Last updated: Friday, March 11, 2011

Tananarive Madagascar (LTAN) Page 3

RVTreasure Home Page 

Page 1: Some names and photos of a few people who were at the site, color pictures of the site and the start of some LTAN stories. Page 2: More photos of the station and people. Black and Whites of the 40 Foot Dish build out. Page 3: Photos of the station, people and some of the memorabilia from LTAN and Madagascar like the Money, Lychee nuts, Gitane cigarettes, etc. Page 4: A sad day in the network. A copy of twx announcing the loss of Apollo astronauts. Page 5: Additional pictures and scanned in images. Page 6 Recently uploaded pictures. Page 7 Recently uploaded pictures

Click any image to see the full size version. Click again to get a larger image.

I remember all the excitement when Lee McDaniels, Pat Newman and I arrived in Tananarive.  We were expecting nice accommodations that BFEC and NASA usually handed out only to find that Madagascar was hosting an Organization of African States meeting In Tananarive.  The displays were really impressive even in the dim light of main street (when we first arrived there were no mercury vapor street lamps downtown, just street lights with light bulbs).  There were these huge beautiful flags of African nations flying on the main streets downtown however those great nations had tied up every hotel room in one:  Chez John Louis's.  Chez John Louis's was like stepping into a Hemmingway novel.  It was on a side street with a sign swinging above the door lit by one incandescent lamp on each side.  As we walked in the door there was a long stairway lined with Zebra stripes leading up to some red velveteen curtains at the top.  On the other side of the curtain was a darkly lit bar with a few gringos sitting around one of the tables.  As it turned out Chez John Louis's was one of the hangouts for some of the NASA folks and a few of the Embassy people as well.  This would be where we would stay for a few days.  Lee and I had rooms off to the right down a dimly lit hall with a bad paint job.  My room was over the Chez John Louis sign and had no screen on the window.  It was a very small room with a single bed and that was pretty much it.  The bath and john were down the hall.  Lee's room was pretty much the same but had a nice view out to the west where on the first night we watched a satellite skimming across the horizon during one of those wonderful Madagascar sunsets.  We agreed that this was a good omen for our tour in Madagascar. (the picture on the right with the satellite streak across the sky is not for real, just hacked for the fun of it.).  The first night was long and short.  I was interrupted during the night with knocking at my door (which I didn't answer) and I was fully aware there were no safety locks on the door.  When I woke up the next morning the first thing I found was a small pile of wood sawdust in the middle of my chest which I later found to be the result of an insect in the ceiling directly over my bed.  And the knocking on my door... the ladies of the night apparently used these rooms prior to our renting them.  Now does that give you a warm feeling or what?

Money: When we went to the bank it was like stepping back in time 50 years!!  At the Indian Ocean bank you went into this large room and picked up a number from the teller area.  There was a huge red electronic sign over the tellers that had a number corresponding to whomever had the most current ticket.  The large room had rows of bench seats that looked a whole lot like church pews where we sat waiting for our number to appear in the lights above the tellers.  The money was kept in denomination stacks that were straight pinned together before distribution. And the size of MONEY!!  It came in different sizes depending on the denomination.  The typical notes that we carried were the 50 Franc, 100 Frank, 1000 Frank and  the 2000 Franc note. The bills were incrementally larger with the 2000 Frank note the largest that I ever carried.  The bills were so big they wouldn't fit in my wallet so I carried them folded up in my front pocket.  To this day I still carry my bills in my front pocket.  The coins were interesting too.  Some made of Aluminum, brass and some other shiny metal that I never found out about. In Fig 115 left to right:  Aluminum (old style) Malagasy 1 Frank, newer style 1 Franc, Aluminum 2 Franc, and newer style 2 Franc.  Bottom row is a new style 5 Franc and one of the brass 20 Franc coins.


Fig 115 Obverse

Fig 116 Front

Fig 113 Madagascar

Fig 114 Kenya

Fig 95: Oct 67:  Permanent Zoma. Sometimes we bought our products by the stack rather than by the kilo.

Fig 96: Jul 67:  Tunnel through the "big hill".  We were going up this street one night and passed one of the Malagasy skinning a cat. Mmmum.  Dinner!!

Fig 95

Fig 96

Fig 97:  This was the straightaway going into the train station area.  We called this "the miracle mile".  It was a miracle if you went the full length without hitting something.  Seems like John Laverty might have come up with this description.

Fig 98:  One of the Zoma meat markets.  Full of swarming flies and no one that I knew of bought meat at this market for fear of "getting" something.

Fig 97

Fig 98

Fig 99: Jun 67:  My house.  The pink one dead center.  I don't remember the address but it was on the far side of the Catholic church that was located at the top of the mountain.  Rev. Alvin Cobb lived on the bottom, Don and Heather Cates lived on the second floor and we lived on the top.  When we first moved in there was no central heat or air as was typical of those times in Madagascar.  Reverend Cobb came up with an idea on how we could have hot water everywhere in the house without having to carry those small LP tanks around all the time.  He drilled a hole through the wall in the kitchen, ran copper tubing into the kitchen and then into the bathroom.  Added a couple of large LP tanks out on the back porch and and "wah-la" long lasting LP and hot water everywhere!  We had a couple of funny events during that install.  Reverend Cobb was drilling a hole through the wall in our kitchen with a drill bit that must have been two feet long and a power cable that ran through the kitchen and all the way down the hallway.  At one point the drill got stuck in the wall with the drill motor locked "ON" and the drill then began to beat itself to death on the floor!!  It was hilarious watching Reverend Cobb running down the hall doing a "hand over fist" trace of the power cable in an attempt to save the drill motors life!!

          Reverend Cobb was one of the first people to get Sue and I seriously thinking about the future.  He loaned us a copy of Hal Lindsey's "The Late Great Planet Earth".  Reverend Cobb, Sue and I spent a lot of time talking about that book and drawing pictures on a large sheet of paper laid out on the living room floor.  After we got back to the land of round door knobs Sue read several of Hal Lindsey's works.

          We worked late one night with a launch operations exercise and I didn't get home till the wee hours of the morning.  I found that the toilet had been running and I shut it off.  The next day I saw Reverend Cobb outside and told him that I came home really early in the morning and told him about the running toilet.  He said "I know.  I could hear it all night and I knew exactly what time you got home".  Ooops. 

          Back in those days most of us smoked (NOT Reverend Cobb) and I was known to buy a Playboy (Just one time).  The yard of the house was enclosed by a very high fence and had a small "back yard" like most homes.  One day when I came home Sue told me that Reverend Cobb had told her that he had caught one of the boys in the back yard trying to smoke one of our cigarette butts and going through the trash.  Another Ooops.  I laid low for a few days and hung my head in embarrassment..

          Did you remember that the stairwell hall lights were controlled by a time delay just allowing enough time to get to the top of the stairs?  Push a button that started a timer and then see if you could get to the top before it shut the lights off.  We never failed to remember that you could poke the neighbors light switch on the way up and get extra time to make it to the top.

             Burglar - The Malagasy criminals were no different than American criminals, one can short of a six pack.  Rev. Cobb lived on the ground floor of our apartment building and was the first door we saw after following the short winding dirt path to the apartment building.  One morning Rev. Cobb heard a commotion at his front door and went to see what was up.  There was a Malagasy guy with a big crowbar trying to pry the front door open.  Everyone had the same safety basic safety policy.  We all had big two by six boards across all windows and doors from the inside if we lived on the ground level.  It would have taken a front end loader to get through those doors and windows.

Fig 100:  Zebu carts were pretty common and hauled just about anything you could imagine.  They made me think about how it may have been back in the 1800's as our forefathers migrated across the plains of America.

Fig 99

Fig 100

The Brick Factory

NASA provided a buss that we rode to and from work and we would pass a brick factory that had my interest.  So one day we went out to visit the brick factory with Rev. Cob and his wife Rhoda.

Fig 101:  Aug 67:  Rev. Alvin Cobb, a missionary assigned to Tananarive.  We are at a brick factory on the outskirts of Tananarive.  It was an interesting experience to see how they made bricks.  The clay was put packed in a mold by hand and then laid out in long rows to dry. After the bricks were dry enough they were piled into a furnace shape with tunnels formed through the center.  The tunnels were loaded with charcoal which they lit and then the tunnels were sealed up with clay.  They let the charcoal burn for a few days until the brick was cured.  Can't remember the days of firing but it was something like the "blue brick" was fired for three days and some other quality fired for more days.  If you look in the background you can see the Queens Palace on top the mountain.  I understand that the Queens Palace burned a few years after this was taken.

Wonders will never cease.  I just got a call from Alvin Cobb who was a missionary in Madagascar and lived in the bottom floor apartment of our building.  Rev. Cobb is still in missionary work.  In our conversation I didn't keep good enough notes but the Reverend and family have spent lots of time in the Hong Kong region and are now in Thailand along with his sons who are also in mission work.  I will try to get all this straight and put it on the web site.  Seems also Rev. Cobb knows the location of Don Cates who was in Thailand so I will drop Don a line shortly.  Reverend Cobb also mentioned another name he had found recently.  John Weiss.  Reverend Cobb and I tried to remember what John did at the site and we think he was in charge of the parts and warehouse items we used for restock and repair actions.  Maybe we can contact him and find out.

And the next surprise was a call from Don Cates who now lives in Alabama.  As this story unfolds I will put some of the info on the site.  Is this amazing or what?

Fig 102: Aug 67:  This is Rhoda Cobb (wife of Rev. Cobb), myself and son Patrick at the brick factory.

Fig 104 Patrick and one of the Cobb kids on their front porch of our compound.

Fig 105 Rev. Cobb and one of his sons in the back yard of our compound

Fig 101

Fig 102

Fig 103 The furnace


Well yes, quite a few of us smoked back then.  I remember when the wife was coming over I said "bring in as many cartons of Kent cigarettes as you can.  The ones over here are old and expensive".  She brought twenty seven pairs of high heel shoes instead.  I also said "ship the trunks by sea".  She shipped them by air.  It took me two months to catch up paying on the shipping bill.  So the cartons of Kent's she did bring didn't last very long and we were forced to pay the high prices or smoke the local stuff.  There were all kinds of smokes on the market both American, local and other brands.  I think I tried every one of them and kept going back to the high priced American brands.  The local Pinks (filter) were the least toxic and Gitanes (French with no filter) were the most toxic.  Choke and gag!!  Not only did the Gitanes taste bad they LOOKED bad.  Came in a blue box like that on the right.  There was lots of black tobacco mixed in that made it a "mans cigarette".  But what the heck, it was the cheapest of the lot if I remember correctly.  I swear that my Grandfather could roll his own much better.  The logo on the right is one that I found on the web but it sure looks a lot like those we had in the sixties.

Remember the Citroen Deux Cheval (two horse because it had a two cylinder engine)??  Well this picture looks a WHOLE lot better than most of the real deal.  Some of them had what appeared to be big rubber bands underneath for shock absorbers and for sure some of them had rubber bands as stringers in the bottom of the seats.  Gear shift came straight out of the console about three inches and then turned straight up like a big "L".  Had a big ball on the end of the shift arm about the size of a pool queue ball.  Seems like they had 5 gears plus reverse??

Here is something that will blow your socks off.  The Citroen Avant that a lot of cabbies in town drove?  It looked like a 4/5th scale 1934 Ford.  You could have bought a high mileage one for $300-$400??  The restored ones now go for about $25,000 to $30,000

I knew a guy there in town who had an older Mercedes-Benz 300SL.  I could have bought it for $3,000-$4,000.  I thought "I'll have 8 or 9 grand in that thing by the time I get it back to the U.S.  I think I'll pass"..  restored they now sell for $250,000.  I now feel like saying "Well DUH!".

Fig 106 A Nasty cigarette

Fig 107 Deux Cheval

Fig 117 Similar to the Citroen Avant


I really liked some of the fruits.  Remember Lychee's? I LOVED those things.  You bought them on a branch or two, pealed off the red covering (that to me looked like a soft red cockle burr) and ate the layer of sweet, milky colored flesh that had a texture like a grape.  Found some in a local Wally World one day and took them home expecting the same old taste.  Yuk!! Horrible.!  And the bananas on the island!!  You can't buy those fresh bananas anywhere in the U.S. that I am aware of. Man, did they taste good.  Didn't have any of that "slightly green" taste of those you buy across the counter today.  We had a banana tree in our back yard that had a small bundle of bananas on it and we were waiting very patiently for the bundle to get ripe.  Then one day we came home and the branch was gone!!  Seems someone else was watching them too.  The bananas probably went to the same place as our pet duck.  Huge sweet Tangerines (on some occasions as large as a  grapefruit).  I look at the Tangerines here in the local Wally and can almost taste those in Madagascar.

    Do you all remember getting hair cuts??  Talk about getting pampered!!  They had a complete collection of the latest Playboy magazines, Newsweek, Time and some others as well.  Threw a red nylon (it wasn't silk was it?) cape around our shoulders and went to work.  That was the first and last place I saw the technique of using a straight razor to shape your hair.  It seems like it took 45 minutes to an hour.  Did it include a wash too??

    The magazines we got were fairly current and we paid a little extra for the more "current edition" that came airmail.  That is, we didn't have to wait for the 3 month boat trip to get our news.  But, the pages were really really thin and on occasion someone would comment about using the Time pages rather than the local toilet paper.  Isn't it funny??  I would almost swear that today's Time magazine prints on that same thin paper stock and some of the local toilet paper has become so thin that unless you buy the deluxe version you can see right through it.  The magazines were full of Viet Nam news and we were all watching with a lot of concern for the troops.  It was ironic that sometimes you would read a story in one of the news media about a Collins Engineers being shot and then in the classifieds you would see Collins Engineering help wanted ads.

    How about the breakfast run early in the morning hours at the NASA site cook shack.  Usually had to wake the cook up who was sleeping on the floor and just like every other male in the world he was scratching in the appropriate places.  One of the guys usually killed a couple of cockroaches while waiting for our eggs to cook and the cook had his regular discerning look.  Apparently some of the locals thought their deceased relatives could be reincarnated in things like bugs.  Remember the eggs??  Some blue, some brown, some white and you had to get accustomed to the fact that the yellow would have a red spot in it because it was fertile.  I heard many stories about the gals cracking open an egg to find a partially developed embryo.  And that hard French bread.  You know, I learned to like that stuff and buy it ever chance I get.  Hard to find the REALLY tough bread though. :)

Asking for ice:

We didn't get ice with our drinks since it was such an big issue at the restaurants.  At the Brasserie it would be "Glace s'il vous plait".  And they would bring a couple of small pieces of ice on a saucer that looked very much like they were chipped off a bigger block of ice somewhere.  They would then spoon them into your glass and the chips were so small that they would melt in a very few minutes.  Every once in awhile you would get that urge again that you would like to see some of those great big cubes of ice in a drink.  After going through the "Glace s'il vous plait" exercise the urge was gone for a few more weeks.

Bad Karma

Talking about the Brasserie,,, did you ever use their restroom??  Oooh Ahhhhggh.  The restroom was a doorless room with doorless stalls, a white ceramic pedestal in each stall with dirty foot rests and a hole usually surrounded by flies.  All you had to do was go in there one time and you would take a cab home if needed to use the bathroom!!

It's WAR!!

We had a little boy about 3 years old when we were there and Patrick typically played with the Cobb or Cates kids in the apartment building.  Not much interaction with the Malagasy or French kids.  We were downtown one day and Patrick had an American picture book to read.  He sat down beside a French kid and they began to try and carry on a conversation.  Pat pointed to the picture of a horse and said "horse".  The little French kid said "cheveau".  Pat pointed to a picture of a chicken and a little stern said "chicken".  The French kid said a little more sternly, "no, poulet".  Pat pointed at a picture of a rabbit and even more sternly said "rabbit".  I looked over at Sue and said "you know this is how wars start".


Entertainment was really not very sparse if you took advantage of the situation.  There was little radio and we almost always listened to Lourenco Marques (now known as Maputo, Mozambique) or the Voice of America.  Seems like there were a couple of others but I don't remember the names.  The Malagasy had a TV broadcasting station but in the two years I was there I saw nothing but a black and white target screen being broadcast.  The guys at Goddard had mercy on us though and would send the prelaunch simulation tapes with one of the D.C. area radio stations on one of the tracks.  Some of those tapes were quite long so we got to hear quite a few of the "then popular" songs in the U.S. as well as some of the local news and advertising.  Some of us had tape decks at home and copied the songs from the sim tapes and used them at home.  We played a lot of cards with the Cates and on one occasion had a water balloon fight from our apartment balcony located on the second and third floor.  It was not uncommon to go to someone's house to find them dancing in the living room.  I am not much of a card player and Heather Cates would get absolutely nuts when I didn't bid right in the Pinochle game especially if I were her partner.  I have not played Pinochle since!! :)

King Solomon's mine!!

There were lots of beggars around and it took quite some time to get accustomed to the fact that you could not give to all of them.  There were just too many.  They came in all forms, young, old and the sick.  Leprosy was not uncommon but the most common thing was just abject poverty.  There were lots of street peddlers too.  I remember sitting in the Brasserie when an older gentleman came by with a cigar box which he shoved under my nose.  I was about to run him off when he opened the lid and it was full to the brim with jewels.  Aquamarines, Citrine, Malagasy rubies and other stones that I did not recognize.  I was initially convinced that I should slam the lid down on the cigar box and whisk this guy off to be hidden away.  I thought this old guy had found King Solomon's mine.  As I would learn later the island had lots of these semiprecious stones and they also had a school for cutting and polishing jewels.  After I and others got pretty accustomed to seeing these boxes full of semiprecious stones we would pick out the best cut and polished ones and have them mounted.  It was really cheap to get them mounted in high content gold rings, broaches and necklaces.  Was it $20 for setting and abut $12 for the stone??  Gee, I wish I had bought a LOT of those rings!!

The stolen car:

Don Cates was getting close to the time he would go back to the land of round door knobs and was starting to make plans to leave.  Don would typically drive his car to work and if Don and I were on the same shift I would ride out with Don.  One day Don and I were on the same shift and he was going to share a taxi down to the brasserie to catch the bus.  I said "Don, where's your car"?  He said "stolen".  I said "Wow!!  That's a shame.  Are you going to buy another"?  He said "Naw I'm too short to worry about it and it was insured anyway".  I said "did you call the cops"?  He said yes but the auto theft division are ALL on vacation and I can't get them to do anything".  I said "Wow!!  That's unbelievable!".  Don said "It's OK, the insurance paid for it.  And by the way I know where it is, I just can't get anyone to do anything about it".  The Malagasy Auto Theft Division operated differently back then. 

Malts and Hot Dogs:

The ice cream in Tananarive was horrible.  It had very little "sweetness" and the calcium was so low that it JUST didn't taste right.  So, ice cream would be moved pretty close to the top of your "the first thing I am going to have when I get back to the states" list.  Hot dogs were sorta in that list too.  The definition of a hot dog was a French bread bun somewhat like our sub buns today that had the top cut off about an inch from the top.  Somehow they drilled a hole down the middle, put some hot mustard on a wiener and slide it in.  That hot dog was so full of hot mustard it would clean out your sinuses.

     One night we went into a cafe at a brand new, what appeared to be, motel.  We were pretty amazed that they had a motel and were further amazed to see a malt blender on one of the shelves behind the counter.  We asked the waiter if we could have a malt and he had no idea what we were talking about.  He didn't know how to use the machine behind the counter so we explained it to him.  He humored us as we gave him instructions on how to go about building a malt.  Since he didn't have any malt I guess we were really giving instructions on how to build a shake!!  He poured it in a glass and we all agreed it was the worst shake we had ever had but we would be back just for the nostalgia.  A few days later we went back and they would not make a shake for us.  No explanation, the answer was just NO.


We had been in our house a few days when it became apparent that we had fleas galore.  Sue was visiting with one of the the other ladies and found out that all we had to do was use a special floor wax.  Sue talked to the maid who we discovered knew all about it. The maid brought the stuff home and it was pretty interesting watching her put the wax down.  She took half a coconut shell, put it on the floor open side down and began doing the flea killing and floor waxing dance.  She stood with one foot on the coconut shell, sort of leaned on her broom for balance and would rock back and forth on the coconut shell sliding it all across the floor like she was sweeping of dusting.  Her free foot would actually come completely off the floor as she went through this waxing dance.  We tried to do the waxing dance many times without success and in later years laughingly decided that this was probably a Malagasy tradition they learned over many years of practice!!


Did you folks have a maid??  Several of the people had everything from maids to chauffeurs but we didn't think we would have any of those at our first place in Tananarive.  We decided before we arrived that we would not try to live like Americans and spend all our money on "keeping up with the Jones" but rather be frugal and go home with some money in our jeans.  As a result we didn't get a maid nor did we consider it.  For maybe two months!!  We had a really small icebox (dormer size) that required restocking about every three days, a two burner stove with an oven the size of a large toaster, hot and cold running water and that was about it.  Anyway, there was no washing machine, clothes dryer or any of the other "normal" luxuries found in a typical American household.  Sue would take laundry outside the back door to a cement double sink with a slanting table top leading to the first tub.  With soapy water in one side and fresh water in the other she would scrub the clothes on the slanting table, dunk them in soapy water then rinse out and hang dry.  Some of the other house hold duties were running to town every couple of days for supplies, taking care of the 3 year old, iron the clothes, scrub the floors and make the beds.  It didn't take long for Sue to figure out that this was not a one man task.  Excuse me, a one woman task.  So we hired Janet Raharimala.  What a great gal she turned out to be.  We were so embarrassed by the low wages she wanted that we gave her just about twice that each month.  She saved us that amount two fold over by doing all the grocery shopping and getting us the "best price" on most everything.  She stayed with us for the whole tour and even went to the airport to see us off and handed Sue her Lamba as we got ready to board the plane.  We still have that beautiful Lamba.

Dog with worms - Now this is a fun story.  We somehow managed to get a medium sized dog to keep the young son occupied.  Was that dumb or what?  It wasn't long before I found out the dog had worms.  Off I went to the pharmacy to buy some meds to de-worm the dog.  Well I bought some stuff that looked a whole lot like a Hershey bar and it was even marked off in little squares like you would expect.  But,,, the instructions were of course in French.  Out comes the old Berlitz book and I proceeded to find out how much to give the dog.  I dosed the old doggie up and we all went to bed.  The next morning I had to be at work early so I got up before Sue and got ready for the day.  As I came down the stairs the dog gladly met me at the bottom of the stairs wagging his tail and waiting for a good petting.  Then I notice the first pile of poo.  Then I noticed the second pile of poo.  After a quick look around the house I decided that I had better get out of Dodge before Sue woke up!!  Yes I know that was mean but I knew what was coming!!  I went off to work and by the time I got home Sue had calmed down.  Thank you Lord.  I got the de-worm medicine out to check out why I didn't understand that this dog was going to poo all night and found that I had interpreted the French instructions wrong and had double dosed the dog!!  No wonder the poor thing was pooing all over the place!!  I made sure to be double nice to Sue for the next few days.

Fleet of foot thief -

Our next door neighbor was an Air France pilot who didn't really spend much time at home. 

L'Oeuf - A bar in Tananarive called "The Egg" - There was an upscale French school in Tananarive that I am totally unfamiliar with.  The one thing I knew about it was that a lot of the students hung out at L'Oeuf in the evenings.  The French gals dancing were a sight to behold.  We were there one night when the kids decided they wanted to see how many embassy medallion they could bring back to the bar.  I thought they were just kidding until I saw one of those 5 foot medallions walk in the front door.  I don't know which embassy it belonged to but it had a big angular black bird on it somewhat like the Austrian logo.  Since I was pretty convinced that jail time in Madagascar would not be very educational I left and never went back. 

New Arrivals - Although BFEC provided everyone with a briefing and all kinds of literature about the living conditions and how to adapt we all had to go through our own learning process of do's and don'ts.  I had been in Tananarive about two months before Sue arrived so I had the opportunity to get her acclimated more quickly than average. One evening we got together with two other couples to have dinner at one of the local restaurants and to welcome one of the newly arriving wives.  We sat down at dinner and the waiter brought us the complimentary carafe of wine and a dish of sliced Baggett with butter.  We were in the process of telling the newly arrived wife about some of the do's and don'ts in Tananarive when she informed us that she had gone to the library and read all about how to live in Madagascar and Tananarive.  We all took the hint and stopped handing out the free advice.  The waiter returned to our table again with a large bowl of salad for us all to share.  We all carefully got our lettuce from around the spot where the white worm was doing calisthenics and left at least one of the odd looking tangerines alone.  Toward the end of dinner the newly arrived wife picked up the odd looking tangerine, pealed it and took a big bite.  She made a quick exit to the bathroom to take care of the wormy tangerine problem and I gathered Sue up to take her home.  Seems Sue had a little too many glasses of wine and since we are both flatlanders and never lived at 5,000 feet the extra glasses of wine took their toll on Sue.  She was pretty well whacked.

Water sediment

    NASA has some pretty good historical information at the following link.   If you select chapter 6 Tacking and Data Acquisition there is some information about Tananarive and other stations.   Although chapter 6 title says 1969-1978 it starts with 1964 for Tananarive.

    Here is the paragraph about Tananarive:  The Tananarive tracking station on Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa, was built in 1964 to give manned spacecraft ground controllers additional information on Gemini spacecraft orbital injection.  As with most of NASA's agreements with foreign countries that allowed the agency to build a facility on its soil, there was no exchange of funds.  No rent was exacted for the site.  The 10-year memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and the Malagasy Republic stressed the international benefits of space research to all mankind.  And the tracking station would generate much-needed weather forecasts that would give the Republic maximum [406] coverage, especially during hurricane season, and would provide jobs for some 200 local residents.  The station proved critical to the MSFN and was transferred to the STDN in 1972.  In February 1975, the chief of state of Malagasy was assassinated, and a rival government took control of the islands.  Negotiations in the coming months between NASA and the new rulers centered on the Malagasy demand for rent on the station site: $1 million per year retroactive to 1963.  The U.S. could not agree to such a demand, and on July 14th, the Supreme Council of Revolution of the Malagasy Republic ordered the station closed and placed it under the control of the armed forces.  NASA and Bendix employees were allowed to evacuate, but all equipment was left behind.  So that support for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project would not be disrupted, NASA made use of the orbiting Applications Technology Satellite 6 to serve as a relay link.  The workload from other satellites was shifted to other stations.  Early trajectory support of launches was provided by increased use of ARIA and the USNS Vanguard.

    Here is a great link to the satellites that were launched.

 Oddities:  Am I hallucinating or did we not have a Biosat go up with a monkey that we could not get the retro's to fire and therefore could not get the Monkey down?  Or was it that there was no life on the satellite and we just could not fire the retro's because the transmit/receiver wouldn't work??  I do remember that we fired "turn off" and "turn on" commands at it as it came over for several days.  Seems like one of the sites actually got it turned on but the activity had become so repetitive that they sent the command to turn it off.  And it worked.

Seems like there was one launch where the bird was to eject a gazillion tiny copper dipoles.  The plan was to bounce signals off the copper dipole cloud to communicate "over the horizon".  After the ejection the tiny dipoles were never heard from again.

Religion?  Remember the beads and stuff they sold in the Zoma?  You could get a bead to make your goat give more milk, one to get someone else's wife or you could get a charm or herb to fill just about any other want or need you could think of.

General Area and still to do


WWV ,matching the ticks - one WWV from one side of the earth and another from the other side of the earth.

Cesium beam clock

Malagasy fuses. Remember they looked like solder wire??

Don and I waiting for a pass


Hot Dogs and Malts

The power station went offline one night

Somewhere in my files I have a picture of the antenna used for the first GPS tests at the station.

The group was privileged to have John Laverty perform his original songs, "Mad Air 51" and "510 Blues". Chuck Edmonson did his originals about a market in Saudi Arabia and "The BFEC'ers

Fig 109 Are you gonna' get in the car or what?

Fig 110

RVTreasure Home Page 

Page 1: Some names and photos of a few people who were at the site, color pictures of the site and the start of some LTAN stories. Page 2: More photos of the station and people. Black and Whites of the 40 Foot Dish build out. Page 3: Photos of the station, people and some of the memorabilia from LTAN and Madagascar like the Money, Lychee nuts, Gitane cigarettes, etc. Page 4: A sad day in the network. A copy of twx announcing the loss of Apollo astronauts. Page 5: Additional pictures and scanned in images. Page 6 Recently uploaded pictures. Page 7 Recently uploaded pictures