To give you a little bit of my background.... I was stationed at Beale A.F.B. from 1978-1982. In that time I performed the job of a fuel system mechanic . I was a member of the 9th FMS which is now under another organization. I don't have any see-me-see-it shots since my job was very restrictive when it came to taking photo's of very active spy aircraft. I will attempt to give you as much info as I am allowed plus some inside info you might find interesting. These pictures are all taken by me, I am not a professional photographer nor do I play one on TV! Please feel free to take any images on this site, but please give me credit, this is part of my life for crying out loud!
FIRST CONTACT - My first contact was in 1973 while stationed at then active McCoy AFB in Orlando Florida. A U-2 had landed there during night shift and the general rule was only an E-4 (sargent) or above could refuel it. At that time I was a refueler (POL) and only a lonely A1C, but I had to do. It was a very surreal experience indeed! Lots of guys looking around and a very quick refuel with a special truck we knew we had, but with weird nato markings on it. I did not come in contact with that a/c unit again until 1978.
The SR-71 was more of a stand-back first look. I was told what I would be doing and was taken out to the flight line before my line badge was issued. A civilian worker, Don White, took me out and let me try out my new job. I just stood in front of the hanger with my mouth open, you could plainly see how it could go that fast! It is a beautiful design, and even thought it was a bear to work on it was beauty in motion!
These are the new patches used at DET II. right now! My thanks go out to Ssgt Annette Smith-Sarandos for turning me on to the site at the det! And to Msgt Dudley Freeman who was kind enough to send me these patches to share. Now notice the circle above the patches.... yes that is a lucky Blackcat coin.
ATTENTION FORMER BLACKCATS........ Annette is attempting to collect all old Blackcat patches. If you can scan yours and send it to me (for now) I will forward them to her.
This is the patch that was issued to Beale troops when they were deployed to Desert Shield. MSGT Jim Grant sent me this patch, he is a long time friend and retired from Beale a few years ago.
This is the 'static display' of a retired SR-71 with my son Richard in front of it. This picture was taken the day Jim Grant came back from DESERT STORM!
Now you will see a series of then active spy planes. This was taken at Fairchild AFB, Washington. Notice that a crew member from OMS is inside the exhaust port. Before air shows we would break open a few cases of hydro fluid and dress-up the plane so it would look good. Those in the know, knew what that wet-spot was below the plane ;)
This is a cool shot and basically how I first saw the plane up close. This is still at the air show. Does anyone know what happened to us at this show? I received the Air Force Humanitarian Service Medal that weekend. We were there between May 16-19 of 1980!
This was a nice shot of the plane ready to go out for display. It was on display until 2:30 when that dark cloud shadowed the entire base and caused the closure of the air show.
Another shot of the plane ready to go. Notice the lack of people?
This was taken by me (as all of the other shots). I got to lay down on the refuelers mat and get this great shot of the refueling. I know you can't see it but the pilot was waving. The SR-71 has to slow down to an almost unstable airspeed to accomplish this task. The SR-71 took off well after we did, we were supposedly the last a/c to take off since local weather conditions made flying unsafe.
These are what we called the propaganda signs that we display at each air show. These facts are correct but highly understated!
Osan Korea - DET II Here is a pilot being readied for flight. The steps up to the a/c are covered for two reasons: keep the sun/heat off of the pilot and to keep prying eyes from seeing what's going on.
At Beale they will not allow the peons (us enlisted men) to ride in the chase cars, but in Korea that's not the case. This was a high speed ride that was great to take. BTW the U-2 only has wheels on the body. Those red wheels, on the wings, are called pogo's and are released (not successfully every time) at take-off. The real trick is when OMS installs these pogo's when the a/c lands. It is not a sight for the squeamish!
This is what a U-2 pilot looks like when they are getting ready for a flight in a PSD trailer. PSD hooks up their life support gear. They look like astronauts and basically go through the same environment.
THE DREADED BUNNY STORY OSCAR THE CAT HABU
I hope you have enjoyed my retelling of a little bit of SR-71 & U-2 history. The SR-71 is basically out of the picture, and the U-2 is now made as the TR-1 but I am honored to say that I have served proudly with a very small but dedicated group of men and women that have made this world a little safer for all.
Other SR-71 & U-2 Links
BTW: My thanks go out to all past and present spy-plane techs and to Patrick Norton of THE SCREEN SAVERS who reminded me to get going on this page!
U2 & SR-71 Webring
owned by Mike's U2 & SR-71 Page .
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