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.
"A mind of its own"
FB-111A 68-0275, or as we liked to refer to it, "Arnold", had a mind of its own. As most jets went , it was pretty good flyer. Not the greatest bombing jet ever known (that honor, in my opinion, went to 69-6510), but still a good flying "airliner". But don't ever try to put 0275 on alert. Arnold repeatedly gave us the bird and refused. Well, one day we had had all we could stand with Arnold and resolved to all that was allowed that the SOB was going to do its stint on alert. As soon as Wayne Mims (NCOIC of Alert Maintenance) found out, he immediately called me and "begging for forgiveness for any and all offenses", asked that we not do this. As I say we were resolved. The story as i got it from Chief Patterson (OMS Supt) is that he went out to the ramp and looking Arnold straight in the nose (Pitot tube) told him (Arnold) to cut the crap 'cuz he was going the pad come hell or high water. Well, Arnold went to alert without a peep and strangely enough was never a problem again. Don't know if the success of our accomplishment had anything to do with the chief and his association with chicken bones or the strength of our resolve. But the name stuck and 68-0275 has been "Arnold" (by those who know) ever since. (C.M.)
"Low over Valcour Island"
On October 10, 1978, John Wilson and I were doing Bomb Comp practice with aircraft #282. When returning to PAFB, we were told to meet up with one of the base helicopters over Valcour Island as there was a Time/Life photographer doing a series on the FB-111A. We worked out an arrangement where the helicopter would be over the middle of the island at about 1,500' and we would make passes over the trees with wings full aft and light the burners at the south end of the island. We were really light-weight and even though Valcour is only ablout 1.5 miles long, it was out of burner, speedbrakes, bank and yank to keep from busting the mach next to downtown Plattsburgh at the north iew the photo.end of the run! (B.P.)
"Plattsburgh Alert Thunder Trucks Demonstration"
The following took place at Plattsburgh AFB during a summer holiday weekend in 1977 or 1978. The weather was good but for some reason, morale was down and the Alert Facility seemed more like a morgue than a collection of accomplished air and maintenance crews. One of the tanker guys and the FB-111 senior ranking officer (SRO) on alert, quite aware of the low morale, put their heads together and decided to organize some 'Fun For The Alert Force'. Together, they orchestrated what was to be called, The 'Thunder Trucks Demonstration'. Essentially, it was a mock of the USAF Thunderbird Aerial Demo Performance using KC-135 and FB-111 Alert Trucks in the role of aerospace vehicle.....and, a great deal of imagination. It turned out to be quite a performance because everybody, officer and enlisted, had a part to play. It began with a briefing preparation in which various aircrew members played the role of the key 380th Bomb Wing staff. During the initial briefing, the various suggested roles were listed and virtually everyone volunteered to fill a certain part. Several hours later, they all formed up in the alert briefing room to practice the various parts and discuss the 'Truck Formations.' It started with a pep talk from the (acting) wing commander, followed by a similar talk from the (acting) DO....."OK you guys, you are the best of the best so go out there and knock 'em dead....but remember, SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT!!!" By this time, everyone seemed to get the idea of what was to be done and new ideas began to form. Almost everyone wanted a role to play, so new roles were created. After rehearsing, rewriting and replaying, everybody came back the next day for the final pre-brief. The guy that played the Chaplain gave a prayer before each alert sortie's aircrews 'raced to the alert trucks for the demo'. The assigned DO then put up a slide show showing the sequence of events and planform view of the 'Thunder Trucks Demo...'. So much effort, coordination and fun was put into this event, they did not want to let it go completely unnoticed by the outside world. It would have been like canceling the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl! So, time was allowed for everyone to call their wives or lovers and invite them come to the Alert Facility Area (outside the gates) to watch. (To put some people at ease, it was confirmed that there was nothing in existing USAF or 380th Regulations precluding the 'Thunder Trucks Demonstration'. In fact, at all times the entire alert force was in an increased state of readiness because the entire force was at the alert facility preparing the event).
Essentially, this is (in part) how the 'Thunder Trucks Demonstration' occurred: At the 12:00 noon Alert Klaxon Check, the horn blew and over the loudspeaker came 'The Thunder Trucks Narrator': "Ladies and Gentleman, (AF Hymn in the background) we are pleased to have you here today to witness the world famous United States Air Force Thunder Trucks!!". That is how it started. All aircrews raced to their trucks and each truck had a large red, white and blue number posted on the doors and the front of the truck. Sortie 01 started engines (truck engines) as the loudspeaker continued to ring from the narrator. The SRO and his navigator were in the first truck which had a big sign on both sides and the front saying, CINC Truck. They started driving around the alert facility and with each pass, another decorated alert truck would join up. The Tanker guys did the same thing, only going the opposite direction around the building until all trucks had joined up. One of the AMS Maintenance crew chiefs had wired a speaker in the grill of CINC Truck so that it played, "Off We Go Into The Wild Blue Yonder"....and other military pomp as they 'trucked up and down the Alert Ramp doing close formation truck work.... even did a "Missing Truck Formation"... again, all to the music and words of the narrator. It was so well planned and rehearsed that it was executed in perfection. After the demo had been complete, all ended up 'peeling off' in their alert trucks in front of their assigned sortie aircraft, accomplished their preflight, called the command post, "Code 1 Alert" and then joined back up for the prebriefed 'Taxiback Demo'. ( One of the tanker officer's (not on alert) video taped the entire event and gave it to the FB-111 SRO for his keeping). During this event, all "assigned tasks" of being on nuclear alert, were accomplished properly....and everyone had fun carrying out what, often times, became a rather depressing task. Back at the alert facility a post briefing/lessons learned session formed up in the main briefing room, marked by two hours of uproarious laughter. In the end, this event completely changed the morale of all aircrew and maintenance crews on alert over the remaining tour...............from 'Very Low' to 'Very High!' And, the wives and invited viewers loved the performance. The SRO, however, spent the next few days preparing his defense argument and sweating the phone call from the DO and Wing Commander. (D.I.)
"Torching at 50 feet"
During the early 1970s, SAC's SIOP added a new twist to complicate the Soviet targeting problem by placing some of its FB-111As from Pease AFB, New Hampshire and Plattsburgh AFB, New York, at Kincheloe, Rickenbacker, Grissom and K.I.Sawyer AFB. Initially, six aircraft were placed on satellite alert, then this number was reduced to three. While the aircraft remained, aircrews and maintenance personnel were rotated through for TDY on a weekly basis. At K.I. Sawyer, there were B-52s and KC-135s assigned to the 410th Bombardment Wing. In addition, the 87th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, equipped with Convair F-106s, was stationed at the base. Each had its own alert facilities. For the FB-111As SAC built an alert facility, including six alert hangars. This SAC program was terminated in late 1974 or 1975. Normal configuration for alert at K.I. was four bags and a pair of SRAM in the bomb bay. Aircraft were ferried in this configuration with inert warheads installed. On the last day of the alert commitment at K.I., Major Ed happened to run across the Wing Commander in the Club. The C/O asked who would be taking the last bird out. Ed responded that he was going to do that since he was 'Senior Thing' that week and was asked if they could do some sort of departure show (without being at all specific). This was an F-106 base and even with minimum fuel and a clean wing, there was no way an FB-111 could do much of anyhting to impress a 106 driver (other than nuke his base!). The "Zippo" maneuver came to mind and even if most folks had done that at some point at high altitude, few (if any) had done so at 50 feet! Major Ed and his navigator, Captain Bob thought this would be a really spiffy idea.
Ed and Bob took off under VFR and asked for a low pass at high speed. Tower approved. Flew out a fair distance over the lake and lined up with the runway. With an airspeed at about 425 KIAS, Ed poked the nose down to arrive at the threshold at about 50 feet and told Bob to dump. It was late afternoon and late in the year. It got really bright in the cockpit and the tower said something like "Bububububnub". At the departure end, the crew secured from dump and Ed pulled the aircraft into a climbing left turn and damn near had a heart attack. There was nothing in the Dash-One to tell an unwary aviator that dumping at this altitude will lay the fire down on the ground. So there! They had 10,000+ feet of brightly burning runway behind them. At that point, Ed asked Bob if they had enough fuel for Cuba! While they were both considering their imminent demise of their respective carreers, the 'Wing King' called on 311.0 and said "Great show guys! Come back again soon". The crew then went RTB to KPSM flying very conservatively. (E.M.)
"I remember the feeling of awesome power when they used to do AB runs on the trim pad at Plattsburgh, parking spot 20F, during the winter.. One time, at night, in the freezing cold, they had an FB cranking in zone 5, stood right next to the engine, you feel your guts shaking like a well-stirred Martini, you don't feel the cold because that Afterburner is warming the night, pitch dark out, and that "warm" glow coming from the aft end of that bomber...There are plenty who have seen it, the AF came out with an FB poster, nice shot of a crew chief "parking" an FB, jet is back lit with the Adirondacks in the background. In reality, the jet is tied down to the trim pad, 20F, stabs are drooped, and he's in front of the jet signaling the crew to stop. NOT! Nice picture though!
Second "awesomeness" was after the 380 BW passed an ORI, they had a jet take off, then all of maintenance and at I'm sure more, jumped in the trucks and drove down the middle of the runway.. Off in the distance you see an FB, 72degree wingsweep, coming at ya. Can't hear a thing coming from it.. He's not even 50' (at least it seemed like that) off the deck, screams directly overhead and disappears into the clouds.. You didn't hear him until after he passed.. That's where the name WHISPERING DEATH came from, the Vietnamese never heard it coming until it was gone.. That was too cool! Another time, if I am correct it was the in 1984, the year we (380th) won the FAIRCHILD TROPHY, the jet we sent down to the symposium at Barksdale came back.. Did a low, fast approach, pointed skyward and did a barrel roll (aileron roll,whatever!) halfway down the runway twice and came in for a landing.. That was cool! We never saw that before, at least over the base, am sure it took HHQ approval, or the approval from the Wing CC, to perform that show.." (M.K.)
One day, all the Pease alert crews were sent to their aircraft because some guy who had been welding a manhole cover had inadvertently set the toxic waste that was in the drains under the flight line on fire. Apparently, the fire was moving from one manhole to the next, and as it reached each new one, the huge steel manhole cover would be blown off, flying several feet in the air. The firemen and trucks were scrambling around trying to figure out how to stop the migration of the fire.
While sitting in one of the alert aircraft, listening to the show on the radio, one pilot happened to look back and low behind its aircraft to notice that there was a huge steel manhole cover under the tail of his FB. Of course, this was an alert aircraft with a variety of interesting explosives under the wings and in the weapons bay, as well as about 48,000 pounds of JP-4. The crew got on the radio and got clearance to move the aircraft well out of harms way. (E.P.)
"Another gem from the 509th AMS trophy case."
Hi Folks....some of you might remember such things a CAFI, ORI, and the MSET....well in 78/79 time frame when Col. Honesty ran the 509th AMS....it was the time for CAFI...commanders' annual facilities inspection. Things were painted, cleaned and if the grass did not grow the right color, then some one stripers were sent out there with green paint (fertilizer) to make the grass look green for the 8th AF commander.
It was just after CAFI was over and Col. Honesty was in Bldg. 113 on a swing shift and saw the halls in a sad state of affairs...dust, dirt, and some trash on the floors...so he was bemoaning the fact to me that some of our people don't care and we got to do something..... Well, he decided to give a three day pass to any buck Sgt. on down that brought a piece of paper to me or him that had the words...."The finder of this item is awarded a three day pass". So every day he or I would take a piece of paper as we left the building for the day and deposit it somewhere and wait for the winner....two days went by and nothing happened....so Col. Honesty came into the building again on mid shift and as he went down one of the halls towards ECM there is this airman, picking up paper balls and throwing them away on the floor again saying to himself "no that's not it, no thetas not it", in a vain effort to find the 3 day pass note.... you 509th folks just have to visualize this comedy....if you were there you remember it. Well, it was back to the drawing board again. (G.H.)