Navy Aircraft

    Rockford.  The Great Lakes Navy Band - 1960's, took off for Minneapolis to participate in Summer Fest, concerts, parades, etc.  The airplane (DC-8) leaves Glenview NAS and 45 minutes later a fire warning light says fire in engine #2, so the pilot upon checking his instruction book, verifies that we need to land at the closest airfield large enough for this size plane.  Rockford:  Looking out the windows as we land, we see the fire trucks lined up to greet us.  That wasn't a very big runway.  When stopped on the apron, the plane captain told us not to panic as he passed by us down the aisle and threw the knotted rope out the back door.  We all went down that rope.  The crash crews had completely foamed down the engine and then it was determined that the warning light was faulty.  The only way the pilot could get the engine started again was to run down the runway and let the wind turn the propeller.  Made the Rockford newspaper and we arrived in Minneapolis after the opening parade and one missed concert.

    Madison.  The Great Lakes Navy Band - 1960's.  The most efficient military way to get to a NROTC event at U of Wisconsin (about 100 miles) is to fly from the O'hare military terminal?  We did it.  On the way back, the reserve 2nd Lt was qualifying to pilot the C-119 flying boxcar.  Weather was very foggy and visibility was zero.  He was on the final decent and would get uneasy and level off, whereon the colonel would tell him to nose it down again.  This made the glide path too long and when we first saw ground he threw up his hands and quit.  The colonel in the copilot's seat saw we were coming in at an angle too and already halfway down the runway .  He brought the plane in line.  (What kept the left wing tip from scraping?) , landed and stopped the plane scant feet from the fence.  We looked out and saw the traffic crawling along the highway through the fog, just the other side of the fence.

    South Pacific.  Pohnpei Island in the Eastern Carolines.  I took the Guam Navy Band, as we were to help dedicate the opening of Air Micronesia service with a performance during the ceremony.  After they broke a symbolic coconut on its nose wheel, the commercial jet took off and returned moments later with a low pass salute to all gathered!  Our pilot (a hot dog), not wanting to loose his one minute of possible glory ordered us to board immediately because "we needed to get back before dark as some airstrips did not have lights".  Not much of a story, but he wanted the audience, still assembled.  We took off over the lagoon and he immediately made a tight 180 degree turn just off the water.  When we got back over the landing strip, he pointed the nose to the stars and as we held on, that aircraft actually flapped its wings.  Connie (Constellation).

    There were angels all 'round.

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