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Ascension AAF Local Post

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This page updated 29 Oct. 2014

Ascension AAF Local Post cover #02

The second Ascension AAF Local Post issue. The local post stamp commemorates the first anniversary of The Islander, the local newspaper.

Located on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, Ascension AAF (Auxiliary Air Field) is the name of the missile and spacecraft tracking complex designated as Station 12 in the United States Air Force Eastern Test Range. In its entirety it consists of the airfield, the main base of living quarters, administration and logistics, and tracking/communications sites spread out across the vocanic island. This is NOT to be confused with the seperate NASA complex, known as the NASA Tracking Station, which was also located on the same island.

Local post operation began in January 1972 upon transfer of the local post (lo-po) servicer, Joe Frasketi, from Grand Bahama Island the previous December, where he had operated the GBI AAF Local Post and serviced collectors covers for previous Gemini and Apollo space flights.

Special space lo-po stamps were issued while at Ascension with the first issue honoring the Apollo One astronauts on the 5th anniversary of their death at Cape Kennedy Florida. A rouletted horizontally stamp with a black design on buff gummed paper featuring their arm patch was issued on 101 first day covers. These FDC's received a January 27, 1972 hand cancel of Patrick Air Force Base, Florida as Patrick A.F.B. is the home base of Ascension AAF.

To commemorate the 15th anniversary of operation of the Ascension AAF island tracking station, the 6th Ascension AAF local post stamp featured tracking antennas against the cinder heaps was issued. This lo-po stamp, rouletted horizontally is blue on light blue gummed paper and the 110 FDC's received an Ascension hand cancel of July 4, 1972. Since U.S. Air Force records do not show an official dedication date for the Ascension AAF base, the U.S. independence date was chosen. This was also an appropriate date since Major Gen. David M. Jones, the Commander of the Air Force Eastern Test Range, arrived on that date for an official visit and inspection. The Ascension AAF tracking station supported its first missile flight on October 31, 1957 when a Snark missile was flown 5,000 miles with a simulated thermonuclear warhead from Cape Canaveral Florida. The Snark missile hit its target with unprecedented accuracy nearby and the Ascension AAF tracking station was considered operational thereafter.

The third anniversary of the Apollo Eleven moonlanding was commemorated with the issuance of its 8th local post stamp. It depicts a line drawing of an astronaut stepping on the Moon, This lo-po stamp rouletted horizontally is blue on pink gummed paper with a total of 105 FDC's receiving the Ascension hand cancel of July 20, 1972. Since the Apollo Eleven astronauts carried and placed the Apollo One arm patch to the surface of the Moon, special commemorative covers were also issued. Commemorative covers totaling 64 were issued on July 20, 1972 with the first ASC AAF Local Post stamp showing the Apollo One arm patch and these covers received the Ascension hand cancel.

Other ASC AAF Local Post stamps were issued to commemorate significant island events or anniversaries. Such as the anniversary of the first aircraft to land at Ascension Island; the anniversary of the first postage stamp on Ascension (Saint Helena stamps overprinted Ascension); the first visit of the worlds largest aircraft, the C5A. The 2nd ASC AAF Local Post issue commemorates the first anniversary of The Islander newspaper. At that time it was the longest issued newspaper that the island ever had. The 3rd and 12th ASC AAF Local Post stamps show a portion of the poem Sea Fever by John Masefield, since the sea is such a large part of the island life. As Ascension and Tristan da Cunha are dependencies of St. Helena covers from the ASC AAF Local Post were also issued on Tristan da Cunha and St. Helena. Special FDC's, in a quantity of 106, were mailed to Tristan da Cunha with the 12th local post stamp affixed and all were postmarked Tristan da Cunha November 20, 1972. These covers took many months to arrive there and were actually postmarked long after the ASC AAF Local Post ceased operation on Ascension Island.

The ASC AAF Local Post ceased operations on August 25, 1972 when the employment of Joe Frasketi ended with the Eastern Test Range. Last day of service covers were prepared as well as the last stamp, issue #13, being released. This blue on pink rouletted horizontally gummed stamp depicts a C-141a aircraft leaving Ascension Island. A total of 113 FDC's was were carried aboard the C-141a aircraft, by Joe Frasketi, this being his last flight from Ascension. All covers received the Patrick Air Force Base Florida hand cancellation of August 25, 1972. Last day covers using previously issued ASC AAF Local Post stamps were also issued and received an Ascension postmark.

A complete set of ASC AAF Local Post FDC's was presented to Robin Hannay of the Ascension Historical Society for the Fort Hayes Museum, so the next time you visit this museum in Georgetown be sure to ask to see their local post collection of covers!

Click below to see other ASC AAF Local Post Covers
#10a, the Saint Helena connection with Ascension

a special double cancelled cover for the first aircraft to land on Ascension Island, a #5 cover receiving the Ascension postage stamp for the Fairey Swordfish issued some 10 years later.

Ascension AAF Local Post cover #12
The 12th Ascension AAF Local Post issue. The local post stamp honors John Masefield's poem Sea Fever and cover is postmarked at Tristan da Cunha on November 20, 1972.
Click below for more images of covers from the
ASCENSION AAF Local Post

Click below for Ascension Space Covers that I have to offer
ASCENSION SPACE COVERS

The complete story of the Ascension AAF Local post is printed in a publication issued by the St. Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha Philatelic Society. It is their "20th Anniversary Anthology", printed in 1997. It contains the best articles chosen from those that appeared in their society journal. The article that I wrote titled "Ascension AAF and its 1972 Local Post" is included in the anthology. This publication has numerous illustrations and a cumulative index of all that has been published in the society journal in its first 20 years. To learn more about this society click HERE.


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