Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ephrata AAF Training

This excerpt, which I have borrowed from this site, (which is part of a history of his B-17 crew by Charles E "Chuck" Harris, it seems to be worth a read since it gives considerable insight into the training and eventual deployment of bomber crews) describes the usage of the Army Air Fields in the Great Basin. One can assume that Walla Walla AAF was home to B-24 training of similar scope. :

Phase training for all crewmembers included both ground and flight school. In general, ground school was conducted in the mornings and the crews then assembled for flying in the afternoon. It probably did not take long for the crews to appreciate that they were not flying with an experienced pilot. After graduating from cadet flying school, pilots received about two months of B-17 transitional training and were then assigned to phase training fields such as Ephrata. There is little doubt that the pilots proficiency was graded daily by the crewmembers. Bumpy or hard landings, less than smooth maneuvers in the air (particularly formation flying) was painfully obvious. The training at Ephrata did, however, enable the crews to get to know and evaluate each other and to start the slow process of integration into a smooth working team.

Flying at Ephrata became pretty much routine – some flights were navigational, a few included practice bomb runs but most were aimed at getting the crew to work together and to learn required procedures. All flights were limited to a specified area of Washington State. However, on one navigation mission in September, we "unintentionally" strayed and found ourselves looking down from a rather low altitude spectacular Grand Coulee Dam. That broke the routine! For me, it was of special interest since, since as an engineering student, I had visited the dam in 1939 when it was under construction.

I have spent this weekend surfing the web. Many things have come from this. I have discovered several sites of interest and have contacted a few gentlemen who have knowledge of wrecks here in Washington. I look forward to a few more accident reports from Maxwell AFB, since I requested a few this week...they should be here sometime during late December.

If you happen to be interested in wreckchasing, have information about one here in Washington State, or served in the military and might have something to add to this site, please, PLEASE leave a comment! I think opening this site up to other's ideas, thoughts, and information might be a good thing! Welcome all!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Visit a Museum

I don't visit enough museums. Then again, there are a bunch of things I don't do often enough. Museums, I feel, are repositories for memories and artifacts of everyday life. There are many museum types. There are museums for quilts, cameras, cars, prisons, farm equipment, airplanes, and, here in this post, ships.

This museum is in Bremerton, Washington. It is the Naval Museum of the Pacific! I visited it about...well, no, exactly a decade ago. This is an excellent place where nifty little items reside.
Want to know how a steam torpedo worked? Ever wondered what happened to Admiral Dewey's office chair? What about the ship's bell of the USS Washington?
There is also a plexiglass model, some fourteen feet long or so, of the USS Midway(CV-41). (Or there was, it's been 10 years)
Visiting this museum was, perhaps, a turning point for me. I had not decided to become a teacher, yet, but it ignited more than a spark of interest in things old. I began reading more about historic battles. Especially Admiral Dewey's part in the Spanish American War. I also read a great book about the exploits of the USS Washington because of this visit.
It was the first time I had been close to a mine, a depth charge thrower, and any number of items on display. It made these things somehow more real. I need to go back and see the museum again. I also need to visit the submarine museum in Keyport. I was there once...about 10 mintes before closing time. Needless to say, I missed the most of it.
So, here is a thought. I want everyone to visit a museum in the near future. See what these volunteers, because most of them are volunteers, are trying to keep alive. See what you missed because you were born too late. See what you used to work with.
Should you get the chance, visit the Naval Museum of the Pacific, take a few pictures, let me know how your visit went! I will post it here. It isn't everyday you get to see Admiral Dewey's Office Chair...or his couch.
[Update: work on the Exercise Coulee Crest post continues, I am still looking for more contributors, photos, and any other items or info that may relate to the exercise. If you would like to contribute to this blog concerning anything you have seen here, please say so in a comment and leave your e-mail address, I promise to respond.]

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Century Series

I have not posted lately. I want to post a special post about Exercise Coulee Crest using the information I hve gotten from a very generous reader, but, I also want to post pictures of the area he refers to. I have not yet otained those photos. So, in order to keep this Blog in a semi-live state, I have here a few photos.

The Century Series was a series of fighters developed during the 1950s. Their designations were three digits, thus the term Century Series. Not all were fighters, but, whose going to nitpick that? Some might complain that I did not include the F-111 or the F-117, but, come on, those just are not in the same league.

First is the F-100. The first production aircraft capable of breaking the sound barrier in level flight.

The F-101 was an interceptor, hardly maneuverable enough to be a dogfighter.

The F-102, the first Delta Winged production aircraft in the US inventory.

The F-104, a VERY FAST plane. Fast.

The F-105, a tactical nuclear strike bomber, still, they were responsible for shooting down seveal MiGs.
The F-106, the replacement for the F-102, continued service into the 1980s.
And, finally, the F-107, which was an up-engined F-100 derivative.
These are all my own pictures, which I took with my own camera. I am proud to have seen the entire series in one for or another.