|Still got a few more coats of finish to apply, so there's a plastic coating over the front. |
Peruvian Curly Walnut
Once that's been completed, we'll take a little hike over to Dayton and see what there is to see at Wright Pat. Heard there's some kind of museum there or something. We'll see. And, oh by the way, Little Juvat has loaned my HIS camera for the adventure. Now if I can just figure out how it works!
But, see, that museum thing is one of the Venn Diagram circles in my life. So, I've been reading the last few posts over at Lagniappe's Lair. Murph decided to stop in at the Eglin Air museum, which, up until that time, I never knew existed. Of course, I've never been one to shy away from looking at pictures of airplanes. He had a great post on the Thud, which prompted a echoing post from here. Most comments I've ever had on a post, which was gratifying...Thanks!
Murph then followed up with one on pre-Century birds. I'll confess, it took me a moment to figure out what he was referring to in the title. I mean, even the Raptor was built in the 20th century. But, astute as I am, I was able to ascertain he was talking about the lineage of the aircraft and the fact that they were all pre-century series jets. Among them was the, always popular, F-86.
Now, the F-86 has always been a favorite of mine. During my first tour in Korea, and even on my first post-Kunsan Korean TDY, the ROKAF was still flying F-86s.
Since, at the time, virtually the whole of South Korean Airspace (less the area around the DMZ and over Seoul) was virtually free fly, impromptu engagements were frequently happening. Sharpens the visual lookout, you see.
The first time I got jumped by an F-86, my WSO saw him and called the break. When I looked back over my shoulder and saw him, I'll confess I wasn't exactly sure if it was a Sabre or a Mig-17. That thought, coupled with the NK saber rattling after the assassination of the South Korean President, got the adrenalin flowing. Break Left, force his nose into lag. Burners, unload and extend, through the Mach and leave him in the dust. Later, in the bar, I feel a tap on my shoulder, and a ROKAF Major is standing there. "If you'd have waited about 2 more seconds, LT, I'd have made you a movie star!" "Yes, well....I'm having a little Johnny Walker on the rocks, would you like one, Sir?" "Indeed!" And a friendship was started.
But that was only one of the F-86 Sabre Venn Circles. As I said, I'm writing this on Father's day. One of my favorite pictures of my Dad, who passed away in 2008, is this one.
As Mom told me, this was taken at Hamilton AFB. That would have meant, at best, I was less than a year old. I was born at Hamilton, but celebrated my first birthday at Naha AB Okinawa.
I was reading Sarge's post about his father, and looked at the two pictures of him in uniform and thought two things. Sarge looks like him, and "My was he young back then". Then my eyes went to Dad's picture. "My was he young back then."
Oh, by the way, he's in the cockpit of an F-86 Sabre.
His squadron had an aerobatics flight.
(This was before the Thunderbirds became THE show squadron...in the AF). Dad flew the slot.
Date on the photo is December 1953. 18 months before I was born, however I wonder if that Venn Circle and this one overlap?
Was I fated to fly a four ship of Eagles over the top?
Earlier this month,Sarge posted about marching (yes, in the Air Force!) Reading that post, brought another Venn Circle into the convergence. Growing up, I'd always wanted to be a fighter pilot, even to the lengths of studying the effects of physics on a body in motion. But when I got to college, I got a bit of cold feet. The POWs had just gotten home in January, and the war protesters were still a PITA even at the redneck school I was attending.
I was hesitant.
Fortunately, the ROTC Detachment had a program where you could "try" ROTC without the commitment and without the uniform. You took the class and worked the leadership lab, but weren't committed. You hadn't taken the "Queens Shilling".
Not surprisingly, I found I liked it (of course, my Father having laid down the law and said I had to find a scholarship of one form or another as the paternal gravy train was coming to an end in May might have encouraged me). But now I've got to figure out a way to make up for past mistakes. I was a semester behind the my classmates who had gone whole hog in the fall.
I talked it over with my instructor, an ancient Captain of about 30 who'd flown F-4s in Vietnam and been grounded due to injuries in an accident. He agreed that I had some ground to make up, but that it could be done. The key would be the things I did over and above what the Corps and the College required. He recommended I join the Drill team, Saber Flight. So, I did. I mean, how hard can it be, walk around in circles and so on?
Well, I showed up for practice the first night, wanting to get off on the right foot. Which I did...Literally! Which was bad...
Huh? What do you mean I'm out of step?
Pushups? Why? Nevermind, One! Two! Three!...
After a while, I actually got pretty good at it and was entrusted with the team's weapon of choice, a Saber!
Now, I was pretty cool! I had a Saber! The chicks must dig that, right? Eh, not so much.
It was fun, and we practiced a lot with them. I learned the hard way why it's important when presenting arms with the Saber, the blade comes up from the left to the vertical position. We're practicing in formation at attention. The squad leader bellows "Preeee....Sent. ARMS!" and 15 Sabers flash from the left to the vertical. One, directly behind me, flashes up straight ahead to the vertical. I hear a ripping sound, feel a cold rush of air on my back and out of the corner of my eye see my shirt unfold around my front.
Well, at least it's not me counting and trying to push away the ground.
It's now about March and we're at an evening practice. It's pretty chilly, and we're practicing the razzle dazzle with the Sabers. This maneuver involved twirling it and then throwing it in the air. The trick was to catch it flat bladed in your hand. (Yes, while the point was very sharp, the edge was actually quite dull.) Suffice it to say, we have dispersed a bit while practicing this action. In any case, one of our intrepid performers throws his weapon into the air and as it comes back down and hits his hand, his hand is sufficiently cold that there is a delay between when the weapon hits and when the hand signals the brain that the weapon has arrived. That causes the brain to delay the close hand command until after the handle part of the weapon and the tip of the weapon have bent around the hand, and then straightened out again, launching the Saber into a wobbly flight away from the hand.
All are looking in horror as the wobbling Saber reaches apogee and begins its descent towards an unsuspecting cadet whose back is turned. Said cadet is busy twirling his Saber as the incoming Saber sticks in the ground between his shoulder width spread legs with the handle softly tapping him on the inside of his thighs. Our relief descends into hysteria as wide eyed he turns around to see what had happened.
The squad leader wisely decided practice was over.
Late spring, we went to our first competition at Ft Bliss. We were the only non-Army team there, and we were the only team that wasn't marching with Rifles. Part of the competition involved the inspection prior to marching. You know, where the inspecting officer (NCO in this case), grabs the rifle spins it around, checks it for all sorts of stuff while asking pertinent questions about the weapon? Well, we had Sabers. Our front right guy was a 6'6" farm boy from West Texas. 250Lbs and not an ounce of fat. Great guy, eventually received a DFC for rescuing some crewmen off a foundering freighter in a typhoon. (I tried to find the details of that, but couldn't. Thought it was in AF Magazine in the late 80s). Anyhow a great guy. The NCO walks up and takes his Saber. "Cadet, what's the effective range of your weapon?" "About 6' Sergeant!" "What's the max range of your weapon, Cadet?" "As far as I can throw it, Sergeant!"
The crowd goes wild! The Sergeant is seized with a sneezing fit as he spins around quickly and can be seen with his shoulder's quivering.
The Sergeant returns the weapon, and steps to the next cadet. "Cadet, what is the effective range of your weapon?" Being a quick study, I replied "About 6' Sergeant!" No further questions were asked.
We didn't win the competition, but we didn't come in last either. For our first competition, we were happy with the results.
But, all the members of the team who weren't already on scholarship were awarded them in May, so it was worth it. And it all revolved around Sabres (Sabers?)
By the By, Saber Flight is still in operation at AFROTC Det 820, Texas Tech University, although it appears they no longer drill solely with Sabers.
It's interesting how life's little events seem to be interrelated, or maybe the universe is collapsing instead of expanding. Who knows?