• Visiting the Museum of Aviation

    Posted on March 3rd, 2009 John Dorcey No comments

    Museum of Aviation main gate, Robbins AFB, GA

    The day, though it dawned grey and overcast, held great promise. It was 0730 and I was boarding a bus for a two-hour ride from Atlanta to Warner Robins, GA and the Museum of Aviation. This trip was part of the Women in Aviation International 2009 Convention. My wife worked, making several presentations, and I reaped the benefits of accompanying her. While familiar with Robins AFB from my time in the USAF, I had limited knowledge of the museum. Little did I know the treat that awaited.

    North American Rockwell B-1B Lancer

    The museum sits on 43 tree-lined acres along the base’s southwest boundary. The museum complex consists of four buildings and displays nearly 100 aircraft. A North American Rockwell B-1 B, Lancer, guards the museum’s main entrance. A Fairchild-Republic A-10 A, Thunderbolt II (Warthog), parked nearby reminds me of wars ongoing. Across the main drive sat a McDonnell F-4D, Phantom II, from an earlier war, my generation’s war. My senses were now on high alert. The sun began to peek from behind the morning’s clouds and yes, it was going to be very promising day.

    We were advised to begin our tour at the Century of Flight building as an event scheduled for later in the day would prohibit our entry in that building. Good advice as it turned out. The building held prime examples of USAF aircraft. I lingered while reading information plaques and attempting a few photos.

    General Dynamics F-111E Aardvark

    I then made my way to the outside storage areas. The aircraft here are in various conditions – many are showing the affects of sun, wind, rain, and even more sun. Most had their cockpits protected by sun shades which made the canopy/window crazing all the more obvious. The F-111 E will undoubtedly suffer more than the others  – its nose art “Heartbreaker” more telling than a pilot’s lament. The airplane’s big nose cone is AWOL; the radar set sitting out in the elements.

    My pulse quickened as I approached a B-52 D Stratofortress. An early model of the aircraft I worked on for over six years beginning in the late 1960s extending into the mid-1970s. The D’s were the oldest B-52 model to carry the Hound Dog (AGM-28). This particular aircraft, 55-085, served in Southeast Asia twice. First in 1968, and later, flying out of Guam in 1972 and 1973. A number of my squadron mates would have loaded external weapons on this aircraft while serving TDY there.

    Boeing B-52D Stratofortress

    The typical in-flight lunch, served in a quiet picnic area, provided time for reflection. Years have passed since my days in blue (can it really be that many?) but the memories are still vivid. Alas, there were still airplanes to view, pictures to take, and two more buildings to visit. I had to pick up the pace, only two and a half hours to departure. The main museum building provided the more typical museum exhibits, a gift shop, and cafe. I spent a great deal of time pouring over the exhibits telling the history of Robins AFB; its development, layout and early construction. It never ceases to amaze me how much work was accomplished in the early months of World War II.

    Among other exhibits are tributes to the 507 Parachute Infantry Regiment, the Tuskegee Airmen, those CBI pilots that flew the “hump”, and the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame. The Museum of Aviation is more than just a museum; it is an education center for all ages. Artifacts of the past, reminders from yesterday, and glimpses into the future.

    Discover more about the Museum of Aviation at their website.

  • The Cold War

    Posted on February 15th, 2009 John Dorcey 2 comments

    While the war waged on in Viet Nam, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) continued fighting the cold war. Depending on base assignments, the troops may have been fighting a cold war on two fronts.

    I served in the USAF from January 1969 until April 1975. For all but seven months of that time, I was stationed at Grand Forks AFB, ND. Grand Forks is a cold and windy place all year round. It gets real cold during the winter.

    Coming from Wisconsin everyone thought I had thick blood and would be acclimated to North Dakota winters. I worked on the flight line (outside!) for five of the six winters I was there. You learn to cope with the cold but you never get used to it.

    The 319th Bombardment Wing (H) had the latest B-52 Stratofortresses, the H model. These aircraft were built during 1960 and 1961. The airplane went through numerous modifications while I worked on it and many more since. The BUFF continues to serve as a deterrent and will for the foreseeable future.

    Tech School class, Chanute AFB, 1969

    I worked on the Hound Dog missile (AGM-28B) as a missile mechanic and later as a missile systems analyst. Two of the missiles were slung on the underside of a B-52’s wing. The 319th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron (AMMS) was a small unit, with just under 100 men.

    Like most GIs, I have fond memories of my time in the service and stay in contact with some of the guys. One way we keep in touch is through an alumni organization. You can learn more about the Hound Dog, the AMMS, and some of my friends at http://www.ammsalumni.org/index.html
    John Dorcey, SSgt
    SAC, Peace is our Profession