Customs? What's That?



Dave Kutulis, CMS (RET)



In April of 68 another crew chief (John) and I were selected to be participate in a trip from Norton to the Northwest Cape of Australia to deliver supplies to a Naval Communications Station. The aircraft for the trip was supposed to be 67- 0007 but due to maintenance problems 66-7957 was used. I don't remember if it was a 14th or 15th MAS flight crew on the trip but I remember the AC a Major was not well liked. Before departing Norton he climbed all over the young airman loadmaster for a mistake on his paperwork , the 1st engineer later told me that it was a minor error and that the rest of the crew thought that he was out of line the way he treated the loadmaster. In route to Hickam I crawled up in the crew rest platform and went to sleep, a short will later it seemed my leg was being ripped off. It was the Major and he came down hard on me. I screwed up and forgot to hook my oxygen mask to a portable bottle. This guy really loved to read people the riot act. That was the start of our love affair.

The next morning in the first spot on the ramp in front of the MAC terminal was 0007 with the right leading edge removed, seems it had a bleed air problem. At Pago Pago we pulled up next to the terminal and while John and I did our thing (refuel, check engine oil and did a walk around of the aircraft) everyone but the loadmaster headed for the terminal and food. The loadmaster had a sack of mail and was waiting for someone to sign for it. After he had the mail taken care of he also headed to the terminal. The crew could see John and I doing our thing at when we disconnected the fuel hose they returned to the aircraft. The Major ask if we where ready to go and said to get aboard. Since we had not had anything to eat since Hickam I asked if they brought any burgers for John and I, his response was basically, "not my job".

While the flight crew did their thing John and I went to the terminal for some food. I really enjoyed looking out the window in to the flight deck and watching the smoke pouring out of his ears.

After a reasonable amount of time John and I climbed aboard. On take off I climbed it the jump seat and listened as the Major told the guy in the right seat that the ridge we where passing over looked like a knife blade, the right seater said that that was the name of the ridge. For the next few minutes it was, no it's not, yes it is, no it's not, and yes it is. Finally the right seater said he was just pulling his leg. At Richmond RAAF base we spent the night there and the enlisted swine played billiards on a table that had a bronze plate embedded in it that said the 1936 World Billiard Championship was won on that table.

The next day we headed to the Northwest Cape, while passing over Alice Springs the Major called down to ask what was the main attraction and they said cattle and tourism. I don't remember the name of the field we landed at but at the time it was a RAAF base that was inactive and all that was there was a caretaker his wife and a radio operator. The Major checked the windsock and made an uneventful landing, it seemed at the time. Shortly after an Aussie in a small piston plane pull up along side and headed our way. He was not a happy camper, seems he was on final when a big sliver bird flew over the top of him. After getting a tour of the big sliver bird he went away happy. The caretaker hooked up his eighteen hundred gallon truck and we started refueling while the navy did the unloading. Everyone was hungry so I was selected to go with a navy chief to get buggers at their installation. Forty miles later we finally arrived at the main gate and I was issued a visitors pass, we went about a hundred yards and at another gate I had to change badges. The place was double fenced with razor wire on top. I was told that you could walk around nude inside the fence and no one would bother you but if your security badge was not visible expect bad things to happen. They had a large amount of towers some as high as thirteen hundred feet, found that out when the Major decided to over fly the site at a very low altitude and only after the urging of the guy in the right seat he pulled up. Seemed like we did not have any charts depicting the towers. And he could not understand why no one would talk to him. If you haven't guessed by now they only talked to nuclear submarines.

We headed to the chief's mess where he instructed the kitchen staff on the amount of burgers and fries he needed. While that was being taken care of we headed to the bar where the bartender gave us a can of Falstaff beer. He told that chief that that was the last of the beer. The installation was dry. We finally made it back with the burgers and no one would believe that it was an eighty mile round trip. John was still refueling and the navy had finished unloading. We where scheduled to be empty on our return but the Major when he checked in with the powers that be told him the next day we where to go to Christchurch an pick up a load destined for the cape that a C-124 which was broke had. While the next truck was pumping I noticed that a few yards forward was a fuel pit and when asked why we did not use it I was told it was broke but the caretaker said that it would be fixed by the time we returned. That night at the Naval Installation I got to experience what the Navy calls Hot Bunking.

Our arrival at Christchurch was late at night (8 or 9 pm) and we were met by a maintenance guy who told me not to worry he had it covered. When we checked in to the White (or was it Blue?) Herron hotel the clerk said the entertainment got tired of waiting and left.

The next morning it was raining really hard and when we got to the plane we found out the cargo was eight pallets of Falstaff beer. After engine start I was sitting in the cargo compartment when the scanner said the Major wanted to talk to me. So I went forward and ask what he wanted. He said, "That light is on and we are not leaving until it's out."

I asked what light since he was pointing to the annunciator panel and it had a lot of lights. He indicated the one that showed that the troop door air deflector's where deployed. So I said "Major we have eight pallets of beer in the back there is no way we could have the extenders installed let alone have them deployed, the plane has been soaking in the rain all night and all you have is a short caused by the moisture".

He said "I am not leaving until the light is out", so I reached down and flipped the bulb holder pulled the bulbs and put them in my pocket and returned to the damp cargo compartment and took a seat.

The scanner and loadmaster where laughing and I asked what was happening they said that I would not want to know what he was saying about me. After a few minutes we started moving. For the rest of the trip we both kept our distance. I often wondered what the 22nd AF Command Post would have said if he refused to fly until the light was out. The pit was not fixed when we returned, the Navy off loaders went thru a few cases and the caretakers wife spent five hours sitting in the air conditioned flight deck while we refueled. It was well over a hundred in a place that gets into the one hundred thirty degrees at times.

The Major was not a really big problem. My real problem started the morning after we returned to Norton when my wife woke me up with a message that the O-6 DCM wanted me in his office now. Seems he was not happy about the large Kangaroo's painted in red on the outboard side of each engine ring cowl and both sides of the nose.

My story was that when we went into crew rest there where no Kangaroo' s on the plane but in the morning we found out that the phantom painter had been at work. I'm glad I told him not to put one on the pressure door; if I had I'm sure the O-6 would still be in orbit.

Dave Kutulis CMS (Ret)
63rd MAW 67-71
58th WRS 71-74
62nd MAW 74-75
Lancaster Ca.


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