A few days ago I visited the Travis Air Force Base Museum at the base to which I was assigned for 11 years in the 1950s and ‘60s. Sitting in a corner was a restored Air Sea Rescue Plane, the type of aircraft I was crew chief on in the late 1940s at Langley Field, Virginia. That really brought back memories to this old boy.
We had all enlisted pilots in those days.. My pilot was a 50-year-old Texan who was a hero flying over France during World War II, looking for targets for our bombers to come and destroy — tanks, trains and planes on the ground.
We would fly over the Atlantic coast, looking for boats and aircraft that needed to be rescued. Sometimes he would tell me to take over the controls and he would get out his reading material. He was a very good pilot who had flown for many years. I always thought he was a little nuts when he would act like he was dogfighting with another one of our rescue planes.
When we sprayed the base and the wind shifted, we sometimes got a cabin full of DDT.
About a year later, the Army Air Corps did away with enlisted pilots and brought in young officers. I knew it was time for me to find another career field.
I became a printer. That was the best point of my Air Force career for the next 24 years. I loved my new job.
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.