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Cross-Country to Laughlin AFB - Del Rio, TX

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My second cross-country was a trip to Del Rio on the weekend of 18-20 Jun 1982. It was a three-ship with Willy Benton #790, Ron Yelton in #774, And Jim McNab in the B-model with crew chief Jim Corrigan. The trip was an attitude check for Jack "Lightning" Bolt and Mark "Mork" Taylor. As we taxiied out I was supposed to be Blue-Three. But when we got out to Last Chance Willie said his TACAN was out so he moved to #3 and I moved up to #2. In the climb going by Bakersfield B.O.B. passed me the lead. Crap! I didn't even check to see if I had any charts. Whew! They were in the cubby hole. I suspected that the lead changes were planned. Throw the new guy right into the fire :) Logged 2.5 hrs FAT-DLF. Climbing to altitude over Bakersfield. Ron Yelton, Willie Benton Same again - Willie and me.
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There's a nice close-up of me waving "Hi." Next to the Viper this was a really comfortable cockpit. Well, O.K., the left seat of the Super 80 was damn comfy, too. I'll say it again - this is a beautiful airplane! If I remember right, we were cruising around FL350 - a day in the park for this plane - it wasn't even trying. Willy and Jim just took their sides and enjoyed themselves all the way down to Texas. First ride for Crew Chief Jim Corrigan and he smiled the whole weekend. Swapped sides a couple of times to give everybody's neck a brake.
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Somewhere over Arizona. The cool thing about the F-106 was that if you needed to you could just climb over the thunderstorms. Another great thing about the F-106 was that when you got up into the 40s you could get a direct vector to anywhere. I think just the Blackbirds would go up there with us.
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Formation flying was actually pretty easy. This was a very stable airplane, especially on an ILS. You could actually do 30 degrees of bank at FL410 without the burner. Do you guys miss keeping the wingtip light right next to your head bouncing around in the weather at night? I remember being RTB with John Kaser one time. We were coming up on some weather at Bumpi on the South Recovery and John got us a flight breakup. With me 10 miles behind he popped into the clouds. Didn't hear anything from him at the time but about ten seconds after I hit the clouds I was upside down. I had found an embedded thunderstorm. Nothing on the radar. That got my attention. "Hi" again.
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Check out the size of that... tail! We had a huge vertical stabilizer and a very large rudder. That gave us fantastic control at low airspeed / hi AOA. Howdy loved to stand it up on its tail during BFM engagements, get slow, stomp on rudder, come back down gaining smash and then gun you. Nice shot - route formation. Willy Benton - right wing.
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Nice picture of the bottom of the airplane. Speed brakes and drag chute just above the engine exhaust, two external drop tanks (230 gal. ea.) and the red hook. Jan Pedersen and I were flying together once and he had some sort of problem and ended up landing after me and taking the cable in the F-106. It worked like a champ. The missle bay doors just forward of the lower beacon. Hold the trigger down until the circle collapsed, keeping the dot centered. At firing time the doors opened and the rails would extend. Two AIM-4 Falcon missles would fire and the doors snap shut. BAM! Then breakaway. All on instruments. Starting the descent. "PN flight request enroute descent to visual straight-in, will cancel below 18." As Larry Baker would say at Western Airlines - "The oooooonly way to fly." Coming down final. I have to say, it was pretty darn cool to do an ILS leading a three-ship. This was a great airplane to fly instrument in. Most everything we did in training was either actual weather or simulated. You got pretty good!
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Lightning, Mork, does the terrain look familiar? Laughlin has three runways. We shot a visual approach to the Center and on the go-around Willy and B.O.B went closed in opposite directions while I went straight out. We all ended up beating up the pattern for a while. We still had tons of gas left for burner closed. When we all taxiied in to Transient Parking it seemed like every student on base was there to greet us - with Mark and Jack right in the front. Active duty guys had to fly the T-33 for a year before they could updrade to the F-106. It was pretty satisfying to jump out of the plane at a UPT base as a Butterbar. Here's Jack "Lightning" Bolt and his wife, Pam. We were all on our way out to Amistad Lake for a picnic. Jack had broken something - an arm or a leg - and got set back a class. That didn't slow down his beer drinking performance, though.
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Mark "Mork" Taylor, AKA "The Doctor," and his wife Pam heading for the lake. First night we were there we ended up at the club and the guys wanted us to play a drinking game with them. We thought we would shake them up a bit so we hightailed it over to the Taylors and cleaned them out of eggs. When we got back to the club we showed them how to eat raw eggs. A couple chickened out and a few had some serious gagging issues but quite a few got them down. Just can't look like a weak-dick in front of the fighter guys:) Secret: I hated eating them, too. It was always fun watching Jamie trying to keep one down :) Here's Jim on the left drinking beer through his ear. He had us all laughing all day. Jim can throw one-liners non-stop for hours. Mork in the middle. Strange how we looked like we were barely old enough to shave let alone fly multi-million dollar jets. Mark and Jack - remember any of these guys? I really hate to have to do this - but here is shot of #774 in the Boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB. This is the jet I flew on this cross-country and on a number of other sorties. Really sad to see an old friend put out to pasture. Red tail of a "Q" bird. Photo credit: Jim McNab
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Here's another shot of #774 from the Davis-Monthan page in Misc. Pictures.
This was before it became a drone. I don't think I could possibly shoot a missile at one of the airplanes I flew and loved to fly.
I heard that some pilots from other units did decline to shoot at their old airplanes. I guess that fighter pilots really are a sentimental bunch after all.
#774 survived its drone tour and ended up as a static display at Hill Aerospace Museum.
58-0774 Restoration #1
58-0774 Restoration #2