So what's happening on the way home? We're out of Kadena heading for Elmendorf. We started out with a pretty heavy load for Stateside plus six pax. It was a while, and finally a struggle to reach FL370 to settle down for the ride. Pretty night ,stars shining bright, just like in the song.
KABOOOM! From the left side. That was a new one on this ace jet pilot! The tapes might have jiggled, N1 or N2 might have done something, but it happened too fast. We were certainly awake, all of us. The chattering about what it could have been had just subsided after a minute or two, when KABOOM! This time I saw the flash. I had to look at number one even though I had once vowed NEVER to look out there again. (Remember I was always nervous about the area of the junction of the outer wing and engines 1&4)
The blasts came regularly now, a blast and flame shooting FORWARD about 10 feet, as well as a longer torch out the tailpipe. We established a call to Elmendorf to see if they could rouse anyone with advice for us. We changed the fuel flow to see if that would eliminate the blasting which was becoming unnerving to all of us. I think it changed the severity of the blasting going on, but we all didn't like what might be going on in the engine or to the mounts, so we shut it down.
When heavy and on three engines even in the mighty powerful model A we were taught to look ahead, to two engine operation just so you were prepared for that eventuality.
Uh, Oh,A jettison plan? I KNEW it, I'm gonna be the first guy to jettison a load out of the 141! Oh woe on us!
Elmendorf advised us that Adak, an island in the Aleutian chain extending a thousand miles from Anchorage was suitable for us if we didn't think we could continue.
We decided yes! Lets get out of here and started a descent into Adak. Pretty far down on the descent the radio advised us that Pratt and Whitney had advised them that they suspected an engine nose cone deice failure, check all switches and circuit breakers. In addition if that all checks out, the engine would probably run OK below 18,000 feet. It would be OK to restart and see. Sure enough, after the start-up the engine ran fine.
With all the playing around and low altitude fuel burn, we continued our letdown to Adak to get the airplane checked, with Anchorage still 1,200 miles to the east.
The weather at Adak had broken layers to 8,000 and 600 & five miles visibility for the approach.
"Air Force, Navy Adak approach, you're cleared for a VOR approach."
In my mind I'm screaming VOR! VOR!? We don't DO VOR's!
Here we go, out bound, procedure turn descend inbound, intercept! VOR inbound, check minimum altitudes! Obstructions, obstructions . Don't f**k this up Reichelt! This I don't like!
Whew! We pop out, runway in sight, short final now,. Wow! There in the illumination of the landing lights, off to the right is the crashed skeleton of a P-3 Orion. I guess they didn't like the VOR, letdown and approach either!
We had enough for this day, so we had a delightful crew rest at ADAK, drizzling, cloud- swept, garden spot of the Aleutians.
Next day we had a chance to see what we had gotten into. Clouds and fog are swirling around us in the drizzle and all across the island. Grey everything. The place was one big grey volcanic cinder. Looking north past the take-off end of the runway was a hill that swept upward from the level on up into the clouds. Very ominous, this place was awaiting some Hollywood 'B'-film director to come film Creatures of The Lost World of the 20th Century!
The C-141 was the only airplane I would trust, to take off in that schmootz with that hill threatening us with its black cape and sickle. The engine had been examined, fuel put on board, so off we went. The engine ran like a champ at 18,000 feet en route to Elmendorf where the engine anti-ice problem was repaired and the 141 continued in the system.
Our crew had to go to the end of the line, back into crew rest. Now, after a very short non-taxing day, we still had a lot of zoom left. What to do? We could've gone to downtown Anchorage and 'See Nudes in an Exquisite Manner'(An expensive clip joint where naked women dance behind gauze so thick, and lighting fixed so you can't SEE anything) .(I heard).
Or - we could go to the Elmendorf club where it was always happy hour, and-YES! Play the now famous juke box, featuring "YEEEeeeeow,Everyyyytime I Go to town They Keep Kicking My Dog Around". You just can't know unless you've been there…. how many drunk quarters went into that machine to play that record. It played in 1967, 1968, 1969, and as far as I know its still there, scratched white from the needle and still going .The poor bartenders heard it played SO many times, they vowed to smash it, but they never did.
At last, homeward bound, last leg. East to the east coast. NOW you know what its like to party all night when you should be sleeping, but your body knows its really daytime…. and you get alerted for flight. The take off into the blackest sky in the universe is 'Hang on. Don't fail me now!' and we make it! Auto pilot on.
That last leg home to the east. Oh Boy! You've been struggling to stay alert and here comes the sunrise. First the pretty glow then the FIERCE orange ball, then the soooothing warm radiant heat. This is when I had my best dreams and hallucinations.
Wake up! You're almost home! It's a pretty day. Put her down nicely, park it, bags on the crew bus. Shake hands, pat em on the back and a "Let's do it again."
I would do it again gladly. Thank you Lockheed, God Bless America!
Richard (Dick) Reichelt firstname.lastname@example.org
5690 Schaefer Ave. Suite H