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Your Ride is Here

Al Brewer

I was flying out of the 7th MAS at Travis in 1971, assigned to an instructional local with a morning departure scheduled for 0700 hrs. Those around then will remember the fleet was pretty well stretched in all quarters especially the maintenance squadrons. The departing locals always had a launch chief at the aircraft to meet the aircrew with additional help for engine start and block out. Always, except for us this morning. When the pilots arrived at the bird the engineer said the forms were on his table but no launch chief. The crew did their thing; the power cart was running when the engineers arrived so we had no trouble starting the APU and were ready to crank up. I called ACP for a block out team. They were pulled from a nearby bird with some kind of a problem. They got us started and blocked out. After making the brake test and turning towards the taxiway for the active, the engineer said, "we just found the launch chief!" "Where"? "Crew loft, he just crawled down. He wants you to stop and let him off". We were almost at the edge of the parking ramp, ready to join the taxiway. "Tell him to lean back and watch what happens in-flight". "He says no way. He gets off shift in an hour". "Tell him we have already blocked out, we are on the taxiway, and he cannot walk back from here". "He said to ask ACP to call maintenance control and have the line chief get him". "Tell him no way, we are taxiing". "He said he is going to report you". "Tell him I changed my mind, I am going to stop, arrange transport for him, and let him off." "Travis Command Post, MAC 12345, over." "12345 go ahead". "12345 is on taxiway X with a stowaway, please send the security police." Ten seconds later the ramp looked like a Christmas tree! I did not realize they had that many little blue crew cabs with lights and sirens. Two were coming across the ramp, one must have been doing 90 down the empty taxiway, and one came from the run up spot for the active. The launch chief had not heard my stowaway call but did see the converging lights. He watched as the aircraft was encircled with some very mean looking troops with unslung M-16s. The panel engineer told him his ride was here. One of the engineers lowered the steps to keep the posse out of the engines. About six came aboard, threw the hapless launch chief on the cargo floor, cuffed him, drug him down the steps, and hauled him off. We proceeded with our local. About two hours later: "12345, ACP." "Go ahead". "The OMS Squadron Commander wants you to give him a call when you land." "Roger that".

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