Cool Field Trip at Red Flag

The Air Force in it’s ultimate wisdom sent me to Las Vegas for my 21st birthday.

While crewing an F-4G Wild Weasel at George AFB, I got to go to my first Red Flag at Nellis.

This is My jet "Super Chicken" at Red Flag 78.
This is My jet “Super Chicken” at Red Flag 79.

 

We went to “war” against Communist Nevada for 30 days. Every day coming to work we drove past a building with a sign marking it as “Alien Technology Section”.  that got my attention.   Needless to say I was thrilled when I was selected to attend a tour of “The Alien Technology Section”.  All of had  a Top Secret clearance for working on Weasels but we had to submit our line badges and I.D. cards for one more check.

 

During the tour we got to crawl all over a Fan Song radar, a SA- surface to air launcher (with SA-2 still attached), a T-72 tank, an Atoll missile and a MiG21 fighter.  We were shown how to do a Thruflight inspection on the MiG.  For you civilians a Thruflight inspection is performed between flights to make sure everything is still okay.

 

The MiG was an eye opener.  Non-flush rivets.  A wooden board for the pilot to sit on and other techno geek things to show how the Soviets could manufacture a shit hot fighter jet on the cheap.  The MiG21 kicked our collective asses in Vietnam and that led to the development of the F-14, F-15 and F-16.

 

Little did I know at the time, the “tour” was also a job interview.  Subsequently, I was put on a “list” that eventually led me to being assigned to the Stealth Fighter.  That was cool too but I really wanted to crew MiGs at an undisclosed location.

Nowadays you can see the particular MiG21 on display in the Heritage Park at Nellis AFB, Nevada.  It currently sports the colors of the PVO-Strany (Soviet Air defense Division).  But when i saw it in 1979 it was sporting the livery of the Hungarian Air Force.

MiG21-Nellis-Park-2015 Mikoyan-Gurevich_MiG-21bis,_Hungary_-_Air_Force_AN0740836

 

Walt-MiG21

 

A Strange Thing Happened at the Beach

On July 2nd, 1971, the Bat Patrol was going on a camp out to Marina Beach to get ready for a troop camp out that was getting ready for an upcoming Camporee. The Bat patrol was me, Floyd, Richard, Kenneth, Gary, Mike and Tom. The plan was to hike to the beach and knock out a hike requirement. We would set up camp, eat dinner and blow off fireworks because it was the Fourth of July. We then planned to do another hike to the Marina Drive In where they were showing the movie “Vixen!” that featured naked women.

This is Marina Beach, Marina California, 93933
This is Marina Beach, Marina California, 93933

That didn’t exactly happen.
We were kids eleven to thirteen. So we set up camp, made a shitty dinner and blew off all our fireworks before the Sun had set. It was really cold with wind coming off the ocean, so two at a time guys were going over the big giant sand dune to gather driftwood on the beach for the fire. We also gathered kelp because kelp blows up like fire crackers when burned. At 5pm it was Floyd and I that had to trudge to the beach to gather firewood. When we crested the dune, this was our view:
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What Floyd and I saw was a gun metal grey metal disk. It wasn’t swamp gas. It wasn’t a helicopter or the planet Venus.  It certainly was not a weather balloon.
About 30 feet in circumference, it was nothing like what shows up lately on TV. About 300 meters off shore. If you have ever seen a helicopter go over a body of water and the rotor wash flattens the water, this thing was doing it to the surf and the surf was crashing around it with the area underneath totally calm. Distance and size are accurate by judging the waves and breakers. I’ve provided a picture for reference. You do the math. No, I’m not posting an artist’s rendition because I’m still looking for what I saw. No last names are used because at least one person has become a recluse and I don’t want to out the others without their permission. If [BIG IF] you were there and feel comfortable, feel free to comment. IF YOU KNOW THESE PEOPLE DO NOT OUT THEM YOURSELF.

So there was Floyd and I staring dumbfounded. We don’t remember who said it, but someone said “Do you see that?” and the other one said “Yeah”.
“Should we tell anyone?”
“Hell yes.”
We then started screaming for everyone to come and see this thing. They all start scrambling up the dune. In typical “UFO Story” fashion, before anyone else can see it, it quavers and quivers a little and BAM….gone to the horizon.
Decades later I got to spend time with Floyd who I hadn’t seen in about 15 year. Sharing a couple of beers we caught up on each others’ lives. Then Floyd got quiet and then said, “Do you remember that camp out at the beach?”

 

 

I said, “Like it was yesterday.”