A Passion for Airplanes ~ Big and small
When we visited the NAWS Museum at China Lake, there was a model of a P3-A in the case with all the other model planes. My cousin Richard recently sent me this photo of my dad playing at his favorite hobby, building and flying model airplanes, he would have loved this museum. Dad was stationed there from 1948 through 1950. I think the photo was taken either on the base or someplace close to the base, those buildings in the background seem military to me, I sure would like to talk with all or any of the fellows in the picture! My dad is the one looking at the camera with a bi-plane in front of him.
I don’t know what dad did—yet—while he was stationed at China Lake. Or what he did at his next duty station at the NAS in El Centro, CA, he was there for two years until 1952. However, both of these bases were used for rocket and missile development and training. From 1952 to 1961 he was stationed in Hawaii then San Diego, CA, back to Hawaii and then Midway Island. During that time he was attached to the NAVAL AIR TRANSPORT SERVICE (NATS) VR-8 Squadron, as a flight engineer flying the Super Constellation and then was assigned to Airborne Early Warning Barrier Squadron Pacific (AEWBARSRONPAC). After Midway he was a Naval Representative, Bureau of Weapons, at the Lockheed Plant in Burbank, CA, flying the P3 Orion, ending his career in 1965, after receiving his 10,000 hours in the air pin, he was a flight engineer for most of his 20+ years in the Navy.
The Super Constellation
This photo was taken in 1954 at an Open House on the base in Barbers Point. Dad is standing under one of the props of a Super Connie, with his friend Len Welty and his son Steve
Come Fly with Me
In 1964 for my 10th birthday, dad took me to Lockheed in Burbank, CA where he was a Representative for the Bureau of Naval Weapons. He brought me on board a P3-A and I was given a tour, they even fired up the engines and taxied around—it was a huge thrill!
I am still so proud of my dad
When he would come to any of my school functions wearing his uniform all the kids would crowd around him and then afterwards ask me what he did, I said, “he flys the big airplanes at Lockheed”. That is what everyone called Burbank Airport back in the ’60’s. He was the smartest person I knew, he could solve any problem. Here he is at his controls about 1960.
Just like any another day
It was just a matter of course to have dad be gone for days at a time, he called them ‘hops”. If mom was worried she never let me and my brother know. During the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations Dad’s flight crew flew the Japan, Midway Island and Aleutian Islands circuit, monitoring Soviet activity and especially looking for evidence of nuclear missile launches. This was during the days of the Gary Powers 1960 U-2 Incident and the Cuban Missile Crisis it was the height of the “Cold War”. I remember the ads for “fallout shelters”. In Southern California I think it was the last Friday of the month when the “air raid sirens” would sound and all school children would drop under their desk and cover the back of their neck to protect their eyes from the radiation blast!
Cuba: Cuban Missile Crisis
In October 1962, P-3A aircraft flew several blockade patrols in the vicinity of Cuba. Having just recently joined the operational Fleet earlier that year, this was the first employment of the P-3 in a real world “near conflict” situation.
Vietnam: Operation Market Time
Beginning in 1964, forward deployed P-3 aircraft began flying a variety of missions under Operation Market Time from bases in the Philippines and Vietnam. The primary focus of these coastal patrols was to stem the supply of materials to the Viet Cong by sea, although several of these missions also became overland “feet dry” sorties. During one such mission, a small caliber artillery shell passed through a P-3 without rendering it mission incapable. During another overland mission, it is rumored, but not confirmed, that a P-3 shot down a North Vietnamese MiG with Zuni missiles. The only confirmed combat loss of a P-3 also occurred during Operation Market Time. – Lockheed P-3 Orion Wikipedia
Where were you?
I remember the Cuban Missile crisis, I was only eight, but I could sense the real fear in not just my parents but all the adults. That was the only time I remember my mom being upset about what dad was doing. Mostly I was just proud of him and just knew he was doing everything that needed doing to keep us all safe!
This newspaper article is from 1964. I am listing the flight crew for any one who may be searching for articles about their “heroes”. I also have the photo that the newspaper used for this article if any one wants a better copy. I also have a photo taken in 1961 of a class of flight engineers in a flight operations training school training on the P3V-1. Unfortunately I don’t have any names to go with the faces, but maybe someone will recognize a face (see photo #3 below).
Navy Chief Glenn R. Grove – in both photos – photo #2, far left
Lockheed electronics coordinator Roger Heffern – in both photos – photo #2, far right
Navy Lt Comdr. Edward I. Currie – in both photos – photo #2, 3rd from left
Navy Petty Officer George L. Gustafson Jr. – Engineer/Navy Representative, Bureau of Weapons – in both photos – photo #2, 2nd from left
Air Force Lt. Col. Allan B. Chealander – photo #1 only
Comdr. Harry F. Stanford – Pilot/Navy Representative, Bureau of Weapons – photo #1 only
Lt. Keith A. Boatright – Co-Pilot – pictured in 2nd photo only – 4th from left
Litton Industries, Inc., Advertising and Public Relations – Bill Hall – pictured in 2nd photo only 2nd from right.