2018 Summer Friends Journal

Page 1





Summer 2018

Vol. 41 No.2

The Magazine of the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc. • afmuseum.com

Featured Articles Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile

10 Operation Creek Party 13 Operation Homecoming 37

From the Executive Director On July 26 1944, a B-17 took off on a mission deep into enemy territory. About thirty miles from the target, the plane was attacked by over fifty fighters. It received almost six hundred direct hits from 20 mm cannon and machine gun fire and was severely damaged. Against tremendous odds, the crew fought off every attack and was able to navigate a safe route back to their base. For their heroic efforts, the crew was awarded the Silver Star Medal. Seventy four years later — Memorial Day, 2018; for the first time since that fateful mission the co-pilot, John, and waist gunner, Art, were reunited and honored at a parade in Park Hills, KY. As I listened to these two men talk about the mission, I had the same lump in my throat as I did for the Memphis Belle™ exhibit opening at the Museum a few weeks prior. When the master of ceremonies said, “Without further ado ladies and gentlemen, the Memphis Belle,” the curtain dropped and all in attendance rose to applaud and honor the plane and the men who had flown her and others like her — men who survived like Art and John, and many others who did not return from the skies over Europe. Fast forward to a few days ago, I met up with an eight-year-old young man named Jack who was visiting the Museum for the first time. When Jack was seven he sent the Foundation a card containing a $22 donation to honor his friend Conrad, a WWII B-17 veteran. He wanted to help the Foundation and keep Conrad’s story alive. His card said simply “All I got.” Humbling. I joined Jack and his family at the Memphis Belle exhibit. As he talked about his friend Conrad, I felt he was also telling John and Art’s story and the story of everyone who had climbed aboard planes like the Belle…not knowing their fate, but willing to do what it took to get the job done. Jack has taken up the torch and accepted the responsibility as a keeper of their stories. I have no doubt that John, Art, and Conrad would approve. There’s no way of knowing how a trip to the Museum will connect with, motivate, and inspire a visitor, but because of your generosity it happens frequently, often when we least expect it. Over and over again. Thank you!

Mike Imhoff P.S. Jack wants to be an USAF pilot…U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2031 if all goes well.



THE AIR FORCE MUSEUM FOUNDATION, INC. BOARD OF TRUSTEES Col Susan E. Richardson, USAF (Ret) - Chairman Dr. Pamela A. Drew - President Lt Gen C.D. Moore II, USAF (Ret) - Vice President Mr. Robert J. Suttman II, CFA - Treasurer Mr. John G. Brauneis Dr. Thomas J. Burns, PhD Brig Gen Paul R. Cooper, USAF (Ret) Mr. Timothy O. Cornell, CIMA Mr. Roger D. Duke Ms. Frances A. Duntz Ms. Anita Emoff Mr. David C. Evans Col Frederick D. Gregory Sr., USAF (Ret) Mr. Benjamin T. Guthrie Maj Gen E. Ann Harrell, USAF (Ret) Mr. James L. Jennings Dr. Thomas J. Lasley II CMSAF Gerald R. Murray, USAF (Ret) Gen Gary L. North, USAF (Ret) Gen Charles T. Robertson Jr., USAF (Ret) Maj Gen Frederick F. Roggero, USAF (Ret) Mr. Philip L. Soucy Mr. Harry W. (Wes) Stowers Jr.

EMERITUS BOARD MEMBERS Mr. James F. Dicke II Mr. Charles J. Faruki Col William S. Harrell, USAF (Ret) Mr. Jon G. Hazelton Mr. Charles F. Kettering III Mr. Patrick L. McGohan Lt Gen Richard V. Reynolds, USAF (Ret) Mr. R. Daniel Sadlier Col James B. Schepley, USAF (Ret)

Commemorate the 100th Anniversary

end of World War I


G” courtesy of “INTO THE RIN



september 22 & 23, 2018 • 9 am-5 pm go

Flying Aircraft • Radio-controlled Models • Reenactors Auto Show • Collector’s Show • Educational Activities


at the national museum of the u.s. air force For more information visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/WWI-Dawn-Patrol




A special thanks to the Air Force Museum Foundation’s 2018 WWI Dawn Patrol Rendezvous Lead Partner: Save the date for a special member event to occur in conjunction with this exciting weekend!



I am writing this on the one-year anniversary of my becoming editor of the Friends Journal. It has been a great year working with our Creative Manager, Cheryl Prichard, to bring you stories of the U.S. Air Force and its predecessor services. The stories have been funny, exciting and fascinating looks into service at different times and places, fulfilling different missions. A lot has changed over time, but the common theme of serving with honor has been the same since the beginning of military aviation.


This issue of the Journal contains stories from WWII up to Desert Shield/Desert Storm. We also present the winning essay from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force’s eighth annual student essay competition. And we have a recap of the events surrounding the opening of the Memphis Belle TM exhibit.


I welcome all the submissions I receive and I read them all with great interest. I appreciate your patience. The lead times required for our quarterly publication schedule mean if we do use a submission, it may be an issue or two before it runs. Nevertheless, I thank you all for your submissions as they are the heart of the Friends Journal. Please continue to send them in for me to review.

Editor - Alan Armitage Creative Manager - Cheryl Prichard Edito rial Assistants - Joe King, Art Powell, Robert Pinizzotto Friends Journal Office: 937-656-9622

I also receive quite a few suggestions from people about stories they would like to see written. Thank you for those suggestions! I wish I had the time to research and write more original content for the Journal on a regular basis. If you have a great idea for a story your best chance to see it in the pages of the Journal would be to send it in as a completed piece. If your story is compelling I will work with you to tell it in a way our readers will enjoy. I hope you are enjoying your summer and that you enjoy this issue of the Friends Journal!

Alan Armitage

On the Cover: B-17s Movie Memphis Belle and Yankee Lady, accompanied by P-51s, flying over the Museum during the Memphis Belle™ exhibit opening events this past May.



Michael Imhoff - Executive Director Melinda Lawrence - Chief, Museum Store Operations Mary Bruggeman - Chief, Attractions Operations Christopher Adkins-Lamb - Chief Development Officer Chuck Edmonson - Marketing Director Gary Beisner - Facilities & Food Service Coordinator Membership Office: 1-877-258-3910 (toll free) or 937-656-9615

Lt Gen J. L. Hudson, USAF (Ret) - Director Krista Strider - Deputy Director/Senior Curator

Friends Journal

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the Friends Journal articles and Feedback letters are solely those of the authors in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., the United States Air Force or any other entity or agency of the U.S. Government.

The Friends Journal is published quarterly by the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., a Section 501(c)(3) private, non-profit organization dedicated to the expansion and improvement of the National Museum of the U.S.Air ForceTM and to the preservation of the history of the United States Air Force. The Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc. is not part of the Department of Defense or any of its components and it has no government status. Printed in the USA. USPS Standard A rate postage paid at Dayton, OH. Subscription to the Friends Journal is included in the annual membership of the Friends of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Contents F E AT U R E S




Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile

Operation Creek Party “How did you like our afterburner take off?”

“I had never seen anything move so fast!” 19

Night of the Panther “We saw something moving slowly across the ground” 24

Mission Thirty-Three “As we topped a rise, I realized I was looking directly into the faces of a German patrol about 50 yards away.” 41

C-133 Truck Driver “His crew kicked the bomb, skid and all, into the ocean.” 44

Tankers Aweigh “Gentlemen this is ‘Operation Power Flite.’” 48

Memphis Belle™ Opening Events Recap 51

The Memphis Belle™: Spirit of American Bomber Crews


Operation Homecoming

“Survival is not guaranteed by any means.”

“The return to the cockpit was a precious thing.”

D E PA R T M E N T S 28 4


Editor’s Notes

Friends Feedback

Classic Aircraft of the NMUSAF





Friends Feedback Spring issue centerspread We have received several comments from sharp-eyed readers wondering why Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby doesn’t have any machine guns in the centerspread of our Spring 2018 issue. According to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force™ Public Affairs Division the tail, waist, top-turret and nose guns that were on Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby are owned by the Museum. They were removed and placed in the Memphis Belle™. Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby is currently in storage pending transfer to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

St. Lawrence Island revisited In response to the Fall 2017 article about service on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska during the 1950s, Col Oscar W. “Bill” Agre Jr., USAF (Ret) of San Antonio, TX submitted his own memories of that time and place: As a transport pilot flying C-47s in the theater I had many flights into both NE Cape and the Eskimo village of Gambell on the west end of St. Lawrence Island. One time when I arrived at Gambell I saw a polar bear hide hanging on a clothes line. An eskimo named George said he had killed it by shooting it in the eye with an old rusty .22 caliber rifle from about ten to fifteen feet away. I asked George how much he wanted for the hide. He said $400. I told him I would bring him the money on my next visit.

When I finally got back with my money the hide was gone. The men from the radar site at Northeast Cape had beat me to it! One other event on St. Lawrence Island that gave me great personal satisfaction was an emergency evacuation we accomplished out of Northeast Cape. A contract worker had stepped into a loop of a cable and when it snapped taut it almost severed his leg. He was losing a lot of blood and was in serious condition. It was about two in the morning and my crew and I were sleeping in our aircraft in Kotzebue roughly 340 miles to the northeast when we were awakened by an Eskimo who said we were to contact the FAA station for an important message. We were requested to fly to Northeast Cape to pick up the contractor and take him to Fairbanks, Alaska. The only problem was the visibility at the Cape was one-quarter mile in fog and there was no approved instrument approach. Nevertheless, we flew to Northeast Cape and devised an approach using time and headings out over the water until we could see the water and turned in toward the field. We deliberately headed right of the true course to the field until we saw the beach and then made a sharp left turn up the beach. The folks at Northeast Cape had improvised lights (55-gallon drums with fuel burning on the upright ends). When we saw those we made a sharp right turn and landed. We loaded the patient and took off for Fairbanks. About halfway there we were diverted to Galena Air Force Station, Alaska where we were met by Air Rescue who took the patient on to Fairbanks. What a night of flying! Flying in Alaska was the highlight of my flying while in the Air Force.




And James Muecke remembered his time in the Air Force: Early Warning Radar (AC&W) airmen served worldwide in very remote, desolate and isolated locations. We were the eyes of the Air Force watching for any air intrusion. Many thousand veterans served but seldom was our service mentioned in the news. After completion of Aircraft Controller school I received orders to Chitose Air Base, Hokkaido, Japan (the northernmost prefecture in Japan). I left the states in October 1957. On January 7, 1958 I was reassigned to Site 29. I boarded the AKL 29 (supply and personnel transport ship) and headed on a 10 hour boat trip to Site 29 on Okushiri Shima, a small island off the southwest coast of Hokkaido. On the way we were hit by a strong Siberian winter storm. We had to anchor and the trip ended up taking 36 hours. Talk about sea sick! No one headed to Site 29 with me wanted to ride that boat any more than we had to so we didn’t leave the island often. Our equipment was very primitive by today’s standards (still used tubes), and we dealt with many breakdowns in addition to having to frequently repair winter storm damage to the antennas. In the early 1950s the troops slept in tents in deep snow. Later they built Quonset huts, which were quite an improvement; those Siberian winters were just damn cold. Also, we had very little entertainment or places to visit, so it was lonely. The remote one-year tour felt like an eternity. We were located just across from the big Russian port of Vladivostok. The Russians did not like us watching them

so we had a few radar checks by Mig 15s to see if our radar was working and how strong. Naturally our F-86s got a little flying time for an intercept. The Migs immediately high tailed it back home. Site 18 at Wakkanai on the Northern tip of Hokkaido and just across from the islands that the Russians took from Japan after WW ll was another location. Spys made attempts to visit. A B-29 was shot down there. So our service on Hokkaido was very interesting. We all served with honor and are proud of what we accomplished in keeping America safe.

B-36 orientation flight The centerspread of the Museum’s B-36 that appeared in the Winter 2018 issue brought back memories for several Friends Journal readers. Maj Brooks Lovelace, USAF (Ret) of Hahira, Georgia sent the following note: The centerspread of the Convair B-36J #522220 brought back memories of my tour at Limestone (later Loring) Air Force Base, Maine from June 1953 to December 1955. As a First Lieutenant I was the First Engineer on the Kloe Run check out mission in the Museum’s B-36J #52-2220. The Kloe Run was an atomic delivery break-away maneuver that was conducted at 40,000 feet altitude. At Initial Point the engineer was instructed to go to full power on the six R-4360 engines while the pilots (I believe) took the four jets to full power to obtain maximum speed. When the bombardier called bombs away the pilot rotated the controls to a 90-degree bank and completed a hard 180-degree turn intended to escape the effects of the bomb blast.




Life Comes Full Circle by


On Monday, April 23, 2018 I celebrated a homecoming of sorts as I began my first day of work as a new member of the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc. (AFMF) team. I consider it a homecoming because over the last several months I have become reacquainted with a host of familiar memories, people, and USAF related ties that are woven throughout my life and my family. I first visited the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force™ (NMUSAF) as a young boy and continued to do so whenever my family was stationed at WrightPatterson Air Force Base during my father’s 22-year USAF career. Later in life I remember standing with Dad on the berm of I-675 overlooking the Museum as the SR-71 Blackbird — my favorite airplane as a child — roared over the assembled crowd with several low level passes before landing to become part of the Museum’s collection. Since then my own children have come to the Museum with their grandfather on numerous occasions to hear stories about his work. They’ve also seen “Uncle Steve’s plane” (the B-52) that my brother flew during his 21-year USAF career, and the Minot AFB quilt square my sister-in-law Lorie made for the Fabric of the Air Force quilt that hangs in the Museum to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the United States Air Force. Less than one month after my arrival the breathtaking Memphis Belle ™ exhibit opened wowing visitors from all over the world. The exhibit opening included a spectacular array of special events, attractions, and

Lockheed SR-71A at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.



historical and educational programs. I had a first-hand view of how financial gifts from AFMF donors helped make these accomplishments possible. The Air Force Museum Foundation exists to raise funds and awareness to support the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force mission. That mission drives everything we do. AFMF donors have a direct, immediate, and long-term impact on the foundation’s ability to provide financial support to fund NMUSAF priorities and special projects. There is a world-class team of professionals working for both the AFMF and the NMUSAF and I am honored to join the team during this special time in the Museum’s distinguished history. Every day as I enter the Museum I’m struck by how privileged I am to work in such a remarkable place with such gifted people. I look forward to getting to know members of the AFMF family and learning how your USAF stories and Museum experiences are woven together in your lives and your families. It is my hope that in the days ahead the Air Force Museum Foundation will actively engage our members, donors, corporate, and foundation supporters in ways that deepen and strengthen our relationship with, and the positive impact we have together on, the Museum. Here’s to the future and the successes that lie within it!

Christopher Adkins-Lamb is the Chief Development Officer at the Air Force Museum Foundation.

U.S. Air Force



Unique Spaces, Extraordinary Events With its awe-inspiring artifacts and exhibits, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force offers an extraordinary location. Four individual spaces located inside the nation’s largest military aviation museum offer unique but convenient venues for hosting a variety of events. An entire Museum right outside your meeting space, allows you to distinguish your event.

ENHANCE YOUR DAY AT THE MUSEUM, OR EVENT, BY INCLUDING SOME OF THESE POPULAR ADD-ON ACTIVITIES: Enjoy a Show Start at the Theatre ticket counter to help schedule your day at the Museum.

Ride the Simulators Strap in tight and prepare for takeoff! With everything from mild to wild, even full Virtual Reality, four simulators are available in the second and fourth buildings. Discounted group rates are available. Capture your Experience Pose your group photo in front of the green screen and select your favorite aviation background.

Give us a call today to plan your next event!

Mary Bruggeman • 937.656.9623 mbruggeman@afmuseum.com Kat King • 937.656.9627 • kking@afmuseum.com

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile by CAPT



t Col Bill Logan, Capt Mike Kerr and myself were three of the seven officers assigned to Detachment (Det) 1, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Homestead Air Force Base (AFB), Florida. There were approximately 20 enlisted personnel also assigned to Det 1. We flew with a flight crew of 3; pilot, copilot, and flight engineer. Our flight engineers were non-commissioned officers. Det 1 had 3 “N” model Huey helicopters assigned, call signs “Save 36,” “Save 37,” and “Save 63.” The “N” model Huey is a twin-engine version of the Army single engine Huey that has two turbine engines which provide plenty of reliable power. At the time the Air Force had 79 “N” model Huey helicopters. They are classified as a utility helicopter. It is the pickup truck of Air Force helicopters performing many diverse missions well.

Colonel Logan was a wonderful person and a very good officer. He flew B-52 missions from Guam during the Vietnam War. He provided me, a second lieutenant, a clear picture of the “real” Air Force away from formal Air Force schools. He taught me the practical aspects of being an Air Force officer and pilot. Captain Kerr was another very good officer and an excellent pilot. Mike previously was a T-38 instructor pilot teaching foreign student pilots. Mike and I flew together often and he helped me greatly to improve my flying skills. What I liked about flying with Mike was although I was just out of flight school and a co-pilot he always treated me as an equal in the cockpit. We always shared the flying of the helicopter. We would equally alternate who was at the flight controls flying during missions. During our time assigned to Det 1, Mike and I would fly many interesting, memorable missions together. The afternoon of July 13, 1980, Colonel Logan, the Det Operations Officer, called Captain Kerr and myself into his office. He told us the entire Air Force H-3 helicopter fleet was grounded due to cracked filter bowl assemblies. The H-3 helicopters at Patrick AFB, Florida, were part of the fleet-wide grounding. Therefore, the next day we would fly one of our “N” model Hueys to Patrick AFB and support the launch of a Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). I thought, “This is going to be cool!” As a new co-pilot I flew as often and as long as possible to build flight time for my upgrade to aircraft commander and instructor pilot. This mission would provide plenty of flight time. A plus was I would be flying with Mike. After Colonel Logan finished briefing us, Mike and I did some pre-mission planning. The distance from Homestead AFB to Patrick AFB was 191 nautical miles. We planned on a flight of 1 hour and 50 minutes, which was easily done non-stop since our Hueys carried 3 hours of fuel. We decided we would fly up the coast to avoid flying through the controlled airspace of



JOSN Oscar Sosa (USN)


Capt David Delisio flying in the copilot position in a USAF UN-IN helicopter, while stationed at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida 1980-83.

the numerous airports along the East coast of Florida between Homestead AFB and Patrick AFB. The next morning, July 14, 1980, we conducted our crew briefing and preflight. Weather was forecast to be clear with light winds and the chance of the usual Florida afternoon thunderstorms. We took off and proceeded up the East coast of Florida. Mike and I had not flown to Patrick AFB before so we decided to fly along the beach and take in the sights. Our altitude was 500 feet and our speed was 120 knots indicated air speed. Though it was a weekday the beaches were crowded. Some of the hotels were magnificent and it was a beautiful day to fly. “Kite, 12 o’clock!” we both announced over the intercom. Mike, on the flight controls at the time, banked our helicopter sharply right and we missed colliding with the kite. Once our collective heart rates returned to normal, we discussed what just happened. We realized that some beach goers flew large kites and at high altitudes. We decided it would be very prudent to continue our flight at least half a mile offshore. A short time later we sighted a banner-towing airplane flying along the surf line — another reason to fly offshore. We agreed to mention our encounters with the kite and the banner-towing airplane in our mission debrief back at base so other Det 1 flight crews would not be surprised. It later became Det standard operating procedure to always fly at least a half mile offshore when we flew near any of the Florida beaches. The rest of the flight was uneventful. We landed at Patrick AFB and hover taxied to the ramp in front of the H-3 squadron hangar. Our Huey was

refueled and we post-flighted the helicopter. Mike, our flight engineer and I were escorted to a briefing room for our mission brief. With a range safety officer and his comm gear on board, we were to fly due east of Patrick AFB for approximately 40 miles and rendezvous with a group of Navy ships and a nuclear submarine. We would make sure there were no civilian vessels in the area, then we would orbit a safe distance from the submerged submarine. We were providing an airborne platform for the Air Force range safety officer so when the submarine launched its missile he would be able to see the launch. If the missile malfunctioned he would destroy the missile using his comm gear. The destruct function was transferred to a range safety officer back at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station once the missile reached a certain altitude and was being tracked by radar. Very exciting! We were going to witness a live launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM)! With our passenger we proceeded to our Huey. Mike conducted a briefing and we checked our individual life vests. For every flight we wore life preserver units (called LPUs) over our survival vests. Also in our Hueys, secured to the cabin floor behind the copilot’s seat was a 7-man life raft. We took off and used the TACAN (an electronic ultrahigh-frequency navigational aid system for aircraft that measures bearing and distance from a ground beacon) at Patrick AFB for a 090 bearing (due east) and for our distance to the launch spot. Both the large cabin doors were opened and pinned secure. Our passenger was seated in the far right passenger seat in the cabin. Nearly all of the flying done by Det 1 flight crews were over the shallow coastal waters of Florida where we could always see the ocean bottom. On this day, we were less than a mile off the Patrick AFB beach when the water turned a very dark blue. We weren’t seeing the ocean bottom any longer. Not being accustomed to flying over such deep water we were very grateful for the two engines powering our Huey. In our minds we ran over our ditching procedures and water survival procedures. Our Huey didn’t have floats and would quickly sink if we ditched. In 20 minutes or so we spotted the Navy ships at the launch spot. There was one large ship and two smaller ships. The large ship had a helipad. Mike and I agreed that if we had a mechanical problem with our helicopter and we had time we would perform our very first shipboard landing rather than ditch. ☛ Summer 2018 • FRIENDS JOURNAL


Several thousand yards east of the ships we saw a large black pole sticking vertically out of the water. Only open ocean surrounded this black pole, which reminded me of a very tall telephone pole. The pole wasn’t moving, but we knew it must be the submarine. We checked for any civilian vessels within a 5-mile radius of the pole and found none. We then set up an orbit at 500 feet making left turns between the ships and the pole. This allowed the range safety officer to observe the launch spot from the open right side cabin door. When the SLBM was launched we would be directly abeam and offset to the west between the ships and the pole. The pole was actually a telemetry antenna. At launch Mike would steeply roll the helicopter left so the range safety officer could watch the SLBM climb for as long as possible without the helicopter cabin roof obstructing his view. We listened to the count down over the radio. At zero we were in perfect position and Mike rolled our Huey into a left 60-degree bank so that the range safety officer had a perfect view. The launch was a success and we watched the missile pop out of the water. When the missile was completely clear of the ocean, the motor ignited. The rocket’s acceleration was unimaginable. When you see a rocket launch on TV you have no sense of acceleration and speed as the rocket appears to slowly climb. In person that’s not the case at all! I had never seen anything move so fast. Literally in less than 10 seconds the missile was out of sight. All we saw was a trailing thick plume of rocket motor exhaust.

My impression after witnessing a live SLBM launch was that this weapon system is virtually unstoppable and as such is a tremendous deterrent. We orbited for a few minutes hoping the submarine would surface, but it never did. We noticed very large semi-circular pieces of plastic afloat surrounded by a large green dye spot on the ocean where the SLBM exited the water. We later learned the pieces of plastic cushioned the missile inside its launch tube. We also saw swimming all alone on the surface a very large hammerhead shark. We were very happy to be flying a twin-engine helicopter. With fuel getting low, we flew back to Patrick AFB. We all talked of the acceleration and speed of the SLBM. We landed again on the ramp in front of the H-3 hangar. After engine shutdown we conducted a short debrief at the helicopter. The range safety officer thanked us and departed. While our Huey was being refueled, we got something to eat and drink from the vending machines. We learned that before we got back to Patrick AFB the missile had already splashed down in the South Atlantic. Incredible! After thanking our hosts for their hospitality, we took off east. We turned south when we were at least a half a mile offshore to avoid any kites and banner -towing airplanes and returned to Homestead AFB. The return flight was perfect. By the time we landed back at the Det most of the personnel had gone home, but the crew chief and his assistant for “Save 36” were waiting for us. Our Huey had flown perfectly, no write-ups. The Det 1 maintenance troops always gave us a safe and completely mission capable Huey to fly. They were the best. Since the helicopter had flown over salt water, the airframe and engines needed a fresh water rinse and wash. That in turn required an engine run to dry the engines. I volunteered to stay to run up the engines. We decided to brief the rest of the Continued pg 15


The entire personnel from Detachment 1, 40 ARRS, Homestead AFB, 1982. Capt David Delisio’s first operational unit and according to him, “the best group of guys I have ever worked with.”




Operation Creek Party by LT


Air National Guard Photo


n 1970 I left the U.S. Air Force with almost 10 years of service. At the time I was a KC-135 pilot in the 415th Air Refueling Squadron at Griffiss Air Force Base (AFB) near Rome, New York. I moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend graduate school at the University of Cincinnati and joined the 160th Air Refueling Group of the Ohio Air National Guard (ANG) to fly the KC-97L at Clinton County ANG Base, Wilmington, Ohio. Leaving the KC-135 to fly the KC-97 might appear to some as a “step down,” but it was a somewhat more exciting experience in that the ANG tanker mission involved a variety of different fighter refueling operations and, as guardsmen, we were part-time warriors and signed up for training missions only when our personal schedules permitted — a freedom usually not available to active duty aircrews.

The KC-97L was a hybrid aircraft. KC-97G Stratofreighters with reciprocating (recip) engines turning propellers were modified by the Air Force with the installation of two GE J47 jet engines on the outboard wing pods. It was capable of speeds of 240 KIAS (knots indicated air speed) and could easily fly at altitudes above 25,000 feet. As a result it could easily keep pace with B-47, B-52, and fighter aircraft while refueling them, where the standard KC-97 had to toboggan (refuel in a descent) to keep their receivers on the boom. As the Vietnam War heated up and a greater demand was placed on the Strategic Air Command (SAC) KC-135 fleet for Vietnam fighter and bomber refueling support, SAC found it difficult to continue their U.S. Air Forces Europe (USAFE) refueling operations. Consequently, many ANG units throughout the country converted to KC-97L tankers and joined in an overseas operation

Above: A Missouri Air National Guard Boeing KC-97L Stratofreighter of the 180th Air Refueling Squadron, 139th Air Refueling Group, refueling two U.S. Air Force Vought A-7D Corsair IIs of the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing, based at England Air Force Base, Louisiana (USA). The 23rd TFW flew the A-7D from 1972 to 1981, the 139th ARG retired its KC-97Ls in 1976. The Stratofreighter 53-0283 (Boeing c/n 17065) was loaned to Japan on 4 May 1965. It was returned to the USAF on 23 April 1970 and converted to a KC-97L. Later it was put on display at NAS JRB Forth Worth (Texas). Bought by a private party in December 2001, it was trucked to Colorado Springs (Colorado) and used for a restaurant.




Capt Normand heads out to his aircraft at the Frankfurt base, Dec. 1972. The ships of the squadron line up during a stopover at Goosebay, Labrador, for fuel.

called Creek Party that maintained a year-round USAFE refueling support mission out of Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt, Germany. ANG units flying KC-97L aircraft supported Creek Party operations, usually with aircraft and crews (including maintenance), for twoweek tours before they packed up and flew home. While they were heading home another unit flew in with their own contingent of six aircraft and crews. This operation began in 1967 and continued for 10 years while the Vietnam War raged on. The KC-97L #52-2630 (now on display in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force’s™ Cold War Gallery) was assigned to the 160th Air Refueling Group from January 1963 to August 1975. I must have flown this aircraft 3 or 4 times. As we took off, the pilot called “RPM (revolutions per minute) 2700 Pilots’ throttles,” and the engineer released the throttles to the pilot while the co-pilot pushed up the jet throttles (located on the co-pilot’s side of the throttle quadrant) to 100 percent power, carefully watching the engines to ensure that they spooled up at the same rate. The J47 would take several seconds to spool up, and one jet was almost always behind the other. Any resulting adverse differential thrust at this extreme outboard position could cause the aircraft to leave the runway if the pilot didn’t catch the yaw soon enough. Shooting touch-and-gos (where an aircraft lands and immediately takes off again without stopping) could be dicey for the pilot if the co-pilot wasn’t closely monitoring the jets’ RPMs. The experts told us that both jets at 100 percent RPM produced the same thrust as one recip.




The addition of jet engines to the KC-97 gave the units flying the aircraft considerable flexibility in a variety of ways. While the aircraft gross weight was limited to 175,000 lbs, the crews sometimes found their aircraft exceeding 180,000 lbs at takeoff on long over water flights carrying maintenance personnel and extra cargo for their missions. Having the additional power for takeoff was always a comfortable feeling. Also, extra power came in handy for short refueling missions on a tract near our operating base at Rhein-Main. Most of our receivers at that time were F-4 Phantoms that required refueling speeds of 210 KIAS, usually at high altitude (mostly at 20,000 feet). After takeoff with recips at military power (100 percent power) and jets at 100 percent RPMs, we climbed until reaching 22,000 feet. After leveling off we started a descent to accelerate to reach refueling speed as we reached refueling altitude. We were able to maintain this airspeed with the jets remaining at 100 percent and recips at cruise power. The altitude and airspeed for the refueling track near Rhein-Main was reached in less than 30 minutes with all the engines at military power settings and the jets at 100 percent. The Pratt & Whitney 4360 reciprocating engines were limited to 30 minutes continuous operations at military power. Of course experienced instructors could have fun demonstrating the aircraft’s unique capabilities. On one training mission while I was upgrading to Aircraft Commander my instructor, Lt Col Floyd (Rocky) Nelson, simulated two dead engines on the left side, and then instructed me to turn left. I objected claiming that

that maneuver was unsafe. He said “Do it!” So, I pushed the throttles up on the remaining engines and the jets to 100 percent and went into a 30-degree left bank turn. Except for the sluggish roll into the turn due to high thrust near the outboard wingtips, there was no loss of airspeed or altitude and I was impressed. On another left-seat training mission with Rocky he decided, since we had a minimal fuel load, to show me how rapidly the KC-97L could climb out after takeoff. With a minimum fuel load our rotate speed would have been somewhere around 130 KIAS, but he told me to hold the yoke forward until I reached a speed slightly below flap placard speed (the maximum air speed at which the flaps can be extended), and then rotate to a very uncomfortable pitch angle and hold it till my airspeed slowed to roughly 110 KIAS and then immediately pitch forward to level off. I don’t remember the altitude at which we leveled off, but I do remember Rocky calling the Tower and asking them “how did you like our afterburner take off?” Being comfortable with the addition of the jet engines also played out in other ways. Crews were not as apprehensive about engine failures on over water flights as one might expect with only four engines. One of our crews lost a reciprocating engine a few hours out of the Azores while on a flight to Germany. The rules dictated that the reasonable and safe step would be to return to the Azores, but the crew elected to continue since the loss of one engine out of the six was not considered life threatening, and they had equipment and people on board critical to Creek Party operations. However, they lost another recip on the same side an hour or so before their destination and the crew declared an emergency. Then it was pucker time — the pilot elected to land at RheinMain using a safe approach speed, knowing he couldn’t use reverse thrust on the two good engines on the other side. So, he was stuck with brakes only and the runway was not long enough. He blew a couple of tires and the base operations management was upset when they found out that he hadn’t turned around after the initial engine failed. The Air Force tried to subject the pilot to a Flying Evaluation Board, but Col Frank Cattran, the 160th Air Refueling Group Commander, defended him in a Pentagon briefing. The Colonel argued that if the Air Force expected his people to fly old, worn-out airplanes they better expect to see them take some risks in order to accomplish their missions. The charges were dropped. Not only was Colonel Cattran an excellent pilot, he was an outstanding leader.

One final capability of the KC-97L that Colonel Cattran demonstrated for me was how fast a pilot could stop a light KC-97L upon landing. We were flying out of March AFB, California on a refueling mission supporting Red Flag exercises (air war games for U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization air elements) at Nellis AFB, near Las Vegas, Nevada. On long runways a normal landing procedure was to flip open the “throttle reverse lock” and pull the inboards into reverse, which I did. The Colonel — also an instructor — flying as my co-pilot, immediately said “Oh, for goodness sake! My aircraft,” and then proceeded to pull the outboards into reverse as well. After he completed a full-throttle, full-reverse stop, just short of the first cross taxiway he looked at me and said “Your aircraft.” Kenneth Normand grew up in Grafton, North Dakota and received his Air Force (AF) commission at ND State University in 1960. He was assigned as an engineer at Wright-Patterson AFB, for three years, and then was selected for flying school and flew as a KC-135 pilot. He left the AF in 1969 after 10 years and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to fly the KC-97 for the Ohio ANG and obtain his Masters in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He flew with the Guard until November 1979 when he joined the AF Reserves as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee in the Foreign Technology Division. He retired in October, 1986. Ken lives with his wife Rita in Fairborn, Ohio.

SLBM continued from pg 12 Det’s flight crews the next morning and made mental notes to tell them about the kites and banner-towing aircraft. Capt David Delisio, USAF (Ret), was a helicopter pilot in the Air Force flying the UH-1N Twin Huey helicopter, one of seven Delisio men over three generations to have served in the U. S. Air Force. He retired in July 2001 after 23 years of active and guard service. After leaving active duty, he was a civilian helicopter instructor pilot for the Maryland State Police for 14 years. He currently flies a civilian medevac helicopter out of the Hagerstown, MD airport. Capt Delisio has over 10,000 helicopter flight hours in 10 different types of helicopter and over 6,000 medevac missions. On Feb 8, 2018 Capt Delisio began his 39th year of flying helicopters. He lives in Walkersville, MD.



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