A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: R William McAllister
Date: 2020 Jan 13, 17:59 -0000
Here I go with my first post. I selected this subject as I have a related noon Sun story y'all might appreciate. One day and, by way of introduction per Frank's "welcome to NavList / what's next" email, our TACAMO crew was stepping off our EC-130G/Q bird that we'd just closed out after a somewhat lenghty wee hours of the night mission but early daylight landing. There were but a few post flight tasks remaining where the flight engineers were arranging security and fuel for the aircraft, I and another Navil Flight Officer were buring the expired crypto back behind the ramp in our coffee can. Well, upon re-entering the vehicle to retrive the TS communications, croptyographic and other materials box for transport on the crew bus to base OPS where it'd be looked after till our next mission; we heard the third pilot, generally the most junior officer and newby among the 13 to 15 member crew, attempting to arrange for high intensity lighting. This so the the posted Marine guard(s) could identify, hail, warn, point and if necessary take out anybody attempting to approach the airplane without authorization day or night while we were on 'crew rest.' It was this young pilots responsibility to make such arrangements (depending on the level of security already established at the base); however, the elder Marine who he was negotiating with was pushing back rather firmly with; "Sir, you shall not need lighting during your crew rest period." To which the young pilot was failing to gather the meaning of that comment. The discussion continued for several minutes until the crew bus arrived. The discusion continued till crew transport arrived and we all headed for the well deserved 'crew rest'. Soon it was clear to the Marine that the third pilot wasn't going to give up on his request for lighting and just board the bus. At that point the Mission Commander stood up and headed back off the bus. Fortunately, the exasperated Marine pointed at the Sun's present location in the sky and in a grand right handed sweep of his right arm about two hundred seventy degrees along the horizon. Saying "Sir, check with your Navs, if you like, but this is as dark as it gets around these parts unless your planning on crew rest exceedingly far beyond the departure time I've been advised of by the base Duty Officer." Most of the crew agreed the wait on the bus, was well worth it. First task for all of us on 'crew rest' was the multiple toasts to our third pilot's first of many "Yes, I was there when... " Cold War TACAMO tales. Like doctors, engineers, lawyers, judges, politicians and other humans we're all, "Often wrong but rarely in doubt." By the way, our crew rest was likely 36 hours this time. So, I penned it 'crew rest' owing to the oft repeated yet misguided "8 hours bottle to throttle" minimum. You do the math.
I shall leave it to the reader to determine what small circle we were inside of during our 'crew rest' (need to check my log book but likely Jun, Jul or Aug of 79)?