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F-100-F Super Sabre Fighter Bomber U.S.A.F. 1968 Turkey 401 Fighter Squadron

Assigned U.S.A.F.E. 401 Tactical Fighter Group, Combat Support Squadron.

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1968 A.D. May. Incirlik Air Base Turkey. We went to the pilots briefing early in the morning. Our mission, was to fly three sorties in a training mission, attacking a target about 150 miles N.W. from our base in Adana.

We would be carrying practice bombs and rockets. My role was to be the back seat observer in the one F-100F. The other two aircraft were F-100D and all were assigned to the 401 Tactical Fighter Wing which had rotated aircraft from Spain.

The period, was the Turkish/Cypriot War.

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Each morning F-80 and F-86 aircraft of the Turkish Air Force would launch with real weapons to the wail of the air raid sirens. I felt it would be better to be in the air today, so I had volunteered for this flight instead of sitting on the ground waiting for the war to start raining down on my beloved base of the last twenty days or so.

We had no part in base defense as this was a local war. War is war and I was scared non the less. Our primary job was to uphold our nations atomic strike capability against the near Soviet Union. The F-100 had a special weapon pod that looked like a giant fuel tank and was mounted under the fuselage. The delivery method of this weapon was called skip bombing. A pilot would gain maximum speed and altitude and then release his load while executing a fast retreat in order to attempt to out run the burst of nuclear Hell. I used to admire our heroic pilots swathed in survival gear and pistols and hand grenades as they would sit on alert duty waiting for Armageddon.

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These unsung heros were there to sacrifice their own lives, while destroying the very planet we live on, to protect our way of life. Most said that they would not even try to run from the burst, but if war came they would just fly to the target and make sure of a correct delivery and die. It was said that after you Nuke some one you don't want to be caught as a prisoner. The range of our aircraft made this seem very likely that a one way trip was all that the fuel would allow.

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Leaving the briefing I was escorted to the Egress Shop and issued a G suit which I placed over my fatigue uniform. The pilots wore nomex flight suits but none had one my size to loan. A helmet was fitted with a oxygen mask. Admonished not to barf into the mask I was issued a bag for that purpose. "But I never barf flying", I said. "You will" they said. Fitted with a parachute, the crew chief secured me into the ejection seat.

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My oxygen gauge was on the right side of the cockpit. The ground crew hooked up the MA1A gas turbine compressor, that just yesterday I had serviced myself. My normal function was that of a ground power technician. The pilot started briefing me over the intercom, breaking over the rock and roll playing on our navigation radio. We were listening to the base Armed Forces Network radio which would stop playing only when the intercom, guard or ground control transmissions came through. Suddenly the roar of our Pratt and Whitney engine came as the turbine spooled up.

"Watch the EGT sarge", barked the pilot. The theory was to co-relate his gauge with mine to check accuracy of instruments. We worked the whole check list together like that. I had a copy as did the pilot and we verified each item twice. As the air conditioner came on great balls of ice bounced all over my instruments. Soon we were rolling down the runway with the two D models leading the way. All three planes launched together. I watched I horror as the fumes of the exhaust, of the plane in front of us almost obscured our visibility. Then it lifted just in front of us and seemed to sag back. We rotated and lifted at the same time and the tail pipe of the plane in front was only feet from my head. Then we sagged back as the wings bit air. Not bad at all. I had survived the take off.


We did a radar penetration technique next known as hugging the ground. At 499 Knots we cruised at about 25 to 50 feet from the ground and climbed mountains in this way. Breaking over the top of one we dropped into a valley. A sheep herder was stunned as we scattered his sheep. "Lets round them up", barked the pilot. Flying a circle a reduced speed we tried in vain to herd the terrified sheep. I will never forget the look of anger on the Shepard's face as he made obscene gestures at our war bird.

Giving up the game we rallied to do a bomb run on the practice range. Coming in at ground level we would pull the aircraft straight up, roll over on it's back and look up through our canopy at the target below. Getting a fix we would drop in this manner, upside down until the ground seemed ready to caress our steed in a fiery grip. At the seeming last moment we would roll over release a bomb, and pull straight up. Plus 3 G to zero gravity to minus three G, over and over.

I was sick, trying to lift my hand that seemed made of lead, to unfasten my oxygen mask, we hit zero gravity.

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I would have knocked my self senseless if not for the face shield. I got off the mask and hurled into my bag, sealed the bag and got the mask clipped again. I saw some of our hits on the target, while some I missed. All the while Casey Cayson played top 40 for us on the radio. In all I threw up three times on the flight and even got to fly the plane from my set of dual controls. This was the first time I had flown a real aircraft, but adapted well as I had read everything I could as a kid on aeronautics and was an avid modeler. Using my rudder at high speed was stunning as I skidded all over the sky. "No rudder" came the metallic crackle over my headset. "Use light finger touch on the stick and watch the artificial horizon". My wing man clued in that we were playing, peeled away to give the novice plenty of room. Soon my bird was trim and straight and level. I flew all the way home following the leader. My pilot told me he was taking, a nap so I had it. As the leader contacted Incirlik Ground Control my pilot came to life again. "I got it." The landing was nice to watch as the two planes in front touched down, then we were down. Drag chutes deployed to bleed the speed. When we parked and the crew chief started unbuckling me, "Dumb ass I told you to disconnect this zero speed zero altitude lanyard as soon as you got airborne." Reviewing the briefing I found he was right. If ejecting when the aircraft was not airborne, the purpose was to open the parachute as soon as the ejection seat left the rails, in order to have the chute deploy sooner. At speed this would make survival very questionable, as the tail could be collided with in an early deployment. We went to the debriefing were I was the butt of a few jokes as a result of my green face from the air sickness.

This is how I earned my observer wings that hot summer day. I walked back to the barracks and seemed to have been unsettled for several days as a result of the air sickness. This did not stop me from writing my grandmother "Mammy" a letter describing my flight in glowing detail. This flight sealed me to the quest to be a pilot.

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