The Flight Captain introduced Nolen Stanford, who flew T-33s, B-66s, T-39s, and RF-4s. For his 100th mission over the north,
he planned to buzz the field. He had heard that the F-111s could dump fuel and then light it with the afterburner. With 40
light cartridges, he thought he could do a good show. The DO and the Wing CO got wind of it and provided some wise words. In
1973, a pilot killed himself showing off; so, no more. |
Nolen graduated from Hope Arkansas High School in 1952. (Bill Clinton was in the class of '64). Fearing the draft, he joined the Air Force. During basic training he took the aviation training, and by the time he got his flying training assignment, he had his 2nd stripe. After graduation, he went to Ethan Allen Air Force Base in Burlington Vt. He volunteered to go to Alaska where he flew T-33. During his 4 years there, he flew the C-47 support aircraft to see Alaska. His next assignment was to Shaw to fly the B-66. Later, he went to jungle school at Clark but stayed for an assignment in black ops. He flew the T-39s in support of the U-2 flights. Since he hadn't been to VN, he was given orders for a 30-day trip to see the country. He took hops wherever they were going. On a helicopter flight with a South Viet Nam paratrooper, he heard about jumps, night jumps, and the number of times his chute didn't open. I traded my boot dagger for two Viet Cong flags.
He was an instructor in the RF-4 until July '67 when he got an assignment to Udorn. Anytime they flew north, they would drop their tanks, and then the RF would really move. They typically flew a two-ship pod formation of 1500 feet. The pods had been tested with a four-ship, but not a two-ship. By syncing pictures from two ships flying together, Intel could produce 3-D pictures. Most all missions were either south of Hanoi or over the Gulf of Hanoi for targets north. One night he got a mission from the south to the north. They stayed really low. On the way out, Control called that his #2 man was right behind … but he didn't have a #2. Thank goodness for a fast airplane.
When he got to Udorn, there were no flight checks or stan-eval. His Wing CO took him aside and told him the wing needed to get some programs started. He found a local with a cap and ball rifle, and for a carton of cigarettes, it was his. After he landed on his final flight, someone strapped his rifle to the pitot boom, and he became the only armed recon the Wing had. When he came back to CONUS, his wife asked why he never took her to Hawaii or Australia. He quickly explained that tours in Thailand didn't get that benny. It was changed later.