The way to keep your Top Secret conversations top secret. A fixture on the 60s sitcom Get Smart, located above the desk of the Chief of CONTROL; Agent Maxwell Smart would always insist on using it when having a "hush hush" thing to say when in the Chief's office. A button was pushed, and the cone, a dual bubble, would slowly descend until the two seated individuals were each trapped inside their own bubbles. Then they could speak confidentially. But the cone was so effective, that often neither person could hear a word the other was saying. Your tax dollars at work.

The perpetually broken device on the show 1960s show Get Smart. Maxwell Smart would always demand that the Cone of Silence must be used for what ever purpose he needed. Quite often he felt that they must have meetings in secret and would not do anything until it was lowered or some security measure used.

The cone would be two bubbles connected with a tube of plastic; it was made so both people could hear a conversation with out anyone else listening in, of course like most things on Get Smart, it never worked.

Some of the many problems relating to it:

The cone would work perfectly except during the conversation it would move up and down so that Maxwell Smart and the Chief would have to follow it. It kept moving to the point where it would come down and break the desk in half.

The cone would be used in addition to the use of cards to show information, the cards would be come so tedious that the chief would just give up as well as Larabee, the chief's assistant, would also have a set to tell him about calls.

The portable version of the cone would get stuck so one could not get out of it at all, one would have to walk back to Control Headquarters stuck in the cone of silence or shatter the cone if one couldn't figure a way to open it.

Often the cone would have people shouting secret information so loud that the people outside the cone could hear it better then the people inside the cone of silence.

To be continued?

The Cone of Silence may have been a CONTROL-issue bit of kit, but the term predates the television show. The first system of practical radio navigation used by American aviators beginning in the 1930s was known as the Adcock Range or Low Frequency Radio Range (LFR) system. This system, which predated the Victor Airways linking VOR beacons, was composed of a network of LFR ground stations ("Adcock ranges") which produced distinct audio signals depending on the relative position of the aircraft to the beacon. Pilots would listen to the tones produced by the beacons, adjusting course until two distinct signals merged into a continuous tone, to maintain a plotted course. This was called 'riding the beam.'

The LFR beacons produced distinct signal pairs in each of four quadrants around the station, and along the four intersections of the quadrants (the "beam") they produced a continuous tone. Those four beams were used as navigation pathways. However, as the airplane approached the station, there was a region directly above the beacon where the signal was not audible due to the directional antennas not transmitting directly upwards. This region was roughly cone shaped with the apex at the surface, increasing in radius with altitude, and was called the Cone of Silence. When your aircraft entered the Cone of Silence, you knew you were directly over the beacon (or nearly so) and might need to make a course change to intercept the desired beam leaving the station.

(IN5 11/30)

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