“A Big Gray One, Sir…”

Some of my favorite rides in T-38 PIT (Pilot Instructor Training) as an instructor were the “syllabus” rides we flew with the students. These were rides wherein we (IPs) flew as UPT (undergraduate pilot training) students, and our PIT students conducted themselves as IPs – from the initial briefing through to the debriefing. We could only come out of our roles only in the event of an inflight emergency, or some other “anomaly” in one way or another. I loved these rides, for the most part.

One day I was flying with this female student. As we taxied for takeoff, me as the student, I saw a Navy F-14 on the ramp, and as a typical UPT student might ask, I asked her, “Ma’am, what kind of a jet is that?”

It got real quiet. Then after 10 seconds or so, she replied, “A big gray one, Sir.” No words…

She went on to perform the check ride in a “very adequate” manner. When I came “out of character” in our debrief, the only comments I had to offer where those focused on “Professionalism.” I reckon I spent perhaps 30 minutes talking with her about what it means to be an Air Force pilot! Things like Pride, Honor, Integrity, Respect and so forth. Continually honing our skills and being prepared. (Absolutely NO MENTION of diversity or inclusion, btw!).

“A big gray one, Sir”…. aggggggg!

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Finding Dorsey…

In 1965 and 1966 I applied to the Air Force Academy. I didn’t apply earlier as I attended high school overseas, and for some reason or another, it just didn’t dawn on me. In 1965 I was rejected because I wasn’t “bright enough.” Well, okay then. I again applied in 1966 and having studied to become “half-bright,” I received a nomination as an “alternate.”

I don’t know why I save “stuff” like this, but I do. Anyway, I have always wondered if the “Primary” guy ever made it to the Academy, and if so, did he graduate?

Yesterday I spent a part of the day “purging,” getting rid of stuff that will (probably) mean nothing to the kids, when I came across this. And once again I found myself wondering, “…did he attend? Did he Graduate?”

Now I love a good challenge so I began an internet search. It didn’t take long before I found him and decided to give him a call. He answered the phone and after a couple moments we were chatting as if we actually knew each other from years past. He did attend, and graduated, Class of 1970! I was so happy to hear this…

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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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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: 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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