Robert D. Lammers was born on August 9, 1932 in Hooper, NE. He served in the United States Air Force from May 1950 until his discharge in September 1953, having earned the rank of Staff Sergeant. During his time in the Air Force Lammers’ electronics career began as a Fire Control Systems Technician. Following his discharge, he studied engineering at the University of NE and in 1964 earned an electronics degree from R.E.I. (Radio Engineering Institute) in Omaha, NE, graduating at the top of his class.
On October 25, 1953 Bob was united in marriage to Patricia Allen a registered nurse from Blair, NE. Together they raised five children--three sons and two daughters.
Lammers joined the Department of Aeronautics, Navaids Division in April of 1966 as an Electronics Specialist. He and two other technicians maintained seven state owned VOR’s, thirteen NDB’s and one 75 mHz fan marker. Lammers was promoted to Assistant Chief in October 1969 and became Chief of Navaids in April 1971. Bob earned his pilots license in 1975.
At the time he became chief, there were seven VOR’s, sixteen NDB’s, two 75 mhz fan markers, a weather teletype system serving thirteen airports and ten weather reporting stations. During his first year, antenna coupling units were designed, fabricated, tested and installed on "H" transmitter equipment. The purpose of the units was to eliminate facility outages caused by ice on the antennas.
In 1974 a new state owned and operated VOR was commissioned 9.5 miles west of Thedford, NE. This facility served the Sandhills region, which was previously devoid of VHF coverage. This was constructed entirely by Navaids. During selection of the site, it was determined that it would require a "mountain top" installation due to the rugged terrain. In design phase this configuration was modified. The equipment was housed in a poured, underground, concrete building using a conventional VOR counterpoise system at ground level. This eliminated the problems normally encountered with the long feed lines between the transmitter and antenna in a normal VOR mountain top installation. The DME was added in 1977 and the facility continues to operate.
In the 1980’s Lammers saw the need for an airport lighting program, this program was approved by the Aeronautics commission on March 19, 1982. This program was developed to reduce the actual project expense required to install a low intensity lighting on municipal airports in NE. The program was basically a project of near exchange of services and material costs for a new or replacement system. NDA provided, at no cost to the sponsor the light fixtures, cable, lighted wind cone assembly, rotating beacon less the tower, the electric eye and installation. The sponsor, at no cost to NDA provided the trenching and backfilling, connectors, ducts, beacon tower, wind cone pole, obstructions lights and labor.
Navaids continued to remain responsible for the engineering, installation and maintenance of all state owned navigational aids. In 1984, responsibility of 68 rotating beacons was added. They designed, re-built and installed these beacons at a lower energy cost to the local airports. One metal halide lamp lasted as long as fifteen incandescent lamps. This reduced maintenance and parts cost as well as cutting electrical consumption by about 40%. The majority of those beacons are still in service today.
It was Lammers’ dream to have the State, FAA, National Weather Service and the local communities join together to provide timely aviation weather observations. This became a reality with the beginning of the Shared Weather Observation Program (SWOP) in January of 1980. After about a year of negotiations, SWOP became the only program of it’s type in the nation. Hourly and special weather observations were made and disseminated between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm at seventeen locations. All participating parties contributed 25% towards the cost, which was about 75 cents per observation.
During the late ‘80’s still another new method of gathering weather was being introduced to the country. Lammers focused in on this opportunity, working initially with Henry Wulf, Diane Hofer and others in the NDA’s Engineering Division to receive federal AIP funding to install eight Automated Weather Observing Systems better known as AWOS’s in Nebraska Once purchased these systems were installed by Navaids personnel. Nebraska remains today, one of the few states that installs and maintains their own AWOS systems. Bob did not stop with the initial installation but worked to see that those systems, being non-fed, had their observations disseminated into NADIN, the National Airspace Data Interchange Network. In 1992 the Department of Aeronautics received the "Most Innovative State Program Award" for their"Weather Program" from National Association of State Aviation Officials at their annual meeting
An active and continuous surplus property program was pursued during Lammers’ years as Chief. Personnel carefully screened GSA and FAA surplus catalogs and ‘fiche, completing applications requesting the donation of electronic equipment, components and parts to maintain and improve the Navaids Division’s operations. In fiscal year 1975-1976 the items acquired through the program valued in excess of $37,250.00.
In the early ‘90’s a request for a better approach to the Fremont airport was received. In researching the options, no suitable location could be found for a VOR on the Fremont Airport or surrounding area. Lammers being familiar with the area understood the many obstacles involved and was instrumental in working with the Fremont city administrators in cost sharing the installation of a VOR at the Scribner State Airfield. The facility provides better approaches to the Fremont airport and is the only state owned airfield that has a VOR. This VOR was commissioned in September, 1995.
Lammers retired September 1, 1994. In his 28 years he was always looking for ways to strengthen the aeronautics division within the State of Nebraska. His vision for the future is confirmed from the areas we just spoke of. Bob, known for his harmonious relationships, on numerous occasions, walked into a meeting, when tension was evident and came out with a handshake, smiles and a verbal commitment. He acquired much knowledge about aviation and navigational aids, always sharing this information and knowledge with those around him, doing so in a very eager manner. He had a gift of teaching and presenting the knowledge he had gained which was evident in the many presentations he did at airports, weather events and conferences over the years.
Back to the Hall of Fame