Whitesburg KY

The first Gemini Space Capsule launch

In the early 1960s the history of airlift flights from Travis Air Force Base, Cal., was often linked to various world crises.

The Berlin Crisis in August 1961, which led to the construction of the infamous Berlin Wall, provided another occasion for Travis personnel to demonstrate their readiness.

A series of military exercises known as Long Thrust included support for our troops and fighter deployments to Germany in late 1961.

The Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 put Travis units on special alert in support of the American blockage of Castro’s communist island.

In 1963, a total of 54 aircraft and 95 crews from Travis assisted in the deployment of the 2nd Armored Division to Europe during Operation Big Lift, the largest overseas military airlift of its day.

In October 1963, a C-133 aircraft from Travis flew the first Gemini Space Capsule from Baltimore, Md., to Cape Canaveral, Fla., prior its launch into space.

During this time I was a student and flight leader of the President’s Air Force One’s crew for five weeks training at the NCO Academy at McCoy Air Field in Florida.

The academy was closed for one day while all students and instructors were bused to Cape Canaveral for the first Gemini Space Capsule launch into space.

We were behind bunkers with special glasses on during lift-off. It was something I will not soon forget.

Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.

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