As we shared the base with the French who were flying Mirage 3s, there was a lot of competition between the Canadians and the French.

arranged around a taxi way that circled the hangar. We normally parked two aircraft per pad. We had already started one of the F-105s so I could see myself going up in flames as the jet fuel rolled across the pad. Luckily the fuel did not ignite and we were able to get the pilot out of the plane while the other taxied out. It was written off as a stray voltage incident. This event certainly elevated my blood pressure and adrenalin levels.

On another day, I watched a 104

circling round the base while on fire. Upon landing it was obvious what had happened. The system for fully opening the nozzle on the J-79 had failed in a closed position rather than wide open when in afterburner. This meant that afterburner flame was directed to the engine casing and fuselage. It was burning the fuselage back along the side of the aircraft. When the pilot landed he said he could see the flames in his tip tank, which was polished aluminum, but had no fire warning. That was because the flames had not yet advanced to the fire warning sensors. He did not eject. While he got a commendation or written up in dispatches, most other pilots and groundcrew thought he should have ejected. My new bride and I decided one

day to swim in the gravel pits at the end of the runway. Two French Mirage 3 Cs took off. Unfortunately,

the ground crew forgot to put the drop tanks’ filler caps back on after refuelling them. So, I saw them rolling down the runway, black smoke behind them, and as they lifted off white vapour was pouring from the tanks. Then the pilots pickled off the tanks which came flying toward us. Again, we were lucky and they landed in a field close by. I had heard of other incidents like this but have no first-hand knowledge of them. A lot of the French guys were draftees so perhaps they may not have been as careful as we volunteers. As we shared the base with the

French who were flying the Mirage 3s, there was a lot of competition between the Canadians and the French. I recall an early morning scramble whereby 40 F-104s and 30 Mirages went off in full afterburner over the German towns. No noise complaints in those days! One Canadian pilot, who later became a general, buzzed the trailer park where Canadian families were living. The women had done their laundry and hung it out to dry when he came over so low that the jet wash stirred up the dust. He was not popular among the ladies. One last story and then I will move on to my time with the airlines and Transport Canada. I was appropriating 30 mm cannon shells from a Mirage for souvenirs when a 104 on test flight had a compressor stall only

a few hundred meters from me. I heard the bangs and saw a huge tail of fire followed by an ejecting pilot. The crash in front of me, about 400 meters away, was an incredible, huge fireball with oxygen burning like the sun. I saw him drift down into the fire and was nauseous. He didn’t land in the fire but on the other side of it, thank God. The officer was not well liked by the Canadian crew, so the French fire fighters hosed him down with the foam. On a tactical evaluation, it was considered quite an honor for the last pilot on a mission to run with the film canister to the photo lab. He grabbed it and started running, tripped and dropped the film. The other pilots and ground crew appreciated the irony of the situation.

Along with the hard work we had a lot of fun times. We especially enjoyed watching the pilots get soaked with cold water and then given champagne once they had 1,000 hours in their logbooks. I witnessed many pilots being baptized while I was working on the air weapons range in Sardinia, Italy.

CIVILIAN AIRLINES Going from military aviation to civil aviation was a vast change. Gone was the extensive organizational super structure and all the engineering help we had in the RCAF. Now civilian crews had skilled techs backed up

20 | mar 2018

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