RECOLLECTIONS FROM THE PAST
1996 and 1997 Guest Book Entries
I have been requested to include recollections from various personnel that have either worked on the SR-71 or have been closely associated with the program through support operations. Bear in mind that the SR-71 could have never flown had it not been for the expertise of personnel in a wide variety of specialties in the U.S.Air Force and civilian industry. These include but are not limited to KC-135Q Refueling Support, Air Traffic Controllers, Security Policemen, Base Fire Suppression Support, Medical personnel, Lockheed Technical Support, Physiological Support Division (PSD) and a vast array of top notch people that expended that extra effort to insure the success of the program. If you have been associated with the Blackbird Program and wish to share something with others, please feel free to Sign the Guest Book . Do not send any classified information (The U.S. Government has been assigned that task and will declassify information as necessary).
Leland Haynes, MSgt USAF (Ret) Webmaster, SR-71 Blackbirds
There are now Nineteen
total web pages that comprise the
"SR-71 Alma Mater and Recollections of the Past"
The original web page (the one you are on now) had grown to over 3 Megs in size. To expedite your Browser loading, I have divided the "Guest book" Entries into Chronological year groups by dates the e-mail was received:
The first year group starts in 1996 and includes the year 1997 (this page)
The second year group is 1998
The third year group is 1999
The fourth year group is 2000
The fifth year group is 2001
The sixth year group is 2002
The seventh year group is 2003
The eighth year group is 2004
The ninth year group is 2005
The tenth year group is 2006
The eleventh year group is 2007
The twelfth year group is 2008
The thirteenth year group is 2009
The fourteenth year group is 2010
The fifteenth year group is 2011
The sixteenth year group is 2012
The seventeenth year group is 2013
The eighteenth year group is 2014
The nineteenth year group is 2015
If you have been associated with the SR-71 and would like to have your experiences or recollections listed on these Web Pages please fill out the form on the
Sun, 28 Dec 1997 10:05 Victor J Gobbi MSgt (ret) Writes:
I was stationed at Beale from from November 1967 to January 1969, assigned to the 9th AMS , in the ANS shop as an electronic technician. I think you've done an excellent job, really nice page..
Victor J. Gobbi, Msgt,USAF (Ret)
Sun, 28 Dec 1997 08:16 Mike Wilkerson Msgt (Ret) Writes:
Great Web Site. I have been looking for something like this for a long time!! I worked on the SR-71 from 1974 until retirement in 1990 as a hydraulic systems specialist (Bubble Chaser). Most of that time 1979-1984, 1985-1990 was at Detachment 1, Kadena. Commanders like Cols. Samay, Tom Allison, and Lee Shelton, Supervisors such as CMsgts Joe Sheehan, Mike Turek and others too numerous to mention made it the "BEST" assignment in the Air Force.
There are so many memories such as North Korea firing on a SR flying in South Korea, the Giant Scale Missions flown over the Middle East in search of Silkworm missles, to the crash off the coast of the Phillippines in 1987 or 1988. Thank you for this great sight and am looking forward to many visits .
Mike (Wilke) Wilkerson, Msgt, USAF(Ret)
Sun, 28 Dec 1997 04:20 David Zobel Writes:
I'm designing my web page and plan to include links to places I've been, lived, or worked during my AF career. I trained SR-71 aircrews in communications and stuffed their flight packets with comsec documents from '76 to '77 at Beale. I worked in a cubicle in the 9th SRW Intel vault and occasionally worked midshift in the command post during real world recon (in case the crew somehow screwed the comm pooch). Really enjoyed my time there and felt I was truly among professionals. Perhaps we met? I can't remember much of anyone back then. I'll be linking my page to yours, though!
Dave Zobel,SMSgt,USAF (Ret)
Fri, 26 Dec 1997 17:19 Robert Q. Williams, Colonel, USAF/Ret Writes:
I was In 903rd Air Refueling Sq at Beale as crewmember from Aug 59 to July 64, PCS to ACSC for one year then back to 903rd for duty on squadron staff as scheduler, squadron navigator, and plans and programs officer. Also rotated TDY to Kadena with Bill Inman and Bill Spacy as Tanker Task Force Navigator for Q model task force in support of A-12 May 67 - Jun 68) and SR-71 March 68 - Nov 71). (Note: Dick Byrne replaced Bill Inman in rotation schedule when Bill Inman retired in 68 or 69.) I finally left Beale in Aug 72 for SAC HQ assignment. A good friend of mine was in 9th Wing maintenance in the late 60s - early 70s - WO Bill Leger. Do you remember him?
Robert Q. Williams, Colonel, USAF(Ret)
Mon, 22 Dec 1997 19:17 (Soon to be RET) SMS Brad Fisher Writes:
Great page! I was a supervisor and Crew chief on SR's from Mar '85 until they closed the program. I've been on U-2's ever since and I retire next month from here at Beale AFB. I enjoy visiting your site. Keep up the good work.
Sun, 21 Dec 1997 19:51 Michael French Writes:
I went to work on the original A-12 project in July 1960 after graduating from engineering school. I worked on the original Hamilton-Standard inlet control system. Although it was subsequently replaced by an electrical Airesearch control, our system was on the first Mach 3 flights including all the YF-12 record flights. Until I left the project in 1964, I had the opportunity to work with a number of Kelly's best engineers including Ben Rich, John Cadrobbie, Elmer Gath, and Dave Campbell.
I remember the first time I saw the ship. I had been in Burbank working on the hydraulic system simulator at the "Fort" and one of our tech reps asked me if I wanted to see her. I said of course, and in just a few minutes I was inside the assembly area and I fell in love at first sight. And, nearly 40 years later, I am still in love with her. Not only the incredible lines, but also the details of her insides. The hydraulic systems, the engines, fuel transfer systems, astro-inertial navigation system etc. Everywhere I looked was something new.
I could tell a lot of early stories, and maybe someday I'll try to relate some of them.
Congratulations on a truly magnificent site, and my hats off to all those other "alumni"-those who flew her and those who kept her in the air. You are truly among the best.
Mon, 15 Dec 1997 20:06 MAJ, USAR (RET) Bill Edmiston Writes:
I was a crew chief on the F-4's in Ubon RTAFB fro Oct 69 thru Oct 70 . I was using my dream sheet & asked to be stationed @ Beale which was 60 miles from home in Chico, CA & got lucky. I was assigned to the 9th until I got out in Aug 71. I then attended CSU, Chico & joined the Army Reserve as a Drill Sgt. I then applied for & was accepted to Army Officer Candidate School in 75. I then went on to be a lifer in the Reserve Forces & retired in 93 as a Major. My tenure in the USAF & particurarily in the 9th brings fond memories of the guys that were there @ that time. I would be interested in the opportunity to join the SR-71 Alumni association & am looking for a Mach 3+ patch for my collection since leaving the organization. Also, I am quite new at this webpage thing only purchasing a computer on 15 Dec 97. I really enjoy it & the information that is available.
E-Mail:UNCLE BUBBA @ GHCC.NET
Thu, 11 Dec 1997 12:23 Aubrey "Harry" Harrison, SSgt,
Enjoyed your page. I was assigned to the 9th AMS Photo Shop as an Avionic Sensor Systems Technician at Beale from 1982-1985, during that time I went TDY many times, including several trips to Det 1. I was assigned to Det 1 from mid-1985, until I left the AF in 1987. It was a great time in my life and I met a lot of great people. Reading the comments here brings back a lot of memories. Keep up the good work!
Aubrey "Harry" Harrison, SSgt
Mon, 8 Dec 1997 01:30 J. Roger Hawkins Writes:
I first saw a Blackbird in June, 1962 when I reported for work at the Lockheed factory in Burbank for my summer job. Various members of my family had been employed at Lockheed since 1943 and I was well versed in the stories of the "Skunk Works." Kelly Johnson's name was always spoken in our household in tones of reverential awe. My job was in Production Control working for Jerry Day, a legendary supervisor in his own right. I believe we didn't have any designation for the most sophisticated, sexiest plane the world has ever seen except to call it the "ship." Turns out the black plane I started working on was #2, the first one having left the factory three months before for testing at the mysterious "ranch." I was in love all summer long. During my breaks I would climb to the fourth floor of the factory and look down on that lovely graceful shape--the silhouette reminding me of a champagne glass. I worked on ships #2, 3, 4, and 5 before I left to go back to college. I've always speculated what would have become of my life had I stayed. Twelve years later I moved to a farm in northeastern Pennsylvania and became good friends with my neighbor, Otis Hudson. His son, Jim Hudson had been a blackbird pilot before he was killed in a T-33 accident in March of 1971. Otis always would tell me that being an SR-71 pilot was the crowning achievement of his sons life.
For the last 2 decades I have been living in New York City, working for CBS News. In the early 1990's I read that the Intrepid Museum was going to be given a blackbird for display. I was excited to see the plane I had not seen since 1962. Imagine my surprise to discover the plane parked on that old aircraft carrier was ship #2, the very first plane I had worked on 30 years previously, now permanently parked seven blocks from my apartment. It all goes to show that it is a small world indeed, and you're never far away from your first love.
J. Roger Hawkins
Mon, 8 Dec 1997 19:24 SMSgt Robert (Bob) M. Norway Writes:
Fantastic Page! I first became involved with the Blackbird when I was assigned to the 9th AMS SR-71/T-38 Automatic Flight Control Systems shop as shop supervisor. After 7 years as a recruiter, I came in as a MSgt who didn't know his a** from his elbow as far as the SR-71 autopilot system went. Additionally, I had been away from all the paperwork required in maintenance. Fortunately, I had TSgt Ken Blanchard working for me. What he didn't know about the Blackbirds autopilot and inlet control systems hadn't been discovered yet! Thanks to his instruction I was able to learn about inlet systems (?!*%X), MRS (Mission Recorder System) tapes and how to read ourdata. By the time we started converting from the analog system to theDigital Automatic Flight, Inlet Control System (DAFICS), I had learned enough from Ken to 'really' run the shop. Of course we also had the guidance of our Honeywell Tech Reps, Lyle Dahl (on Site), and Tim Wilmering coming up from Palmdale just about every time we hollered for help. After Ken got promoted to MSgt, I moved up to branchchief and then came SACs ROLS (Resource Oriented Logistics System), and I was lucky enough to stay in the 'Black World' as the avionics flight chief in OMS, working with some of the 'old heads' like Chief Darl Miller. It was a very sad day when they retired the Blackbirds,and I wish I could have been at the ceremony.
Again, fantastic web page, and I hope to see more people I worked with on this page.
Bob Norway, DAFICS (The only way to get to Mach3+)
2 Dec 1997 14:46 John H. Woffinden Writes:
Assigned to 9RTS @ Beale AFB May 1970 until Sept1973 as Photo Processor.
TDY to Kadena AB (Oct 72 to Jan 73) during Linebacker II.
John H. Woffinden
Wed, 26 Nov 1997 07:57 SSgt Thomas W. FisherWrites:
It was good to find your web page on the SR. I was in 9th supply from Spring '68 till August '71. I really like the page and have kept up over the years with the SR and its comings nad goings. My son Jason is currently an entry level engineer with Lockheed working on the F-22 program and seems to have gotten his interest in aerospace from my experiences at Beale and Kadena.
I hope you can help me. I had an OL-8 patch which he lost sometime over the years and he recently mentioned that he would love to have another one. I have searched in various military memorabilia sites with no luck. If you know where I could get a replacement patch to give to him I would be grateful.
Thanks in advance for your assistance. Tom Fisher 248 Hillandale Drive Boone N.C. 28607
Thomas W. Fisher, SSgt
Mon, 24 Nov 1997 08:36 SSgt George Dion Kamboures Writes:
Stationed at Beale and worked as ground crew member (crew chief) on Acft #960 from 1986-1989.
SSgt George D. Kamboures
Sun, 23 Nov 1997 11:10 Ssgt Debbi (Engelke) Callow (Chapman) writes:
I was stationed at Beale and Kadena 1979-1986 as a Jet Engine mechanic, and Q/C- Q/A inspector. I knew many fine people including Msgt Bob Olsen and Msgt Bob (blue) Callow my Ex-husband.I was lucky to work on not only the SR-71 but also the U-2/ TR-1.I live in Alabama now close to the Space and Rocket center and was really happy to visit and see many people I had worked with on the video they show at the SR display.I am interested in finding out about a pilot Col. Glasser he was one of the best guys. I hope he went on to bigger and better things. Also anyone stationed at Kadena in 80-83 (I think). I do miss the airplane and the great people that worked on it. We were a special breed!
Ssgt Debbi Callow
Tue, 18 Nov 1997 19:27 Civilian Rick Flaherty writes:
I love this wonderful page.I have to, I've got 61-7964's original right tail, and some other things.What a wonderful piece.God Bless all of you SR-71's guys.
Civilian, Rick Flaherty
Thu, 13 Nov 1997 07:24 Sgt Peter F. Hoynes writes:
Was in 9th during 1968-1970. Really loved the outfit.
Sgt Peter F. Hoynes
Fri, 14 Nov 1997 12:34 MSgt Jose D. Lengwrites:
1980-1985 Det 1, 9 SRW (SAC)/ INOP Kadena AB, Japan
1985-1988 9SRW / INOP Beale AFB, Ca. (USAF Retired)
My association with the SR-71 program was in the area of photoprocessing as the NCOIC
of Imagery Processing assigned to the Mobile Processing Center (MPC).
I am trying to contact MSgt Russ Feeley, last known area was at Det 1, Kadena AB, Japan
MSgt Jose D. Leng
Sun, 9 Nov 1997 19:54 Delighted to discover your website --- by way of introduction, I'm retired from Lockheed (at least temporarily) and was the "funeral director" in 1990 when 972 was flown from Palmdale to Dulles for the Air & Space Museum. (Tom Pugh handled the aeronautical and technical portion of the Dulles end of the mission; I handled the logistics and the press.)
I've been sitting here fulminating today (Nov. 9th) about the fact that every time we seem to need an SR-71 in the Middle East, someone seems to have just recently killed the program. Who knows what the next 72 hours will bring? Nice to see some accurate information being passed around. Only someone like you, who's been with the program, would know some of the nonsense I used to hear at airshows.
George Kidd, Arlington, Virginia
Thu, 6 Nov 1997 20:55:
Name: S/Sgt John Neal
Email Address: email@example.com
Comments: OMS Apr 1966 to 1969
Thu, 30 Oct 1997 16:29 I just happened to come across this web sight and was delighted to find other ex-blackbird personnel that cherish their expeience with the world's fastest aircraft in the same manner as I cherish mine. I was stationed at Beale AFB from April 1981 to March 1985 and was in the 9th AMS- Inertial Navigation shop. My primary was on the SR-71 Astro-Inertial navigation and AHRS. I also worked on the U-2/TR-1 and KC-135. I was lucky enough to be one of our shop Inflight Technicians that rode the Tankers for troubleshooting Avionics anomalies. I was a member of the SAC Bomb-Nav Competition team that won "Best KC-135 Crew in 1983 and "The Navigation Trophy" in 1984. In 1983 I represented the 9th Strategic Reconn. Wing and Won the 14th Air Division "Maintenance Airman of the Month".
I continually take pride in being one of the few that have had the blackbird experience. Those were great days for me and will always be at the forefront of my memories. In fact, if I close my eyes and relax I can feel the late afternoon western sun on my back, smell of burnt jet fuel mixed with the distant smell of peaches, as I'm stradling the SR-71 behind the rear canopy and enjoying being a part of the world's most elite aerospace team. Thanks for the Memories.
Sgt. Michael Anthony
Engineering Lab Manager, Trimble Navigation, Aerospace division
Wed, 22 Oct 1997 01:06: I Served in Beale's Physiological Support Division (PSD) 1970-71 [AFSC 92270B], doing the maintenance on SR-71 aircrew suits, helmets and associated gear, then dressing and undressing the crew and [much to their chagrin when we called it that] "installing" the crewmembers in the HABU. Trailed them out to the departure end of the runway in the Aztec motor-home (with the recliner seats for crewmen, air-conditioning, etc., etc.), then picked-them up on the ramp after they de-planed. They were usually anxious to get out of the bird and out of the suits, so we PSD-types didn't have to "de-install" them - the crew-chief usually helped them unstrap everything, attach the portable cooling units, then lead them down the steps to the Aztec. Wound up as the Chief of Aircrew Life Support Ground Training (or something like that) in the PSD building -- had my own full-sized mock-up of the SR-71 cockpit to teach or refresher-train crew members in ground-escape and ejection procedures. Also did similar training for VIPs who rated a ride in the big black bird, after they did their mandatory stint in the altitude chamber in the pressure suit. Do remember Lt. Don Towner, son of the (then) USAF Surgeon General, who was the Physiological Training Officer/Altitude Chamber Officer; also when he broke his leg badly in a sky-diving accident - believe he's still sky-diving. Also remember TSgt Ouzts (had served with him earlier at Nellis), also in PSD.
Left PSD and cross-trained into Disaster Control while still at Beale,and ultimately finished my career in that, with last duty assignment at HQ 8AF/DO, Barksdale AFB LA, as Chief of Disaster Preparedness & Airbase Operability. Now working for Pima County as Human Resources Supervisor in Classification/Selection.
Feel free to edit/post the above info on your BEAUTIFUL webpage! And send along info on the Alumni Group, please!
Frank P. Nollette, CMSgt, USAF (Ret)Tucson AZ
Thu, 16 Oct 1997 00:05 Hi Great Web Page. I served with the 9th SRW in the Mission Development Branch from 1980 thru 1983. I served under Col Tom Pugh when he was Wing Commander. And worked directly for L/C Jack Veth. I scheduled missions for all three airframes stationed at Beale at that time the SR71, U2R and the T38 which was used as a companion trainer. I never passed up the chance to stand outside Wing HQ and watch the sled take off. One of the highlights of my time there was being involved with the planning of SR71 missions in support of the first space shuttle launch.
Angus D. Bush, Msgt, USAF (RET)
Wed, 15 Oct 1997 18:29 I had occasion to visit your web site recently. Very well done, especially the Alma Mater section. It brought back great memories of a very unique program with some very special people. I shall always value the experience and friendships. I have recently retired from the Skunk Works and relocated to Bainbridge Island, Washington. Over 25 years of special memories from Ops at Beale with the 1st/99th SRS, OL-8, RK and KA, 1970-1972, Flight Test at Palmdale, Det. 51, 1973-1978, Ops and Command of 9SRW, 1979-1983, and Skunk Works Flight Test Manager, U-2/SR-71, 1984-1997. Looking forward to future updates to the Web Site.
Tom Pugh, Colonel, USAF, (Ret)
Sat, 11 Oct 1997 20:57: My association with the Blackbird began at Eglin AFB in the summer of 1966. As an A3C, apprentice Fuels Specialist with the 3210 Supply Sq. , I was assigned to the Bulk Fuels Facility Testing Lab for training. I was volunteered to take part in a special project which entailed taking up some early Saturday morning hours. We would put our testing equipment in the pick-up and drive into the Climatic hanger and wait close to a refueling truck. A strange looking aircraft taxied into the hanger, piloted by a civilian. After the shut down procedures were accomplished, the crew chief would connect the fuel hose. We then completed our tests and the aircraft was refueled. The aircraft, after some more procedures, was launched. I took part in this project, as I recall, three times. This strange aircraft was the YF12A. My next experience with the Blackbird took place at Beale AFB. I had been assigned to Beale after a tour of duty at Naha AFB, Okinawa. At Beale, I was assigned to the 456 Supply Sq. Refueling Section. I was at Beale AFB from Sept. 1968 thru May 1969. As a Buck Sgt. I worked primarily the swing shift, although we were responsible for refueling all the aircraft at Beale, the SR71 was by far my personal favorite. Please send me any information on the association and feel free posting this information to the web page. Thank you/
Jim Kimball 1966-1969
Thu, 25 Sep 1997 15:56 Thanks for your website. I worked at Palmdale for 7+ years in the flight test and depot repair programs. I was a flight control tech rep. I'd get to make 5-6 trips TDY to the DETs to cover our reps vacations, make mods, troubleshoot hangar queens, etc. You may have known our rep (and an old friend) at Beale, Lyle Dahl. The last day that I worked on the program was magical. I was in the hangar for a launch at Beale, the sun was setting through wispy clouds, and the exhaust made everything wavy and unreal. It was a true Kodak moment. (Preflight BIT even passed!) I'm still in love with the Blackbird. My offices at home and work are covered with pictures to this day.
Thanks for the memories. I'll come back here from time to time.
Did you ever consider setting up a chat site to go along with your page? There are sure to be more old friends and good stories out there.
Sat, 20 Sep 1997 20:15 I visited your web site and it brought back such fond memories of the people as well as the plane and I saw you had a Alumni page. That was icing on the cake. I worked at Beale and went TDY to Kadena numerous times. I worked in the Instruments shop from 77-81 and then went on to Lockheed for a year, until the L1011 layoffs. I still miss working on the Sr-71 and U-2 all the time. Some of my best days were spent with the personnel of Beale A.F.B. and the SR-71 crews of Kadena. I was known as Bobby G. for any of you who might remember me drop me a line at:
Regards, Bobby Giordano Sgt.
9th AMS 77'-81'
Sun, 14 Sep 1997 20:16:Worked at Det 6 from 1981 through the retirement of the SR. I am a great fan of the Aircraft and also a team member. Would like to say hello to all the old DET 6 people, SRW people, the DET 6 FT people and anyone who kept the most remarkable machine in history flying for all these years. Det 6 rarely gets a mention, but under Col.(RET) Don Emmons we worked our tails off to kept the Blackbird flying logistically and deserve a piece of the History.
Fri, 05 Sep 1997 15:36: My name is Chuck Price and I am a retired Lockheed "Conehead" (1966-1996) which is what we Avionics flight test engineers were called. I had the pleasure of working with the SR-71 at Palmdale Ca. from 1984 until its initial retirement including the final speed run to Washington DC. Lt. Col. Joe Vida, now deceased, was the RSO and Lt. Col. Ed Yielding was the pilot on that flight. Don't know it your knew Col. Tom Pugh or not. He is a former BAFB commander and SR pilot. When he retired from the air force he came to work at Lockheed and was the flight test manager at Palmdale while I was there. He is now retired from Lockheed and will be residing in Washington State. In addition to SR-71 flight test, which was an ongoing effort till the end , we also did all the development flight testing for the U-2. It was a great time! Thank you for the great web site! It is one I will bookmark for sure!
Charles C. "Chuck" Price
Wed, 20 Aug 1997 21:10 Chuck Walton, MSgt USAF (Ret)Writes: I first got into the SR-71 program in late 1971 and worked it until shutdown of Kadena in 1990. They were the best years of my career. I was a sensor system tech and worked on the PIP, CAPRE, and ASARS side looking radar systems at Beale, Kadena and other TDY sites. I was fortunate enough to receive a taxi ride in one of our birds on Kadena while congress and SAC had us down from flying missions just prior to the shutdown in 1990. I will never forget the thrill I felt when the pilot fired up the engines, I had sat in on many engine runs but when the crew chief closed the canopy I knew this was something special. We taxied out of the hanger and out to the end of the runway where we did all of the normal pre-flight engine run-up procedures then requested clearance to return to the T-hanger. To my delight a flight of F-15s were taxing out so we couldn't return by the taxi way. The pilot requested a high speed taxi down the runway and got clearance, so we moved out and lined up on the runway. He ran up the engines and released the brakes. I know we weren't going all that fast but it sure seemed like it to me. The Det only got to give out two of these rides, mine and one for the radio shop tech rep. I really thank Col. Lee Shelton for the opportunity and memories. You have a great page and I sure would love to hear from any of the guys and gals who worked on the best planes in the world.
Thanks Chuck Walton, MSgt USAF (Ret)
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fri, 15 Aug 1997 16:31: Chuck Miller, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret) Writes: I was assigned to the 903rd AREFSq from 1968 to 1973 and was an aircraft commander, IP and eventually Chief Instructor Pilot for the Tanker Pilot Upgrade Program at Beale. The last several months before my reassignment, I was 456th Bomb Wing Chief of Safety, when I was re-assigned to a NATO Exchange Assignment with the Canadian Armed Forces flying their B-707-320C aircraft and developing the Canadian inflight refueling capability with the addition of Beech 1080 air refueling (hose/drogue) stores with the Canadian F-5 receivers. During my tour ar Beale I spent over 60 weeks TDY with the Habu's at Kadena, and still have many fond memories of the exciting years of the SR missions in support of SEA. If you feel so inclined, I would love to see you add an "Alma-Mater" link where some of former SR operators and supporters could "reconnect" via the Internet. We could add a lot of interesting "hangar tales" to your repertoire!
Here is another somewhat lengthy anecdote from my SR-71 experiences.
17 Aug 1998 17:49
Since the beginning of SR-71 operations at Kadena AFB, Okinawa, (around 1967??) the OL-8 tankers had been pretty autonomous in their operations, reporting to the command and control authority of the OL-8 (SR-71) Detachment Commander and tasked through him by the same tasking authority as the SR-71. However, by mid-1971, the 376th Strategic Bomb Wing at Kadena had gradually eroded our shield of autonomy and we were periodically tasked to support Arc Light (B-52) missions when not otherwise committed to OL-8 missions. We also became more and more under the 376th Wing’s administrative control which frequently added to the confusion of determining "who’s the boss" to which we were responsible.
In the late fall and winter of 1971, during one of my 6 week TDY tours while on a crew rest day, I received a puzzling phone call in my quarters. It was from the 376th Wing crew scheduler advising me that my crew and I had been scheduled by them to fly a priority mission early the next day. At first I thought they had mistaken me for another "Capt. Miller", since I was unaccustomed to being scheduled by them. They verified that they knew I was assigned to OL-8 and that their mission tasking was correct — I had been selected because I was an instructor pilot (though just newly upgraded) and that I was the most qualified crew commander available from the OL-8 for this high priority mission.
Upon reporting to the pre-mission meeting at the Wing before dawn the next day, my crew and I were informed that we had been tasked for a mission carrying a "Code 3" VIP (Ambassador-level) passenger and team from Kadena to Kimpo AB, Seoul, Korea. This mission was highly classified and the briefer could not even identify who the Code 3 passenger was (he would be brought directly to the aircraft).
As I learned later in the mission, an SR-71 experiencing mechanical problems had aborted its mission and diverted to a precautionary landing in South Korea for the second time in less than a week (during a time when the US was publicly denying that any SR-71s were operating in SEA). After the first diversion, the US Ambassador to Korea was placated with a brief message, but after the second the SR-71 parent organization, the 9th SRW, felt it was necessary to provide the Ambassador with a complete briefing on the missions and circumstances. The OL-8 Commander, in response to 9th SRW tasking had set up an OL-8 tanker mission to take two staff Lt. Colonels (Lt.Col Shelton was one, I can’t remember the other) to Seoul for the briefing. His tasking had been almost immediately canceled by the 376th Strat Wing command section, claiming that only the 376th had the responsibility and command authority to task tankers at Kadena for such missions.
When the OL-8 Commander discovered he had been over-ridden, the story had it that he picked up his secure phone in the OL-8 command post and spoke to his contact in the Pentagon. Within less than an hour there was reportedly a tasking order from the office of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to the 376th Strat Wing Commander tasking an OL-8 tanker for a Code-3 tanker sortie to Seoul. (Probably never before, nor since, had two Lt. Colonels been accorded the VIP status of Code 3 on a flight plan).During my 376th Wg briefing, I was told that before landing at Seoul (due to its short 9,000’ runway, blowing snow and 20 knot crosswinds) I would have to call the 376th Command Post via HF radio or VHF/land-line patch and obtain authority to land. If they deemed the weather and crosswinds too severe, they would divert me to Yakota AFB and arrange a C-47 to make the final delivery of the unidentified "Code 3". Having over 3000 hours on the C-47 prior to my KC-135 assignment, I knew that if a KC-135 couldn’t land at Seoul, then a C-47 certainly couldn’t either.
As luck would have it, upon arriving at Seoul for approach, we were still too close to Kadena for effective HF communications and the Kimpo Command Post (a non-SAC facility) had no land-line capability to reach Kadena. I therefore used my "aircraft commander authority" and made the decision to execute an approach and landing, since local weather conditions were well within acceptable limits and my capabilities.To continue the adventure, this mission was one that nearly resulted in my being court-martialed due to series of mission irregularities and competitive jealousies between the 376th Strat Wing DCO and the OL-8 operations. During my recent EC-47 tour in Vietnam, I had personally used Space Available travel and appreciated the resource, so I wanted to help any fellow servicemen that I could. Being well indoctrinated into the fine nuances of SAC operational regulations from my recent training at SAC Central Flight Instructors Course for my IP upgrade, I advised the Base Ops Dispatcher that I had an empty KC-135 returning to Okinawa in an hour and would be glad to take any Space-A that were legal to manifest. Upon my return from the weather office and filing my clearance, the Dispatcher informed me that I had "an Army 0-6 (Col.), his wife, and two teen-age daughters manifested and already on board". I figured, though unusual, if they were legally manifested, they were OK by me. I gave them the obligatory pre-departure safety briefings and informed them that we had no female facilities on board for the two-plus hour flight. If that was OK with them, we would be off. Again, I was unable to make any pre-launch contact with 376th Wing Command Post for launch authority, but was within the alternate execution authority of my written orders, so we launched for the routine return flight.
According to existing SAC policy, we were required to call the command post about 45 minutes prior to landing and advise our maintenance status. At that point, I was faced with two options. I could either taxi to the MAC side of the ramp, shutdown my two left engines and deplane my passengers down the crew ladder, then restart the engines and taxi to the SAC ramp, OR I could request a SAC VIP staff car for the Colonel and his family from the SAC ramp to the MAC terminal. The latter seemed the most efficient and proper protocol. Upon landing and taxi-in, I was surprised to be met by a jeep Follow-Me vehicle equipped with a manned 50-cal machine gun. It directed me to taxi nose in to a steel revetment which I noted was manned by several prone Security Police on the top of the revetment walls with M-16 rifles at the ready. After engine shutdown and the main cargo door was opened "without incident", boarding stairs were wheeled into place and a white-top staff car pulled up with a SAC Colonel at the wheel. The Army Colonel and his family were ushered to the staff car and I was informed to report to the DCO’s office immediately upon completing maintenance debriefing!
At the DCO’s office I was read my UCMJ Rights to private counsel, informed that I had broken every rule in the book, and that the Colonel was contemplating Article 15 Action against me. My "unexecuted" landing and return flight, followed by my "bizarre request for a staff car for dependent passengers" was interpreted as a surreptitious attempt by me to advise them that I had been sky-jacked. This explained my greeting with the Follow-Me vehicle and revetment. Since this was not the case, I was informed that no tanker is ever authorized to carry dependent passengers. I explained the training I had just received and the interpretation that current SAC regs stated that: 1) The prohibition on carrying dependents applies only within the CONUS; 2) The prohibition against carrying passengers applies only on refueling sorties, and 3) The restriction against an aircraft commander carrying Space-A VIPs, otherwise authorized under Air Force regs, applies only in regard to generating a special mission for the sole purpose of that VIP’s travel. None of these restrictions applied to the circumstances at hand. Although I effectively explained my actions, I was dismissed from the DCO’s office still unsure if court martial charges would be pressed, and whether or not my recent selection for promotion to Major had just been voided.
Only with the support of the OL-8 commander and his relay up the chain of command to Beale (and Offutt) was this matter finally decided in my favor, after keeping me on the hot seat for nearly 72 hours. A comment was subsequently overheard that the OL-8 commander was so incensed by the action of the 376th DCO that he, "would love to have an immediate opportunity to deny an Army O-6 with enough seniority to have wife and dependents in Korea a ride on a SAC aircraft based on the specific order of this egotistical DCO"!
Chuck Miller, Lt. Col USAF (Ret) – 903rd AREFSq 1968 to 1973
Chuck Miller, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret)
Tue, 02 Sep 1997 09:01 Col (Ret) William L. Spacy Writes: Just found you Web Page and it's great. I've been a friend of the Blackbird since it was still so top secret we didn't know what it looked like! I was in the 903rd Air Refueling Squadron from 1963 until 1971. We refueled the Bird before SAC took over and after. I saw my first view of the A-12 in mid-1964 and it was right out of Buck Rogers. I'll never forget that day.
I knew all of the original players both at the Farm and at Beale. I was a navigator on the KC-135 and later an aircraft/ aircrew scheduler. I left Beale for Sac Hqtrs and then to U-tapao with the U-2, as a planner. I returned to Beale in 1973 as a SR-71 planner, then the Wing Exec under Col. Pat Holloran, and then moved on to become the 9th Avionics Squadron Commander. I left Beale for Zweibrucken AB, Germany where I worked as a Maint. Control Officer, Asst DCM etc.
Like you I never got tired of watching the SR-71 operate, from the take off to the landing it could always turn my head. Thanks for bringing back a lot of memories.
Col (Ret) William L. Spacy
Unit 59985, Box 2145
FPO AE 09645
Wed, 3 Sep 1997 15:50: Jim Fitzgerald Writes: I was a Lockheed civilian flight tester in the early days, 1964-66, and worked on all things electrical on the SR. Came back to her in 84 at Palmdale where I met the late Joe Vida, Tom Tilden, B.C. Thomas, Flaps Flannigan, and a whole bunch of other people. Going to Reno air races next week where I always run into Jeff Trundy and Ernie Shippen, who have a big display of SR stuff in their camp. I was at Eglin with the test bird in 1966. We did some $%^&*(#@^%$ test flights, then put her (2005, 17954) in the cold wx hangar, incidentally inside another, temporary hangar, built inside the cold wx facility. Ran the usual cold wx series of tests. When we ran engines, they sucked so much air into the hangar that the auxiliary hangar air inlets opened, and clouds formed in the hangar, and it Snowed! We couldn't run for long, cause the temp rose rapidly when those aux inlets opened. Never could figure out why the USAF built their cold wx test facility in Florida.
I wasn't working the program in '74, but if you remember, the Farnborough flight line looked like a Lockheed advertisement, with the SR-71, C-5, P-3, L-1011, etc. all there. I flew over as part of the test crew on the L-1011, and Kelly Johnson came with us. I met Bill Machorek and Jim Sullivan at the Lockheed chalet. One of our crewmembers used to work with the Georgia Co. and knew the C-5 crew. I got to go up through the vertical fin of the C-5 out onto the horizontal stab, where I took a photo looking down on 17972. Those KGB guys weren't very discrete around that airplane, were they? Brit newspapers are much like our tabloids, and the SR made giant headlines. They couldn't believe that she smashed the record set by the Concorde. Wish now I had saved one of those papers! Also, imagine my surprise upon returning to the (still testing) program in '84 to find that 17972 was replacing 17955 as the primary flight test airplane. I monitored her last flight to the Smithsonian, have a T-shirt which celebrates that event, and we actually could see her at altitude and at speed (knowing exactly where she was helped) as the crew dumped a tiny bit of fuel going through the gate over LA. The pre-dawn takeoff out of Palmdale was, well, a pre-dawn takeoff, one of the most spectacular sights to be seen by man. I know Bob Gilliland who made the first flight, Bill Weaver, who as the company acceptance pilot, I believe may be the only man who ever flew ALL of the SR's. Jim Halsell, who recently commanded a space shuttle mission, was the last USAF test pilot to check out in the airplane, and I'll never forget his comments in the debrief after his first real test flight. "It's the only airplane I have flown in the USAF inventory that will do all and more than the manual says." These comments made in 1990 when the airplane was 26 years old! Bill Weaver, of course, is a walking miracle, having survived the breakup of 61-7952 over NM in 65, and not ejecting, but being torn out of his straps. His seat was still in the wreckage when recovered. I got to run engines once under the close supervision of a qualified engineer. What a thrill. What a machine. When it rained on the flight line at Edwards, it was the only airplane we didn't get under for shelter. Who'd trade water for JP-7?
I share your view of experiencing a takeoff--after being away for all those years, that airplane never failed to provide a thrill when the burners lit and off she went, pounding your chest with her power. Glad to see she will return to Beale this month at least for a flyby. Greatest airplane in the world.
Thu, 20 Nov 1997 16:51 Leland, you just keep amazing me with that page. After reading Rich Graham's comments on the J.T. Vida fund, I'd just like to add my dittos. Joe Vida was a great guy and a pleasure to work with. He was down to earth, was probably the best test RSO the USAF ever had, and it was a tragedy that he died so young, like the Blackbird itself. Keep up the good work and Happy Thanksgiving to you. I tell all the guys I know who worked on the bird to check your page. See that Tom Pugh contributed. We talk often.
Tue, 10 Dec 1996 18:32:I was one of the brown uniformed men at the gates and entrances in Area 51. I was there from 63 to 68 at which time I went to Florida. I was part of the A-11 group. Yes, I would like a picture of the Drone. Send it to : Address deleted. Also I saw the 1995 reunion patch. Are these for the service people or was the reunion for anyone connected to the project?
Thanks again, J. Hall
Fri, 13 Dec 1996 15:59: Great display of the finest aircraft EVER. I was a test engineer on the SR-71 at Lockheed Rye Canyon, CA in the late "60s" when it was a super secret. Thanks for giving Kelly Johnson and the "Skunk Works" the credit they deserve.
WHAT A FANTASTIC webpage. You must enter it in the page of the year contest if there is one.
Tue, 29 Apr 1997 00:55:03 I was an air traffic controller in the USAF from 1969-1973. From 9/70-9/71, I was stationed at U-Tapao, Thailand. Normally we didn't talk to the SR's, but we knew they were in the area because we would receive "secret" messages to block 45,000 and above for "high priority aircraft." Of course we were the SAC base with B-52's and KC-135's. Apparently refueling was the mission overhead because the tankers would call for landing saying they were 10 miles north, but they would be at FL350+, certainly an odd reporting point.
One day an aircraft popped up saying that he had a hydraulic failure and was coming in an emergency. I routinely asked for souls on board to which he replied two. I then asked what TYPE aircraft there was no response. I had to ask several more times before the pilot replied that he was a B-66. That was all that I needed to know and relayed the info to the tower (I was working radar approach control). Upon arrival the tower called me and said, "Nice B-66." The tower then told me to look outside. Traffic was slow so we peeked outside our trailer and there it was: the SR-71 rolling out. I can still feel the chills I felt then when I first saw it.
Our base only had one hangar and it was used to paint the B-52's, but whatever project was going on in there got cancelled being shoved outside hurriedly so the SR could taxi in without breaking stride. The hangar was directly across from the outdoor mailroom so plenty of guys were taking pictures only to have the film confiscated by the SP's I was told. Fixed, it left the next day.
Shortly thereafter a special call sign was designated for the SR whenever it came to town. It was either "Royal Crown" or "Crown Royal" I can't remember which. When we heard the call sign we were to know that it was an SR and that it was coming in as an emergency and not to ask any questions.
Just before my first "Crown Royal" call-in we had a directive to let the Thai controllers get more involved. They were our assistant controllers normally, but someone wanted them to do more, like run the precision radar approaches which we had been doing. When the "Crown Royal" flight showed up we didn't change procedures and let the Thai controller start the precision approach which quickly brought a call from Charlie Tower (SAC flightline tower) rescinding the request on the spot. The Colonel wanted a GI to run the approaches.
U-Tapao was also the home for the U-2 which launched daily which also drew a crowd from us approach controllers. Of course being along side the runway gave us a vantage point that few people have been fortunate to have.
Do controllers qualify for admission to the Blackbird group?
I've enjoyed reliving my story. I'll be back to visit your site for two reasons: the subject matter is most interesting and the web design is outstanding as well.
Thanks, Bill Fauth
Apr 1997 10:40:My name is Bryan Romine being
new at computers and this internet thing, I have done alot of exploring
and was very surprised at the amount of SR-71 materials on the internet.
I'm most impressed with your web page of all the ones I've visited, yours
is the best. I was a 42755 Air Frame Repair Specialist (sheetmetal) on
the SR-71, U-2, KC-135Q, and the T-38 at Beale AFB from 1976-1979 with
the 9th Field Maintenance Squadron. Msgt Bassett
was my shop chief but you may know Tsgt Hamm (sorry
I can't remember his first name) from what I was told when I arrived at
Beale he was with the SR-71 from the time of its development at Edwards
to its location at Beale. He spent 18 years of his time in the Air Force
on the SR-71 he knew that aircraft forward and backwards. I think he retired
in 1979 or 1980. Anyway he was my training officer. Most of my time was
spent TDY at Kadena in Okinawa and Osan in Korea. My favorite war story
was told to me in Okinawa was the "Official Habu Fishhook Story" I really
enjoyed that one. I was sad when the Air Force retired the SR-71 (also
made me feel old) but learning from your web page was thrill to learn that
at least some are still flying. It was a mistake to get rid of a record
setting aircraft that's still more advance than many modern jets. I interested
in this Blackbird Association any details you may have about it are welcomed.
"The Official Habu Fishook Story"
I had learned about it on my first TDY to Okinawa. We were
having a in-processing meeting in a room when I notice a large white sign
with a picture of a SR-71 painted on it, also painted in large letters
the words Official Habu Fishhook. There was also another picture
near it with five or six gentlemen in it next to the fishhook sign and
a black ship anchor. Below the picture was the words (I can't remember
the exact words) five or six men who dared in the night. I was curious
and asked about the story behind the pictures and this is the story told
The compound where the SR's were hangered a few feet down the same road was a Naval headquarters building. In front of this building on display was a huge ship anchor painted white. In the dead of night these gentlemen got together and decided to help the Navy out by painting the same anchor completely black and hung the same sign I saw in the briefing room on the anchor. From what I was told the next morning when the Navy saw it they were not too happy about the new paint job. But the sign and a picture of the commando team was re-hung in the briefing room as a trophy. It wasn't an exciting tale but it amused me enough to remember it all these years. I saw the anchor myself and realized it must have taken most of the night to paint it, and they did it without getting caught. Who knows maybe a member of the team will see this and contact you to give you better details about the raid.
Editor's Note: Thanks to Bryan Romine for recalling this Habu Episode.
Here is Another Story
"Drag Chute Deployed"
When the SR-71 lands, the Drag Chute is deployed to slow the aircraft down to taxi speeds. Then, a pickup truck races down the runway and picks up the Drag Chute, returning it to maintenance operations for repack. Once upon a time at a remote operating location a few devious Crew Chiefs of the Blackbird banded together to frag a pilot. It seems this particular pilot (name withheld) was of mind and attitude of being quite superior to all lower grade maintenance personnel and he had this particular air about him that definitely was out of step with how other pilot's treated Crew Chiefs. The camaraderie between pilots (Habu's) of the Sr-71 and ground maintenance personnel was always first rate. The rapport was always without question one of a friendly relationship. During the preflight and preparation for this pilot's flight the drag chute was loaded into the chute bay. A few nights earlier several Crew Chiefs had contacted the Women's (WAF) barracks and requested some unmentionable items for a priority project concerning the Blackbird. Gleefully, the ladies knew that something was up and a quantity of items was secured for the project. The Drag Chute was loaded into the SR-71 along with white pieces of clothing packed around the encased Drag Chute. Upon landing and subsequent pilot deployment of the chute (which is Orange), the chute deployed as normal and also a quantity of White Items flew all over the runway. The Transient Alert person in the chase truck inquired to the pilot of the Blackbird, if he wanted him to also pick up all the white items. His response was silence. At debriefing the pilot inquired as to what the white items were deployed on the runway." Ladies Underwear, Sir" was the response. Had it not been for some fast talking by the Maintenance Superintendent, some disciplinary action would have been taken against those involved. However, the message was clear: pilot's attitude adjusted and the Drag Chute compartment was never again packed with anything other than the Chute. First hand knowledge of this episode is denied by the author.
Wed, 16 Jul 1997 10:49:Great page!! Fell in love with the SR while a young 1Lt at Wright-Pat back in 1981 (or was it 82?). At any rate, I was an 8054 (air intell type) and worked on a special project to bring an SR to Dayton, Oh for the first ever appearance at the Dayton Air show. This may have been the first ever Air show appearance in the US (I think the Paris Air Show was the first public appearance of the SR). Well, it flew over the crowd and the folks went wild. We recovered at Wright-Pat, met the crew with a pickup truck full of beer and a couple of blondes and had a party I will never forget!! Six months of planning every detail for the recovery of the airplane, the advance KC that came in with the maintenance guys and the weird JP-7 (?) fuel all came to good fruition. It was the highlight of my 11 1/2 years as a blue suiter. Now I'm a GS-13 in Japan, still going to Yokota once in awhile, hoping to see a Habu on the ramp. Take care. Your page has made my day. Sincerely, Mark H. Polansky (ex-Capt, USAF)
Thu, 2 Jan 1997 17:46: Loved discovering your web page. Having served in the USAF as a Security Specialist stationed at Kadena, I can attest to your pure delight in watching that a/c take off. We'd have people lined all around perimeter road to watch the show. It is just such an awesome plane. I recall one time at night posted under a runway approach when I began to hear the roar of an incoming, never did see a thing until it was right on top of me, and the only way I knew it was Habu was that little red revolving light on the belly outlined just enough of it. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about, and an immense source of pride telling my friends about it. What a plane!
Thanks, keep up the good work.
Note: Name Withheld
Wed, 29 Jan 1997 14:04: Tim Miller Writes: Just visited your home page. Wow! I have just started searching the web for SR-71 info a couple of days ago, and am surprised at the number of sites that have information and pictures.
Anyway, I was at Beale in the 9th OMS from 73 to 75 and have written to Jack regarding joining the Blackbird Association. I will be anxious to receive information on how I might contact others that I served with during my tour there and joining the association.
Thanks again for a great page and any information you might have.
Mon, 19 May 1997 14:00:
How do I get in touch with the Blackbird Association?
I was stationed at Beale AFB 1977-79 with the 9th AMS and would be interested in becoming a member.
Wed, 12 Feb 1997 01:45:C. Wassall Writes: Really enjoyed your site.
Didn't have time to look everywhere, but I've added it to my bookmarks. I worked for Kelly@skunk 64-66 on this bird, and could tell some stories....had a chance to commute to the ranch and turned it down, to my everlasting shame. By the way, I have an issue of Air Progress from '62,before subsequent classification with detail shots showing rotary bombay, etc. I haven't seen "aurora "(sic) but I've heard it....putt...putt....putt
Later, C. Wassall.
Wed, 12 Feb 1997 15:54: A1C Victor Miko Writes: Beale AFB '78-'79 /9th SRW, 9th OMS, Phase Dock, Non Powered Areospace Ground Equip. Liquid O2, HP O2, L N2, TEB. Looking for: Lt. Col. Soper, MSgt Jose Paniagua (close spelling) ,TSgt Ned Hamilton, SSgt David Hillerman A1C Greg McGovern.I would like to join the Blackbird Association. Please send me more info.
A1C Victor Miko
Sat, 15 Feb 1997 22:40: Did I understand you to mean that the book written by Abe (Kardong) will actually be published? If so, I think it would be a "must read". If you have any details of the book or its publication please let me know! Abe, once told this story, of flying a B-58 with only the upper component pod attached. "550kts. over the field, tower gives me "to the moon clearance" pull to vertical, complete an immelman at 36,000 ft. Now that's a bomber." God, I wish I would have had a chance to meet him.
David L. Klinzing
Wed, 26 Feb 1997 01:44: Dick Pfeiffer Writes: I feel what you have contributed in your Web Page is immeasurable. I worked with you at Beale & Det 1 in the early 70's. I launched the back up the night of your speed run. I am currently caring for SR-71 #960 at the Castle Air Museum and would love to talk to you.
Dick Pfeiffer '73 / '75
Fri, 28 Feb 1997 20:35:My grandfather was Col. H. A. Templeton, he worked back and forth from the pentagon to the Skunk Works operation. He has flown the Blackbird several times. Now he is retired, and still loves planes, but unfortunately he does not have the internet yet, so in his interest I am writing this letter. One day when I was surfing the internet I came across your web page and thought it would be fun to look over it and other material on the subject. I am now very interested in the Blackbird. Ever since my brother started his major in aviation at OSU. I have been very interested in the subject-I don't want to be a pilot but I still like to research the subject. I told my friends about your web page and showed them what I had printed off and they were totally amazed at the power of this plane-no one believed me that a plane could go 3+ the speed of sound!! I thank you very much for creating this web page, my grandfather will be very pleased to see some of this material!! Thanks again. Mary Pat Lehman ( Granddaughter of Col. H. A. Templeton)
Sat, 1 Mar 1997 10:41: Greatly enjoyed your page. My father-in-law is a retired AF bird colonel who spent a majority of his time riding around the back seat of SR-71's. 65-66 at EDW, 67-73 or 74 at Beale. His name is Cecil H. Braeden. The in-laws have invited me to the SR reunion this year, except that I just got a job as a part-time Learjet FO, and I have two of my former flight students graduating from USAFA in May, so I don't think I can take the time off to go. Love to talk to you (e-mail) though.
Tue, 18 Mar 1997 05:28: Mr. Paul E. WatkinsWrites: Please send me information about joining your organization. I am also interested in finding some old friends that I served with in the 9th.
In particular Dale Wharlamount who was a clerk in the DCO there.
Thanks & Best Regards,
Mr. Paul E. Watkins
Sat, 22 Mar 1997 14:44:Ronald J. De Lozier, MSgt, USAF(Ret)Writes: Hi. I was a crewchief on the blackbird from 1967 to 1971. Specifically, I was the second crewchief on "ICHI BON" 974. I was also on the first team that went to OL-8 at Kadena in Okinawa, where 974 got the title of No. 1. A lot of firsts are attributed to 974, among them the first to be towed backward with engines running, the first complete combat sortie in southeast asia. I noted in your bibliography, I was in the program before you were. An interesting note, when we only had two aircraft at Beale, one was flying, the other took off, and the third was in the air from Palmdale, a 2nd LT called maintenance control on the radio, and proudly informed them "The Fleet is Airborne". Like you, working on the Blackbird was at times frustrating, exasperating, long days, but a tremendous amount of pride, being able to wear the blue bump hat that said crew chief on it. My e-mail address is attached to this letter. Like to hear from you if possible. Really like your website. Sincerely,
Ronald J. De Lozier, MSgt, USAF(Ret)
Wed, 26 Mar 1997 12:12: Pat Halloran, Major General, USAF (Ret) Writes: Just found your web page and was very impressed with what you have put together. A person can be educated and entertained for hours! Very well done and my congratulations on your research skills. Your story of the speed runs to Europe and return in 1973 brought back many memories. By the way, in the female flight category you might want to add the only other name, Congress-lady Beverly Byron, who took a ride in the B model in November of 1985. I've forgotten which state she was from, but her picture is in one of the SR books that I've got around here somplace. Cheers and hope to see you at Reno.
Pat Halloran, Major General, USAF (Ret)
Pilot (U-2 and SR-71), 9th SRW Commander
1/2/97 14:46 Enjoyed your site very much. I was an AP/SP with 456 CDS at Beale from Oct 65 to Oct 66. I believe it was about Dec. 65 when the first operational SR came in, and I went down to the flightline sometime after midnight to see it. It was quite a rush to walk into a lighted hangar and see the exhaust end of that black aircraft. I did not always appreciate my 'military experience' but the SR has given me some of my finest memories. I went back to Beale in 1990 for the first time since 1966 with my children and showed them the SR that was then on display; also went over to the museum and bought the Lockheed video tape which I watch occasionally--great photography! I always regretted not 'requisitioning' one of the Lockheed 'Mach 3+' coffee cups that I saw back in '66. Do you know if similar items are available today? Don't know if any of this qualifies me for the Blackbird group; if it does, would you please advise? Thank you for doing up the site. It's nice to know that some of those experiences back then are remembered by others.
Sat, 05 Apr 1997 Jerry A. Miller Writes: Recently stumbled on your excellent work, producing the SR-71 Web Site, while looking for stuff on the D-21 Drone for one of my Grandsons.I fondly remember my years at "The Area" while working on the D-21 project as ramjet and APU development engineer. I'll never forget the first time I saw and could walk up to and climb on the Mother A-12. I suppose "love" is an inappropriate word for my relationship to that wonderful machinery, but that's how I express my feelings about it.T hanks, very much, for the photo. It's one I did not have. It occurs to me that, in your tenure at Beale, you may have known of the D-21 Drone operations using the B-52 as a launch vehicle. I spent a short time (4 or 5 days) there training maint. crews in ramjet operation theory and maint procedures. I left Marquardt shortly after that and lost all contact with Beale operations. I met some great kids and have wondered about them ever since. I don't recall any names. I'm wondering if you know of any contact within that group that maintains a history or a contact list? Thanks for any info you may be able to dig up.
Thanks for your help in preserving an important part of history and of my life.
Best Regards, Jerry A. Miller
Fri, 25 Apr 1997 08:56: Royce G. Colding (Msgt, Ret)Writes: Just found your website this morning, it is great to say the least. I served in the 9th SRW from Nov. 70 until about Mar 74. I was originally assigned to the SLR shop, but in early 1971 I went over to Job Control in Wing Hqs. The tour of duty at Beale AFB was the highlight of my career. I spent all 26yrs in the same AFSC (Sensor Systems). I am now retired here in Aurora, CO.
Again let me say how wonderfully surprised I was to have found your site. I will spend quite a bit of time on it, recalling those days of yesteryear, borrowing a phrase from the "Lone Ranger" radio series.
Thu, 20 Nov 1997 08:38: I was just revisiting your excellent site. I think I enjoy it more each time I log-on. I notice that on my message of 04-25-97 I forgot to include my e-mail address, which is email@example.com. Since I last visited I have read Col. Graham's book "SR-71 Revealed". This is a must read for all of us, tremendous book about our favorite plane. Again thanks for all the effort/time you have spent creating/maintaining this wonderful site.
Royce G. Colding, Msgt Ret. Beale AFB 1970-74 (Sensors/Job Control)
Sat, 26 Apr 1997 13:10: My name is Edward A. Arrioja.
I was a Sgt. in the 9th OMS (Recovery Team 5) from 1969 until my discharge in January 1973. I had approx 10 TDY's to Okinawa and would like to keep in touch with the old group.
Edward A. Arrioja
E-Mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sun, 27 Apr 1997 21:50:Paul Bunnell Writes: Hi I worked on the SR from 1969-1974.
At Beale I work T-38 PE, and the SR's did a lot of TDY time.
Love your web site, good Job.
Sat, 03 May 1997 22:00: I found the site most interesting being a former AF motion picture photographer, Air Intelligence Technician, and Retired US Army Military Intelligence Warrant Officer.
During 1966, I was photographing a movie of the various facilities at Eglin to include the Climatic Lab (SR-71) parked in front. I was instructed by my supervisor before my photo mission to NOT photograph the plane or its shadow as it was classified. Well I followed his advice as was still apprehended by the AP's. After the film was processed in the Parks photo lab and viewed by the AP's, the AP's went their merry way.
Converted to Intelligence in 1967 and was later assigned to the SAC Recon Center at Offutt. Monitored the SR-71 world speed records set between the US and England and the England to LA return trip while assigned at Offutt.
Beautiful aircraft. Keep up the good work.
Mon, 19 May 1997 03:06 Gary H. Veteto Writes: I watched a program on "The Learning Channel" a while back about the need for speed. They had an original test pilot on telling a few "old" stories about the SR-71's early days. Great show... Enjoyed your web page, very well done. Now to the important stuff. I still have a 3+ coffee mug, but my old OL-8 hat wore out years ago. Where can I locate a good looking hat? Any help appreciated.
Gary H. Veteto
9th FMS, Electric Shop, 1970-71
Mon, 16 Jun 1997 16:19: Stopped by your page to visit an old friend.......you have done a nice job. My father is Lt Col Bill (the bear) Corbin, he is now in Chico and enjoying retirement. I grew up with the jet from our days in Vegas and the test site, and we were there when Haupt and Nelson brought the first bird to Beale. Now I run a CBS television in Chico CA and over the years have taken many photos for a company Im involved with called MACH 1. My friend published Sled Driver and then Untouchables, both written by Brian Shul. It was fun showing the manuscript to Ben Rich at a Black bird reunion a few years ago......I still spend time at Beale doing stories on the planes and people so that no one ever forgets......take care.
Mon, 30 Jun 1997 13:25: Mike Heneghan, SMSgt, USAF (Ret) Writes: Hi, I was stationed with the 1SRS, Beale AFB, CA from June 78 through June 84. I was the Squadron NCOIC, 1SRS. Recently visited your homepage. Fantastic job.
Mike Heneghan, SMSgt, USAF (Ret)
Sat, 5 Jul 1997 22:59: What a neat Web Page!!!
As a child it was my dream to fly fighters in the Air Force. Unfortunately, a birth defect of my heart prevented me from fulfilling this dream. So, I have spent the better part of 29 years reading, studying photos of, and building models of airplanes.
I will never forget the moment that I first discovered the HABU during my research. I was mesmerized! You didn't even have to look at the stats to know it was fast! But, your BlackBird has always had a very lasting impression on me. First, the record setting New York to London trot. Secondly, I built a 1/48 scale model of her which brought me several ribbons in fine scale model shows.
Also, as a member of the Civil Air Patrol I had the good fortune of getting to work with a BlackBird driver. Colonel Monty (Ty) Judkins served as the Tennessee wing liaison officer just before his retirement from the Air Force. I am not sure when Col. Judkins was at Beale. But I am thinking it was probably just after or right at the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. I say this because I know he flew BUFFS (B-52's) during the war then transferred to the 9th. He was a wonderful person and was always more than willing to share what information that he could. I remember showing him the weather briefing material that I was about to pass along to a Search and Rescue aircrew one morning. The entire time he was reading the info he stood there shaking his head. Finally, I could stand it no longer, I had to ask if there was a problem with the information. He raised his head then chuckled. He told me that he was having trouble reading the report from the flight service station because it had been so long since he had done so. He said, "We never had to worry about weather because we were always above it in the SR-71". A point that has stuck with me to this day!
I would like to thank you for helping me find a little more of my dream! Keep up the good work with the page.
Thanks David L Finchum
5/22/97 9:55 Saw them several times at U.K. airshows, such as Mildenhall and Fairford.
The most stunning site was an early morning take off on full afterburner in rain, wonderful!
Pity my camera was still in my bag.
I think your website is the best I have visited keep up the good work
Regards, S. Croft
Tue, 15 Jul 1997 23:34: I was there too during 1974 to 1976. I was in the sim room when Col Storrie and the crews were planning the record breaking flights. I worked in the hospital and later did some work related to lessening stress on pilots in combat.
The time at Beale will always bring a smile to my face. It was an exciting time that will likely never be repeated. Regards,
Richard Linder, DDS (Capt.)
Mon, 18 Aug
1997 14:02 Allen L. Hedge Writes: I
just looked at you web site and I'm very impressed. It seems we bothare
in love with the same Aircraft. I was stationed at Beale from April
1967 until Nov 1970. I was in the 9th OMS and worked on SR-71
#964 most of the time.
I have sent a note to Jack Madison for more information on the Blackbird Association. Thanks for a great web site.
Allen L. Hedge
Tue, 19 Aug 1997 11:07: While flying KC-135Qs in the 903rd AREFSq in support for the SR-71 missions in SEA, the tanker crews routinely pulled TDY at Kadena AB, Okinawa for six weeks at a time followed by 12 weeks at home at Beale and/or doing other SAC type TDY. The "deployer missions" to Kadena occurred every week as two crews and one tanker relocated to Okinawa and another came home. These trips were always flown full of passengers and cargo in the form of TDY support personnel for both tankers and SRs, and related baggage and supplies. SR crewmembers periodically made the trip on their longer-term rotations. Every trip staged through Hickam AFB in Hawaii, where the weather was always hot and humid. On our westbound departure out of Hickam, we were always fuel limited due to the combination of passenger/cargo weight, hot weather, and limiting max gross weight for the runway length available. With water-injected J-57 engines, and a 285,000 lb max take-off weight for the KC-135Q, we had to do a static take-off with all four engines taking water and reaching take-off thrust before we released the brakes. Invariably, the end of the runway would pass under the nose before we rotated, and the noise abatement procedure over Waikaki Beach required that we rotate with an almost immediate 15° right bank followed by a steepening to 30° as soon as the gear was up — quite a hairy maneuver for a heavy airplane! On one such departure, I had an SR-71 pilot riding the jump seat. Once we got airborne, I looked over my shoulder to chat with him only to find him sitting there with ashen face. He made a comment to the effect that after all his hot SR-71 take-offs, "I never want to do that (sit in the jump seat out of Hickam) again!!!".
Chuck Miller ('68-'73) Lt. Col. (Ret)
Sun, 24 Aug 1997 13:32: William D. Hopper,SSgt USAFWrites:Hi, I think the webpage is great.I was assigned to the 9th FMS at Beale from 1979-1981.I was TDY to Kadena AB in Okinawa. It was the best time of my career in the Air Force. I was one of the people in AGE (Aerospace Ground Equipment) that built the custom engine start carts (the OD green with the engines chromed out) for the SR-71.This page is great. Thanks for reminding me what a great time I had working around the SR-71.
William D. Hopper,SSgt USAF 1978-1988
Thanks for some great memories ...
SR-71 Pilot 1981 - 1985
24 Aug 1996 03:07 Ron Fulks Writes: I was assigned to the 9th OMS 1973-to the end of 1974. Started off E-2 or E-3 and left as E-4 (43151C ) ( man it has been a long time since I tried to remember my AFSC) ..... Names I remember at the time.... MSgt Ed Roper, SMSgt Pojewleski(sp) (Pogo) who was running the line when I came in, MSgt Deweese was the first shirt, TSgt Phil Sage was there, all OMS troops.... ( Other names, Amn Kane, Sgt Rasco, SSgt Allen) (I remember MSgt Haynes (Sorry MSgt Haynes, not the face but the name) and I know that I worked for him on the line for awhile.....( didn't you run the post flight crew? or was it mids (preflight) I just stumbled across MSgt Haynes home page on the net..... I fondly remember the time spent in the 9th, even the time at Kadena (did two trips while I was assigned) and was interested in information you might have available on the Blackbird Association. I have only recently come onto the internet, and even more recently started reestablishing contacts with folks I served with.....As you can see from my E-mail address (email@example.com) I have always felt that the time spent on the SR-71 was one of the most interesting times of my life. Thanks for the web page MSgt Haynes, and Mr.Madison I will look forward to any information that you can forward to me concerning the Blackbird Association.
Sun Aug 25 19:58 Thanks so much for the response! Jack Madison has also responded, and I have sent him my address. I am in Antioch, Cal. which is my hometown. I have lost track of all the folks that I knew in the unit with the exception of Jim Rasco, he is now up in Washington. Like a lot of GI's who got out in the 70's I spent time not acknowledging that I was in the military. Only very recently , in the last year or so, (since I went online) have I started to find veterans groups that I felt like I had something in common with..... Its kind of funny to find information like your page on the internet. Your page is really well done, with loads of good, solid info.....and no bs.... but it brings back memories of the time when we would have shot someone for taking the pictures <grin>...has it really been twenty plus years? wow! Now I have a collection of pictures from the web on my screen at work and here at home of the SR that were so darn classified then ..... like I said....wow....a couple more names came to mind, MSgt Maloof , A1C TRC Smith (who I think is down at Travis working as a civilian contractor on the C141's and C5's) Like most of the young troops coming in I started working in the phase inspection area, then went out on the line for awhile, then Oki a couple times..... I left the unit at the end of 74. I am going to DC in November, for Veterans Day, and I am hoping to see 972 that is back there for the Air and Space Museum..( I am not sure if it is on display yet)
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