B-47 Flying Status by: Bud DeHaan


I was on orders to fly periodicaly for a 2 year stretch as a bomb nav mechanic. On the B-47, the non-crew member sat on a step to the left of and below the co-pilot. One month I had flown a test hop for a system malfunction and only got 2.5 hours of flight time. The Co-pilot was a Col. (Crash) Cunningham, an instructor pilot in the 98th. He was checking out a new AC that had just been assigned to the 98th. During the flight I spent my time looking over the shoulder of the Nav, watching the system for the suspected malfunction. None occured and the flight was proceeding normally. We made one high altitude release on the RBS site @ Hastings Nebraska, a quick in-flight refueling and then returned to the base with an approach from the south. As it was a very hot day, the plane didn't want to land and continued to float down the runway. A third of the way down the runway, there was a rise, or incline of approximately 30 feet in the runway elevatio. The new AC forced the plane onto the ground on the incline with enough force that it broke the mounting brackets that held the Nav's radar scope which fell to the floor. Thought it was going to be a flight without a writeup. The aircraft was written up for a hard landing.

To get my additional 1.5 hours to receive the flight pay for the month, I again had the privelage of flying with Col Cunningham on the last day of the month, a Saturday. The Col had another new AC that required 2 landings to be upgraded and a 2Lt that needed a back seat landing to stay qualified. I'll never forget the Lt. His name was Smith, freckle faced, and a large hairy mole on his left cheek. The Lt went up to the Navigators seat to strap in when the Col got on the Intercom and told him to sit in the fourth man's position. I moved up to the Nav's seat and strapped in as the engines were cranking. The Lt went back and sat next to the Co-pilot on the step. As he was putting his parachute on, he popped the chute which filled up the cockpit. The Col was a bit upset with the Lt as he had to shut down the engines. He ordered the Lt to get his lilly white butt off the aircraft so I was able to get my time in for the month.