Sunday, January 25, 2009

Some Adventures at K.I.

This is a picture of a F-101-B with the 62nd markings on it. I ran into one of the people involved in repainting the plane last year. He said it isn't one of the original 62nd planes, that when it was decided to get one for static display at K.I. none of the planes that had been there was available anymore.

As I mentioned in the post about when I got orders for K.I.Sawyer that I thought I would be able to spend time in the old stomping grounds, or so I thought. That summer I had 3 full weekends off where I could go home. Whenever someone would ask how far home was from the base, I would say it depends on whether it is Summer or Winter. They would say what difference would that make and I would say that they don't plow my shortcut in the Winter. It was about 80 miles in Summer and 100 miles in Winter. What ruined most of my weekends was practicing for ORI or TAC-EVAL on most Saturdays and I didn't feel like driving all that way for just one day. Oh, those 3 weekends, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day (Labor Day only because one of the guys in the shop covered my stand-by for me.) Stand-by was where you were on call if they needed someone from your shop at night or on weekends.

ORI and TAC-EVAL were supposed to be surprise inspections to determine how well you can play War Games. The times for these were supposed to be secret so that it would be a surprise when the inspection team came to the base. Rumor had it that the Squadron knew almost to the minute when the inspections would be held. Because of all the practicing I didn't have many free weekends.

One memorable event was when I broke my leg when I fell off the wing of one of our planes. I got called out one night to remove some screws from a panel that the flight line guy couldn't get out. (I was on stand-by that week and got called out at night.) On the Squadron level, screw removal went to Sheetmetal because we didn't have a machine shop whose job screw removal would normally be. When I got up on the plane and asked what screws were the ones that wouldn't come out, the guy pointed at a couple. The panel only had a few screw removed and probably 95% of the screws hadn't been touched. I asked if he had tried getting all the screws out and he said no because he knew that sheetmetal would have to get called out because he had a couple that wouldn't come out. I told him I wasn't going to take all the screws out because he found a couple he couldn't get out. Told him to try getting the rest of the screws out and then call me again. The flightline guy had leaned a ladder used to get into the cockpit of a T-33 against the wing of the F-101 and when I went to get down from the wing it slipped out from under me and I came down tangled up in the ladder and broke my leg. (Did I mention before that we used call Crew Chiefs [flightline types] glorified gas station attendants. Fill up the gas, check the oil, and change tires.) I should have refused to go up on the wing until there was a proper stand to do so, but I just wanted to get it over with and go back to the barracks and back to sleep.

When the ambulance got there, they had me hobble out to the ambulance between two guys instead of on a stretcher. They put me up front, probably because I had to give directions to the driver on how to get off the flightline and back to the hospital.

Because of the broken leg, I got to watch the Olympics on TV. The break was a bad one in that it broke on a spiral instead of straight across. Not one of the base doctors knew how to set a bone because basically they would have been Interns or Residents in a civilian hospital. It took them 3 weeks to figure out what they were going to do with my leg. Finally they had an Orthopedic Specialist come out from the Medical Center in town and operate on my leg. He broke the bone again and set it and put a bolt through both bones above the ankle to hold the short piece of bone in place. A couple of months later an Air Force doctor removed the bolt under a local. First he cut open one side along the scar and found the nut. He started to turn the nut and wondered why it wouldn't come off.(Did I mention I was screaming in pain all the while and someone was holding me down on the table.) I think I told him it's a bolt and you need to get at both ends. He snipped the nut off and cut open the other side of my leg to pull the bolt out. When it was installed, there was a bolt, nut and two washers all stainless steel. What got removed was a bolt, nut, and one washer. When I went back to have the stitches removed, they took a X-ray of my leg and the washer showed up on the X-ray. The doctor said he wasn't going back in to remove it and I said "You damn right you ain't"!! As far I know it is still there just above the ankle.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Wow. That actually hurt to read about. I winced at least three times. I don't blame you for just keeping the washer.