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Australia, 1968, Part 2
Dave Kutulis, CMS (RET)
In October 68 I made my second trip to Australia
along with another crew
chief and a crew from either the 14th or 15th MAS
I'm not sure which but the
Aircraft Commander on this crew was a 180 degrees
different than the one on my
first trip. He was an older Lt. Colonel who looked
like he had a few miles on
him. He was courteous, did not raise his voice but
once on the whole trip and
treated everyone the same no matter what their
position. In the right seat we
had a Butter Bar who thought he knew the ways of the
Leaving Norton we headed to Travis to pick up our cargo, which consisted of equipment for the NASA tracking station at Alice Springs. Enroute to Hickam the two guys in front where in heated debate with the old guy making a statement and the kid telling him he was wrong. It's night, no it's day light, that's water down there no it's cloud cover. Finally the rest of the crew took off their headsets and let them have at it.
Leaving Hickam the next day after we leveled off the old guy asked the loadmaster for a cup of coffee. The load responded with "We are not having coffee on this leg, I don't drink it but have been serving it for years. We are serving iced tea". Could have heard a pin drop. After a few minutes the intercom came to life with the old guy asking the load to bring him an iced tea when he had time. You could feel the tension drain.
Our arrival at the speck of land in the middle of the ocean was uneventful but this time I made sure some one would get food for the other crew chief and myself. While we were preparing to depart a guy who looked older than the old guy showed up and asked which way we where going. He was wearing one-piece white coveralls with T/SGT stripes on the sleeves. His story was he was the last of a deployment of the 58th WRS that had been doing high altitude air sampling of the latest French A Bomb test. He had fuel bladders full of fuel and equipment that needed to get back to Kirtland AFB and he could not go home until the task was complete. The old guy told him that presently we were supposed to be empty on the return trip but that he would see what he could do. When we reached cruising altitude the load announced that he would now be serving coffee. I think the Flight Engineers told him bad things would happen if he served tea again.
On our decent to Richmond we had to put up with some pretty high winds. The Butter Bar was at the controls and the old guy kept telling him to "get it down Lt. you're too high" after the third "get it down" the old guy said "my airplane" and pushed the control column forward.
I was in the jump seat and the corn stalks in the field at the end of the runway were coming up pretty fast. Finally he pulled back on the controls and set us down as if nothing had happened. Later that night in the hotel at Kings Cross the TV reported winds in excess of seventy miles per hour.
The next day at Alice Springs everything was fine until it came time to crank the APU, seems someone with FE after his name forgot to build up hydraulic pressure for the #3 system before he shut down the power. It was well over a hundred degrees and we all shared in the hand pumping.
Fast forward to the little spot in the water. When we landed we were directed to the fuel bladders were a thirsty sliver bird had her fill. While we were refueling everyone on the flight with the exception of the navigator (he was sleeping) became air freight specialist pushing and pulling all the rolling stock on board. I told the old guy that the nose tires were pretty beat up and I thought that they should be changed but he said as long as they had air in them they would be fine. As we taxied out that old T/SGT waved goodbye. Little did I know that in a few years we would become good friends.
At Hickam I told the other crew chief to take off and I would handle the plane, after refueling they towed me off the pit to 24 row next to a EC-135P doing engine trims. I had to use the radio and have Hickam ground contact the MAC maintenance control when ever I needed any thing since not at any time did an expediter stop by. I was stuck there all night. Since two years earlier I crewed the 135 parked next to me I spent some time talking with them (didn't know any of them) but they ran me to the terminal to get some food and coffee. I was not a big fan of the enroute support at Hickam.
The next morning the old guy was concerned when I did not show up to meet the crew bus and no one know where I was. When the crew showed up the old guy took me to the terminal for breakfast. Sometime during the night the load got switch and we left for home with pallets.
The day before I left on the trip I was told in no uncertain terms that I better not bring the plane back with Red Kangaroo's painted on it like on my first trip. In 1971 I was assigned to the 58 WRS and met up with the old T/SGT, we spent two ten-day deployments at Mendoza Argentina together courtesy of the French and their toys.
A check of Wikipedia shows that France did not sign or ratify the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty until 1992.
Dave Kutulis CMS (Ret)
63rd MAW 67-71
58th WRS 71-74
62nd MAW 74-75