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  • 54

Flying the world's fastest plane: Behind the stick of the SR-71

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Great interview with former SR-71 pilot Rick McCray. One of the highlights is his description of losing a engine over Norway. (www.sbnation.com) 更多...

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preacher1
preacher1 18
I remember in 1971, being in the same shape as those Norwegian boys after he lost that engine. One came in from somewhere to our base in South Korea. Already in descent for Kadena, Okinawa, where they were based, he was too low to go on and they elected to divert. Crash phone rang. We were told it was a modified B57 with engine out. Now I had just came in there from Kirtland in ABQ and that 57 business sounded fishy. Overcast with about a 3 grand cloud deck. Wing commander had specifically told hospital squadron to make sure I was on the response. We all lined up near runway waiting on his arrival. Boss man came over with fire chief, told me what it was and said I was only man on base with PSD experience, the suits, and I had previous on the U2 but had never seen anything but pictures of the blackbird. They broke out and touched down just fine. Boss gave me his radio to talk to pilot; fire chief gave me a foil suit for heat protection. Straight into the hanger, tight security, cool down and pilot extrication. A C141 with repair crew and those Buick Wildcat starters was already airborne from Kadena before he ever landed. Next time I saw that bird was on it's climbout after repair. Nose up and gone.
Derg
Roland Dent 1
Wayne...respect bros..had no idea you were in that class of aviator..how you doin anyway?
preacher1
preacher1 3
Hell, that was about 41 years ago and I was just an Airman first. Nothing special. Outa here. Gotta go to LIT early. We all doing fine
chalet
chalet 0
Peacher so the Blackbrid was sent into the hanger or HANGAR (LOL!!!)
preacher1
preacher1 1
picky, pick, picky. LOL
linbb
linbb 1
Yup know the fellow that would have sent the repair crew stationed at Kadena. He retired from Beal well before they retired the bird. He also started at Beal as the same when they brought them into service. His name is on the gear door of the one at the museum of Flight in Seattle.
linbb
linbb 1
One of the down sides that few know is that most of the people who worked on it got some form of cancer due to the chemicals used when working on it. And the fellow I know is one of those. Said it was the only job in his life he looked forward to also. Never talked about it until it was retired.
siriusloon
siriusloon 0
He didn't have to wait that long. In 1985, I saw one at an air show. The crew chief took me under it to show me how it leaked fuel because of "stretching and shrinking" by nearly a foot when it got hot in flight and cooled down on the ground. He showed me the pattern of rivet and panel lines on the leading edge and told me the underlying structure looked like wedges cut out. He said with the skin on, the space in the wedge was filled by radar-absorbing material and the wedge shape also helped dissipate radar waves. He said about the shape of the chines and the way the wing and fuselage joined reduced radar detection, too.

All that was in 1985. That was more than three (3) years before the F-117 was shown to the public and before anyone started hearing in the media about how stealth worked, things like faceted shapes and RAM coatings.

But an SR-71 crew chief was talking about it. They were also letting people sit in the cockpit, but the line for that stretched into next week, so I didn't even try.

Oh, and by the way, this was at an air show in Toronto, so unless that crew chief was totally clueless about geography, he knew he was talking to a foreign national and that he was in a foreign country. And I had a media pass, which he also knew because he said the personal tour was to make up for me not being able to see the cockpit because of the long line.

So I don't think your friend really had to wait until the SR-71 was retired in 1998 -- or did he start talking in 1989 when it was retired for the first time? After all, no one knew then that it was coming back. Either way, I (and many other people) were being told a lot in 1985.
linbb
linbb 1
He just didn't talk about it for whatever reason until much later just the way he was nothing else. Just the fact he talked about it was a big deal to me as he was dealing with something I really was interested in. Wish I could have gone to Seattle when he was on the panel there at the museum back a few years ago. Was just sharing one of my experiences like others didn't need you to get so wound up about it. Am sure you enjoyed being told about it also. Oh yes by the way he was in charge of it at Beal while he was there, also in England, and Kadena. He also was in charge of the record flight logistics from the US to England by the way. He wasn't just a crew chief.
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
A friend of mine from the AZANG was the first crew chief on the SR-71. Also a lady I worked with there was a hyd troop on taem later. She went on to become an officer & a few years ago I told her about the fact that they were have some pilots & maintainers & designers coming to he Pima Air Museum here in Tucson. So she got out some material & pictures she had & went out to meet those folks. Turned out she knew a few of them & they could not believe some of the material she had. She ended up retiring a few years ago because of health problems & I got her to go to the VA & sign up & she ended up 100% disabled. Saw her last week & will see her next week as we bury a co-worker.
roachme
Mark Roach 1
Back in the mid 80's I was a radar/weapon systems engineer at Pt. Mugu. We were flight testing radar upgrades and had a mission profile test against a high speed, high flyer. We were going to get 2 passes for a track and lock test. I went to Range Ops to monitor the mission and saw the beacon track on the high flyer as it left Beale and headed out over the ocean to start the run down the coast. We lined up our aircraft pointed north for the south bound "target" and the "target" covered the 425nm from Beale to us in roughly 15 minutes or less. I was mesmerized by the speed of the plotter pen moving down the coast chart. It was unreal to watch. First pass cross over and the high flyer was cleared to turn around for pass 2 back north.

It's roughly 200 miles from Pt. Mugu to Mexico and the "target" was passing San Diego when told to set up pass 2. He hit the apex of his turn past the south tip of the Baja Peninsula and made a 200 mile diameter circle back to follow the same track back north. Even with that large turn radius, the "target" was set up as fast as our test aircraft was. For all the speed of the southbound pass, the northbound amazed the hell our of me. In a day of mechanical INS and no GPS, the plotter pen dropped right back onto the exact same trace for the northern pass. The track was perfect because the plotter trace width didn't increase any noticeable amount. It wasn't until years later at Dryden that I learned exactly how advanced much of the technology in the Blackbird was for it's day. During our test, I was working for one of the original system engineers on the YF-12 who had flown Mach 2 in the back seat and he wouldn't even fill us in on what it could do. An amazing aircraft.
ADXbear
ADXbear 1
Nice Story, I live here in Palmdale California, there is the Blackbird park here with 2 of these birds sitting side by side... along with a U2 and other great planes.. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves these airplanes.. you can walk right up and touch them...
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
My brother in law lived in Palmdale until a couple weeks ago & I used to go by that display & I have been to it a couple times. My brother in law lived west of the freeway.
iflyfsx
iflyfsx 1
I want one.
rchiles90
Rob Chiles 1
IMHO the prettiest and coolest plane ever. Very interesting interview, thanks for the link!
jgdavisjr
Joe Davis 1
Great article
I enjoyed every word!
olddoc22
James Mering 1
I will never forget the comment of the RSO at a debriefing when we were deployed to Kadena in 1968. They had had a failure of both engines somewhere over SE Asia. He said "God was it quiet up there!"
toolguy105
toolguy105 1
I was stations at Beale from 1966 to 1968. Those Buick Wildcat starters were something else. In fact I was so use to them that when I transferred to Clark I arrived a few days before a 7.0 earthquake hit Manila. When my roommate tried to wake me to get out of the barracks I told him it was just the SR starting and to leave me alone. When he finally woke me he told me we just had an earthquake. He added you ain't in Kansas anymore.

I also watched one of the twelve crash. It happened a mile short of the runway at Beale. We all thought the pilot was hot dogging as the plane started to wallow. Then the two of them ejected. The plane flipped over on it's back a fell to earth. They had run out of fuel. The plane had the glide ratio of a rock but when it flew it was something else to see. THe SR-71 was the only plane Lockheed has ever built that I can say I liked.
preacher1
preacher1 1
I always wondered why the just didn't go on in to base with a flame out. We had a U@ at one time flame out over OKC and Hq. looked at him and told him to glide on in to Tucson.
toolguy105
toolguy105 1
I think the wings on the U2 are better suited fro gliding then the wing of the SR71 which is more of a Delta wing.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Yeah, that U2 ain't nothing but a well powered glider. LOL
steve4bike
I was stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB from April 1966-Dec 1969. We had the U-2s there at that time. I got to meet Gary Francis Powers on a Sunday afternoon. He was bringing a U-2 back from Lockheed. Was funny to watch him drop the camera bay and retrieve his suit case.
We had SRs in on at least two occasions. I was security police so we had to maintain a large security circle. That bird was amazing. I felt for the pilots though. The crews on hand were not really ready for the SR. They had to rig up a suitable way for the crew to get out. It took the ground guys about an hour to figure it out. The SR was so secret we were told to confiscate camera from airman that took pictures while the bird was parked at our Christmas Tree area. Watching the SR take off was a reward since they had mach 1 very shortly after liftoff. We all cheered the sound. Too bad that plane had to go away.
pmw349
peter wiles 1
steve i was there - the 71 in the christmas tree area - I was driveing the u-2 chase car with the u-2 pilots and the Sq comander in it, you guy would let the u-2 crew near the Black Bird.
steve4bike
The way we were trained was to not allow anyone without clearence near the bird. I know it sounds weird but there were 3 or 4 of us in security with Background Security clearences and we were the only ones allowed within 200' I think it was. We had to put two walking guards on it and an entry point and we had a crew list that I think came from Beale that were the only people allowed inside that area. U-2s were only Level 3 or Class C security demand aircraft but the SR-71 was considered Level 1 or Class A, SAC clearence. That was a long time ago but we in security were required to attend a highly classified briefing on the SR-71s. We had to sign out a Top Secret booklet on the plane and get instructions on SAC security on the bird. Then we had to sign that we would not reveal the document or it's contents for some length of time. During ORI's and other SAC trainging, only those of us with the Top Secret Background clearences were allowed at the door of the 390th Missle Wing Command Center. We called that a brass door because it was so top heavy with officers. We took over some of the U-2 chase cars after the 100th got new ones. Those old Dodges or Chryslers were flat fast. You have spurred up many menories of those days at DM.
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
I was assigned to the 4453rd CCTW at DM at the same time you would have been there. I was a weapons loading instructor on the F-4's & we worked out of the "alert" barn next to the HH43B rescue chopper. It was always fun to watch the U-2's take off & land. I got out of the AF & went over to the AZANG & was still working there full time when 911 happened & I ended up back on active duty, scrambling F-16 out of those same alert barns.
steve4bike
I do recall the F-4s at the alert area. Some place down in that area of the flightline the F-4s had what I called a gattling gun alignment area. I recall watching the F-4s braced up and the crews would fire the gattling guns into a structure that somehow kept the rounds from ending up in Benson, Az. I think that was down towards the Christmas tree area. Also near the rescue chappers were the drones that were flown after being launched under the C-130s. I think they had CH-46s or some kind of Jolly Greens to retreve the drones after their "test" flights. That was an active end of the flightline. We had to provide security at that hanger also. Some nights we didn't have enough people to cover all the needed security areas. We even put base police down there one night. Man were they mad about having to "hump" that hanger.
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
Question, any relation to Ron Strickland? Security Policeman about the same time you were in. He was my brother in laws brother. From New Bern NC. Went on to become a minister with the Salvation Army & is now retired.

You have the right area & I have jacked up the planes in that area you talked about firing the gatling gun into. I was also involved with putting guns back into the T-33 that they were bring back out of storage to be used to retrain pilots who had not flown for awhile. We repaired the bomb racks & 2.75 missile launchers as well.You also remember correctly the C-130's that carried the drones. Another friend of mine from the AZANG was a crew chief on them & another friend worked on the drones. Another AZANG friend worked on the U-2's for the 4080th. I was TDY to Kadena in 1965, but do not remember ever seeing a SR-71 over on the SAC side of the base. Only KC-135's during my time there. Pretty sure I would have seen the SR-71 if they were there during my time since I worked the end of runway arming F-105s for 12 hour shifts. I was nearly killed wen a KC-135 nearly crashed on landing approach when an engine blew up. He was plowing corral at us with his right wing tip, but got it airborn & went over us by about 20 feet. My future brother in law Hans Wurfel who recently moved from Palmdale was there with me & we never get together that we don't share memories of it.

I was at Kadena when the first B-52's made their first conventional bombing raids & one plane aborted. We heard about it during the night & as we were walking back to our barracks the next morning I happened to look back & there was that B-52 with more bombs than I had ever seen on any airplane. When I went back to work that night I was sent over with another weapons guy to make sure those bombs were all safe before they took off to meet up with their friend who were make another bombing run the next night
steve4bike
There were no relatives of mine in the AF. There was a Strickland at DM when I was also there but he was a K-9 handler. He went to Viet Nam in '68 or '69. All the Stricklands in the Southern US are related somehow, My dad had 7 brothers and a sister. He had an uncle that lived in NC and one or two from east Texas and Mississippi.
All these stories that are being related here need to get written down. I doubt they will get related to the future generations. It would ne nice to have all this put in print. Real history. Real stories.
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
4453rd.com

This is a site created by a friend of mine from the engine shop in the 4453rd CCTW. It has some pictures that might bring back some memories of your time at DM.

A comment about the stories. Last weekend I was over at the Pima Air Museum here in Tucson & I was talking to one of the docents & I was tellng him that it must be so interesting to work there & on a daily basis hear all the different stories from all the different people who either worked on or flew all the different planes. He told me I would not believe all the stories he had heard.

Last Oct I was back at Wright Patterson AFB with the F-4 Phantom II Society folks & we spent 3 days touring the museum & it was so neat to hear all the stories our group of guys had.

I still do auto repair here in Tucson & one of my employee's was as Air Policemen for 7 1/2 years & spent a lot of time at March AFB. Pretty sure he was in mid 70's time frame.
steve4bike
Monroe, for some reason the site didn't come up. Maybe flightaware doesn't allow posting of emails or sites. I do follow on Facebook if you ever go there. I have 3 email addresses also. One is at reagan.com and another at gmail. I'd like to continue the conversations. My emails are steve5744@reagan.com and 57steve44@gmail.com.
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
Sent a reply to your reagan.com site

I'm also on the Facebook site
preacher1
preacher1 1
Do you remember those El Caminos they had with the 396's. Kept them tuned and serviced right off base. Wouldn't let the motor pool touch em
pmw349
peter wiles 1
preacher: the chevy's were serviced on base, tune up's were done by U-2 mech's // other stuff was done at the base motor pool, every time i pick up a car someone needed a test drive so they knew that fan - or windows worked. went out to the fireing range or right down the runway if the F-4's were not landing.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, I won't argue with you but you would see them parked at that service station right off bas by the main gate. I just asked about it one time and that's what was told. Either way, they ran.
steve4bike
I do recall the El Camino's. Those were wicked fast. I'm not sure but I believe they would recover the wing "training" wheels after they dropped off. They were also first on the scene when the U-2 would hook the wing skids into the runway or dirt. I think the Chevy's came after the station wagons. We hated it when the U-2s had to land at Tucson airport because we had to put a guard on them and had to go back and forth during the shift to change guards or take them food.
preacher1
preacher1 1
They did and for a time, they had a driver and pilot with the bogies in a top rack. pilots would be talking, El Camino would run up under a wing and hook while bird was still rolling, back out and that wing came down, full stop and they'd saunter around to the other side. Most cases driver would just jump out and clip that 2nd one. Then pilot in car would give him taxi clear.
pmw349
peter wiles 1
Preacher no the chase cars did not recover the pogo's, no they did not drive under the wing, The chase car was to tell the pilot how far/close he was the the runway - they caould not tell, so they were told - because you don't want to land that frail bird to hard/// a long side of the chase car and behind was a truck with the pogo's, when i rode with the chase car I'd jump out and try to keep the wing up or down.. the ride was a treat for washing the chase cars - and i used them for going on runs and for lunch. Steve the chase cars in 66 when i first joined the 349th were 318 Ply. station wagons with a 3 speeed, the chevy's were hot stuff - they were serviced on base after the warrenty was over.
preacher1
preacher1 0
Well, they may have changed it up but I'll argue with you on how it was. The pogo's were standing straight up on a rack that went over the top of the El Camino cab. Watched them guite a bit from an HH43. We were on alert with engines running whenever they recovered one. You are correct about the pilot talking to pilot on the landing.They did not recover the pogo's. I think a TA type truck did that.
pmw349
peter wiles 1
WQll think about this - 1 how fast did the U-2 land? 2 which wing do they put the pogo in fist at 75+ 3 just how big of a hole was in the wing for the pogo to fix in? 4 so the guy in back of car picked up a 75# sring steel with small wheels on the end held it in one hand (had to hang on with the other in U-2 had to stay level and stay stright while a guy incerted the pogo , then go the other side and do the same, and the pilot held the plane level the whole time. as you know DM had a very long runway 3 miles so how long did the chase car have to get the pogo's in - then give the pilot time to bring the plane to a stop? and all the times you watched the aircraft land never a problem doing all that no long glade outs? no "hot" landing never landed off the center line do cross winds, and on and on.. Yes the U-2 pilots were in the upper 10% of the Air Force, I spent 4 years with them they were not take good. to be 100% each and every landing, no trainers when they flew to first time with no practice they did all that the first time and every time???
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, there wasn't anybody in the back. I said they had a rack that ran from the back up across the top of the cab that held the pogos. I don't know how fast they were going as I didn't drive them, and I don't remember which wing the stabbed first. Hell, I didn't realize I'd be defending a very vivid memory 45 years later. DM was some of the best duty I ever had, I spent a year out there, pulled some good rescue duty on the chopper, especially in Sabino canyon when the Sheriff's office got in a panic, and by virtue of their flight status and FM35 medical for their clearance, got the opportunity to visit inside every Titan2 site there with the FS in order to do surprise medical checks on the crew member. I know what I saw and did and am not going to argue about it at this time. Too early in the morning.
pmw349
peter wiles 1
I don't wish to argue - I'm happy to talk to someone who was on DM the same time i was. that's all// yes DM was good duty. thank you for your service..
steve4bike
Interesting back and forth talk. As a cop for a while, the same incident is really only one way but may be seen differrently. It's all good. The Chevy chasers were special. I'm not sure but I believe there was a rule about the chaser being behind the U-2 and he couldn't catch and pass. I know they drove just off center line behind the bird. I watched that tons of times. The pogo recovery team was always in a pickup truck. They were wreckless many times but as Security Police. we left them alone. I did see many a U-2 hook one of his skids on the runway. They just went too slow to hold up the wing tip. The crew didn't always get there spot on. I know the U-2s we had at first were U-2B models. Just as I was leaving DM in Dec. of 69, the first U-2R model came in. Now I'm saying R but it wasn't exactly like the R model I have here in my office..
Preacher, I'm out of the hospital. Got out at 5:00 yesterday. Scare of my life. Breathing isn't anything to mess with. Think was pulmonary docs are going to slammed with young and young patients given the legalization of pot. Because it's some 20X more abrasive than cigarettes and many pot smokers don't smoke cigs, they will get COPD very early in life and require expensive treatment and they will die younger. Okay, just my anti-Pot speech.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, I will agree on the pot. I have no use for it. You are correct on the breathing. I have a touch of COPD myself but so far have managed to keep my physical in shape with a couple of waivers. All my stuff started their at Tucson, falling in with a selfmade millionaire that had a couple of planes and a corporate pilot with nothing to do. I was over at the big airport every afternoon and came out of there with a pocketful of tickets including ATR(at the time) with about everything except turbine time tied to it. Hard part was paying out of my own pocket for currency after I left there. LOL. Get to feeling better. ttyl
preacher1
preacher1 1
You and I were there at the same time. I was there from Sept.68 thru Nov 69. I worked the rescue chopper out of the FSO at Base ops. I missed the blackbirds. I can appreciate the security circle as we had the same thing when that one came down at Kunsan. I had some PSD experience from there at DM, which is why I got tabbed at Kunsan to try and extricate the pilots. There suits were similar but they were a whole lot more complicated. LOL
steve4bike
The fire/rescue guys were in our maximum admiration. I don't know how many times I watched you guys foam a part of the runway or fly into the scene of a plane that needed emergency treatment. The guys that flew the egg beater choppers were so cool at their jobs. Drop the bucket and then hover over the aircraft directing the flames or smoke away from the ground guys going in with hoses blasting. I recall the Sunday when Navy and Air Force went at it with emergency tail hook engagements at the end of the runway. It got to be a bit of a contest to see who could hook the barrier the best. I don't recall who won but the base commander was the least happy guy that day. He was always callled out to those engagements. I also recall the day the missle wings UH-1 crashed at the end of the runway killing all on board. I didn't see the chopper go down but was onsite within a few minutes. Sad day for two families and the Air Force. I was also too near the F-4 that crashed on base near the enlisted mens swimming pool and rec center. The pilot rode the Phantom into the ground after ejecting his 1st Lt. backseat co-pilot. What a mess. I also witnessed the F-4 that went into the shopping center off the end of the runway. Pilot and co-pilot ejected but the jet crashed into the back of the super market. That ball of fire went hundreds of feet into the sky.
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
My wife lost a classmate when that F-4 crashed into the shopping center. She lived in a house next to it & was killed when the plane crashed. I was working at my father in law's Texaco station at 17th & Stone (5 points) when it crashed & I have never seen so many rescue vehicles go by in my life. The F-4 that crashed near the rec center was actually heading for the 390th headquarter building & my barracks building 4300 when it went in. They were pretty sure the pilot put it in the ground to save the lives of people in the building. It is a ball field today.
steve4bike
You've got a great memory for all that. The on base crash happened in either May or June of '66. I saw the F-4 out of my barracks window. It was headed straight down. We were told the pilot was a Major and punched out after he got the plant redirected. Trouble was he was upside down. The co-pilot came down with a barely opened chute. I think he landed near the base finance building. The wreckage was not really too wide spread because the jet went in a such a straight angle. The shopping center crash was so weird. I was with my future wife driving back from Morenci, Az. and just about 5 or 6 blocks from the site. Two F-4s took off together and one went into a downward track. I remember tell my future wife that something isn't right. Then the flame of the crash went up hundreds of feet. We drove by the scene and headed back to base. I was in air police so I knew there would be a recall for all people for security. I quickly went on base and gathered up clothing and other articles and got off base. We went to a bar and watched TV news and they were counting 20 or more dead. Turned out to be hanging sides of beef from the freezer area in the rear of the market. The wife of a rancher who owned acreage around one of our missile silos was killed. He later sued the military for something due to her death. Those were interesting days.
preacher1
preacher1 1
It is simply amazing, given the number of operations out there, and as close in as the city was, that there weren't/haven't been more. I spent many and hour on that HH43. I remember visiting in the tower one day. New controller on local. He out F4's on mid field break as was standard; gave a C130 9 mile straight in, which was standard and put a U2 on a left hand break, which was standard. Problem was just not all 3 at once. LOL. Tower dad had just stepped back inside from a smoke break. He was about like the Captain on AF447 walking back in on that mess; difference was that he had time to do something. He just broke the 130 back out and told him to go play out around Benson for awhile.; brought the f4's down and they were out of the way by the time the U2 came around. Good old days. LOL
steve4bike
The U-2s were being flown by some non-US pilots for a while when I got to DM. It seems to me they were Asian, maybe South Korean? The darn guys crashed or crash landed one or more. One U-2 was gliding in from Texas or elsewhere and couldn't make DM. It went down not too far from Benson. Darned thing I ever saw. It looked like it just dropped from the sky. I'm sure it was damaged beyond repair but it looked like it could still fly. Those F-4s when they broke over the base had a certain sound. The one that crashed on base made a totally different sound. I know the guys in our barracks all heard it at the same time and were either outside or at east facing windows in a flash. We use to like to watch the C-130s come in from a long ways off. They took forever to get to base after we spotted their lights. The F-4s came down like a rock while the U-2s seemed to turn forever before they lined up to land. It sure was fun to watch all the different planes. Even the day all those B -58s came in. That was such a site to see them all lined up on the flight line before they were sent to MASDAC. We crawled through the B-52 that dropped a bunch of X-15s out at Edwards. Man, I could sit and talk for hours about all we saw and did. It would be great fun to gather up a bunch of guys from those days and relate experiences. We could write many books.
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
Those guys were Nationalist Chinese pilots & if "ANYTHING" went wrong they would punch out in a heartbeat. They made no attempt to bring the plane back. Steve, a U-2 had to have crashed not too long before you got to DM or maybe even during your time there. Plane crashed just short of the south end of the runway. Our folks were so mad becasue they said if he had just stayed with the plane he would have gotten to the runway.
steve4bike
You've got the story just the way I heard it. We used to laugh about the Asian seeing a redlight on the dash and they would immediately punchout. That U-2 crash was shortly before I got there. I signed on at DM in the later part of April 1966. We were all sent there from basic OJT. I had no idea what 803rd CDS was until someone said here's your rifle and 38 pistol now go protect the Titan IIs and the flightline. I made E-4 under 2 and was given leadership right away. I lead SAT 7 the immediate security response team and then was communication plotter for a number of years. I had to lead the security response to the anti war protestors that gathered at the main gate on a Sat. or Sunday. That made us so mad until the base commander treated us to a steak dinner at the officers club. It was a hot day.
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
I was on my way out the Craycroft gate on a Sunday in 1965 to go climbing to a waterfall on Mt Lemmon. I failed to slow down for the last few feet as I went past the AP shack & as luck would have it an AP was folloing me. Pulled me over & gave me a speeding ticket. It cost me a stripe & to this day when I go out that gate I still remember it. Got weeked duty as well as had to write a report on speeding on base.
preacher1
preacher1 1
As I said I was just there about a year from late 68 til late 69. In my younger days I had stayed at the Maverick til closing time and was very tipse as I approached the main gate. E-4 I only remember as Smitty was patrol shift chief that nite. Gate was coned down to one lane; I just grabbed the outbound side and went on by. Smitty followed me onto the medical barracks and into the parking lot. He told me about it over lunch the next day. At 3am there was not a lot of other traffic.
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
Guy who works with me was an AP & worked out of March AFB in the weapons storage area. He did 7 1/2 years & got out. He was on the shooting team & said he got to travel all over the world while on that team. He was in VN as the war was winding down.
preacher1
preacher1 1
I was there the day the 1st B58 came in. Didn't see that lineup. I think we were out somewhere. You are right about the 130's. They would clear them 9 miles straight in. Seemed like they took forever. I have seen controllers drop 2 F4 flights in ahead of them. Don't know if that was legal or not but when the pattern got saturated, you could listen to the tower frequency and hear lot's of strange things.
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
I never saw a B-58 land, but a school classmate worked on them as a hyd troop out of Carswell AFB. I saw one make a pass over MacDill AFB when I was stationed there in 1963-64 time frame
steve4bike
The B-58s came in to DM in groups of 2 or 3 at a tiime. I watched a military channel show on them some time back. I find all the stories so interesting about all the planes.
One night at DM we had a mystery plane land and it was taxied right to a hanger in MASDC. We were later told it was an F-111. The hanger was super secret and guarded by MASDC civilian guards. They wouldn't let us go in. Strange how the AF treated certain aircraft.
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
Back in the mid 80's we were TDY to Nellis AFB & we had A-7's at the time. One of our weapons guys decided to go into a hangar that had A-7's in them & he was escorted out & told he could not come in there. He told them he worked on A-7's & they told him 'HE COULD NOT COME IN THERE". A little later we found out they were the trainer AC for the then "TOP SECRET" F-117.
pmw349
peter wiles 1
Hey there TWO U-2 jocks were B58 pilots you may have seen the B58 when they came for an interview. as you know the 58's were fassed out.
preacher1
preacher1 1
No, this was the first one headed for MASDC. Came from LIT where the last wing was stationed.
steve4bike
I recall one night a private plane, like a Cessna 172, landed at DM by mistake and parked in with a row of F-4s. That was the weirdest thing I ever saw. The private pilot was just in a state of shock. We took him to base ops to arange fuel and flight plans back to Scottsdale where he thought he had landed. OSI somehow got involved but I wasn't privy to what they did.
preacher1
preacher1 1
He was a long way from Scottsdale. LOL
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
You mention how lucky they were to not have more accidents at DM. Back in the late 70's I was going down the freeway near the downtown area & I saw a ball of smoke go up near the U of A area.. The AF had an A-7 coming from depot & coming over the city it started to run really bad. Rick Ashler, the pilot decided to put the plane down in the U of A stadium to lessen the damage to the community. As he came over the stadium the U of A band was practicing & so Rick turned it down a street on the far side & punched out. The plane headed down the street & as luck would have it a car full of people came from a side street & turned into the crashing plane. Killed two of the 3 women in the car as I recall. Rick went on to fly with the AZANG & last I knew was flying for one of the major airlines
mcsf16
Monroe Smith 1
Our paths have had to have crossed if nothing more than in the chow hall. You came out of the chow hall & waled past the little parking lot & into our barracks. The day room was on the right & my room was next to it. Three of us lived in that 2 man room. The AZ DMV is now in that day room & I go in there at times to get new license or plates. I always tell the folks in there that I lived in the next room. That chow hall is now closed & used by the Rec Center folks. The old rec center is still in use.
steve4bike
The air police barracks was just west of the chowhall. I tried not to eat there too often. I did go to midnight chow a lot. Our barracks had it's dayroom on the 2nd floor. I lived on the 2nd floor for a while then moved down to the first floor in a room with a view of the chowhall. I got married in '68 and moved off base to a small apt. near Speedway and Craycroft Rd. I moved back to Calif in Dec. '69. I did go back to Tucson many times in recent years to ride a bike in the El Tour de Tucson Bike Ride. You know that one I'm sure. It's the day we screwed up traffic all around Tucson. I'd like to get back down there someday. I now live in Idaho, near Boise.
plumbstar
chris byrne 1
Always was a big fan of the SR71. I remember back in the late 80's they were bringing one into March Air Force Base for an air show. I had base access at the time & knew the approximate arrival time. I was at the end of the runway and the SR started doing touch & goes for about 30 minutes with full afterburner. I was right underneath it. What a sight. Cars, on the 215 which paralleled the runway, were pulling of the road and getting out to watch. Afterwards went over and watched it taxi in. Was able to walk right up to it and see all the ice falling off of everything,
tlblosser
tlblosser 1
I wonder what will become of the SR71B that Evergreen Air and Space has in its collection. Evergreen Aviation was forced into bankruptcy and now the museum is selling off some of its planes. I wonder if the SR71B will also go. Truly a sad situation there in McMinnville, Oregon if you ask me.
KarryEllis
Karry Ellis 1
I was at Farnborough in September, 1974 when the SR-71 had it's first public display. Major Jim Sullivan was the pilot and Major Noel Widdifield the RSO. I was there with C-5 tail number 0454 on static display and a basic training buddy from Montana was there with the SR-71. I got to meet the crew and their wives - there were stome great flying stories that eveing, but a lot of the performance was still not publicly discussed. What an awesome plane and aircrews. "Mach 3+ and 85,000ft.+. The "plusses" after those numbers were always the questions of the crew and the answer was always the same, something like this, "What does the plus mean"? Answer: "More than". "How much more than?" "Plus". Undoubtably the most beautiful aircraft ever designed - and who has been there for a startup that can forget the sound of those two 430 cubic inch Buick motors manifolded together and screaming at high RPM when that start button was pushed???!!!

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