ARIA World Tour 1986 It’s   hard   to   believe   that   it’s   been   20   years   since   I   last   flew   around   the   world.      No,   I’m   not Superman, but I was the lead navigator for an ARIA support mission (Delta Rocket). The   idea   began   in   the   summer   of   1986.      The   4950th   Test   Wing   scheduler   at   Wright-Patterson AFB   approached   me   about   my   final   sortie.   Usually,   they   try   to   do   something   special   when   an airman   takes   his   “final”   flight.      Unfortunately   for   me,   I   had   been   passed   over   for   Major   and   was required   to   separate   by   September   30,   1986.   That   scenario   does   not   generally   lend   itself   to   a once-in-a-lifetime   opportunity,   but   there   was   a   mission   to   Diego   Garcia   to   support   a   rocket launch and he asked if I could go. At   the   time,   the   front-end   crews   in   the   Test   Wing   were   part-time   fliers   and   full-time   staff members   with   regular   staff   positions   and   flew   sorties   as   work   requirements   permitted.      As   the Chief   of   Aircrew   Training,   I   was   blessed   with   a   fantastic   staff   of   enlisted   men   and   women   who were   data   entry   and   tracking   experts   who   required   minimal   guidance   or   direction.   In   other words,   I   was   expendable.   Now,   this   type   of   mission   (long   flight   time   to   get   on   station   to   a   less than   glamorous   island)   wasn’t   high   priority   among   the   cockpit   crews,   so   the   trip   was   offered   out for “bid.” As we suspected, there were no takers.  I had my mission. Back   in   the   mid-80’s,   the   best   flying   in   135   type   aircraft   was   in   the   4950th   –   a   well-kept   secret from   the   other   tanker   toads   (I   was   a   former   navigator   at   Beale   AFB,   CA   in   Q-models,   and   A- models   at   KI   Sawyer AFB,   MI).      Our   missions   were   in   the   2-   to   8-day   range   and   involved   some of   the   best   island   spots   the   Air   Force   had   to   offer.      One   of   my   all-time   favorites   was   a   week   in Barbados   with   Big   Crow,   flying   every   other   day   (two   crews,   one   plane)   and   partying   everyday.     That trip report may or may not be releasable due to the statute of limitations. Back   to   the   ARIA   mission.      As   I   started   to   layout   the   basic   mission   I   realized   how   tedious   the mission   would   be:      at   least   four   days   to   get   to   Diego,   a   few   days   on   site   for   the   launch,   and   at least   five   days   fighting   head   winds   on   our   return.     As   I   stared   at   my   charts   an   idea   took   shape: why    return    the    way    we    came?        Why    not    continue    going    eastward    (with    the    wind)    and circumnavigate   the   world?      I   ran   some   rough   numbers,   prepared   my   argument,   and   went   to   the staff   for   their   thoughts.      Flying   two   aircraft   with   full   crews,   we   would   save   one   day   of   travel   (per diem)   and   about   eight   hours   of   flying   time   per   plane   (numbers   are   a   rough   recollection).      Plus   it might   generate   some   interest   with   the   news   media.      The   staff   agreed   and   the      “ARIA   World Tour”   was   born.      Once   word   of      “The   Tour”   got   out,   volunteers   crawled   out   from   behind   pop machines   and   abandoned   stairwells.      I   actually   had   to   fight   to   stay   on   the   mission.      My   farewell sortie began on September 1, 1986. ARIA World Tour ’86 Journal DAY   1:      September   1,   1986   –   Wright-Patterson AFB,   OH   to   Roosevelt   Roads,   Puerto   Rico,   then to Ascension Island No   mission   can   succeed   without   food   and   Capt.   Karen   Cola-Francesco   supplies   a   beautiful   and tasty   “World   Tour”   cake.      The   DO   and   friends   wish   us   well   and   see   us   off   on   this   mostly   clear Sunday   morning.      At   0920L   AGAR   24   (tail   #   61-0329)   lifts   off   from   Dayton,   Ohio,   to   begin   our 10-day,   22,922-mile   journey.      Joining   us   on   this   historic   and   epic   adventure   is AGAR   91,   a   C-18 (tail # 81-0891). AGAR   24   finds   a   line   of   thunderstorms   1+24   into   the   mission,   but   expert   navigation   skills   save the   aircraft   and   prevent   the   pilots   from   panicking   and   turning   into   quivering   pools   of   airborne jelly   (that’s   a   pilot   joke).      We   settle   into   our   in-flight   routines:   sleepers,   readers,   daydreamers, and   eaters.      Four   hours   and   one   minute   later AGAR   24   lands   at   Rosie   Roads; AGAR   91   (one   of the   newer   and   larger   C-18s   has   more   space   for   equipment,   crew,   and   fuel)   continues   to Ascension Island.  A   quick   gas,   grease,   and   go   at   Rosie   Roads   is   supplied   by   the   US   Navy   (gas),   McDonalds (grease),   and   Pratt   &   Whitney   TF-33’s   (go).      We   are   off   the   island   at   1528L   and   heading   to Ascension.     The   radar   shows   weather   building   into   a   tropical   storm   north   and   east   of   our   course and we expect problems with thunderstorms and possible headwinds.   Flying   east   in   the   late   afternoon   we   look   back   and   watch   as   the   sun   plummets   into   the   ocean.     As   darkness   envelopes   the   ship,   little   crew   dogs   scurry   into   nooks   and   corners   to   sleep   and dream   of   the   exciting   adventures   ahead.      As   I   plot   our   progress,   seven   miles   above   the   black sea   under   the   twinkling   blanket   of   stars,   I   ponder   the   thought   that   this   multi-million   dollar   piece of   engineering   wonderment   was   built   with   tens   of   thousands   of   parts   produced   by   the   lowest bidder.   We   land   at   0341L   on   Wideawake   Airfield,   Ascension   Island.      Though   the   crew   from AGAR   91   tries   in   vain   to   keep   the   club   open   for   us,   they   do   wait   three   hours   with   plenty   of   ice- cold beer.  Both crews relax on the patio and watch the sunrise from the misty ocean. DAY 2:  September 2, 1986 - Ascension Island We   crew   rest   on   Ascension   –   famous   for   its   blackfish,   sharks,   volcanic   rocks   (little   or   no surfing),   turtles,   and   the   dreaded   “Under Toad.”      Groups   head   out   to   all   points   on   this   35-square mile   island:   some   take   the   bus   tour   of   the   “Rock”;   several   hike   to   the   top   of   Green   Mountain (2,850ft); and many head to Turtle Beach.   As   we   prepare   for   the   next   leg   of   the   tour   we   get   a   call   that   Tanzania   is   flexing   its   international muscle   and   won’t   let   us   fly   through   their   airspace,   crushing   our   plans   to   fly   to   Mombassa, Kenya.      After   numerous   phone   calls   to   ARIA   control,   the   State   Department,   and   the   pilot’s mother,   a   decision   is   made   to   fly   south   along   the   African   coast   to   Cape   Town   for   a   quick   turn around to Diego Garcia.  DAY 3: September 3, 1986 - Ascension Island to Cape Town, South Africa   After   leaving   the   Eastern   time   zone,   changing   several   time   zones   and   a   couple   of   night   flights, it   doesn’t   take   our   minds   and   bodies   long   to   enter   the   “no-time   zone”   time   zone.   We   sleep   when told,   we   fly   when   scheduled,   and   we   dine   at   the   fabulous   Volcano   Club   and   Snack   Bar   where we arm ourselves with coffee and cokes for our next leg.   After   a   quick   adjustment   to   include   some   extra   flight   information   region   (FIR)   boundaries, AGAR   24   blasts   out   of Ascension   at   2302L   and AGAR   91   six   minutes   later.      We   enjoy   another moonless    night    flying    over    the    black    vastness    of    the    South    Atlantic.        Unfortunately,    the clearance   for   our   re-planned   mission   along   the   South   African   coast   never   went   through   so   we must fly VFR for five hours to Cape Town with AGAR 91 46 miles in trail. Cape   Town   at   night   is   breathtaking   –   speckled   with   yellow,   green,   and   white   lights   by   the millions.  We touch down as the sun lightens the eastern horizon. DAY 4:  September 4, 1986 – Cape Town, South Africa to Diego Garcia Let   the   games   begin.   We   can’t   leave   the   terminal   (security   and   safety)   so   we   “relax”   for   four hours   on   plastic   airport   chairs,   an   hour   of   which   I   spend   chatting   with   eight ATC   controllers   that were also hanging out.   AGAR   91   has   a   bad   bleed   valve   and   must   stay   at   Cape   Town.   As   AGAR   24   waves   goodbye, maintenance   folks   from   both   aircraft   begin   to   solve   the   problems.      The   4950th   may   just   have the   best   young   maintenance   crews   in   the Air   Force.     They   know   their   stuff,   they   know   how   to   fix airplanes,   and   they   realize   the   importance   of   getting   the   heck   out   of   the   Cape   Town   terminal. Cape   Town   is   even   more   spectacular   during   the   day,   and   the   radar   controllers   clear   us   for visual departure – perfect for photo ops.   After   repairs,   AGAR   91   takes   off   at   1400L,   cutting   their   mission   crew   rest   very   close.      After   a LONG   day,   AGAR   24   lands   at   Diego   Garcia   (somehow   unexpected)   at   2230L   in   pouring   rain, with   poor   visibility,   and   strong   crosswinds.      Maj.   Dan   Pierre   earns   a   nomination   for   best   landing of   the   trip.      While   parking/unloading,   the TWA   was   snapped   into   the   left   wheel   well.   Immediately thereafter,   we   achieved   our   second   casualty: A1C   Charles   Simmons   (crew   chief)   clips   his   scalp on   the   cargo   door   while   scrambling   up   the   stairs   with   an   oil   can.   Flight   engineer   Bob   Meyer administers   first   aid   while   waiting   for   the   ambulance.      Five   stitches   and   Simmons   is   back   on- board working hard. British   customs   at   Diego   Garcia   is   in   an   open,   damp   garage   where   we   meet   Maj.   Wells   and pick   up   room   keys.      After   many   stops   at   the   wrong   dorm   buildings,   we   find   the   right   ones   and we   wander   in   the   rain   to   a   late   night   greasy   spoon   for   a   needed   snack   before   collapsing exhausted into our rooms. DAY 5:  September 5, 1986 – Diego Garcia:  Delta Rocket Operation 5269 We   have   an   early   wake-up   to   file   the   flight   plans   and   set   the   weather/mission   briefs.      The   crew bus   driver   PMEE   R.   J.   Upright   picks   us   up   at   1300L.      Weather   and   mission   briefs   go   well, although   mission   commander   Von   Canon   wants   to   push   the   take-off   to   1645L   (instead   of   1530).     They   finish   refueling   around   0530L   and   return   to   pre-flight   around   noon.      The   work   done   by   the maintenance personnel was superb and got even better after takeoff. AGAR   24   “Makes   it   Happen.”      With   no   rhyme   or   reason,   stuff   starts   to   break.      The   TACSAT drops   off   when   a   generator   blows   and   gets   replaced   with   a   generator   from   another   station.     The high   frequency   (HF)   radio   goes   out   so   we   set   up   a   relay,   via   the   front   HF,   between   the   mission commander   and   AGAR   91,   and   from   the   mission   commander   and   ARIA   control.      To   make   the relay   work,   the   flight   engineer   makes   a   long   interphone   cord   that   requires   me   to   push   the transmit   button   when   the   mission   commander   wants   to   transmit.      The   number   3   engine   begins to   fluctuate.      Doppler   drops   into   memory   in   orbit   so   I   use   the   pilot   ground   speed   for   timing.   The oxygen   system   is   low   from   a   leak   and   the   crew   switches   to   the   yellow   bottles.   The   antenna   is intermittent   and   the   clock   will   not   maintain   synch.      But   the   strangest   thing   of   all   is   the   arrival   of ARIA 3.   A   mysterious   aircraft   has   begun   shadowing   us   in   the   orbit.   I   mean,   it   is   the   middle   of   the   night and   we   are   in   the   middle   of   absolutely   NO   WHERE. The   mystery   plane   starts   high,   perhaps   30- 35,000ft   at   10   to   15nm.      It   seems   to   descend   below   us,   maybe   to   25,000ft   and   pulls   slightly away.      At   one   point   we   are   close   enough   to   see   green   and   red   position   lights.      It   feels   very much Twilight Zonish.   After   so   little   sleep,   crossing   so   many   time   zones,   and   with   so   much   flying   it’s   amazing   how   well all   the   glitches   are   overcome   to   achieve   100%   completion.     After   the   “cluster”   to   accomplish   this mission,   the   ride   back   to   Diego   is   anti-eventful.     The   beer   call   at The   Maj.   Wells   Lounge   in   BOQ 8   is   a   spectacular   success.      The   night   was   long   and   rousing   as   many   of   us   watch   from   Walls Beach as the sun pops out of the Indian Ocean. DAY 6:  September 6, 1986 – Diego Garcia to Guam (through or over Clark AB, Philippines) Though   the   day   dawned   bright   and   breathtaking   we   were   sound   asleep.      The   officer   quarters are   very   nice   one-bedroom   kitchenettes;   not   at   all   what   the   gray   beards   said   they   remembered from   the   old   days   at   Diego.      Saturday   is   the   beginning   of   the   end   for   the   mission:      continuing east for home, and the extended range of the C-18 comes into play leaving Diego.   The   evening   launches   (are   we   allowed   to   fly   during   the   day?)   are   2130L   and   2145L.     AGAR   24 will   take   8   hours   to   reach   Clark   AB   to   refuel   (and   shop)   while   AGAR   91   will   head   straight   for Guam,   and   after   11   hours   will   land   at   Anderson   AB.      To   do   that,   Maj.   Vince   Guida   makes   the heaviest   take-off   in   the   history   of   the   C-18   aircraft.      The   over   flight   of   the   Philippines   (by AGAR 91) is crystal clear and the view of Bataan and Corregidor is much better than in 1942.   Several   thunderstorms   demand   interesting   turns   and   climbs   to   stay   safe   and   smooth.      As AGAR   24   attempts   to   land   at   Clark,   the   PAR   controller   waves   us   off.      That   green   mountain   is lush   and   very   close.      Capt   Cola-Francesca   makes   a   finest-kind   landing   over   the   barrier.     As   the engines   spool   down   we   grab   our   wallets   and   the   fun   begins.      Divide   and   conquer.      While   the crew   chiefs   and   maintenance   members   wrestle   with   the   airframe   and   the   pilots   file   flight   plans, the   rest   head   to   Angeles   City   like   a   swarm   of   green   shopping   monsters   with   unlimited   charge cards.      Karen   and   Rita   (Lt   Wilson)   give   new   meaning   to   the   term   “born   to   shop.”     A   quick   snack and   we   load   the   booty   onto   the   aircraft.      The   three   and   a   half   flight   to   Guam   is   a   picnic   after   so many eight or so hour missions. AGAR   91   crew   meets   us   at   Base   Ops   with   the   last   rental   car   and   beer.      We   are   still   operating on   the   no-time   zone,   so   it’s   time   to   unwind   and   party   (or   shop).      A   handful   of   the   hardcore   go downtown   to   the   Hilton   for   dinner,   but   most   just   drink   dinner.      The   party   on   the   veranda   begins to fade away around 0600L. DAY 7:  September 7,  1987 – Guam R&R We   have   an   entire   day   off   and   boy   do   we   need   it.      The   afternoon   beach   party   is   wonderful.     Terague   Beach   is   jam   packed   with   activities:      snorkeling,   swimming,   beer,   food,   and   volleyball:     Operations   vs.   Maintenance.      I   don’t   recall   who   won   so   it   must   have   been   maintenance.      Some of   us   head   out   for   dinner   at   the   Jolly   Roger   with   beers   at   the   Rosen   Crown   and   the   Blue   Water.     I   honestly   can’t   remember   but   it’s   in   my   notebook   (anyone   that   recalls   and   can   fill   in   any   and   all gaps feel free to add inputs). DAY 8 & 9:  September 8-9, 1986 –Guam to Hickam AFB, HI On   Monday   I   run   four   miles   with   Karen   (that’s   what   my   notes   say).     After   a   dreadfully   early   bus (0400L),   and   in   spite   of   frightful   humidity   and   extremely   short   tempers,   the   crew   of   AGAR   24 overflies   Wake   Island   and   lands   quietly   in   Hawaii.      Good   news,   we   are   going   to   stay   downtown at   contract   quarters,   so   no   out-of-pocket   money,   and   just   three   blocks   from   the   beach.      We   join up   with   AGAR   91   and   spread   out   over   the   three   B’s   (beaches,   bars,   and   bargains).   Tuesday morning   I   run   4.5   miles   with   “Ski.”      He   must   be   from   AGAR   91   because   he   isn’t   on   the   orders for   AGAR   24.      After   dinner   at   a   Chinese   restaurant   with   Capt   Scott   Marshall   we   depart   on another night flight. DAY 10:  September 10, 1986 – Hickam AFB, HI to Wright-Patterson AFB, OH On   the   flight   I   grab   a   shot   of   AGAR   91   off   the   wing.      The   mood   is   festive   as   we   anticipate   the landing   amidst   local   news   crews   covering   the   around   the   world   mission.      We   have   a   special offload   planned.     There   are   two   customs   that   aircrews   must   adhere   to.      First,   it   is   an   honor   to   be the   first   person   to   disembark   the   aircraft   from   a   returning   TDY.      Second,   the   first   person   to   use the   “honey   bucket”   must   carry   the   evidence   off   the   aircraft.      Back   in   the   day   of   male-only   crews, we   only   used   the   stand-up   liquid   relief   tube   and   held   off   on   “number   two”   except   in   a   personal emergency.      If   it   became   necessary   to   sit,   the   “seal   was   broken”   and   all   flight   crew   would   use   it.     However, it was the first user who had the honors to remove the offensive cargo. Approaching   Wright-Patterson,   much   to   everyone’s   disappointment,   the   word   trickles   down from   Washington   DC:   NO   press   coverage.      Seems   there’s   a   bit   of   concern   about   drawing attention   to   the   mission   and   the   sensitive   nature   of   our   operations.      So   much   for   our   15 minutes.      Undaunted,   the   first   man   off   the   plane   (I   don’t   recall   but   I   thought   it   was   a   crew   chief) carries   the   clear,   heavy   bag.      Now   that’s   a   sight   for   the   staff   photographers.      I   did   receive   a   nice welcome   home   hosing   down   (an   old   military   tradition)   and   thus   ended   my   Air   Force   flying career   with   just   over   3,000   hours.      A   mere   seventeen   days   later,   we   party   again   at   the   “Snake Pit”   for   my AF   Farewell   Blowout   Bash.      That   party   really   is   another   great   story;   however,   I   need to check the statute of limitations before putting that tale to print. A few leftovers: Best flight lunch – Hickam Best room – Diego Garcia (on-base), Hickam (off-base) Best landing – Diego Garcia (nasty crosswinds and rain) Best bus driver – Ray J. Upright Best party – Guam beach party Best air show – Wright-Patterson, September 10, 1986 at 1238L Flight time for AGAR 24:  62.3 hours with 9 T/O and landings Flight time for AGAR 91:  59.7 hours with 7 T/O and landings Best flight lunch – chicken (320 lunches or 80 chickens) If   any   of   you   were   on   this   tour   or   can   provide   further   insight   or   names,   please   contact flyARIA.com.      Thanks   to   all   the   fliers   and   support   folks   who   made   this   final   mission   so   special and to those who still “Make it Happen”. Keith Quinn Former Captain, former C-135 navigator/instructor, former world traveler
ARIA History Website and Archive
Apollo Range Instrumentation Aircraft
 flyARIA.com Copyright © 2000-2017 Randy L. Losey - All other works Copyright © by their perspective owners
Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft
     United States Air Force
ARIA History Website and Archive
      United States Air Force Apollo Range Instrumentation Aircraft Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft
This Web Site Copyright © 2000-2017 Randy L. Losey - All other works Copyright © by their perspective owners
ARIA World Tour 1986 It’s   hard   to   believe   that   it’s   been   20   years   since   I   last flew   around   the   world.      No,   I’m   not   Superman,   but   I was   the   lead   navigator   for   an   ARIA   support   mission (Delta Rocket). The   idea   began   in   the   summer   of   1986.      The   4950th Test      Wing      scheduler      at      Wright-Patterson     AFB approached   me   about   my   final   sortie.   Usually,   they   try to   do   something   special   when   an   airman   takes   his “final”   flight.      Unfortunately   for   me,   I   had   been   passed over    for    Major    and    was    required    to    separate    by September   30,   1986.   That   scenario   does   not   generally lend   itself   to   a   once-in-a-lifetime   opportunity,   but   there was   a   mission   to   Diego   Garcia   to   support   a   rocket launch and he asked if I could go. At   the   time,   the   front-end   crews   in   the   Test   Wing   were part-time   fliers   and   full-time   staff   members   with   regular staff   positions   and   flew   sorties   as   work   requirements permitted.       As    the    Chief    of   Aircrew   Training,    I    was blessed    with    a    fantastic    staff    of    enlisted    men    and women   who   were   data   entry   and   tracking   experts   who required   minimal   guidance   or   direction.   In   other   words, I   was   expendable.   Now,   this   type   of   mission   (long   flight time   to   get   on   station   to   a   less   than   glamorous   island) wasn’t   high   priority   among   the   cockpit   crews,   so   the trip   was   offered   out   for   “bid.”   As   we   suspected,   there were no takers.  I had my mission. Back   in   the   mid-80’s,   the   best   flying   in   135   type   aircraft was   in   the   4950th   –   a   well-kept   secret   from   the   other tanker   toads   (I   was   a   former   navigator   at   Beale   AFB, CA   in   Q-models,   and A-models   at   KI   Sawyer AFB,   MI).     Our    missions    were    in    the    2-    to    8-day    range    and involved   some   of   the   best   island   spots   the   Air   Force had   to   offer.      One   of   my   all-time   favorites   was   a   week in   Barbados   with   Big   Crow,   flying   every   other   day   (two crews,   one   plane)   and   partying   everyday.      That   trip report   may   or   may   not   be   releasable   due   to   the   statute of limitations. Back   to   the   ARIA   mission.      As   I   started   to   layout   the basic   mission   I   realized   how   tedious   the   mission   would be:      at   least   four   days   to   get   to   Diego,   a   few   days   on site   for   the   launch,   and   at   least   five   days   fighting   head winds   on   our   return.      As   I   stared   at   my   charts   an   idea took   shape:   why   return   the   way   we   came?      Why   not continue     going     eastward     (with     the     wind)     and circumnavigate   the   world?      I   ran   some   rough   numbers, prepared   my   argument,   and   went   to   the   staff   for   their thoughts.      Flying   two   aircraft   with   full   crews,   we   would save    one    day    of    travel    (per    diem)    and    about    eight hours   of   flying   time   per   plane   (numbers   are   a   rough recollection).      Plus   it   might   generate   some   interest   with the   news   media.      The   staff   agreed   and   the      “ARIA World   Tour”   was   born.      Once   word   of      “The   Tour”   got out,   volunteers   crawled   out   from   behind   pop   machines and   abandoned   stairwells.      I   actually   had   to   fight   to stay    on    the    mission.        My    farewell    sortie    began    on September 1, 1986. ARIA World Tour ’86 Journal DAY   1:      September   1,   1986   –   Wright-Patterson   AFB, OH     to     Roosevelt     Roads,     Puerto     Rico,     then     to Ascension Island No   mission   can   succeed   without   food   and   Capt.   Karen Cola-Francesco   supplies   a   beautiful   and   tasty   “World Tour”   cake.      The   DO   and   friends   wish   us   well   and   see us   off   on   this   mostly   clear   Sunday   morning.      At   0920L AGAR   24   (tail   #   61-0329)   lifts   off   from   Dayton,   Ohio,   to begin   our   10-day,   22,922-mile   journey.      Joining   us   on this   historic   and   epic   adventure   is   AGAR   91,   a   C-18 (tail # 81-0891). AGAR   24   finds   a   line   of   thunderstorms   1+24   into   the mission,   but   expert   navigation   skills   save   the   aircraft and   prevent   the   pilots   from   panicking   and   turning   into quivering   pools   of   airborne   jelly   (that’s   a   pilot   joke).     We   settle   into   our   in-flight   routines:   sleepers,   readers, daydreamers,   and   eaters.      Four   hours   and   one   minute later AGAR   24   lands   at   Rosie   Roads; AGAR   91   (one   of the    newer    and    larger    C-18s    has    more    space    for equipment,    crew,    and    fuel)    continues    to    Ascension Island.  A    quick    gas,    grease,    and    go    at    Rosie    Roads    is supplied   by   the   US   Navy   (gas),   McDonalds   (grease), and   Pratt   &   Whitney   TF-33’s   (go).      We   are   off   the island   at   1528L   and   heading   to   Ascension.      The   radar shows   weather   building   into   a   tropical   storm   north   and east    of    our    course    and    we    expect    problems    with thunderstorms and possible headwinds.   Flying   east   in   the   late   afternoon   we   look   back   and watch    as    the    sun    plummets    into    the    ocean.        As darkness   envelopes   the   ship,   little   crew   dogs   scurry into    nooks    and    corners    to    sleep    and    dream    of    the exciting   adventures   ahead.      As   I   plot   our   progress, seven   miles   above   the   black   sea   under   the   twinkling blanket   of   stars,   I   ponder   the   thought   that   this   multi- million   dollar   piece   of   engineering   wonderment   was built   with   tens   of   thousands   of   parts   produced   by   the lowest    bidder.    We    land    at    0341L    on    Wideawake Airfield,    Ascension    Island.        Though    the    crew    from AGAR   91   tries   in   vain   to   keep   the   club   open   for   us, they   do   wait   three   hours   with   plenty   of   ice-cold   beer.     Both   crews   relax   on   the   patio   and   watch   the   sunrise from the misty ocean. DAY 2:  September 2, 1986 - Ascension Island We   crew   rest   on   Ascension   –   famous   for   its   blackfish, sharks,   volcanic   rocks   (little   or   no   surfing),   turtles,   and the   dreaded   “Under   Toad.”      Groups   head   out   to   all points   on   this   35-square   mile   island:   some   take   the bus   tour   of   the   “Rock”;   several   hike   to   the   top   of   Green Mountain (2,850ft); and many head to Turtle Beach.   As   we   prepare   for   the   next   leg   of   the   tour   we   get   a   call that   Tanzania   is   flexing   its   international   muscle   and won’t   let   us   fly   through   their   airspace,   crushing   our plans    to    fly    to    Mombassa,    Kenya.       After    numerous phone   calls   to ARIA   control,   the   State   Department,   and the   pilot’s   mother,   a   decision   is   made   to   fly   south   along the African   coast   to   Cape   Town   for   a   quick   turn   around to Diego Garcia.  DAY   3:   September   3,   1986   - Ascension   Island   to   Cape Town, South Africa   After   leaving   the   Eastern   time   zone,   changing   several time   zones   and   a   couple   of   night   flights,   it   doesn’t   take our   minds   and   bodies   long   to   enter   the   “no-time   zone” time     zone.     We     sleep     when     told,     we     fly     when scheduled,   and   we   dine   at   the   fabulous   Volcano   Club and   Snack   Bar   where   we   arm   ourselves   with   coffee and cokes for our next leg.   After   a   quick   adjustment   to   include   some   extra   flight information   region   (FIR)   boundaries,   AGAR   24   blasts out   of   Ascension   at   2302L   and   AGAR   91   six   minutes later.      We   enjoy   another   moonless   night   flying   over   the black   vastness   of   the   South   Atlantic.      Unfortunately, the    clearance    for    our    re-planned    mission    along    the South African   coast   never   went   through   so   we   must   fly VFR   for   five   hours   to   Cape   Town   with   AGAR   91   46 miles in trail. Cape   Town   at   night   is   breathtaking   –   speckled   with yellow,   green,   and   white   lights   by   the   millions.      We touch down as the sun lightens the eastern horizon. DAY   4:      September   4,   1986   –   Cape Town,   South Africa to Diego Garcia Let    the    games    begin.    We    can’t    leave    the    terminal (security   and   safety)   so   we   “relax”   for   four   hours   on plastic   airport   chairs,   an   hour   of   which   I   spend   chatting with eight ATC controllers that were also hanging out.   AGAR   91   has   a   bad   bleed   valve   and   must   stay   at Cape      Town.      As      AGAR      24      waves      goodbye, maintenance   folks   from   both   aircraft   begin   to   solve   the problems.      The   4950th   may   just   have   the   best   young maintenance   crews   in   the   Air   Force.      They   know   their stuff,   they   know   how   to   fix   airplanes,   and   they   realize the   importance   of   getting   the   heck   out   of   the   Cape Town   terminal.   Cape   Town   is   even   more   spectacular during   the   day,   and   the   radar   controllers   clear   us   for visual departure – perfect for photo ops.   After   repairs, AGAR   91   takes   off   at   1400L,   cutting   their mission    crew    rest    very    close.       After    a    LONG    day, AGAR      24      lands      at      Diego      Garcia      (somehow unexpected)    at    2230L    in    pouring    rain,    with    poor visibility,    and    strong    crosswinds.        Maj.    Dan    Pierre earns   a   nomination   for   best   landing   of   the   trip.      While parking/unloading,   the   TWA   was   snapped   into   the   left wheel   well.   Immediately   thereafter,   we   achieved   our second   casualty:   A1C   Charles   Simmons   (crew   chief) clips   his   scalp   on   the   cargo   door   while   scrambling   up the   stairs   with   an   oil   can.   Flight   engineer   Bob   Meyer administers   first   aid   while   waiting   for   the   ambulance.     Five   stitches   and   Simmons   is   back   on-board   working hard. British   customs   at   Diego   Garcia   is   in   an   open,   damp garage   where   we   meet   Maj.   Wells   and   pick   up   room keys.      After   many   stops   at   the   wrong   dorm   buildings, we   find   the   right   ones   and   we   wander   in   the   rain   to   a late   night   greasy   spoon   for   a   needed   snack   before collapsing exhausted into our rooms. DAY   5:      September   5,   1986   –   Diego   Garcia:      Delta Rocket Operation 5269 We   have   an   early   wake-up   to   file   the   flight   plans   and set   the   weather/mission   briefs.      The   crew   bus   driver PMEE   R.   J.   Upright   picks   us   up   at   1300L.      Weather and     mission     briefs     go     well,     although     mission commander   Von   Canon   wants   to   push   the   take-off   to 1645L   (instead   of   1530).      They   finish   refueling   around 0530L   and   return   to   pre-flight   around   noon.      The   work done   by   the   maintenance   personnel   was   superb   and got even better after takeoff. AGAR    24    “Makes    it    Happen.”        With    no    rhyme    or reason,   stuff   starts   to   break.      The   TACSAT   drops   off when    a    generator    blows    and    gets    replaced    with    a generator   from   another   station.      The   high   frequency (HF)   radio   goes   out   so   we   set   up   a   relay,   via   the   front HF,   between   the   mission   commander   and   AGAR   91, and   from   the   mission   commander   and   ARIA   control.     To   make   the   relay   work,   the   flight   engineer   makes   a long    interphone    cord    that    requires    me    to    push    the transmit   button   when   the   mission   commander   wants   to transmit.      The   number   3   engine   begins   to   fluctuate.     Doppler   drops   into   memory   in   orbit   so   I   use   the   pilot ground   speed   for   timing.   The   oxygen   system   is   low from    a    leak    and    the    crew    switches    to    the    yellow bottles.   The   antenna   is   intermittent   and   the   clock   will not   maintain   synch.      But   the   strangest   thing   of   all   is   the arrival of ARIA 3.   A   mysterious   aircraft   has   begun   shadowing   us   in   the orbit.   I   mean,   it   is   the   middle   of   the   night   and   we   are   in the    middle    of    absolutely    NO    WHERE.   The    mystery plane   starts   high,   perhaps   30-35,000ft   at   10   to   15nm.     It   seems   to   descend   below   us,   maybe   to   25,000ft   and pulls   slightly   away.      At   one   point   we   are   close   enough to   see   green   and   red   position   lights.      It   feels   very   much Twilight Zonish.   After   so   little   sleep,   crossing   so   many   time   zones,   and with    so    much    flying    it’s    amazing    how    well    all    the glitches   are   overcome   to   achieve   100%   completion.     After   the   “cluster”   to   accomplish   this   mission,   the   ride back   to   Diego   is   anti-eventful.      The   beer   call   at   The Maj.   Wells   Lounge   in   BOQ   8   is   a   spectacular   success.     The   night   was   long   and   rousing   as   many   of   us   watch from   Walls   Beach   as   the   sun   pops   out   of   the   Indian Ocean. DAY   6:      September   6,   1986   –   Diego   Garcia   to   Guam (through or over Clark AB, Philippines) Though   the   day   dawned   bright   and   breathtaking   we were   sound   asleep.      The   officer   quarters   are   very   nice one-bedroom    kitchenettes;    not    at    all    what    the    gray beards   said   they   remembered   from   the   old   days   at Diego.      Saturday   is   the   beginning   of   the   end   for   the mission:      continuing   east   for   home,   and   the   extended range of the C-18 comes into play leaving Diego.   The   evening   launches   (are   we   allowed   to   fly   during   the day?)   are   2130L   and   2145L.      AGAR   24   will   take   8 hours   to   reach   Clark   AB   to   refuel   (and   shop)   while AGAR   91   will   head   straight   for   Guam,   and   after   11 hours   will   land   at Anderson AB.      To   do   that,   Maj.   Vince Guida   makes   the   heaviest   take-off   in   the   history   of   the C-18   aircraft.      The   over   flight   of   the   Philippines   (by AGAR   91)   is   crystal   clear   and   the   view   of   Bataan   and Corregidor is much better than in 1942.   Several   thunderstorms   demand   interesting   turns   and climbs   to   stay   safe   and   smooth.     As AGAR   24   attempts to   land   at   Clark,   the   PAR   controller   waves   us   off.      That green   mountain   is   lush   and   very   close.      Capt   Cola- Francesca     makes     a     finest-kind     landing     over     the barrier.        As    the    engines    spool    down    we    grab    our wallets   and   the   fun   begins.      Divide   and   conquer.      While the    crew    chiefs    and    maintenance    members    wrestle with   the   airframe   and   the   pilots   file   flight   plans,   the   rest head   to   Angeles   City   like   a   swarm   of   green   shopping monsters   with   unlimited   charge   cards.      Karen   and   Rita (Lt   Wilson)   give   new   meaning   to   the   term   “born   to shop.”      A   quick   snack   and   we   load   the   booty   onto   the aircraft.      The   three   and   a   half   flight   to   Guam   is   a   picnic after so many eight or so hour missions. AGAR   91   crew   meets   us   at   Base   Ops   with   the   last rental   car   and   beer.      We   are   still   operating   on   the   no- time   zone,   so   it’s   time   to   unwind   and   party   (or   shop).     A handful   of   the   hardcore   go   downtown   to   the   Hilton   for dinner,   but   most   just   drink   dinner.      The   party   on   the veranda begins to fade away around 0600L. DAY 7:  September 7,  1987 – Guam R&R We   have   an   entire   day   off   and   boy   do   we   need   it.      The afternoon   beach   party   is   wonderful.      Terague   Beach   is jam    packed    with    activities:        snorkeling,    swimming, beer,      food,      and      volleyball:            Operations      vs. Maintenance.      I   don’t   recall   who   won   so   it   must   have been   maintenance.      Some   of   us   head   out   for   dinner   at the   Jolly   Roger   with   beers   at   the   Rosen   Crown   and   the Blue   Water.      I   honestly   can’t   remember   but   it’s   in   my notebook   (anyone   that   recalls   and   can   fill   in   any   and all gaps feel free to add inputs). DAY   8   &   9:      September   8-9,   1986   –Guam   to   Hickam AFB, HI On   Monday   I   run   four   miles   with   Karen   (that’s   what   my notes   say).     After   a   dreadfully   early   bus   (0400L),   and   in spite   of   frightful   humidity   and   extremely   short   tempers, the   crew   of   AGAR   24   overflies   Wake   Island   and   lands quietly   in   Hawaii.      Good   news,   we   are   going   to   stay downtown    at    contract    quarters,    so    no    out-of-pocket money,   and   just   three   blocks   from   the   beach.      We   join up   with   AGAR   91   and   spread   out   over   the   three   B’s (beaches,   bars,   and   bargains).   Tuesday   morning   I   run 4.5    miles    with    “Ski.”        He    must    be    from   AGAR    91 because   he   isn’t   on   the   orders   for   AGAR   24.      After dinner    at    a    Chinese    restaurant    with    Capt    Scott Marshall we depart on another night flight. DAY   10:      September   10,   1986   –   Hickam   AFB,   HI   to Wright-Patterson AFB, OH On   the   flight   I   grab   a   shot   of   AGAR   91   off   the   wing.     The    mood    is    festive    as    we    anticipate    the    landing amidst   local   news   crews   covering   the   around   the   world mission.      We   have   a   special   offload   planned.      There are   two   customs   that   aircrews   must   adhere   to.      First,   it is   an   honor   to   be   the   first   person   to   disembark   the aircraft   from   a   returning   TDY.      Second,   the   first   person to   use   the   “honey   bucket”   must   carry   the   evidence   off the   aircraft.      Back   in   the   day   of   male-only   crews,   we only   used   the   stand-up   liquid   relief   tube   and   held   off   on “number   two”   except   in   a   personal   emergency.      If   it became   necessary   to   sit,   the   “seal   was   broken”   and   all flight   crew   would   use   it.      However,   it   was   the   first   user who had the honors to remove the offensive cargo. Approaching    Wright-Patterson,    much    to    everyone’s disappointment,      the      word      trickles      down      from Washington   DC:   NO   press   coverage.      Seems   there’s   a bit   of   concern   about   drawing   attention   to   the   mission and   the   sensitive   nature   of   our   operations.      So   much for   our   15   minutes.      Undaunted,   the   first   man   off   the plane   (I   don’t   recall   but   I   thought   it   was   a   crew   chief) carries   the   clear,   heavy   bag.      Now   that’s   a   sight   for   the staff    photographers.        I    did    receive    a    nice    welcome home   hosing   down   (an   old   military   tradition)   and   thus ended   my   Air   Force   flying   career   with   just   over   3,000 hours.     A   mere   seventeen   days   later,   we   party   again   at the    “Snake    Pit”    for    my   AF    Farewell    Blowout    Bash.      That    party    really    is    another    great    story;    however,    I need   to   check   the   statute   of   limitations   before   putting that tale to print. A few leftovers: Best flight lunch – Hickam Best   room   –   Diego   Garcia   (on-base),   Hickam   (off- base) Best   landing   –   Diego   Garcia   (nasty   crosswinds and rain) Best bus driver – Ray J. Upright Best party – Guam beach party Best   air   show   –   Wright-Patterson,   September   10, 1986 at 1238L Flight   time   for   AGAR   24:      62.3   hours   with   9   T/O and landings Flight   time   for   AGAR   91:      59.7   hours   with   7   T/O and landings Best   flight   lunch   –   chicken   (320   lunches   or   80 chickens) If   any   of   you   were   on   this   tour   or   can   provide further   insight   or   names,   please   contact   flyARIA.com.     Thanks   to   all   the   fliers   and   support   folks   who   made this    final    mission    so    special    and    to    those    who    still “Make it Happen”. Keith Quinn Former    Captain,    former    C-135    navigator/instructor, former world traveler