG) and the Alamogordo
Bombing Range into a National Range that provided support for programs
conducted by the Army, Air Force, Navy, other government agencies, and
authorized nongovernmental agencies, including foreign governments. During the
late 50’s and through the 60’s, Mr. Hemingway directed the expansion of White
Sands Missile Range (WSMR)
to include call-up areas, which provide additional space nearly equal to the
main Range when needed. Also, he directed the establishment of corridors from
Texas, Arizona and Utah over which launches into the main range were
conducted. The most active of these was the Utah corridor over which the
Athena and Pershing firings were conducted. Although never implemented, he
directed the planning of a corridor, which would extend from WSMR to Alaska.
Range Control in the early days was strictly by voice over the intercom (when
the intercom was working). Today the status of range systems is automatically
displayed for range controllers and voice communications are used effectively
for trouble shooting and giving revised instructions. In the early years
scheduling and support planning was a "shouting match." Today support plans
are documented in detail before scheduling, and scheduling is accomplished
with only occasional need for resolving conflicts between high priority
Electronic data, which used to require laborious data reduction taking 2 to 4
weeks is now partially available in real time and completely processed within
Early tracking telescopes capable of only events data were "makeshift" optics
and cameras strapped on machine gun mounts. Current tracking telescopes are
equipped with a variety of optical, TV and IR sensors, automatic tracking and
focusing and can provide a variety of measurements including highly precise
miss distance in addition to events data of superior quality.
These accomplishments without question reflect the contributions of many
others. However, it was Mr. Hemingway, more than any other, who championed the
new technology initiatives, made the critical choices, and provided the
technical leadership. In addition to his accomplishments at WSMR, Mr.
Hemingway was a member of the Planning Commission of the School Board in Las
Cruces, New Mexico, from 1960 to 1970; member and chairman of the Las Cruces
Planning and Zoning Commission during 1961-1970; and a member of the Dona Ana
County, New Mexico Civil Defense Advisory Committee in 1964. He was also a
member of the American Geophysics Union, Society of Photo-Optical
Instrumentation Engineers, American Forestry Association, and the Association
of the US Army, which he served as chapter president during 1966-1967.
Mr. Hemingway died on 13 June 2004.