My 3,000 T-38-Hour ‘Backstory’

And now for the “backstory” of how I was able to acquire 3,000 hours in the T-38…

I had always wanted to fly Fighters, but it just was not meant to be. In 1975 I found my way into T-38s at Vance AFB, OK after a SEA (Southeast Asia) tour in HC-130s. After 4 years at Vance, I applied for A-10s, but no luck – so I took an HQ ATC job in T-38 Flight Safety. That lasted for a year and a half then I went to Australia. Upon return, I was once again was assigned to T-38s at Randolph AFB, TX.

I loved my time at Randolph, instructing at the “schoolhouse” for T-38 IPs. And I was blessed to have moved up the “food chain” as I went along: line IP, Flight Commander, Chief of Check Section and Chief of the Wing Stan/Eval Division. In 1985 I knew my 4-year tour was about to end so I began looking for other jobs where I could remain in flying. That was where my heart was. The ‘competition’ in ATC was tough, more “political” than anything else – and I din’t want to play. So I began to explore flying options elsewhere. Going back to the C-141A, at McChord AFB, WA, held appeal for me. So, I went out and got the assignment! (Another story in and of itself!)

About this same time we had a new Director of Operations (DO) assigned to us, Colonel Ron Shamblin. I had known Col. Shamblin from past assignments, and I liked him. But I still thought it was time I move along. When I received my assignment to C-141s in the Fall of 1985 he called me into his office and asked ‘what it would take for him to cancel my orders.’ I had never had a senior officer show that much interest in my career before, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay. I had begun to see and feel the “politics” of ATC and I wanted nothing of it all.

Over the next couple-3 months Col. Shamblin continued to “work on me” to stay. Finally, in February 1986, as I was about to leave he called me into his office once again and said, “Shut the door.” I did, and he asked, “What would it take for you to stay?” He then went on, “We need guys in ATC who aren’t afraid to tell the truth, and I think you are who we need as a squadron commander.”

At the time I had 2,600 hours in the T-38 and another 2 years would give me ample time to pick up the 400 more hours I needed to achieve that coveted 3,000-hour threshold. Not many do, and I wanted to be part of that crowd.

So I gave him permission to cancel my orders, he did, and I achieved my goal. I retired with 3351 hours in the T-38A.

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