“Kiss A Pilot – 25¢”

When I was flying C-141’s in 1971 – ’73, out of McGuire AFB, NJ, more often than not we would fly the first leg of a trip to Dover AFB, DE to onload cargo before heading overseas.  As the “crow flies,” it was only 90 miles away, or so.  Also in those days we were often crewed with 2 copilots – for crew duty considerations and experience.  I flew a few occasions with Ron. R., another Bowling Green graduate.

I had met Ron in school, but didn’t really get to know him well until we met at McGuire where I really came to like him.  So when we were paired to fly together, I knew I was in for a good trip.

Cargo aircraft do not put “bombs on target.”  Nor do they get into dog-fights or fur balls (massive dog fights).  They also do not refuel other aircraft or “spook” bad guys.  Cargo aircraft just haul “trash.”  So, we were often “graded” on our “on time departure” performance.  This was a big deal in the early ’70’s!  Careers were made and broken by “on time takeoff” rate for an airlift Wing.

Now, McGuire had an interesting “game” going on in the early ’70’s.  They would patch an aircraft scheduled to go out on a trip just enough to get it to Dover.  Many times we would take off  for Dover “OR” – Operationally Ready – only to limp in 90 miles later with a “hard break.”  McGuire got an “on time” take off, and Dover got screwed.  Oh well; above my pay grade…

One night we arrived at Dover very early in the evening – broke.  So Ron and I headed off to the BOQ (Bachelor Officer Quarters).  And then, why not have a beer?  Or 2, or 3?  We had the time…  As it turned out, the Dover Officer’s Wives Club (OWC) were having an “Oktoberfest” as a fund raiser.   Cool.  On the way in to the club, I noticed two discarded commemorative beer steins in the cigarette butt receptacle just outside the door.  I grabbed them and washed them out in the men’s room.  And wouldn’t you know it – if you had one of these spiffy beer steins, you drank free!  (You really had to buy them for $10, but what the Hell?  They were still serviceable…)  so in we went.

Inside main dining room they had a lot of booths set up – kinda in a circle – for different things.  Coin tosses, weight guessers, carnival games of skill, if you will.  About 3/4 around the circle, and after 3 beers, I saw an empty booth.  And off the brain went into ‘overdrive.’  An empty booth…

I grabbed Ron and we ducked under the crossbar into the booth. Then I took a grease pencil and wrote, on a piece of cardboard, “Kiss A Pilot – 25¢”  I then set out an empty coffee can I found and we were in business!  Everyone was laughing, and the quarters began to roll in!

I don’t know how much we made that night, but I do remember we had a ball!  On the way out I gave the coffee can of quarters to the President of the OWC, and she just looked at me like, “What the Hell?”    I wonder too, these days… How did I survive?

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