Came across this looking for some info on the "Silk Purse" flew with the
Battle Staff from 86-90. Used to pull alerts with the likes of "Guy the Belcher
McDonald" and Johnny B Andrews, Joe Poore, Bukey, Robin and Tracy.
Monitoring 'SILK PURSE'
By nigel Ballard 28 Maxwell Road, Winton
BH9 1DL England.
STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND 'ABNCP' USAF AIRBORNE NATIONAL COMMAND POST SILK PURSE-AIRCRAFT TYPE EC-135/H AS PART OF THE USAF COMMITMENT TO NATO IN THE EUROPEAN THEATRE, USAFE HAVE STATIONED AT RAF MILDENHALL, FOUR TDY AIRBORNE COMMAND POST AIRCRAFT. THE PRIME FUNCTION OF THE ABNCP IS TO PROVIDE VITAL COMMUNICATIONS LINKS WITH SURVIVING SAC WEAPON AND RADIO INSTALLATIONS SHOULD THE BOMB DROP, THEY ALSO HAVE A SECONDARY TASK WHICH WILL BE OUTLINED LATER. EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR, SOMEWHERE AROUND THE FREE WORLD, AT LEAST ONE COMMAND POST FLIGHT WILL BE IN THE AIR, CHECKING COMMUNICATIONS LINKS WITH GROUND STATIONS AND MIL-SATS. THE SECONDARY TASK OF THE COMMAND POST, IS THAT SHOULD THE NEED EVER ARISE, THEN THESE AIRCRAFT HAVE THE AUTHORITY AND TECHNICAL CAPABILITY TO INITIATE A RETALIATORY NUCLEAR STRIKE USING GROUND BASED MINUTEMAN 2 NUCLEAR WEAPONS. FOR THIS REASON A MISSION-BIRD FLIGHT WILL CARRY A FULL BATTLE CREW AND AN ONBOARD SAC GENERAL, THIS IS AS WELL AS THE REGULAR SAC FLIGHT CREW, WHO JUST FLY THE BIRD AND OPERATE THE IN-FLIGHT REFUELLING SYSTEM. THE PRIMARY FLIGHT PATH OF THE MILDENHALL BASED AIRCRAFT IS DOWN TO SOUTHERN ENGLAND FOR AIR TO AIR TRAINING IN ARA-12, OR UP TO SCOTLAND TO PERFORM THE SAME TASK. OR TO SWAP WITH ANOTHER 'ABNCP' AIRCRAFT AT LAJES-FIELD IN THE AZORES. THEY ALSO MAKE PERIODIC FLIGHTS TO ROTA IN SPAIN, TO GET THE AIRCRAFT WASHED. THE OFFICIAL FLIGHT DESIGNATOR COMES UNDER THE 10th ACCS, OR AIRBORNE COMMAND AND CONTROL SQUADRON. AS A MATTER OF SAC FLIGHT PROCEDURE, VARIOUS IN FLIGHT IDENTIFIERS ARE USED DEPENDING ON WHO THEY ARE COMMUNICATING WITH. FIRSTLY, ON THE GROUND EACH AIRCRAFT HAS A GROUND CREW NICKNAME i.e. 'BUENA VISTA' WHICH IS ONE OF THE CURRENT TDY AIRCRAFT. ALL FLIGHTS ARE KNOWN AS 'SILK PURSE' FLIGHTS, THIS IS THE MOST COMMON TERM USED TO DESCRIBE THE 10th ACCS, HOWEVER IT IS EXTREMELY RARE TO HEAR THIS CALL WHEN AIRBORNE. AFTER A FLIGHT HAS TAKEN OFF, THEY USUALLY RESORT TO A FLIGHT IDENTIFIER, FOR USE IN CONTACTS WITH MILITARY RADAR ZONES. IF ONLY ONE ABNCP AIRCRAFT IS CURRENTLY AIRBORNE, THEY USE THE CALLSIGN 'AXE ONE ZERO', IF LATER IN THE DAY, A SECOND FLIGHT IS LAUNCHED FOR WHATEVER REASON, THIS AIRCRAFT WILL USE THE CALLSIGN 'AXE TWO TWO'. ALL MILITARY RADAR OPERATORS KNOW EXACTLY WHO AXE10 IS, AND THEREFORE WILL NOT ASK EMBARRASSING QUESTIONS OVER THE RADIO. WHEN TALKING ON A GENERAL FREQUENCY, SUCH AS THE 6750 KHz USB CROUGHTON NET, THEN THEY USUALLY ADOPT THE DAILY TACTICAL CALLSIGN, IT IS STRANGE TO NOTE THAT CROUGHTON ALWAYS KNOW WHAT EACH DAYS NEW TAC-CALL IS GOING TO BE. THE BEST TIMES TO CATCH A SILK PURSE FLIGHT ARE BETWEEN 07:30 and 10:30, WHICH IS THE FAVOURITE TIME FOR MISSION TAKE-OFFS. AND BETWEEN 15:30 and 19:30 WHICH IS THE REGULAR TIME SLOT FOR A RETURNING FLIGHT. THE FLIGHTS TAKE PART IN REGULAR IN-FLIGHT REFUELLING, EITHER TAKING ON FUEL OR PASSING IT ON TO ANOTHER PLANE, THE REASON IS THAT IN TIMES OF WAR THESE AIRCRAFT WILL HAVE TO STAY AIRBORNE FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. THE ONLY KNOWN LIMIT TO STOP SILK PURSE STAYING UP FOR DAYS IS THE FACT THAT NO PROVISION IS POSSIBLE FOR OIL REPLENISHMENT IN THE AIR, HOWEVER WITH AN ON-HAND CONTINGENT OF KC-135 AND KC-10 IN-FLIGHT REFUELLING AIRCRAFT READY TO REPLENISH F-111's,AWACS,AND SILK PURSE, FUEL WOULD NOT BE A PROBLEM. THE AIRCRAFT THEMSELVES ARE BASICALLY A BOEING 707 AIRFRAME, CONVERTED INTO A KC-135 REFUELLER, FUEL TAKING UP THE LOWER PORTION OF THE CRAFT. THE TOP HALF IS TAKEN UP WITH CONSOLES OF COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT. THE AIRCRAFT ARE POWERED BY FOUR PRATT AND WHITNY TF33-PW102 TURBOFANS, THEY HAVE A THRUST OF 17,500 POUNDS EACH. THE WING SPAN IS 130 FEET 10 INCHES. THE HEIGHT IS 41 FEET 8 INCHES. MAXIMUM SPEED IS 600 MPH. THE FLYING CEILING IS 47,000 FEET. AND THE MAXIMUM RANGE IS AROUND 5,000 MILES. IF YOU ARE NEAR MILDENHALL, AND PLANE SPOTTING IS YOUR THING, THEN THE FOLLOWING DESCRIPTION MAY HELP. SILK PURSE AIRCRAFT ARE COMPLETELY WINDOWLESS EXCEPT FOR THE FLIGHT DECK. THE LOWER HALF IS PAINTED A LIGHT GREY COLOUR, THE UPPER IS PAINTED BRIGHT WHITE, THE TWO COLOURS ARE SEPARATED BY A NARROW DEEP BLUE BAND THAT RUNS THE FULL LENGTH AND DIPS DOWN AROUND THE FLIGHT DECK AREA. IF YOU MANAGE TO GET VERY CLOSE OR HAVE A GOOD CAMERA LENS THEN ALONG THE CENTRE IN THE WHITE PORTION IN BLACK ARE THE WORDS 'UNITED STATES AIRFORCE'. LOOKING FROM FRONT TO BACK ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE ONLY ARE THREE FLIGHT BADGES ABOUT TWENTY INCHES IN DIAMETER NEAR THE VERY FRONT OF THE AIRCRAFT. ONE ABOVE THE EXPLOSIVE RELEASE CREW ESCAPE HATCH 'AIR FORCES IN EUROPE', ONE TO THE LEFT '10th ACCS' AND TO THE RIGHT IS THE VERY RARELY SEEN 'SILK PURSE' EMBLEM SHOWING THAT THE AIRCRAFT IS A JOINT SERVICES VENTURE, MANNED BY ALL THREE IN AN EQUAL BASIS. THE TAILPLANE IS WHITE WITH A SMALL AMERICAN FLAG ON EITHER SIDE,THE AIRCRAFT NUMBER IN BLACK AND AROUND THE TOP IS THE FAMILIAR SAC BLUE BAND WITH SMALL WHITE STARS. LOOKING A LONG THE ROOF YOU WILL SEE FOUR UHF FIN ANTENNAS, TWO WHITE ANTENNA BUMPS, THEN THE BIGGEST GIVEAWAY OF ALL, A BIG BLACK SADDLE THAT SITS ON TOP AND WRAPS ITSELF AROUND THE TOP OF THE ROOF SECTION. THIS IS THE SUPER HIGH FREQUENCY RADIATION HARDENED SATELLITE COMMS ANTENNA KNOWN SIMPLY AS THE 'SADDLE'. MOVING TO THE BACK YOU WILL NOTE TWO VHF FIN ANTENNAS. AND HALF WAY UP THE TAIL FIN THERE ARE TWO H.F. WIRE ANTENNAS. THEY HAVE FULL TRANSMIT CAPABILITY FROM AROUND 15 HERTZ TO WELL INTO THE HIGH GIGAHERTZ AREA, THIS IS ACHIEVED BY COMPLEX ANTENNA MATCHING SYSTEMS. THEY EVEN HAVE A VLF LONG WIRE ANTENNA THAT IS ELECTRICALLY WINCHED OUT OF THE AIRCRAFT UP TO A DISTANCE OF FIVE MILES, THIS ENABLES SLOW SPEED ENCRYPTED RTTY TO BE PASSED TO SUBMARINES. DURING 1988 ALL FOUR AIRCRAFT WERE SENT BACK TO THE STATES TO HAVE A NEW COMMUNICATIONS SUITE INSTALLED. THIS INCLUDES, THE E-SYSTEMS KG-84 SECURE VOICE BOX. AS WELL AS THE KY-58 EMP 'PACELINK TWO' SECURE VOICE SUITE. ALL SUBSYSTEMS ARE LINKED TOGETHER WITH A PATCHING SYSTEM KNOWN AS 'DEUS'. AND THESE ARE BACKED UP BY IDENTICAL SECONDARY SYSTEMS, AS IS ALL SILK PURSE COMM EQUIPMENT. APART FROM PICKING UP AXE10 AS SHE TRANSITS THROUGH LONDON MILITARY, THE BEST AND MOST IMPRESSIVE WAY IS TO MONITOR THE WIDEBAND FM LINKS, THESE ARE THE ALL IMPORTANT CONFERENCE CALL INITIATION LINKS FROM THE AIRCRAFT TO GROUND REPORTING STATIONS. THESE LINKS WILL LOAD UP TO OVER 1500 WATTS, HOWEVER THEY ARE USUALLY SET AT WELL UNDER 1000. BUT AT 35,000 FEET THAT MAKES A STAGGERINGLY IMPRESSIVE SIGNAL DOWN HERE ON THE GROUND. THE REASON FOR SUCH A POWERFUL DOWNLINK IS TWOFOLD , FIRSTLY THE STRONGER THE SIGNAL THE LESSER THE CHANCE OF DATA CORRUPTION AND SECONDLY IT REDUCES THE CHANCES OF JAMMING OR A CRACK POT WITH A HOME GROWN TRANSMITTER HACKING INTO THEIR OPEN LINK CONFERENCE CALL NETWORK. WHEN AIRBORNE, SILK PURSE WILL ON MOST OCCASIONS, SWITCH ON A PRIMARY LINK TO HALF POWER AND HAVE A SECONDARY LINK WARMING UP ON LOW POWER. IF THE PRIMARY FAILS THEN THE SECONDARY IS KICKED IN ON FULL POWER. THE FIRST THING ONE NOTICES IS THAT APART FROM THE COMM OFFICER CALLING THE OTHER STATIONS WITH SUPERB CLARITY IN WFM, THERE IS ALSO AT VARIOUS TIMES OTHER TRAFFIC TRAVELLING ALONG THE LINK. FIRSTLY YOU HAVE THE WFM CONFERENCE CALL, THIS IS JUST THE COMM CHIEF CALLING THE OTHER STATIONS AND REPORTING ON THEIR SIGNALS. THEN YOU HAVE THE SECURE LINK WHICH IS USUALLY 16KCs ABOVE THE CARRIER. AS THIS IS DIGITALLY ENCRYPTED TRAFFIC OF THE HIGHEST ORDER, IT MIGHT NOT SURPRISE YOU TO KNOW THAT WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT, YOU HEAR THEM SAY HELLO, THEN THEY SAY 'OK GO CRYPTO' SHORTLY AFTER IT STARTS TO SOUND LIKE DONALD DUCK. THEN YOU HAVE TELETYPE TRAFFIC AND NOW FAX HAS BEEN INSTALLED. FURTHER TO THIS SILKPURSE HAS A VERY IMPRESSIVE 'AUTOVON', AIRBORNE AUTOMATIC PUBLIC SWITCHED NETWORK ACCESS CONSOLE, BASICALLY THIS MEANS THAT WITHOUT ASSISTANCE FROM USAF GROUND BASED OPERATORS KNOWN AS 'SWITCH' SP CAN RING DOWN ON THE LINK AND ACCESS ANY TELEPHONE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. THE TRAFFIC ON THESE AUTOVONS IS ABOUT 10% OFFICIAL AND 90% UNOFFICIAL WITH MISSION CREWS TALKING TO LOVED ONES AND BOOKING HOTEL ROOMS ETC. REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU HAVE AN ALL MODE RECEIVER OR NOT, THE FACT THAT AN AUTOVON CALL IS BEING INITIATED IS EASY TO DETECT BECAUSE OF THE VERY PUNCHY DTMF TONES THAT THE OPERATOR IS KEYING INTO THE TELEPHONE NETWORK, AND THESE CAN BE HEARD ON ALL MODES. CERTAIN KEY WORDS MIGHT BE HEARD DURING FLIGHTS, AND SOME OF THEM ARE EXPLAINED BELOW.
TEST TRAFFIC=THIS SAC EAM(EMERGENCY ACTION MESSAGE) IS JUST A LINK TEST.
TRANSITION=ON MY COUNT OF THREE SWITCH TO THE ALTERNATE LINK FREQUENCY.
ALPHA-MIKE=REFERS TO THE MODE AM.
REPOLING=I AM REPEATING MY EAM MESSAGE.
MUX=REFERS TO THE KILOSTREAM 8 CHANNEL SATELLITE UPLINK.
COLD LEVEL=POOR SIGNAL STRENGTH RECEIVED AT THIS STATION.
PAPA-ALPHA=REFERS TO POWER OUTPUT.
FLASH TRAFFIC=PREPARE TO COPY MY EAM TRANSMISSION.
SF=REFERS TO SIGNAL STRENGTH.
DISTANT END USER=LAJES-FIELD AFB.
LOGGED OUT=A GROUND LINK HAS LOST CONTACT.
RE-SERVO=CHECK YOUR TRANSMITTER.
FIVE BY FIVE OR FIVERS=ALL SYSTEMS WORKING OK.
IP=INTERCEPT POINT, USED IN AIR REFUELLING.
BOOM and BOOMER=REFUELLING ARM AND IT'S OPERATOR.
SWITCH=GROUND BASED AUTOVON OPERATOR.
DELTA-COMM 59/60 ETC=THESE APPEAR TO BE CHANNEL IDENTIFIERS.
IT IS FURTHER RUMOURED THAT SILK PURSE WILL SOON BE FITTED WITH THE NEW 'HAVE-QUICK-SERIES TWO' AND POSSIBLY EVEN A 'J-TIDS TWO' TERMINAL NOW THEY ARE LITTLE BIGGER IN SIZE THAN A BREADBOX. THE TAC-CALLSIGNS RUN INTO THOUSANDS, THEY HAVE NO TACTICAL CONNOTATION AND STRATEGICALLY ARE WORTHLESS, THEY PICK A DIFFERENT ONE EVERY DAY AS A MATTER OF COURSE. SOME CONTINUE TO GET RE-USED, WHILE SOME ARE VERY RARE. BELOW IS JUST A SHORT LIST OF ONES LOGGED.
IF YOU ARE A NUMBER SPOTTER LOOK OUT FOR, 10285,10286,10291 ALL SILK PURSE. AT 11.40HRS on the 17/06/88 WE LOGGED POSSIBLY THE STRANGEST AUTOVON CALL FROM SP ever. THE FREQ WAS 303.978.9 SSB, IT WAS AN ENGLISHMAN STATING TO SOMEONE CALLED CHRIS THAT HE WAS OVER S.W.ENGLAND AT ABOUT 27,000 FEET CIRCLING AROUND TAUNTON TO TRURO, HE WAS IN A EC-135 WHICH HE SAID WAS A SPECIAL COMMUNICATIONS AIRCRAFT. FURTHERMORE HE STATED THEY WERE CURRENTLY RE-FUELLING. EARLIER THEY WERE 170 MILES N/E OF CAMBRIDGE OUT INTO THE N/SEA WHERE THEY MET UP WITH SOME F-15 FIGHTERS FROM W/GERMANY, THEY OFFLOADED 4,000LBS OF FUEL IN ONE MINUTE. HE SAID THE MISSION WAS REALLY TO TRAIN THE TEN NEW COMMS CREWMEN ON THE NEW HI-TECH COMMS EQUIPMENT RECENTLY INSTALLED,FURTHERMORE HE SAID THEY WERE ALSO TRAINING NEW BOOM OPERATORS. HE THEN SAID THEY LEFT MILDENHALL ATABOUT 8.20AM, IT WAS VERY OVERCAST AND QUITE COLD, THEY CLIMBED VERY QUICKLY AND WITHIN THE SPACE OF TWO OR THREE MINUTES THEY WERE IN BRIGHT BLUE SKY, LUVELY SUNSHINE. THE LINE THEN WENT ABRUPTLY DEAD, AND NO ATTEMPT WAS MADE TO RE COVER THE CALL. WE MUST ASSUME THAT AS AN ACT OF GOOD PR. THEY ALLOWED SOMEBODY UP, BUT DID NOT APPROVE OF ALL THE SPECIFIC FLIGHT INFO THAT WAS HANDED OUT! WE SWITCHED TO 240.400 AND SURE ENOUGH LOGGER 52 AND AXE10 WERE IN A HEAVY RE-FUELLING EXERCISE. NOW THE ALL IMPORTANT FREQUENCIES 285.800 MHz AM LONDON MILITARY SOUTH (POPULAR CHANNEL FOR S.P.+ AWACS) 240.400 MHz AM AIR TO AIR REFUELLING (SOUTH WEST UK ONLY/IN USE MOST WEEKS) 304.000 MHz WFM COMMAND POST TACTICAL DOWNLINK (PRIMARY) 389.500 MHz WFM COMMAND POST TACTICAL DOWNLINK (PRIMARY) 300.750 MHz WFM COMMAND POST TACTICAL DOWNLINK (SECONDARY) 324.000 MHz WFM COMMAND POST TACTICAL DOWNLINK (SECONDARY)
THE CRYPTO LINKS ARE EITHER AM OR SSB AND OPERATE ON THE AUTOVON CHANNELS. AUTOVONS RUN AT 12/16/20 AND 24 KHz ABOVE THE CENTRE LINK FREQUENCY, i.e. 304.012 MHz. THEY ARE ALWAYS SSB AND USUALLY USB. IT IS MORE NORMAL FOR THE TELETYPE AND FAX TRAFFIC TO BE PASSED BELOW THE MAIN CARRIER. THE MOST IMPORTANT USE OF THE SSB AUTOVON IS TO PASS 'FLASH TRAFFIC' TO GROUND REPORTING STATIONS. IF YOU HAVE EVER SEEN THE FILM 'WARGAMES' THEN YOU WILL BE FAMILIAR WITH FLASH EAM TRAFFIC. YOU WONT HEAR SKYBIRD,SKYBIRD BECAUSE THIS IS A SAC TERM TO HAIL ALL AIRBORNE SAC AIRCRAFT, AND AS SP IS ONE , THEN IT WOULD HARDLY PUT OUT A RADIO MESSAGE CALLING ITSELF. THE TRAFFIC WILL BE AS FOLLOWS. 'THIS IS FIREBIRD, I HAVE A MESSAGE IN SIX GROUPS,A MESSAGE IN SIX GROUPS FOLLOWS BREAK BREAK', IF BY SOME QUIRK YOUR HOME COMPUTER MANAGES TO MAKE SENSE OF THE LETTER AND NUMBER GROUPS THAT FOLLOW, THEN YOU HAVE JUST CRACKED THE MOST SECURE CRYPTO-STRING AVAILABLE, NO MEAN FEAT. AS EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYERS, UNLIKE THE RAF WHO ONLY LET WOMEN WASH THE OUTSIDES AND HOOVER THE FLOORS, THE USAF HAVE WOMEN FLIGHT AND BATTLE CREW ON BOARD. COMM OFFICERS USUALLY IDENTIFY THEMSELVES TO THE GROUND BY MEANS OF A TWO DIGIT CALL, I.E. THIS IS CHARLIE JULIET ETC. THE BEST DAYS TO LISTEN ARE DURING THE WEEK, WE ALWAYS SEEM TO CATCH THEM ON TUESDAYS AND FRIDAYS. NEVER DURING THE NIGHT AND NEVER AT WEEKENDS. AND REMEMBER THAT EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD ONE OF AMERICA'S EC-135'H KNOWN
AFFECTIONATELY AS THE $50 MILLION DOLLAR FLYING TELEPHONE IS FLYING HIGH, WAITING IF NEEDED TO SUPPORT STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION LINKS WITH VITAL SAC BASES AND AIRCRAFT ACROSS THE WORLD, AND IF ALL ELSE HAS FAILED INITIATE A NUCLEAR RETALIATORY STRIKE AGAINST ANY AGGRESSOR WHO WOULD DARE INFRINGE THAT FREEDOM KNOWN AS DEMOCRACY. FOR READERS IN THE USA, MUCH OF THIS INFORMATION WOULD SEEM OF LITTLE USE, UNTIL YOU CONSIDER THAT THE USA HAS IT'S OWN VERSION CALLED 'LOOKING GLASS'. I WOULD BE SURPRISED IF THEY DID NOT OPERATE IN A SIMILAR FASHION. ALSO SILK PURSE TALKS ON HF QUITE EXTENSIVELY, ESPECIALLY TO LAJES-FIELD. MILDENHALL (OR THE HALL) HAS IT'S OWN BATTLE CALL
RIGHT PEOPLE, RIGHT MISSION, RIGHT NOW !
Downloaded From P-80 International Information Systems 304-744-2253
Offutt AFB opens its doors to the public during its annual Open House Aug. 29-30th.
Looking Glass History
EC-135 Retirement September 25 at Offutt AFB Nebraska
John Geasa and I traveled to Omaha to attend the retirement ceremony on the 25th. Unfortunately we missed the last flight ceremonies that afternoon on base, but we did enjoy the dinner that evening. We met up with several people that we haven't seen for years. After the dinner we went to building "H" for some refreshments. Although the misson and airplanes as we knew them are gone hopefully we can keep in touch with our old friends.
There was a tremondous amount of things that inpressed me about the ceremony, but the
greatest was the outpour of past and present IMT's. I wish I had gotten a head count, but
I think hands down we had the best representation of any section. It was great to see
Larry Springer, Tony Androsky, and the crew from First Data. I heard a lot of complaints
prior to the dinner about the $45. price, but after the ceremony there were very few dry
eyes in the building. Our alert changeover went without a hitch, now it is just a matter
of cleaning up the building and saying a few goodbye to a bunch of coworkers and great
friends as they depart from the Air Force or transfer to other units both at Offutt and
other bases. It would be great to make September 25th the night to meet folks at Hams, it
would be great to see everyone again, Thanks
Thanks for putting this page together, its nice to have a place where we can goto to
catch up. As an old 135 ARM Tech (old flyers know what that means), who grew up on the
EC135; the retirement banquet was a
night to remember. The EC135 for alot of us is a symbol of our youth, we were young babies when we started flying, and old veterans when we finished. It was an incredible experience crawling onto 049 again, 049 was my first flight as an IMT; so it is a special aircraft. To see the ACC3, SWBD, APM, ALCS again was almost to much to take. And I agree with Chuck Hensley, there wasn't a dry eye in the house!, the video and the special presentation was handled done with class. Thanks to all who put all together.
I wanted to drop a quick note to give my take on the recent EC-135 Farewell Dinner that occurred on 25 Sep. 1998 at the SAC Museum in Asland, Nebraska. Let me start off by saying it was well worth it. I really appreciated the opportunity to go and be part of history.
Let me start at the beginning. Ive been out of the Air Force since May of 1988 and have been working in the telecommunications industry. I always enjoyed my time in the service, particularly my time spent as an RMT. Ive always used my experience from the Air Force as a measuring stick to my success in the outside world. While moving up in corporate America, occasionally I will stop and ask myself if I like what Im doing and if I feel the sense of accomplishment that I did while flying. Some times the answer is yes; but other times its no. When I got a call from an old friend I had been stationed with in Hawaii, Greg Soule, to go out and have a few drinks and talk about the old times I couldnt refuse. Greg explained that the EC-135 and Looking Glass where going to be retired. I couldnt believe what I was hearing; but understood how, with all the changes in the military over the past 10 years, something like this could happen. With Gregs help, Rich Maddox and I found out about the retirement ceremony and where able to post the details on our Web site.
When the night came for the "The End of An Era EC-135 Farewell", I was curious if I would know anybody besides my good friend Rich Maddox. I had heard that a few people I used to know would be showing up and wondered if they would remember me. As we exited our car James Hatfield, who had gone to tech. school with Rich, came walking up. I personally didnt know James, but we had been in tech. school at the same time and I had passed a few links to him in the mid eighties. James made Rich and I feel right at home. As Rich and I stood by the front door of the SAC Museum, who walks in but Chris Lange and his lovely wife Linda. It had been 13 years since I last saw Chris or Linda, but it felt like it had only been last week. As we stood with Chris and Linda, having a cold cocktail, Chris noticed a woman standing to our right. He called her over and it turned out to be Jennifer Amentorp. Jenny had been my first supervisor at Ellsworth AFB. Again, wonderful conversation ensued. A little later Tony Myers stopped by to say hello. All in all everyone made us feel like we belonged.
The dinner was good, and General Dougherty was a good guest speaker. What I enjoyed the most about the evening events was the slide show and the accompanying music. I was able to see the planes I used to fly on, the people I used to work with, and various missions that meant a lot to me. I couldnt believe that it was all coming to an end. When 8049 was opened for one last walk through, I had conflicting emotions. 8049 is an old C model (non-pacer link) that is what I remember flying on. As I looked at the old ART 47, ARR 71, and ACC 3 mux, in the back of my mind I said I could still do this. I realize, as some of you read this, youll ask yourselves, "Whats wrong with this guy? Why didnt he stay in?". The answer is that I didnt appreciate what I had until I left. As I stood outside talking to Jenny, she summed it up best by saying, " I just want to cry realizing Ill never be able to fly one of these again". To cap off the evening, a special announcement was made that all past and present Inflight Maintenance Techs had a mandatory formation at Building H at 2300hrs.
Not being stationed at Offut AFB, I had only been to Hams 4 or 5 times and couldnt really remember where it was. With the help of Greg Soule we made it there. The place was packed. As I looked around the bar I couldnt help but wonder at all the talent that was sitting in this one room. These people had flown thousands of hours and hundreds, if not, thousands of missions. Around the bar I saw more people that I knew from the past. One such person was Tony Androwski. He was my instructor at Kessler and a fellow RMT that I had passed a few links with in the eighties. I would like to thank everyone at Hams for treating Rich and I as one of your own.
Let me close this by saying RMTs have always been a close knit group. This Farewell Dinner just proved that fact even more. I would have to say that RMTs had a very good showing at this function. I have heard a couple of people say we should designate one particular day each year to go meet at Hams, a reunion of sorts. Why not Sep. 25th, or the weekend that falls closest to it? Hell, I would go and Im sure a bunch of others would too. Im glad I was part of this historic mission, but, it has been a bigger honor to serve, work, and become friends with the people from PACCS.
John W. Geasa Jr.
I would like to add a comment or two on the Farewell Dinner.
It was really great to see everyone who was at the Farewell Dinner, rather like walking through our own "Looking Glass" into the past. Life was nuts when we flew, wasn't it? The term "Old" does not apply yet, experienced would be more descriptive.
Hope all is well with all former chums.
Jennifer (Urton) Ammentorp
If anyone else wants to say anything about the retirement please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Update on the EC-135 Planes and Mission in Offutt.
The last EC comes off alert tonight (30 Sep) at 1900 hrs (2400Z).
62-3582 is going to Greenville (supposed to be tomorrow if it gets fixed) to be transformed into a "sniffer" for the 45th.
62-3581 is going to the 38th and 63-8048 to the 45th on the 16th.
63-8054 is going to Waco for demod of the parts they need for TACAMO,then coming back here the 27th. The Wing commander's going to fly it to DM on the 28th. Our squadron inactivation orders are out effective 28 October 1998.