“Hi Bill, seeing that picture of the C-124 brought back a memory. We had departed Yankee station off the coast of North VietNam headed to San Diego on the USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14). We always had two fighters on the cats ready to launch in case those sneaky Russian Bears tried to overfly us. My wingman and I were on the cats strapped in for the 0400-0800 watch, when all of a sudden they announced, launch the ready cap! We started up to get ready to launch and my engine had low oil pressure so they launched my wingman to go scare off the Bears. He soon discovered his gear would not retract due to someone leaving the locks in place. So there he goes in afterburner gear down for the intercept. He picks up a large target and pulls up alongside to discover a US Air Force C-124 headed right for the carrier. Somebody woke up in the C-124 and called him on guard, he had them call the ship and they informed him his transponder was off. We often wondered what they thought seeing An F8U Crusader on their wing gear down.
After the fun was over my wingman discovered all the pins were still in the ejection seat, when it rains, it pours! He made it back ok and the C-124 went merrily on it's way. Just another episode of your tax dollars at work.
Stay Safe, Tom”
“One more Bill, we would go to El Centro from Miramar in San Diego to do FCLP’s- field carrier landing practice before going to the ship. Me being the squadron LSO, I would fly over about sunset and get set up. We had a Jeep to use, so I would go to the end of the runway and turn on the radio and lens and wait for the first 4 or 5 to show up. They would each make 8 or 10 passes then bingo back to Miramar. After the second group ran all their passes, I’d turn off the lens and radio and jump in my bird and head back to Miramar at 20,000 feet and Mach 1.4. It was a beautiful night with millions of stars. I called Miramar tower about 40 miles out and requested a straight in with hopes of making last call at the club. After shutting down and opening the canopy I discovered why it had been so easy to move around and see so many stars- not strapped in. Oh my!”
Our generation of aviator will not be around a lot longer. I fear our replacements will not understand, or even want to understand, our aviation stories. Now is the time to share your experiences. The Statutes of Limitations has expired – uh hasn’t it?
Now there was the time the security guard almost shot me in Turkey. How did I ever make it 80 years?