SAGE old timers are checking in and are politely destroying my fantasy.
Early feedback is that if NWA 305 had its transponder active (a certainty) then SAGE, in its infinite computer wisdom, would display only the transponder hit and filter out the raw radar echos within the "data cell" which was about 1/8 mile wide. Cooper would only show up when he separated from the plane horizontally by more than the remaining data cell width, which would be about 1/16 mile if the transponder hit were centered in the data cell. Sweeps were slow, about 6-10 seconds per sweep (nobody is certain, but it was slow), so do the math. Cooper might have showed up for one maybe two sweeps, not much to go on. My sacred "SAGE solves Cooper mystery" scenario is unraveling fast.
SAGE did apparently have electronic recording means besides 35 mm film, but the old timers tell me that there is almost no chance of any electronic records surviving unless they were preserved during the initial case investigation.
Here is the actual quote from a SAGE expert:
"In any event, it is doubtful if digital tapes showing tracks and radar data at the direction center for that day still exist, or 35 mm film of a PPI at the radar sites or of a device called a RAPPI (Random access PPI). The large Kelvin Hughes Projector 35 mm film for the Direction Center command post display, more of a situation map, likewise is not available but it likely wouldn't show the detail needed for this process."
OK, back to the drawing board. Sigh.
The thrill of the chase... the disappointment when you see what is found. If this is what real detective work is like, I think I'll keep my day job. Carry on Ckret.
(This post was edited by 377 on Feb 3, 2008, 9:24 PM)