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Old 05-31-2010, 12:45 PM
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The arrival of the F-4Es in Alaska was my first sighting of Double Ugly. Several months later, everyone at Elmendorf AFB, we anxiously awaiting the weekend, when the annual Air Show was being held. The highlight of the show was the Thunderbirds, flying Phantom IIs.

Several days before the weekend, I was at the fuels farm, standing on top of an R-2 refueling truck. I was there as a safety spotter in case the auto shut-off failed. As I stood there, the Thunderbirds arrived in their typical fashion...low, fast directly over the main part of the base, including the area I was filling the R-2. I had no warning of their arrival...only the roar of the entire team in diamond formation, less than 100 feet above me (I was 12 feet off the ground already).

Without thinking, I dove for the walk plate I was standing on and covered my head. In the process, I split open my chin on the steel (it was that diamond patterned, open plating...sort of like a chain-link fence) plating and lost my grip on the safety rope holding open the fuel spout, which because I was no longer holding, went flying upward, spraying the JP-4 in the left in the spout over me and the person working the farm pumps. Be the way, he also was on the ground covering his head.

After the aircraft passed, I glanced up and saw the formation sweeping upwards and to the right towards the mountains and realized what was going on. While the team performed their arrival show, I finished the truck fill, and returned to the office, where my supervisor bandaged up my wound and handed me a clipboard. "You're number two on the Thunderbird's refuel train. They're parking in front of the tower."

When I arrived at the first T-bird to refuel, the crew chief asked me what happened, as he could see blood on my fatigue uniform and t-shirt. I told him the team's arrival scared the s**t of me and then relayed what happened. He cracked a smile and a slight laugh and walked off. Moments later, the lead pilot walked over and apologized.

Three days later when the air show was held, I was busy refueling the show participants and missed most of their performance. But their passes during the show were nothing compared to their arrival I will never forget.
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  #32 (permalink)  
Old 06-01-2010, 06:03 AM
-Jim G's Avatar
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Great story Ashrunner!
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Old 06-01-2010, 06:35 AM
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Great story, Ashrunner. I think the Phantom II was the only craft that both flight demo teams flew (I read that somewhere). If I recall, the Angels were flying the F-4J.

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