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
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,