Welcome to the fifty-eighth episode of the Lessons from the Cockpit podcast. We are going to talk about nukes since there is so much about a possible WW III in all the media.
President Ronald Reagan created the world’s best nuclear deterrent capability in Strategic Air Command as he poured money into the military after years of neglect. The timeframe from when I showed up at the 509th Air Refueling Squadron in 1985 to 1990 when I left Pease as it was closing was a great time to be a KC-135 pilot at Portsmouth New Hampshire. I was flying an airplane I loved, doing a critical Air Force mission that was fun, and got to take a T-37 up whenever I could find another Copilot to go with me. It was a golden age of flying in my career. But still very dangerous as every third week I would go into an underground nuclear-hardened bunker and sit on Single Integrated Operations Plan or SIOP alert with six FB-111As carrying four nukes and five to six tankers to refuel them on their mission of Armageddon.
I loved flying the KC-135 Stratotanker and my assignment to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa was the best flying experience of my career… where I learned the most.
The SR-71 Blackbird was SAC’s very special and very fast reconnaissance platform moving at over Mach 3+! The Okinawans called it Habu, after a poisonous snake on the island because it looked so much like the reptile.