Long boring over water flights sometimes lent themselves to practical jokes and one of those routes was our North Pacific route that took us very close to Russian Kurile Islands. One such flight lent us a great opportunity to liven up our flight and throw a scare into a young Air Force Academy Cadet.
During the mission pre-brief we took time to point out the dangers of flying close to Soviet territory. Then as the flight progressed the pilot kept asking me, the navigator, over and over again if we were alright.
Late into the flight as we neared the Russian boarder I suddenly became very animated and agitated and finally exclaimed to the pilot, "Oh, my God! I've made an error. We're over Russian territory!!"
"You idiot, what in the hell have you done? You know damn well they'll shoot us down if they catch us. What can we do?"
"Well, if you speed up we'll be out of here in 15 minutes and be safe and nobody will know we strayed over Russia."
With that the Pilot pushed up the throttles, told the co-pilot to keep an eye open for Russian Migs and sent the scanner and load-master to the back of the aircraft to watch out the back for fighter aircraft, which might come up behind us.
After the scanner and load-master had gone to the rear, I started to panic telling the pilot, "Faster! Faster!!", until the engineer exclaimed, "You'll rip the wings off if you go any faster".
As the flight continued the pilot kept asking, "Are we were there yet? While I continued to mumble, "Faster! Faster!!" and poured over my charts.
While this went on our poor cadet sat in the jump seat between the pilots looking very concerned and worried.
Then with a call from the load-master things really get moving.
"Pilot, load ... there is Mig coming up behind us and he is wagging his wing." (An international aircraft maneuver telling you to pull over and follow him to his base.)
"Load, pilot ... do you and the scanner have your guns?
"Nav ... how much further?"
"Just a half minute more and we'll be over international waters. If you could just push up the speed a little more."
"Load ... I'll have the engineer depressurize the cargo compartment and when he dose you open the rear hatches and fire on him, to get him to back off."
"Engineer ... depressurize the cargo compartment."
"Yes, sir". And the engineer furiously scrambled to adjust the knobs on his panel and then said, "Sir, the cargo compartment is depressurized."
"Load, scanner .... Open the back hatch and fire some warning shots at him."
Within a couple of seconds the scanner grabbed the latrine door, which is in the cargo compartment just below the crew compartment and slammed it several time, to simulate gun fire. And each time the door slammed our victim jumped and beads of sweat begin popping out on his brow, as he clung tightly, with white knuckles, to the small bar in front his seat.
At this point the engineer began to loose control and he put his head down on his arms and desk to keep from laughing in front of the cadet. But to the cadet it looked like he was sobbing.
"Pilot, load .... I don't think he liked us shooting at him and it appears he's going to fire a missile."
"Oh, my God, Nav, what have you done? This bastard is going to kill us all!" With that the pilot turned the plane sharply to the left.
With my back to the cadet I'd been rubbing my eyes and they were now red and puffy and as I turn to face the pilot and the cadet I said, "Yes, sir, sorry, no excuse sir."
Then came the coup d'état "Pilot," the load screamed, "he's firing a missile. Do something!!
And that was the end for our poor cadet, who then stood up to exclaim, "I don't want to die, I don't want to die!"
And so it went, hours and hours of tedious boredom punctuated with minutes of sheer terror.