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F-4D School at Homestead AFB, FL

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In November of 1983 Wille Benton, Chris "Snort" Hill, Jim "B.O.B.," and I, Ron "Aileron" Yelton arrived at Homestead AFB, FL. Going from the F-106 to the F-4D was a huge step backwards for an interceptor squadron. This airplane simply was not designed to do what we did. It was bad enough that we had to fly the Lead Sled, the wing commander there at HST did not like the Air Guard at all - said we were dangerous - even though he had just lost two F-4s in the preceeding two months. Here's Willy and I getting a self portrait. There's Jimmy goofing off. Entertaining ourselves usually meant going down to the club. One evening we found the wing commanders white-topped official sedan parked at the club. Willy had a nice ANG decal that fit perfectly ove the TAC decal on the driver's door. Took him about three weeks for someone to figure that one out. Eventually he lost his job. More on that story later. As our class was getting ready to graduate we had a little overlap with the next class. Here's Two-Dogs taking a nap. Baggy and Paul Carrol were also in that class.
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Amos "Baggy" Bagdasarian just hanging out. Didn't want anyone to know we were flying the F-4. Willy's thoughts on the F-4. The TV has knobs. What in the heck are those for?
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Finding entertainment was always a challenge. Here we are at the Cockroach Races. Catch one of the millions of bugs, stick 'em in the light, let 'em run around in circles and win a beer if yours wins. There really wasn't much to do around there. We did manage to do a BBQ one Saturday. Jim McNab.
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Willy Benton cooking up some sausage. We did go to the Orange Bowl while we were there. Willy came home with one of those big foam fingers. The AF had just changed the flight lead change method, so on one of our next training flights Willy took out his big orange finger, waves it back and forth a couple of times and gave me the lead. Both of our I.P.s laughed their asses off, but Willy still had to take that ride over. On the left is a WSO from another base somewhere. One of our WSOs, Tim Ryan on the right and Chris Hill in the middle.
On the night before my instrument check at about 2:00 in the morning I was rudely awakened by a pack of firecrackers under my door. Scared the crap out me and I had to breif at 6:00! Jim and Willy had a good laugh with that one until I stormed down to their room and let loose with some expletives deleted. Jim said that the look in my eyes actually scared him. I passed the checkride with flying colors. All is forgiven :)
Back to the wing commander - the first F-4 he sent to FAT the ejection seat actuators were years out of date. The second one was flown out to us three legs on a red X. It was no-flap, no slat. The third one had flight control push rods fastened to the frame with bootlaces. And so on... See the pattern here? He was sending us all his lousy airplanes and that's how he lost his job. We later found out that he had applied for a job at American Airlines. Those of us that had already been hired there wrote to the lady that was in charge of hiring about our experience with him and he wasn't hired. Karma at work :)
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Here's Chris Hill. As we drove our three cars out to the park we had to pay a buck per car. Chris was last in line and Jim told the attendant that the last car would pay. Chris wasn't amused but after a couple of beers all was forgotten. B.O.B. letting it all hang out.
Ed Aguiar was in the class following ours and managed to clear Jim's room by tossing a margarita into the ceiling fan. Laughed his ass off but didn't bother to help clean up the mess.
Took a day trip to go deep sea fishing. Willy snagged a flying fish and Paul Carrol managed a three-foot shark. That was a fun day.
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WSO Bill Garwood and I went back down to Homestead for the ADEC course.
They were teaching F-106 pilots how to do intercept geometry. Go figure... For a bunch of Coneheads this was a great source of mandays. Here's Bill on the left at the simulator.
I can't believe how young and skinny I looked back then. Man! Here I am in Jim's room.
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