Craig AFB 3615th Patch

Part Two

The next few solo transition flights were spent trying to remain oriented in the flight area. Max (Deutchland Uber Alles) Basting was somewhat less that totally successful at this task, but we all felt a certain kindredship as a result of this action. It could have happened to anyone; most of all, we were glad it was him and not us. (Another variation of the familiar "xxxx you buddy" theme). June arrived along with our first transition checks. Concurrently "checkitis" assumed a new relevance, and we then began our introductions to the various facets of good instrument flying. Penetrations and instrument patterns provided some hard work and stiff training. This was an area unlike transition; relaxation in the air became a dim memory.

With the completion of instrument mid-phase checks, a suitable tension breaker was needed. It was time for the "pool" party. A few lines should be recorded about the event that went a long way towards establishing 63-G's undeniably unique reputation among certain elements of permanent party personnel. Charley Royes was dressed in some kind of Beaux Arts costume, and Croney was off for a stomp in "bib" overalls. ("Ball State; that's Testicle Tech, buddy?). It was a mess with very few innocent bystanders. Everyone was thrown into the half-filled O.C. pool, including a set of parents visiting for the weekend. An unwilling blonde from a local eating establishment also went into the "fish pond." People gazed in amazement, when out biggest Deutcher, Siegfried Wulff, took a header into the "goldfish pond" next to the pool. That's the way the evening went.

(Editor's note: The goldfish pond began in the pool area, extended under a glass wall, and ended inside the officer's club near the main bar.)

Leaving the club that night, Max Basting added another speeding ticket to the number that had already out-distanced the nearest competing class by more than two-to-one. Rich moments such as these tended to keep not-so-green-anymore "G" class firmly entrenched at the bottom of ye old totem pole. It seemed to become a matter of class pride that we remain so. It represented the one area in which we managed to score with uncanny consistency. Maybe they'll give us an honorary position at the base of the pole. A big plaque would be super keen with our names inscribed and everything; it'd be the permanent "63-G" trophy for all goof ball flights of the future.

About this time the mess hall with all of its wonderful food was being passed over more and more frequently for steaks cooked at Shea's Outdoor Barbeque Emporium (an outdoor grill). We ran the mile, more or less, for old K.C. himself (Captain K.C. Belt), and began to make important discoveries concerning the intricacies of scheduling team sports. Soccer was played in the heat of the summer when running was something you didn't even want to think about. Swimming started just as soon as the water got warmer than the air. The better to motivate us. Baseball was played in a cool breeze immediately after completion of the mile. Some months are like that.

The Weather course down at Academics was split to allow us to prepare in subjects related to the big "T" (T-33). Physiology followed Engineering in quick succession, and we met with our T-37 instructors for a last party at the base picnic grounds. Lt. Duke played a take-off taped by the instructors doing real life imitations of some of our more infamous classmates. It was an enjoyable day, but we were more than ready to get on with the program. Half of the class went down early from 37's to get ahead in flying time. They were successful in keeping us from the rigors of Saturday flying during the wet Alabama winter. Soloing the T-33 was significant, but not nearly as challenging as our first one done months before. That there was little feeling of elation involved in its accomplishment could be attributed to our increased proficiency and more professional attitude. We had learned to fly as individuals, to take one more solo flight in stride. The badge of accomplishment for this stellar feat was to have been a rather sharp looking beret (in lieu of a baseball cap). It was sort of a unified expression of individualism--if that's possible. Dashing, jet pilot type regalia. They were last worn to the flight suit party before being squelched by the "powers that be."

The Class Dining-In held in the Officer's Club on November 9th, was the official culmination of the first phase of flight training. Strong preparation and planning by Capt. Orsini, presiding as President of the Mess, handled the introductions and certain toasts with his usual adeptness and skill. Dewey Burchett was an outstanding Mr. Vice. With the backing of the members, they set a faultless tone for a memorable Dining-In.

The level of competition took a sharp up-swing just prior to the Christmas break. Class standing dictates the sequence for choice of assignments. Normal competition is maintained and the learning process benefits. The idea in publishing the unofficial standing was to super-stimulate the lower third of the class, thereby raising the level of overall achievement. Things just didn't seem to work out as planned. This group figured that their position could not materially be affected by any great last minute burst of study, whereas the top students saw themselves with everything to lose. The latter began jockeying for the few hundredths of a point that would make the difference. Every test and check ride assumed new importance. To heighten the pressure, the local standboard had taken our class as something of a personal challenge. Seven men were evaluated. All excellents were received. At the peak of this workload, Christmas leave was a bit of a reprieve for everyone. There wasn't any letup after the New Year, but a least we were rested and better prepared for work; instrument checks, formation briefings, and ATC Standboard's arrival to evaluate three more students. Things were further complicated by the departure of our Class Commander, Captain Harold R. Paetzel, for F-100 training. Captain William V. Finn took over and began a push to make February a big month for 63-G. We were charged with the task of lifting ourselves to the top of the totem pole in one month--an insurmountable task that at this writing has begun to look considerably more than just a little bleak. Graduation (May 10, 1963) is a little more than two months away. We won't attempt any crystal-ball action concerning the end of Part II. However, Part III will find us moving into various other capacities, far removed from the class as a whole, each armed with a strong, individual, professional flying background.

 The beginning.... 





After such a laborious and universally challenging year in the Undergraduate Pilot Training program, we, the bloody but unbowed Class of 63-G, do dedicate, without malice or prejudice, this yearbook and it's pictorial record of our aerial education to that bureaucratically conceived marvel of organizational status on which we perpetually remained the proletarians-- the Craig AFB Totem Pole....

...The Class of 63-G




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