Rivet Ball to the end and Lisa Ann had an analog inertial navigation system (LN12). This device provided the navigators with a position and velocity of the aircraft while in-flight. The key word is analog. Analog these days connote old fashion such as in analog cell-phone. An indicator of modernity is the word digital. The sophisticated tourist has a digital camera. Litton the company that I worked for in the late 60s developed a digital navigation system, the LN16.
Some official with authority assumed the air of Col Ratto, the Det. 1 6th SW commander when I arrived at Shemya, whenever he viewed the Rivet Ball crew gobbling down pastries and cold cuts after a mission, "nothing's too good for my boys". As such, this authorizing official decided that the Lisa Ann incarnate, Rivet Amber, should have a digital navigation system. The LN16, my company salesman said to this visionary was the very ticket. It could track stars, even in daylight, giving precise position and heading, it could measure velocity superior to the Doppler radar and its digital computer when programmed with waypoints would steer, via the autopilot, an aircraft to a destination. The very pineapple of high tech, as Mrs Malaprop would say. It was then. Now, less capable than a $100 GPS receiver that's attached to a golf cart. The company salesman was quick to point out that the complexity of the system and its range of capability were such that it should be accompanied, for a modest charge, with a full time service representative. The official pronounced, "Let it be done" and it was done. And it was good, for Litton at any rate.
At the time Rivet Amber deployed to Shemya I had been a LN16 tech rep at Eielson for 5 months trying to maintain the LN16 on the RC135 known as 357 with another two RC135s to get a LN16. Litton was my first job after my military service and college.
The LN16 performed spectacularly when it worked. Note the qualification. The reliability of the LN16 was marginal. The 12 to 16 hour missions of the RC135s at Eielson taxed the system. Something usually malfunctioned in the LN16 before the mission ended. My standing in the eyes of the 6th wing, as I viewed it, was being determined by how well the LN16 performed. I was under pressure. Not relieved in the slightest by the navigators who kept asking me in my training sessions whether I was going to have a Tinker Toy model like Larry Hart, my LN12 predecessor, used in demonstrating the principles of the inertial navigation. No I wasn't. Plus I sensed that the members of the 6th SW while affable and easy going were dedicated professionals. They expected things, including me, to perform. If the opportunity arose I would leave.
The LN16 program manager flew up from company headquarters in Woodland Hills, Ca to show the flag to the wing brass at Eielson. He took me to the Malamute Saloon in Fairbanks where a "bunch of the boys were whooping it up". Plying me with drinks the manager said that he needed someone to go to Shemya. Well Rivet Amber was the only aircraft on Shemya with an LN16 and the usual mission duration was 3 hours. Comparing this with the situation at Eielson, I said that I would go.