17 September 1963

BMEWS Site III, Fylingdales became operational on Tuesday 17 September 1963 and joined its ‘sister’ sites BMEWS Site I, Thule, Greenland (1961) and BMEWS Site II, Clear, Alaska (1962).


Air Marshal Douglas Morris, Royal Air Force and Lieutenant Otto J Glasser, United States Air Force brought the base into operation by calling NORAD Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Colorado to ‘go online’. At the commissioning ceremony seen here in black and white documentary photos and colour slides held in Fylingdales Archive. Air Marshal Douglas Morris and Lieutenant Otto J Glasser speak on the phone to NORAD. The phone call and the conversation which took place is described in detail in Radio Corporation of America (RCA) magazine, Electronic Age, Autumn 1963.

“On September 17, for instance, at the commissioning ceremony at Fylingdales Moor, an officer at Colorado Springs ticked off the scoreboard in a dramatic (and loud and clear) phone call to the Yorkshire radar station: Total manmade objects in space, 357; payloads, 72; “debris,” 285.”


This data, collected by BMEWS radar Site I, Thule and Site II, Clear, were the amount of man made objects in Low Earth Orbit as of the 17 September 1963, today the number stands at approximately 20,000.


Accompanying the opening ceremony a press release explaining the partnership between the military, private sector and public sector organisations which enabled the BMEWS project and the programme of the opening day.


Fylingdales Archive

Your collections