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"...we had more than our share of incidents and near accidents."
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7 June 1954:

"We had half a stand-down today, because Major Ashe said that it was going to be lousy weather until at least noon.  I woke up bright and early to find the sun beating down on me with great gusto.  Actually, it is probably just as well that we only flew half a day.  As it was, we had more than our share of incidents and near accidents.

Fox flew two test hops on the same bird and both times he had the controls try to run away with him.

I was scheduled on a four ship gunnery mission, and when we got in the planes the tow ship -- Moose -- aborted.  We went in and re-briefed the mission for an A-4, since there were no more tow ships available at the time, and went out to try again.

This time we got as far as the runway when Mobile called Number Two, Lowe, to say the APU access door on his plane was open.  So he taxied on down the runway and in to the line to get it closed.

Number three, Major Hill, then pulled up into the number two spot on Col. Jacob's wing for takeoff.  Lucky thing he did, because that left me by myself as Number Three, and had I been on a wing when I tried to take-off, I probably would have hit the other plane.

When I started rolling, my nose wheel steering went all out-of-kilter and I found myself rolling down the runway with a violent yawing action.   I couldn't catch the plane with what was left of the nose wheel steering, and I wasn't going fast enough for the rudders to take hold. 

I tried to catch it with the brakes, but it was no use, so I stopcocked it and went sailing off on to the dirt. 

Luckily, I still wasn't going very fast and I was able to hold it fairly straight with what nose wheel steering I had left.

Aside from scaring the living daylights out of the target men who were beside the runway, there was no damage to anyone or anything.

Of all times to have it happen, though, I had to do it when Col. Hall was right there on the taxiway waiting to cross to Mobile.  He was the first person there aside from the well-shaken men from the target crew.

Of course, it wasn't long before everyone and his uncle was there.

Baskett, on Mobile, had asked for a crash truck as soon as he saw I was in trouble, and so the tower had sounded the crash alarm.  Imagine my surprise when the Chaplain showed up. Doc Hollins was there and I must admit that he seemed a bit disappointed.

Just to finish off the day, Lowe had a compressor stall on run-up... in which his tail pipe temperature went up to well over 1000 degrees.   Also, Barnes had a tow mission and his target seemed to take special delight in doing rolls.  I was on Mobile at the time and was a bit surprised to hear the tower call his target (or "rag") clear and upright.

1 July 1954:

I got a letter of appreciation today.  Cook had called about three days ago saying that there was a letter of appreciation for me in the orderly room.  I had been trying to figure out ever since then what it could be for.

I finally came to the conclusion that it must have been in connection with my trip to K-55 as a judge in the 5th AF gunnery meet

Today the letter came up to the squadron.  Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be in reference to my little fiasco the day my nosewheel steering went out on takeoff.  I guess that it pays to have the wing commander be there when you have trouble.  Here I'd been expecting to get a bit of a chewing-out and instead I get thanked for a good job."

- Lt. Wm. Starr

Notes on the slide:

"Hall and Smitty on the pad, K-14, Feb '54"