Monday, May 3, 2010

Another Crew Tale

Countdown to R-Day: 4 Days to GO!!!!

Another Crew Tale......THANK YOU LOU MARTIN!

Unfortunately, due to personal problems, (its hell to be 82, but it is better than the alternative), I will not be able to make the C-133 reunion this year. As you may know, I have 4,700 hours in the “Douglas Vibrator” and was a member of the 39 MAS from July 1964 to June 1970. And was the Standardization Officer from 1966 to 1970. I have many good and bad memories of flying the “Winnie Wagon” and during the Tet Offensive; I flew it for 203 hours in a little more than 30 days. I joined the 39th after leaving my position as a Maintenance Officer for an F-100D unit in Misawa AB, Japan. When reporting in at Dover, I was pleased to see my old C-119 friend from Germany, Gordon Pink, (a flight examiner) and a member of the squadron. Gordy administered my initial line check to the Pacific in May 1965, which took 30 days to complete because at that time the paper pushing generals in MATS headquarters thought that we could stage the C-133 as we did the more reliable aircraft. Because of this policy, we spent many idle days at each stop waiting for an in commission aircraft to fly.

I devote a lengthy chapter in my book “Close Encounters with the Pilot’s Grim Reaper” on the C-133 and write about many interesting events when flying it. I would like to briefly tell you about just two of them which I think you may find interesting.

In May 1965, my crew and I were returning from a mission to Saigon and were enjoying a 24-hour crew rest in Kadina Air Base Okinawa. However, it was difficult to sleep as the wind was howling and a torrential rain was beating on the metal roof of our barracks. Sometime in the early morning an orderly woke me up and instructed me to call the operations officer in ACP. When I made contact, he told me that Kadina was under a typhoon evacuation order and I and my crew were to report to operations ASAP. After waiting in line at the ACP desk, I learned that our evacuation destination was to be Tachikawa Air Base, Japan and we were told to get airborne ASAP.

After the flight engineers pre flighted the aircraft in heavy rain, we started the engines and followed a long line of aircraft to the active runway. As we taxied, we were buffeted by strong winds and heavy rain. When it was our turn for takeoff, we lined up on the runway, turned on the water injection, the windshield wipers on high position and activated the windshield jet air blast.

Just as the copilot shouted, “Go” the aircraft began to vibrate and I heard the muffled sound of an explosion. Both the copilot and flight engineer stated that we were losing the number three engine. While fighting the strong wind gusts, turbulence and heavy rain I scanned the engine instruments and noted that the torque oil pressure, RPM, TPT and fuel flow for the number three engine were all providing erratic indications. This was accompanied by the flight engineer in the cargo compartment stating that the number three engine nose case was shaking badly. I ordered the engine shut down and the propeller feathered (which I was pleased that it did).

During the climb, the copilot asked me if he should declare an emergency and request an immediate return to Kadina. My response, “Hell no, we are not going back to Kadina under these conditions and have the aircraft destroyed by the pending typhoon. In addition, since we are light and Tachi is only a three-hour flight we could still reach an emergency airport in Japan if we lose another engine.

The three-engine flight to Tachi was uneventful, but after landing, we had to sit on a taxiway for an hour while they created a parking spot for us. When the transient maintenance officer came onboard, he was quite unhappy as he said that he would have to arrange for a C-124 to fly in a new engine and propeller and his maintenance people were not very familiar with the C-133.

About five days later with our aircraft repaired, we departed for the U.S. mainland with planned stops for crew rest at Wake Island and Hickam AB. When my copilot and I were approaching the Hickam Officers’ Club, I was approached by Captain Robert Carpenter (a standardization pilot from the 39th) who began to reprimand me for flying a C-133 on three engines from Okinawa to Japan. He accused me of compromising safety, violating MATS directives and committing an overall stupid act. I responded by stating, “Captain, you’re way off base and even though you’re a flight examiner you don’t know what in the hell your talking about. Also, keep in mind that you are addressing a superior officer and I would appreciate it if you would show some proper respect.”

After I explained the reason for my actions Bob (being the gentleman he is) apologized and we had drinks and a friendly dinner together in the O-Club and considered incident closed.

The above incident is just one of the many I spell out in my book along with a full explanation of the cause of our many undetermined accidents, our five month grounding in 1965 and what was done to get the aircraft back in the air.

Sincerely, Lou Martin Lt.Col. USAF (ret.) I wish everyone a great reunion and wish I was there.

Note: A second experience submitted by Lou was included in an e-mail to our list

Let me know if you have any remaining questions about the Reunion.
The Committee is heavy into Final Prep. It's gonna be GRAND!!

Dick Hanson

10849 Falling Water Lane, Unit C
Woodbury, MN 55129
Cell: 651-249-9541

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