Monday, October 19, 2015

Last Weekend

While Sarge was out last weekend gallivanting around celebrating his Mom's birthday amidst the fabled Fall Colors of Vermont, me and mine were dealing with the last vestiges of the Stupideum explosion from the week before.

The car was, as expected, totaled. USAA did their usual excellent job in expeditiously making things right in spite of a bit of paperwork snafu from the People's Republic of Maryland.  The daughter in law is ensconced in a new car and we have to return the rental to the agency.  You may remember that the car was rented on Lackland AFB.  As the Daughter in Law does not have a military ID, and one is required for entry to military bases without major PITA, Mrs Juvat and I drove down to help out.

And brought my camera.

We had a quite enjoyable tour of the Lackland AFB Parade field and learned some interesting things.

The rental car company is just off the bottom of this photo, so we entered the parade field from the bottom left and parked.  
Going a million miles per hour just sittin' there

Good Luck Murph.  No boarding Ladder
 Next stop was someone we've already met.
85-114 flown by Capt Cesar "Rico" Rodriquez
 This bird was interesting as it is one of the few Eagles with feathers.
Those striped plates were designed to reduce drag as well as the jet's IR signature, but fell off frequently, so by the time I got to the jet, I never flew one with them.

Next door was a Lawn Dart Mini-Van.  No particular story here.
 Next was a Warthog from Niagara Falls ANGB

Next Door was a SLUF (Slow little Ugly Firetruck)

Across the street was the best display of the lot. A display that looked like it was flying!

The pilot's name kinda did a jingle in my memory, but I couldn't place it.  So I went to my research happy place and turns out, Sarge and I are descendants. Maj (eventually LtGen) Jay T. Robbins) was Commander of the 80FS "The Juvats" in WWII.  Jandina was the name of all 5 P-38s he flew in the war and was actually J and Ina (his wife).

Now remember, Lackland has been the AF's basic training base since forever.  Recently it's become a Joint Base with the Navy, so there's a bunch of kids starting their military careers there.  I've heard it said on this blog many times before and I believe it.  "We stand on the shoulders of Giants."  In my opinion,  on this parade field, the AF did a good job of reinforcing the fact that everyone doing their job to the best of their ability is crucial to the success of the mission. 

Scattered throughout the field are placques describing individuals, primarily enlisted and efforts they made to ensure mission success.  Some involved valor, most involved perseverance.  I found them moving.

The guy described here was a successful, in that he survived the war, fighter pilot and officer.  Got out at war's end, tried to make it in the Civilian world, then rejoined the military as an enlisted man eventually retiring as a Chief Master Sergeant.

Leaving the P-38, we got to one of my favorites, although she does need a bit of paint touchup.
  The next aircraft is not what you think.
 So, Gramps what did you do in the war?  Got shot at and hit by guys in Bombers.  Yeah, the Germans?  No, the Americans!  

It's a P-63 and its primary use by the US was as a target for Bomber Gunner parctice.  They used frangible bullets, but even so it needed heavy armor to protect the pilot.

 This airplane is huge!  To give you an idea how big, my son is 6'4"

 Painted as Gabby Gabreski's plane brought it's lethality to the forefront.
Notice the Murph proofing on the canopy

Next was the most unique airplane on the field.

 The F-82 twin Mustang.  Information provided said it could be flown and employed by either pilot, but didn't detail where the AC usually sat.

That was it for the fighters on display,  I skipped a few, until we got to what I think is one of the most elegant looking planes ever.

 The C-121 Constellation

In the South East corner of the field there's a break in the action from the airplanes.  There's a memorial to working dogs.

And just in case you brought your canine friend, a functional dog water fountain.

As we turn back west on the final side of our parade, we encounter an A-26.  Undoubtably it's one of those Sarge remembers from his youth.  Ok, maybe not.
 Frankly I was pleased that the AF has resisted the PC Police and left this one in battle colors.
  Next door was a B-25
  Then a B-24,  I'm sorry, just an ugly airplane in my opinion.
  The Flying Fortress.
  And finally the last aircraft on display.
This B-29 is painted to represent the first B-29 that landed on Saipan and began the raids that helped defeat Japan.

All in all, it was a great day.  The weather was perfect and the company sublime.  There were a few irritants though.  Very few of the information placards were usable.  Additionally, many of the aircraft had visible damage, both sun and other.  Hopefully, the Air Force is mid project on restoring them and what was displayed is a result of the demolish stage of renovation.

I also wondered how we went from B-29s and P-51s to F-15s and F-16s, skipping a whole generation of Air Force History.  Turns out there's another park a block or two away on the other side of the highway with them.  So,  good, another road trip!


  1. Beautiful pics. Not sure which one that I want to abscond with first, because they all deserve to fly again, and you know that they want to.
    And there may not be a ladder on that SR-71, but someone we both knew once said that "There Is a Way" and I'd be remiss for not at least giving it a try.

    And yeah--more pics of the early jets, please! Bring the F-86 and the Century series!

    1. Unfortunately, none of them are remotely flyable, so all absconding would do is get you some cool yard art.

      Gonna be a month or so on more Jet pics, Got some Vacationing to do.

    2. I'm dreaming of flying them all. Don't harsh my mellow.

      Looking forward to the other pics after you take what I hope is a most enjoyable vacation.

    3. Thanks.
      I'll be visiting a couple of military museums I've only dreamed about. More to follow.

    4. Well if any of them are up this way, shout me up.

    5. Not this trip, I expect to discover new zeal and energy on this vacation.

  2. The overhead of the parade ground at Lackland brought back some memories. Many of those aircraft were there when I was there, many were not. It still boggles my mind to see 15s and 16s and Warthogs on static display. To me those are still "new" aircraft. But that's what comes of being an old fart. I am close to attending parades wearing a beret and with my medals pinned to a ratty old blue suit jacket.


    (And if Murph can't find a way then there truly is no way.)

    1. Re: F-15s on Static. Didn't bother me too much to see the A models on display. This one shocked me as it's an 85 model. That one would have had the new car smell to it when I was flying. Course the equivalency would have been for the AF to be still flying P-51s in the early 80s.

      Berets and medals, Now that's funny!

  3. Thanks for the tour!

    My Nephew graddyated there a couple of years ago. I was astonished to find that the kids' moms had direct 24/7 access to the chain of command ("I'm glad Mom didn't pull any of that $#!+" said the nephew), and that more than a few rented quarters near the front gate for the duration, a la Pinky MacArthur.

    The SLUF has always been a favorite of mine, a blue collar jet that always punched well above its weight. It really tickles me that the Air Force had an inferiority complex about being assigned another navy jet by, yet the improvements they made (TF-41, gun, bombing/nav system, and the HUD) gave it new life in navy service as the definitive E model. I don't think there's ever been a better light bomber and there probably never will be. And they stuck an IRST under the chin!

    I always hate to see poorly maintained display aircraft. Seems disrespectful. At Oceana BITD the First Lieutenant's problem children always kept the display aircraft in top form, but I doubt that's the case these days.

    1. It was interesting to see the Navy Kids in their Blue BDUs. No disrespect intended, but I REALLY don't get that. It doesn't work for any of the environments the Navy works in. If you're at sea, you may be involved in combat, but the only place that camo is going to be effective is if you're in the water, and if you're in the water the probability that you don't want to be seen is minimal. Ashore, you stand out very well. I don't get it, but then again, I'm not the CNO nor have I played him on TV.

      I agree with the disrespectful thing. In their day, they were as well maintained as possible and today their purpose is to remind the current generation of their history. They don't do that well when they look like crap.

    2. Okay, I'll be disrespectful. Waaaaaayyyy too much drug use in the uniform shop. I see they've now issued "flight suits" instead of coveralls for shipboard wear. Same-same flight suit except in a nice meltable synthetic blend with huge steel zippers to make the burn scars more interesting.

    3. ?? So the flight suits aren't nomex? Not that I expected much fire protection once I'd washed mine several times, but at least it was the thought that counts.

  4. juvat/

    Surely you must remember the u-shaped bar at the Lackland O-Club where the Laughlin crowd would go to "hit the tanker" as soon as we hit town from the long drive from Del Rio before we went out on the town. Funny story (like all old pilots may have told it before, lol) but a gaggle of us were downing drinks and a crowd of recent OCS grads were on the opposite side of the bar bitching about how SA was an absolute, end-of-the-earth-Grade-A-Hell-Hole. Turns out they were all big city guys from the NYC, NJ and Philly area and didn't exactly enjoy doing PT in the heat of a Texas summer for starters, let alone succumb to the cultural "charms" of Texas in general and SA in particular. lol. Well, we couldn't help overhearing them and finally one guy in our group (from SoCal iirc) spoke up and said: "Hey guys, we couldn't help but over-hear you. You think SA is a hell-hole? You outta come join us where we're stationed down on the border at Del Rio. Guess what? We just drove over four hours just to GET HERE! " LOL!!

    1. Yeah, Lackland was an interim stop enroute to the Auger Inn at Randolph. My favorite Laughlin to SA story involved Iranians. Seemed back in the days after Smokey and the Bandit came out, every Iranian bought a black T-Top Trans Am and as soon as released Friday PM would take US 90 to San Antonio. Hondo was (still is) a big ticket trap and the Iranians were fond of driving at 90. If pulled over, they'd claim that they thought the Highway markers were the speed limit. As far as I know, it never worked. But evidently when one particular student was buying his Trans Am, he asked what the cruise control was. The salesman said it was "kinda like an autopilot". That evening, there was a helluva wreck on US 90. Seems the student accelerated up to 90, put on the cruise control and climbed in the back seat for a nap. As straight as that highway is, he probably got into a real deep REM sleep before ....

    2. Haha, when I heard it the Shah's future رانندگان تامکت were buying conversion vans at Pensacola and stepping into the back for a beer after engaging the cruise control.

    3. That's probably the difference between the Iranian AF and their Navy. Interesting. The accident I described actually happened when I was at Laughlin. Don't know if the "kinda like an autopilot" part was true ("never let the truth interfere with a good story"), but he was going very fast and his remains were recovered from the back seat.

  5. Nice photos of planes and a place I left the AF to avoid. When they gave me orders for summer training in Lackland I also discovered that the assurances of flight training had also been mythical and I ran away to sea. I like SA but I never have made it to Lackland. NAS JRB Fort Worth was a nice place for many a weekend away from home in SOCAL. Wouldn't want to live there.
    I've noticed it's difficult to maintain planes on sticks and even large planes on the ground are tough to maintain. It's something we got used to at every Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps installation we ever stayed at. I was surprised by the condition of the remaining plane at the Air Force Academy.

    1. "I was surprised by the condition of the remaining plane at the Air Force Academy."

      Were you surprised because it was good or bad? if Good, I'm pretty sure I know who was maintaining it and why. (The Fish and "Because the upperclassmen said")

  6. Enjoyed Randolph and SA as a stud in 62-FZ, the experimental test class for the T-38 Talon. IPs flew with guys from Northrup in the AM and flew with us in the afternoon. I remember you had to always do two immelman turns or the ADI would come home all screwed up. Our basic training took about a month or so longer than normal for the USAF (T-34, T-33). We had Col Yeager for a graduation speaker. He arrived via GCA (remember the scud?) and when he broke out at a few hundred feet, he firewalled his F-104 for an announcement of his presence. Great times, neat airplane. Too bad I didn't know how to fly back then. Lots of funny stories. And some not so.

    1. Yeah, when I was a kid having a 104 detachment at Webb was the reason i joined the Air Force. The break for the inside runway had them rolling out directly over our house and the J-79 was a distinctively different sound than that of the Tweets or 38s. I would run out and watch them every time. It was only after going through F-4 RTU at Luke, and doing a little DACT with the 104s there, that I realized it was a cool looking jet and fast as blue blazes, but not much good for anything else. When an F-4 can saddle up and ride in guns range, the target isn't generating much turn.

  7. Sportsfans/

    Seeing that pic of a Connie reminds me there's a funny-as-hell "EC-121" tape out there made by some Vietnam-era 121 drivers. The laconic voice says (among things if iirc ) things like: "Yeah, standard t.o.speed is 120 kts ias, climb to alt 120, cruise is 120kts, landing pattern & approach to final 120 kts and taxi speed 120 kts.." LOL..

    1. My Dad told me that story, but it was an O-1 and 90Kt and it included max cruise as 90Kt.

  8. Maybe the Murph-proofing on that canopy is to prevent anyone from trying to recreate that scene in the movie "1941" with Tim Matheson and Nancy Allen.

    1. I'm sure that's a probability. Although, I think the P-63 had an additional sticker on it saying something about toxic chemicals inside. The aircraft I didn't take pictures of C-123, C-119 and C-47, all of which would have been easily accessible, all had mondo locks on the doors. Probably for the reason you suggest.

  9. Great pics, and sad to see the state they are in... Hopefully they will be fully restored, or at least reconditioned!

    1. Thanks
      I hope so also, but I have my doubts. Good luck on the Move.


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