So There We Were . . .

I had two instructors, both from earlier generations, who were both Air Force veterans. They had served in competing, er, that is, somewhat different branches of the Air Force. Fred had flown stuff like B-52s for the Strategic Air Command. Charlie had served in the Army in WWII and then managed to end up flying in the low, slow, and on-the-go side of the Air Force in Tactical Air Command. Fred had been an officer, Charlie a senior NCO. Very senior NCO. Both had stories . . .

So, it was one of Those weeks at Ye Little Airport. Fred and Charlie were both cranky. The airport manager was cranky, the mechanics had been giving us pilots more dirty looks than usual, and the flight school manager was . . . Well, the bills for the big yearly inspections on three of our planes had hit in the same week. Oh, and between winds too high for students, and clouds too low for students and birds both, not much folding green had come in to help with the bills.

So, there I was, seated at the desk behind the main counter. I could just barely be seen, sort of a red tuft poking up over the faux-wood. Fred and Charlie came in in the midst of a warm discussion. Very warm. Increasingly warm, using acronyms about half of which I understood. TAC, SAC, FAC, NDB, MACV, SOG, AHB, and a few other things, interspersed with suggestions of a lack of manhood and an absence of aviation prowess. Things got heated enough that I popped up like a prairie dog with a pony-tail and said, “Sirs, should I go check on the materials in the hangar?” The gents wanted to use salty language, which they would not do if a lady (or me) was present.

Charlie glanced at Fred and nodded. “Please do.”

“Yes, sir.” I went out into the hangar and made certain that the things in the cabinets were where they should be. Some were not, so I put the oil back in the oil rack, the washing supplies into their place, and so on. After roughly five minutes, I returned to the main office. Both gents were glaring at each other, as usual. This was an old, old debate that went back to, well, before I started flying. I’ll leave it right there.

I have no idea why, what devil inspired me, but I opened my mouth and started to sing a little ditty I picked up from a gent who was a career NCO with the [redacted state] Air Guard. It is/was sung to the tune of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.”

“Oh here’s to the regular Air Force/ With medals and badges galore.

“If it weren’t for the [gosh-darned] Reservists,/ Their @ss would be dragging the floor!”

That’s the chorus. The verses are more pointed, and have saltier language.

Both gentlemen turned, glared at me, and snarled. The phone rang and I answered it, so I have no Idea what would have happened next. I do know that by the time I finished rescheduling the student, then booking a photography flight, the gents had turned to attacking their common enemy:

The US Navy.

And so peace descended once again on Ye Little Airport.

6 thoughts on “So There We Were . . .

  1. My father, who was a Navy pilot, had a few uncomplimentary stories about the Air Fa…excuse me…Air Force.

      • Dad had to fly a twin-engine aircraft dubious condition across the country. When over a vast expansion of unpopulated land the electrical system quit. OK, where to land this critter, with no radio? Checks his maps. OK, a SAC base! Nice long runways.
        So he lands his plane at the far end of a nice long runway. Thinks “Security will be out to see who I am. I can get a ride in.”
        So he waits. And waits. And waits. Finally gives up, gathers his gear and starts walking down that looong runway .
        He got all the way to the hangers before someone stopped him and demanded to know, “Where did YOU come from?”

  2. I once worked on a project funded by the Air Force for simulating air war over Europe. It was a joint project between the Army and Air Force. The Army’s participant was the group that was in charge of the Patriot missiles–at the time strictly an anti-aircraft weapon. The motto over the Army group’s door in El Paso was proclaimed with a banner that read, “If it flies, it dies!” Didn’t go over so well with the Air Force contingent from Kirtland.

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