The 'Story Book' is dedicated to all the men and women who served in the Air Force with the FB-111A and later, F-111G. If you have some stories you would like to see in the Storybook, e-mail the webmaster.
"Pease AFB Alert Story" NEW!
We had to take an FB off alert uploaded with nukes to the line for some reason. Tom Finch and John Loret went to alert to get it. They towed it to the alert fence throat. Myself and somebody else I can't remember who wing walked after it came through the gates. Just as we get it to the spot all hell breaks loose!! Apparently they never took it off the "Ops 380" and put it on a "Maintenance 380" !!! The radios come alive that it is still on "ops 380", SPS start flying in from everywhere !! As soon as I heard the radio calls and see the SPS coming from a distance I new we were in big trouble. So,I lingered to the near by FB and pretended I am working on it !!! The SPS arrive and march everyone but me with their hands up in the air away from the airplane and across the red line to the access road and make them eat cement!! According to Loret he wouldn't keep his hands where the SPS wanted them and Finch kept yelling at him " That he was gonna get them fucken shot !!! Like loyal crew dawgs, they never gave me up and I got to watch the whole thing go down from a distance in RED 2 !! Eventually they cleared it up and all was good. How many people can say they almost got away with GTA of a fully "COCKED" nuclear FB-111A off alert !!!??? (J.B.)
I flew a bunch of these incentive flights in the mid-late 70s and as I recall, the first one of them was flown by the late Major James "Red" Cecil in 1974.
The established procedure was for the IP and the incentive rider to meet at the simulator on the day prior to the flight and go through a simulator flight. This was necessary as it really isn't possible for someone to just ride in the airplane. There are some controls and switches that can only be reached from either the right or left seats. During this indoctrination it was common to feel the rider out as to what he would like to see and then tailor the approximate 30-4o minute flight to meet these desires as much as possible. Red's guy wanted to see the airplane burning and turning.
Perhaps the best analogy to a fighter ride (for the uninitiated) is to consider going into the hospital for surgery. Most folks being wheeled into the operating room are a bit uncomfortable with all of the procedures involved while the medical folks are quite comfortable in this environment. After all, this is their office. Similarly, the FB-111 cockpit was Red's office and he was quite comfortable there. It didn't occur to him that the Crew Chief now occupying the right seat might not share his delight in pulling Gs and engaging in rapid rolls. The result was that Red's guy barfed all over himself. Pulling back into the chocks the aircraft was met by the Wing King, DM and Crew Chief's wife. Following this embarrassment, Red and I spent a bit of time working out a general routine that demonstrated much of the aircraft's performance envelope without subjecting a person to very high G forces or rapid rolling maneuvers. I don't think we had another case of airsickness on our watch. (E.M.)
'The Tiger's suicide"
Early in 1976 (I cannot recall the exact date), I showed up early for work one morning and happened to look in the briefing room and discovered our Tiger missing from the plexiglass cage where it always resided. On the floor were a set of paw prints that led out the other door and across the hallway to a latrine. I followed the prints into a toilet stall where they ended and I discovered a suicide note taped to the toilet bowl that said something like it can't take it anymore with the 393rd. It was obvious that the personnel of our rival squadron, the 715th B.S. which had no mascot, had kidnapped the Tiger. A large article appeared in the 'The Seacoast Flyer' , the base newspaper, about the Tiger's suicide.
The crafty members of the 715th of course denied any knowledge of the Tiger's disappearance and claimed that it was truly a suicide by a very unhappy Tiger. I sat down with our Operations officer and the flight commanders of the squadron to map out a strategy of how we were to react and to get back the Tiger as soon as possible. It was our consensus to ignore the subject entirely figuring that our seeming disinterest would drive the kidnappers crazy. We took the tack that the Tiger was a mess anyhow (which it was) and the squadron personnel really were glad to be rid of it anyhow. This was a bold-face lie but we felt we had to proceed this way and deny the culprits with the satisfaction of taking advantage of our grief. We were right. Pretty soon everyone lost interest in the loss of the Tiger. No pressure was put on me by the DO or the Wing Commander or higher headquarters to get back the Tiger so the whole thing just disintegrated. Now we had the personnel of the 715th wondering what they were going to do with a moth-eaten Tiger sitting in one of their members basement. You can just hear the wife of the kidnapper asking when were they going to get rid of that damned thing down there.
As luck would have it, they were given the opportunity of saving face by returning the Tiger to the 393rd on the occasion of a farewell party, given for me, at the Pease Officer's Club on my reassignment to Korea. Bald-faced 715th personnel, who had always stuck to the suicide idea, now brought the Tiger to my farewell party and presented it to me. I imagine that they were really relieved at getting rid of it. In presenting the Tiger they tacitly were admitting that the suicide story was concocted by them. We, on the other hand, had proof that there was no suicide and that the Tiger really loved his role as our mascot. I was really relieved to see that the Tiger is still the mascot and stationed at Whiteman. May he always rule. (D.N.)
"The first female Crew Chief"
Well . . . I was on alert along with the first female Crew Chief (I think the first), Airman Marsha Carver during her first tour of alert. As a matter of fact, I believe she was the first female (of either the officer or enlisted persuasion) to stand alert at Pease.
There had been considerable discussion of how we would handle the issue of living in such close proximity with women, and avoid the sexual encounters that could have destroyed unit cohesiveness. The whole thing was handled in a very low key way by the DO, Col. Robert Voelker. There was a brief announcement that there would be a female Crew Chief on this tour and that a sign had been placed on one of the latrines that would allow it to rotate from male to female usage. Life on alert went on as usual and over time, more and more women joined the Alert Force. Incidentally, I used to love to fly Marsha's aircraft because it was one of the best maintained airplanes in the fleet.
Airman Carver was an approximately 20 year old (and rather attractive) blond. She was small, even for a woman, and probably weighed 110 pounds soaking wet. One of the tasks of all Crew Chiefs was the positioning of ground power carts. The Dash 60 power cart used by the FB weighed almost as much as a small car. The cart had an electric drive that could be used to make it move around much like a power driven lawn mower, but most of the drives were inoperative because they weren't maintained. Airman Carver quickly learned how to repair these drives as she simply didn't have the mass to horse them around the ramp. It seemed that each time she would get one of the drives working, the power cart would be reassigned to some other (read male) Crew Chiefs.
One day after she had fixed a half dozen drives only to have the cart reassigned she was stopped on the ramp by the DM who asked her how things were going. She read him the riot act about the reassignment of the carts she had repaired. I think she never had another cart she had repaired reassigned. (E.M.)
"Start and taxi"
We found this hilarious at the time, but you might not think so today. At Pease and Plattsburgh during an alert force engine start the crew chiefs would stand on a yellow square outside of the shelter to the pilot's left and face the aircraft making eye contact with the pilot. This act told the pilot that the aircraft was clear for taxi and that the crew chief was prepared to marshall the pilot out into the stream of taxing aircraft. The crew chief knew that his bird would taxi if the anti-collision beacon came on..not all engine starts meant a taxi. Well, the checklist was rewritten so the beacon was always on. In a crew meeting a bright young crew chief got up and asked the Wing Commander (Col Sam Swart.who later became a Maj Gen..think of a cross between Robt Mitchum and Don Rickels) "Sir, now how will we know if you're going to taxi?" Swart got real steely eyed, and w/o missing a beat said "Son, the airplane's gonna get bigger!" I'm telling you the crew force had tears running down our cheeks we were laughing so hard. Knowing Col Swart, I'm sure he later put his arm around the young troop and made him feel better. (D.W.)
Red had been scheduled to fly on the night before his annual Flight Physical. He and his Navigator got as far as Base Operations when they learned that their aircraft was not ready for flight and there was no spare. Prior to receiving this call, they had eaten a small meal in the Base Ops Snack Bar and Red had purchased his usual can of apple juice for use during the flight. After a few hours, the flight was canceled and the Crew Dogs headed back to their quarters. The next morning Red put on the same flight suit and headed over to the Hospital for his physical. The first activity was providing a urine sample. The old hospital had a lavatory for this purpose and in the lav was a sliding partition to allow folks to slide their urine samples onto a shelf in the laboratory. Red remembered the apple juice still a pocket of his flight suit. He retrieved the can and poured it into a urine sample bottle. He then slid the window back and sure enough, there was a female Airman (very young), just waiting to work on Red's (alleged) urine sample. Red spent a few seconds examining the bottle and announced that "It looks a little weak, think I'll put it through again". With that he drank the contents. The young Med Tech left the lab screaming for her supervisor and the Hospital Commander never did forgive Red. (E.M.)
After I was assigned to the 509th AMS as assistant shop chief of "C" Shop in 1985, I found out quickly that every time one of our FB's was to fly an OST (off station training) mission or go TDY from Pease, we were required to remove the IR detector that lived in the top of the vertical tail and put a cover on the back of the tail to cover up the hole that was left. One quiet night we were bored, and I decided that instead of painting this round fiberglass cover OD green (we were always repainting the silly things) I would liven things up a bit. We found a can of bright yellow paint and proceeded to paint this cover yellow with a "smiley face", using black paint for the features. The next time we removed the IR system, this modified cover went on. We had absolutely no idea how it would be taken, as no "higher ups" were in the loop. Several days later, we got word though the grape vine that no FB would leave Pease on an OST without the smiley face. One of them even had an eye patch and a scowl for a change. (H.S.)
I was Major Ken Anderson's right seater when we hit that bird near Lossiemouth. We lost all pitot static systems, and Lt Col Jack Pledger (our wingman) led us into Lossiemouth. The radome was unraveling like the paper off the end of the grease pencil, but at least we "shacked" that goose!! The landing was uneventful, and Ken Anderson & I wandered around from pub to pub while waiting for a radome to arrive. Our crack maintenance guys brought up an F-111F radome, I believe from RAF Lakenheath onboard a C-23 Sherpa. During the radome swap, it was found the power cart provided did not have the right kind of hookup to get power to the jet...but as always, the maintenance guys found a way to make it work (something about hairclips or moneyclips act as good power transfer devices). The jet was fixed, we kicked the tires, and kit the fires!! 40,000 pounds of afterburning thrust never felt so good (except maybe during that same 3 week UK Air Tactical Fighter Meet when Pat O'Connor led a 3-ship at 200' TFR over the North Sea...at 1.15 Mach...right over a fishing trawler!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We never heard after that what had happened to those poor guys on the ship, other than the fact that I am sure we blew out some eardrums and woke up anyone who was sleeping! (H.T.)