Quietly Acknowledging Gratitude…

I grew up as an Air Force “Brat;” a child of the Air Force. I don’t know when or what it was that I was captured with the “spirit” of flying for the Air Force but it was early on. I remember at 10 or 11 playing on airplanes in the “Boneyard,” just a block away from our house. There was no fence in those days around the Boneyard and we were free to come and go as we wished – climbing in and out and over all kinds of airplanes. A kid’s dream, for sure! And I suppose it was about this time that I began watching airplanes…

At that time it didn’t matter “what” kind of airplane, I just wanted to fly. While stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ I watched B-47s, then B-36s, B-52s and Kc-135s at Ramey AFB, PR. When we got to Chambley AFB, France I saw F-84Fs, F-104s, F-100s and B-66s. It was somewhere around there that the “Fighter Bug” bit me, and I narrowed my scope of interest even further.

Between my 3rd and 4th year of college I took an Air Force flight physical which was devastating. I discovered I had a “color deficiency!” I was disqualified from flying. But I could see colors! Just not those damned numbers in the books with pink and green dots…

In the summer of 1969 the Air Force adopted the color vision standards used by the FAA which I passed. The FAA used a “color threshold” test which 50 was passing. I scored 50! So, off I went to pilot training – my fighter within my grasp. But out was not meant to be…

I graduated relatively high in the flying part of pilot training and relatively low on the academic side – so I missed a fighter. But not to worry I thought, if I took a C-141A and built up “bags” of time, I could perhaps, slide into fighters. Nope, that didn’t work either. About that time the Air Force introduced the “Weapons System Identifier” program. Swell! What that meant was, if you were assigned to a “Heavy aircraft (bombers, cargo, tankers, etc.), that is where you would stay – in “heavies.”

In 1971, upon reaching my first C-141A duty station, McGuire AFB, NJ, I immediately volunteered for Southeast Asia (SEA). I put down F-105s, F-4s, A1Es, A7s, etc. on my Dream Sheet, and received an HC-130 in Aerospace Rescue. And upon return from SEA I requested F-105s, F-4s, A-7s, etc and took a T-38A to Vance AFB, OK. I was to remain in T -38As for the remainder of my career, 13 years.

In my last 13 years I had two Permanent Change of Station (PCS) assignments; the first to Randolph in T-38 HQ/ATC Flight Safety, the second to Air Force Flight Safety for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in Australia and then back to Randolph AFB, TX, again in T-38s. Before taking the Randolph assignments I once again asked for Fighters but to no avail. I finally “broke the code!” Wasn’t meant to be…

For years I harbored a deep resentment about not being able to fly Fighters, but in looking back today, I am so grateful for being able to fly the T-38 for as long as I did. And I truly enjoyed being an Instructor Pilot in the Jet. Not many folks get to do what I did, and enjoy it as much as I did!

So today I am very humbled for having served as a T-38 IP, and perhaps, making a positive difference in a few people’s lives…

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Eve

I am currently watching a series on the Bible on “Fox Nation,” narrated by Charleton Heston. One of the things I have just learned is, the meaning of the name “Eve” is, “the mother of mankind.” I found this interesting, and humbling.

When Johannes Holliger came to America in 1833, he settled here in NW Ohio and married a woman named Eva (eve) Cripplever. She, in turn, became “the mother of our family” here in America…

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I Got a Crumb Today!

Today I got a crumb; a “like” on the Facebook from one of my grand daughters. I rarely hear from either of them, but today I got a ‘like’ from one of them, and it made my day…

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The T-38 3,000 Hour Club

To get 3,000 hours in any Air Force aircraft is an achievement in and of itself. I was blessed to hit this plateau in the T-38A. Over my 20-year Air Force career, I managed to fly 17.5 years; 11.5 years in the T-38A in one capacity or another.

The printout below is a summary of my T-38A experience.

This product was run on 15 March 1988. It reflects at the time I had 3043.3 hours in the ’38. When I retired, on 15 Jul 1988, I had a total of 3243.4 hours in ‘the Jet.’ Then, adding my T-38A time from UPT takes me up to 3351.2 hours in the Jet and that is what I had when I left the USAF. However I wasn’t done yet. In May of 2006 I was invited to speak at Columbus AFB, MS and was given a T-38 ride! What a thrill! And another 1.0 hour of T-38A time!

All-in-all, I was truly Blessed!

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On INTEGRITY

On INTEGRITY: In the early 80’s there was this student pilot in T-38s at Columbus AFB, MS. After landing one afternoon, he filled out the ‘Forms,’ then left the flight line. The Crew Chief, on his Post Flight Inspection, noticed that the “G” meter in the Rear Cockpit registered an “Over-G”; probably something over 7.3 G’s or so. He then rechecked the G meter in the Front Cockpit and saw where it had been reset to 1 G. There was nothing in the Forms about an “Over G.” He then went to the Maintenance shack and called his supervisor.

The supervisor showed up, saw the problem here. An Integrity issue here, or simple oversight? He, in turn, called the Director of Maintenance (DM). When the DM showed up and saw everything he called the Director of Operations, DO. So now you have the Crew Chief, his Supervisor, the DM and DO standing there by the Flight Line MX shack scratching their heads when the student shows up, heading for the jet. They all watch as the Student climbs up the rear ladder, leans in and “punches off” the G Meter! He was confronted immediately.

It turns out that when he left the Flight Line, he went back to his Flight Room, filled out his grade sheet then went to his BOQ room. As he was showering it dawned on him – Rear Cockpit, G Meter! So he put on his flight suit back on and returned to the flight line.

To their credit they took the appropriate action – they threw his ass out of the Air Force! And this is how it should be. INTEGRITY Matters!

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“The Little Bastards are Running Away!”

On oof the training missions we had at McGuire in the early 70’s was the CAM mission, Combat Airlift Mission. I wasn’t really very fond of them but they were great opportunities to build flying time. The pre-flight and post-flight briefings damned near killed me, with my ADD, AD/HD and WD-40…

We would take off in a 6-ship formation and fly around South New Jersey for a bit then head over to the drop zone (DZ) and toss out either cargo or personnel. During the summer months we would drop Air Force Academy cadets out the back. Then, upon landing, we would meet them at the O’Club for a few beers. And, of corse, we usually bought the beers for them.

One evening, after we dropped the cadets, we circled around to see how accurate we were with our timing, winds and so forth. We were scored on how close we got our cargo to the center of the DZ. As we circled about, our navigator exclaimed, “They are running! The little bastards are running away!” (They were running away from the designated target zone.)

Well it turns out that this particular navigator was renown for NOT buying beer for the cadets. In fact, he made a point of it that he would not buy any beer for any cadets. So these cadets were running from their target to offset themselves as much as possible for the scoring. The judges weren’t allowed on the DZ until after all the troops, in this case the cadets, were down…

I can still hear him crying, “They’re running, the little bastards are running away!” It made for an interesting debrief before we got to the club that night…

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One Spit-Shined Boot…

Once, on a late night flight across the pond to Europe, I decided to take a “combat nap” for a bit. I removed my boots, kicked the (left) seat back, coordinated with the copilot, and dozed off for a bit. Cockpit was warm, airplane slowly rocking, radio was quiet – it wasn’t hard to doze off..

A couple hours later when I awoke, I reached back for my boots. It turns out that the Loadmaster was very bored that night and decided to spit-shine one of my boots!

Do you have any idea how “goofy” it feels to walk around with ONE spit-shined boot? Took me the better part of that 13-day trip to get them to match again…

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Flying Solo – In a C-141A

So one Sunday morning, back in 1973, I was at home when Dave called and asked if I would like to fly over to Scott (AFB, IL) and back (from McGuire AFB, NJ). Green Bay wasn’t playing until later the day, so I said okay.

Dave and I were both in the 18th MAS at the time; me a copilot about to enter the AC upgrade and Dave a Flight Examiner. I can’t remember what we were hauling; nothing exciting I’m sure?

I was flying from the Left seat. As we strapped in Dave looked over at me and asked me if I would like “to fly Solo,” over and back. Meaning I would “run the whole show; checklists, radios, configuration, etc. Well, Hell yes!

I did, over and back, and what a ball I had! Dave just sat over there, enjoying the ride… Talk about a “confidence booster” at the time!

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What is That Lake Out There…

I used to love early morning missions. It was often quiet on the flight line, cool, the sun rising, a bit of a chill in the air and so forth. Then, just after we we launched and came out of burner, we would kind of ‘glide’ through the still air. Just coasting, at 300 knots for a few moments – then reality kicked in and we would receive clearance to climb. Back to work.

Once in our assigned area we would begin our briefed profile. Aerobatics, stalls, vertical recoveries and slow flight exercises…

One morning, as we were about to “come over the top,” my student asked, “Sir, what is that lake out there?” Initially I wasn’t sure ‘what lake’ he was talking about, but I soon figured it out. Looking out the top of my canopy I would see the Sun reflecting off this huge body of water off to the East…

“Oh,” I replied, “that’s Lakea de la Gulf of Mexico” – and its grew real quiet up front…

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No BDA, but One Hell of an Airshow!

In the early 80’s I ran into (Retired) M/Gen. Peter DeLonga at an airshow at Kelly Field, TX, and he shared a great story with us – about an “airshow” he put on in Vietnam.

In 1970 he was flying F-4’s in Vietnam. However, under his command he had several other aircraft he was responsible for. One day the A-37 guys asked him if he would fly a mission with them. He said he was a bit reluctant to, but they did work for him and he wanted to show his support for them.

So one Saturday morning he suited up and took off in an A-37 with 4 250-pound bombs on board and a full load of 7.62mm ammo for the gun. He soon made contact with a FAC (Forward Air Controller) and asked for a target. There were no shortage of them…

The FAC soon briefed him on his target: a long, skinny island in the middle of a river. General DeLonga was briefed to fly 4 passes, South to North, dropping one bomb on each pass – progressively “walking” them up the island. He did as briefed, rolling in on the island, jinking like crazy to avoid ground fire and releasing one bomb per pass. When all his bombs were dropped, he was told by the FAC to begin strafing tases with the gun. And again, down the chute he came, jinking hard left then right to avoid ground fire then strafing the island, South to North.

When he had expended his ammunition he pulled off for a BDA (Bomb Damage Assessment) report.

“Oh,” the FAC reported, “there is no ‘bomb damage per se.’ We just had some new Army guys show up in-country and they wanted to see an airshow! The Army guys had been sitting on the river bank, drinking beer while General DeLonga was working his ass off to put “bombs on target!” And so the War went…

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