AFROTC Gross Insubordination-Jay Hansen

As juniors, we had AFROTC classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays on the second floor of OregonStateUniversity’s Gill Coliseum. Before class began the seniors inspected us in an open ranks inspection. These were nose-to-nose, one-on-one events where the seniors shouted their questions and we roared our answers because, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” The events soon turned into mind games where the seniors tried to baffle us and we were intent on using mental judo to best them while complying. Had you been a bystander, you would have heard a lot of humor on both sides, but no one would laugh. My “chosen” inspector was Hank.

The battle of wits continued through the fall term and winter term, but by the spring term, we were tiring of it and the exchanges were becoming repetitious. We needed a change mechanism.

As a counter measure, I called some of my classmates the night before the next class and asked them to meet me at the southeast corner of Gill Coliseum a half hour before class. At the meeting, I passed out cloves of garlic and asked them to spread out to each of the entrances. They were to intercept the juniors and give them a bit of garlic to chew on before the inspection.

It worked.

As Hank inspected me and we exchanged the usual at the top of our lungs, he had a quizzical look on his face. It was all I could do not to laugh. The other seniors weren’t amused. It was a short inspection.

We left the hallway for the classroom and waited for Major Paige to begin the class. As one might suspect, the room reeked. Normally prompt, Major Paige was late.

When he arrived, he waved the air in front of his nose, acknowledging the smell. But he had a small smile. He told us the seniors had gone to the cadre after the inspection and demanded the entire junior class be kicked out of AFROTC for the stunt.

Major Paige told us the cadre’s response was, “Well, at least they were organized.” When he asked us who had organized the event, I got fingered.

It was the end of the open ranks inspections.

Later, I asked Hank why he had been looking quizzical during the inspection. All though he had known something was going on, he couldn’t figure out what it was. Turns out that Hank had no sense of smell. What a waste.

A Shocking Crash

This is an excerpt from “Hijacked, A Critical Change of Plans”  A true story!

I entered primary jet training at Laughlin AFB, Del Rio Texas in September of 1967. I made it through the T-41 ‘Wash Out’ program but was still not sure I was meant to be a pilot. I was then and still am afraid of heights.

On October 21, 1967 a graduation ceremony of 60 lieutenants was conducted and all the current students were in dress blues to be inspected by Jimmy Stewart. He was in the area filming the movie “Bandolero” along with Raquel Welch, Dean Martin and George Kennedy. James Stewart was a USAF Reserve brigadier general and it was an honor to have him there plus the Thunderbirds were there with their F-100Ds.

The formalities were over and the T Birds were about to complete their famous ‘bomb burst’ when the solo pilot, Captain Merrill A. McPeak positioned his F-100 to climb up through the other four jets that had just orchestrated the bomb burst. At .99 mach he pulled the normal 6.5 G’s and his plane disentigrated. The wings had separated from the fuselage and as fire and smoke entered the cockpit he ejected. His winglesss  flaming fuselage traveled over the ramp with parked and fully fueled T-37s and T-38s crashing harmlessly in the desert. Captain McPeak’s ejection was at such a speed that his helmet and oxygen mask was ripped from his head and a panel of his parachute was shreaded. He landed safely on base property with his ground crew and base ambulence waiting for him. He was taken to the hospital and soon released with just bruises and a few minor cuts.

That evening , the Officers Club was packed and I had the honor of speaking with one of the T-bird pilots. I asked him what Captain McPeak saw and did. He smiled and said its all part of aviation and our training. He reacted quickly when he saw the smoke and flames and all the systems worked. That short visit convinced me that I was meant to fly and anxious to be a part of such a professional group.

Art Krull

T-37 Spins

My job was to demonstrate some incorrect recovery techniques that the new instructor might encounter from his students. The normal recovery from a T-37 spin was;
-Throttles idle
-Rudder and aileron neutral
-Stick abruptly full aft (elevator) and hold (if inverted this will result in a recovery if not help too long)
-Determine the direction of spin (use outside references or the turn and slip indicator)
-Abruptly apply full rudder opposite the direction of spin and hold (note the ground reference)
-After one complete turn using the ground reference abruptly apply full forward or down elevator
-As the aircraft approaches a vertical attitude slowly apply up elevator and power as the aircraft recovers.

Some of the demonstration spins recoveries were:
-Wrong rudder-resulted in an abrupt bounce or opposite motion when the stick is applied forward
-Relax all controls (this was the normal recovery of a small propeller driver aircraft but did nothing for a jet)
-Stick only, no rudder applied. Worked sometimes but not guaranteed
-Accelerated spin-slow movement forward with the elevator resulting in a very fast continuous rotation blurring all ground references as the aircraft accelerated towards earth.

We climbed to 20,000 feet before starting the demonstrations and usually a ride that most new instructors were glad to have over.

World War One Flying

Reminiscing about USAF T-37 basic training brings back many memories but one has stuck with me my whole life.
I was doing well and knew I would make it as a young confident Air Force pilot. We broke for the Holidays and, my wife and I, returned to Seattle and my father-in-law mentioned that his neighbor, Mr Craig, had flown in the Royal Canadian Air Corp in WW I and he would like to meet me. I was thrilled and we hurried over to meet him.
He was well up in his years then but as I introduced myself I could see the excitement in his eyes to again talk aviation. He had found his leather flying cap and let me handle it as he talked about how they had to dress for the cold open air cockpits. I asked about their instrumentations and he smiled and said maybe a compass.
“But how did you know your speeds” I asked and he replied
” The sound of the wires cutting through the air was what we used”
I was amazed at the very basics of flight back then but when I began telling him about the spins and other maneuvers we practiced he understood and said they used stalls and spins as escape maneuvers. I told him how we performed barrel rolls and loops but when I mentioned Immelmann’s, a half loop with an aileron roll at the top, his eyes lite up and he proudly announced
” Oh yes. I knew Max Immelmann, he was a great pilot.”
A moment i will never forget.

50 Years Ago, Riding the “Boom Bucket!”

We were given ejection seat training early in the T-37 flying phase. We had academic classes on the components of the seat, the controls, how to fire the seat, and what to expect should we use it in flight. The seat was powered by a 37mm shotgun-like cartridge that was designed to blast the seat (with pilot) up through the canopy, if it had not yet been ejected, and once clear of the tail of the aircraft, to separate the pilot from the seat. It was designed for a quick ride away from the aircraft.
In addition to the academics, we were to experience an ejection first hand. The Air Force had built a slanted tower, about 75’ in height with twin I-beam rails going up the tower. An ejection seat was fastened to the rail, and once the occupant fired the seat, was given one of those quick rides almost vertically.
Clever engineers had designed and built a cog system that would lock the seat at any altitude where it came to rest. Once locked, a hook-on-a-cable was sent aloft to raise the seat off the cog locks and to winch it back to terra firma. The whole system was dubbed the “Boom Bucket.”
Of course, we had to devise a contest. The winner would be student achieving the highest altitude (we were assured that the 75’ provided an ample safety margin). I can’t recall what the prize was to be, but for sake of argument, it was a drink at happy hour.
I wasn’t the first. Watching closely, I saw the first guy’s head snap down as he almost instantly disappeared from eye level and reappeared way up the rails. It seemed to take an awfully long time for that winch system to get up to him, and longer still to bring the seat back down.
More apprehension. When my turn rolled around, I wanted to do it as quickly as possible, so as soon as I was safely strapped in with parachute, helmet and all, I raised the handles and squeezed the triggers. POW — and I was instantly presented with a 4th floor view of the surrounding area.
Imagine sitting on a lawn chair fastened to the top of a flagpole. Imagine no visible means of support. That’s what it felt like.
After what must have been three times the wait I had notice for the others to get the winch up to the seat, I felt the seat rise slightly, then ratchet slowly down the rails to the ground. It was an experience I was glad to have put behind me. Would I have done it for real in the aircraft if I had to? Absolutely yes.
Oh, about the contest. As the largest in class, I came in last.