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Your Ride is Here
I was flying out of the 7th MAS at Travis in 1971,
assigned to an
instructional local with a morning departure
scheduled for 0700 hrs.
Those around then will remember the fleet was pretty
well stretched in all
quarters especially the maintenance squadrons. The
departing locals always had
a launch chief at the aircraft to meet the aircrew
with additional help for
engine start and block out. Always, except for us
this morning. When the pilots
arrived at the bird the engineer said the forms were
on his table but no launch
chief. The crew did their thing; the power cart was
running when the engineers
arrived so we had no trouble starting the APU and
were ready to crank up. I
called ACP for a block out team. They were pulled
from a nearby bird with some
kind of a problem. They got us started and blocked
out. After making the brake
test and turning towards the taxiway for the active,
the engineer said, "we
just found the launch chief!"
"Crew loft, he just crawled down. He wants you to
stop and let him off".
We were almost at the edge of the parking ramp,
ready to join the taxiway.
"Tell him to lean back and watch what happens
"He says no way. He gets off shift in an hour".
"Tell him we have already blocked out, we are on the
taxiway, and he cannot
walk back from here".
"He said to ask ACP to call maintenance control and
have the line chief get
"Tell him no way, we are taxiing".
"He said he is going to report you".
"Tell him I changed my mind, I am going to stop,
arrange transport for him, and
let him off."
"Travis Command Post, MAC 12345, over."
"12345 go ahead".
"12345 is on taxiway X with a stowaway, please send
the security police."
Ten seconds later the ramp looked like a Christmas
tree! I did not realize they
had that many little blue crew cabs with lights and
sirens. Two were coming
across the ramp, one must have been doing 90 down
the empty taxiway, and one
came from the run up spot for the active. The launch
chief had not heard my
stowaway call but did see the converging lights. He
watched as the aircraft was
encircled with some very mean looking troops with
unslung M-16s. The panel
engineer told him his ride was here. One of the
engineers lowered the steps to
keep the posse out of the engines. About six came
aboard, threw the hapless
launch chief on the cargo floor, cuffed him, drug
him down the steps, and
hauled him off.
We proceeded with our local. About two hours later:
"The OMS Squadron Commander wants you to give him a
call when you land."