MOON OVER THE PACIFIC

All aviation history fans will appreciate this story and the photo: "Moon Over the Pacific."

 This photograph was taken on a mid-winter Ferry flight from Okinawa to CONUS for delivery of an RF-4C to the Periodic Aircraft Repair facility in California.  The truth of the story is in the photo.  Without such proof, disbelievers would abound.  BTW, the slogan from Vietnam military was "PUT CONUS UPON US!"

The aircrew was from a base in Texas. The formation consisted of one KC-135 tanker and two RF-4C's. Sometime after several in-flight refuelings, the normal boredom began to set in.  To keep occupied, the Phantom crews began to chit-chat with the crew members of the tanker aircraft on the radio.  During the conversation it was revealed that the tanker had some additional passengers on board, which included a flight nurse that was catching a hop back to the states. The nurse was then invited onto the flight deck, and talked to the crews of the F-4s and instantly became quite friendly with one of the pilots. It was during the next refueling, after the pilot had "hooked-up" and began taking fuel, that the boom operator suddenly went out of view, and was replaced by an apparently naked flight nurse, who then pressed her breasts against the refueling window. The pilot almost had an emergency "break-away," but hung in there and took the full off-load. 

Following the nurse flashing, the F-4 pilot decided to retaliate and took a high position on the tanker's left wing. Since it was a winter flight over water, the crew was required to wear the famous "poopy suit," or anti-exposure flight suit in addition to their normal clothing. The pilot safety-pinned the ejection seat before beginning to undress.  Anyone that has ever flown the Phantom will appreciate the degree of difficulty in performing this maneuver. First the leg restraints had to be released, then the parachute was unbuckled, along with the seat pack and lap belt restraints. Next, off came the winter flight jacket, the normal flight suit and gloves, then the poopy suit, the thermal underwear and so forth.  Then he had to almost stand on his head. 

                                                     

The picture was taken by the pilot of the other F-4, and the timing was right after General Creech had issued his "Doctrine on Aircrew Discipline" which included more rules about not carrying a camera in the cockpit. The photograph became an instant success within the crew-dog underworld, and late in 1979, when the F-4 Wing Commander was fired for having lost so many crews and jets during a Red Flag, this photo was at the last minute inserted into his going away picture, signed by all of the wing's crew members. This Colonel was well liked by all, and to repay the kindness for having given him this moon shot, he emptied his lawn mower's supply of gasoline into his on-base back yard, and spelled the F___ word in large enough letters that everyone could see it from the traffic pattern---his parting shot. 

The pilot of the F-4 was never admonished for this incident, but was later in trouble for having sonic boomed his hometown on a cross-country flight.  He was then selected for an assignment to the first F-16 squadron.  

The pilot that took the picture, a Flight Commander at the time, was recalled by SAC and flew B-52's until he retired. He is now a Captain with American Airlines.  

And now you know the rest of the story. 

The nurse, by the way, loved the gesture and met the pilot that night at the O'Club---but that is another story. 

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