As was the case of most or all of us USAFers, my dad was a career Air Force type having stayed in the service following WW2. He retired in 1973 as a full colonel with nearly 32 years total service, enlisted and commissioned. I grew up around airplanes and found them fascinating… still do. Entered AF pilot training in summer of ’69 and graduated a year later. Most of the next three years was spent in and around Southeast Asia flying the KC-135 tanker and then the OV-10 Bronco. After getting kicked out of the pool over there I was assigned as a pilot training instructor for about a year and a half and then instructing new instructors for about the same length of time.
A 3 week short notice assignment out of the blue (found out about it from an old OV-10 squadron mate in the O’Club barber shop) to the USAF School of Engineering for a masters degree in operations research. Directed duty assignment was to the air-to-ground weapons R&D business at the Tactical Air Warfare Center. Mostly involved in sensor and guidance systems; the warhead stuff was pretty straightforward. I was supposed to also fly the T-38 as a chase pilot on weapons test missions but (I know none of you can believe this) the personnel people had lied to me. I actually found the work interesting, but I wanted to go back to flying fairly soon. My upcoming F-4 assignment was changed to the O-2. Trucks on the interstate were faster.
Next up was Tactical Air Command Standardization & Evaluation as the program manager and Hq. flight examiner on the A-37, OV-10, and O-2. What I referred to as the slow ugly airplanes left over from VietNam. Actually fun flying and great people to be around but as those airplanes became excess baggage to USAF, so did the pilots. As luck would have it, the forward air controller squadron in Hawaii was converting to OV-10s that were being withdrawn from Korea. Talked it over with my bride… she said “Lets go!” It was obvious that I would never be chief of staff. Retired at 20 years from Wheeler AFB just before it became an Army Air Field.
Luckily the airline business was taking off and I got my first choice at Northwest Airlines. Spent 23 and a half years flying the B727 as a flight engineer, the DC9 as a copilot, captain, and check airman, and the A320 as a captain. Retired from Delta Air Lines (after the Great Merger).
By this time we had homes in Arizona (where my wife grew up) and Hawaii (see last USAF assignment above). Next was a year and a half flying boxes around small airfields in Hawaii for Fedex in Cessna Caravans. Slow and ugly but a great airplane for that kind of flying. Back to Arizona for a season of fire fighting under contract to the Forest Service using the Beechcraft Baron. A lot like being back in the Air Force except for the blue jeans and T-shirts. An opportunity to go back to jets appeared and since then I’ve been flying the Beechjet, a light corporate jet commonly used for charter work for those that are tired of TSA, airline terminals, and limited travel options.
I’m reminded of an old joke in the airline business. A kid walks up to a pilot and says “When I grow up I want to be a pilot. To which the grey-haired captain replied “Son, you can’t do both.”
- Air WarMy path into USAF from West Point was due to my dad. Army policy at the time allowed graduating cadets to be commissioned in another DoD branch if they were connected by way of a parent who […]