The Firebird pilot and copilot were already in their seats and running the checklist when brand new navigator, Frank Brammer, climbed up onto the flight deck of the C-130. The copilot continued the checklist and said, "Start number three engine." The pilot responded with "Darn, I forget to get the key...did you remember to get it copilot?" The copilot, who was in on the gag, answered "No, do you think that Frank could run back to the squadron and pick it up since he's not too busy?" Frank, who was new and had never seen an engine start, and who was eager to be of service to his new crew left the flight deck and walked hurriedly back to the squadron.

Frank Brammer, Sondrestrom, 1964

Upon arrival at the 17th Troop Carrier Squadron, he inquired about the aircraft key. Recognizing a common practical joke regularly pulled on new Firebird navigators, the pilot told Frank that the keys had already been sent to the base operations building. Frank dashed out to his car and drove posthaste to the new destination. He rushed up to the base operations officer, out of breath, and asked for the keys to his C-130. Again, the ops officer who was familiar with the joke, dug in a drawer and withdrew a huge ring of keys, inspected each one, and said, "That key has just been sent to maintenance." Out the door, in the car, down the ramp to maintenance goes Frank in search of those missing keys. When he arrived at the maintenance hanger, the maintenance officer laughed and finally told Frank "Lieutenant, get back to your aircraft, don't you know that C-130's don't have keys." When Frank arrived back at the plane, he was greeted with guffaws from all of the crew members who were eagerly awaiting his return." Another Firebird practical joke had been committed. (As related by Frank Brammer to Nolan Bailey, circa 1965. Photograph courtesy of Ray Hull, Firebird Pilot.)