The time was early in my career and I was at my first base assignment after technical school, Dyess Air Force Base in Texas. I was there to repair the radio and radar equipment on B-47 Bombers.
“Omigod we’re at war!” was my thought many years ago as I was sitting in the cockpit of a T-33.
This was almost my first repair assignment on the base. The T–33 was the most widely used jet trainer in the world during the Cold War. Our base didn’t have these aircraft normally, but this plane was a transient bird. I was assigned to check out and repair one of the radio systems on this plane.
As it so happened everyone else in our shop had jobs to handle on the B-47s and I was the only free guy there. My shop chief gave my some instruction as to what to do on this plane and sent me out on the flight line. I was nervous as heck not really knowing what to do.
When I first got the base someone gave me a tour of the flight line and briefed me on what was where. One of the things I learned was there was an “Alert” area where the B-47s in there were fully armed with nuclear weapons. Alert crews assigned to fly these planes were housed in the alert area barracks. If an alert were called the alert crews would rush out to bombers and fly somewhere to do what they were assigned to do.
As I was working on the T-33 I heard jet engines starting up. That didn’t bother me, ‘cause this was an Air Force Base with planes on it and there were always engines starting. I kept hearing more planes starting up. I got curious and looked toward the sound. The Alert birds were all starting up and taxiing! I kept watching them since I hadn’t seen anything like it before. They ALL taxied to the end o one of the runways and started their takeoff rolls one behind the other.
When they used their RATO (Rocket Assisted Take Off) is when I had my thought “Omigod we’re at war!” I got on my radio and called the shop to see what was going on and must have sounded excited ‘cause the guy on the other end just laughed and indicated it was just a “Minimum Interval Take Off” or MITO drill which they did occasionally.