Project 863  

Budd Rice

Budd Rice
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Calibration Flights – Budd Rice
To check out the overall performance of the radar.  A highly polished 10 inch phere representing a 0.1 Square meter target at S Band would be attached to a weather balloon and launched. RA, with AF and contractor maintennace personnel aboard,  would be launched to track the sphere. The ground crew would provide the location of the balloon so that the pilot could manuver the aircraft so the antenna (mounted on the right side of RA) could track the sphere.

After acquiring the sphere, the Radar Operator would direct the pilot to manuever the airplane so that the radar beam would be scaned at different angles of azimuth and elevation of the antenna. Sometimes the weather balloon would be fairly low with respect to RA and the radar operator would direct the pilot to fly lower. On one calibration mission the pilot said he was about as low as he could get and had his wind shield wipers on due to salt spray. I had to see this and went forward and sure enough we were that low. I think every one enjoyed the calibration flights as a break in the monotany of Shemya. The pilots got to fly RA subject to where the balloon was and what the radar operator needed instead of preplanned flight plan. For the contractor personnel it was a relief to get off the Island even it was for a short flight around the area.

After completion of the calibration run the pilot would fly low over Agattu, an island south of Shemya, and scare the sea lions into making a rush for the sea.

The Russians had a trawler (Photos: 1, 2) stationed off of Shemya to monitor acitivities on the Island. Before landing back on Shemya the pilot would buzz the trawler and the Russians would come out on deck and wave.

LTC Ron Strong (Ret)
I certainly remember the cal. flights and the Red Baron (Reg Urschler) buzzing the Russian "trawler." I'm reading a book, titled No Time for Pilots, about an EW who went PCS to Shemya. While it is a novel, the author had to either have been the guy himself or had very good information about nav. school, EW school, Shemya, and Bellevue / SAC headquarters. The book is fun and a fast read, and brings back lots of memories. You can find it on the 'web for under $5. My copy is even signed!

Radar Validation Testing - Budd Rice
Maj. Ed Steffen, USAF Technical Director for Lisa Ann, arranged to have Lisa Ann stationed at Hickham Field, Hawaii to perform the Radar Validation Testing against US launched ICBMs.  Lisa Ann would fly out of Hickham to the Marshall Islands. The ICBMs would be launched out of Vandenberg AFB, CA and the RVs and decoys, if any, would impact near Kwajalein an island in the Marshall's. The object of the tests were to determine the Radar's capability of acquiring and tracking the RVs, decoys and assorted debris.
Because of the Radar's weight Lisa Ann's fuel load at take off was only sufficient for about a four hour flight. To fly to the Marshall's, perform the test and fly back was about a sixteen hour mission. To accommodate the testing there would be a tanker standing by at altitude to provide in flight refueling of Lisa Ann shortly after take off. At the conclusion of the test there would be another tanker to refuel Lisa Ann for the flight back to Hickham. Maj, Buzz McCoy, TDY from Eielson, was assigned as Lisa Ann's flight Commander for the Radar Validation Flight Testing. 
On one occasion while Lisa Ann was loitering over Kwajalein waiting for Vandenberg to launch when the number 4 engine failed causing the test to be aborted. Maj McCoy made the determination to head to Wake Island the closest place with a runway long enough to accommodate Lisa Ann. While Kwajalein had a runway (6000 feet) it was too short for Lisa Ann to take off, after repairs, with minimum fuel. On the way to Wake Island the number 3 engine's oil gauge was indicating low oil. Maj McCoy shut down number 3 and continued the flight to Wake. This meant that both engines on the right side were shut down. Maj McCoy trimmed  Lisa Ann to accommodate the severe yaw due to both engines on the right side not operating and continued to Wake Island. Preparing to land at  Wake the Maj McCoy restarted number 3 to keep the yaw to a minimum and risked "burning up the engine". As it turned out only the number 3 engine's oil gauge was defective. I was very impressed that Lisa Ann could fly from Kwajalein to Wake on two engines. But even more impressed at the skill of the SAC pilots and especially Major Buzz McCoy.
It was decided that only the front end crew would fly Lisa Ann back to Hickham and a K.O. would be sent to Wake to pick up the back end crew. I had never flown on a tanker before. After take off I went back to the Boom Operator's position. The position is such that the boom operator lies on his stomach and has two windows on both sides to view while maneuvering the boom to the plane being refueled. It's a great place to lie down and watch the waves and sleep, which I did most of the way back to Hickham.
Since we had extra time on Wake Island and there is a beautiful lagoon in which to swim I decided to buy a swim suit. They only had one suit left at the PX. It was the most gaudy thing one could imagine. When I got back to the quarters some of the crew were telling how they had gone to purchase a suit only to find one available and they wouldn't be caught dead wearing it. I wasn't so picky and took a lot of ribbing. Wake Island had a Pan American Hotel to accommodate Pan Am stop over flights. I spent the day frolicking in the surf with the Pan Am crew. Being fair complected I received a slight burn. The boom operator's position was nice and cool and soothed my sunburn. I kept the swim suit for many years and claim the suit is the only reason I was never attacked by a shark. The suit disappeared when I got married.

Free Time – Budd Rice
Always a morale booster was to see the Reeves Stewardesses on their weekly (??) flight into Shemya. Need I say more. We never did find the trees that the girls were supposed to be behind. 

During free time, especially when RA launched and, due to weather conditions, RA would be diverted to Eielson, our free time was occupied indoors with playing cards, table tennis, volley ball, making pottery, reading etc. Outside it seemed the main ativitiy was to search for glass balls that broke off of Japanese fisihing nets and were brought by the Japanese Current to the Pacific Beach side of Shemya or look for the Blue Foxes or the girls behind the trees. For a while there was a dead whale that washed ashore which afforded us the opportunity to hike out to the beach and watch it rot. And then there was the Simichi Theater a great morale booster. Hardly anyone missed a movie. There was no such thing  as a bad movie just some that were better than others. Last but not least there was the midnight mess. Many of us enjoyed going to the midnight feeding so that we could sleep in and pass up breakfast. Ah what a life!!

Physical Conditioning – Budd Rice
One of the officers introduced some of us to the Canadian Air Force exercise regimine. I believe there were 10 exercises with criteria to determine if one was in good physical condition. One of the exercises, the only one I remember, was the requirement to run (jog) a mile and a half in 12 minutes. That seemed like a very simple task. I have forgotten who determined how many laps around the hanger floor it took to equal 1 _ miles. I started doing the exercises religously, especially the 1 and _ mile jog around the inside of the hanger on a concrete floor. After about a month my shins were aching so bad that I went to the clinic. The doctor took one look at my putrid yellow shins and said it was the worse case of shin splints he had ever seen. He lectured me on the proper way to run any distance and especially on concrete. The proper method is to put the heel down first and not the ball of the foot. After the shin splints healed I took up jogging as a daily activity either in the morning before work or at lunch time. I would run 6 miles (heel toe) almost every day for the next fifteen years. I never had another case of shin splints. I have had total replacement of both knees and both hips. I would not recommend jogging for anyone who has a family history of arthritic joints.

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Budd & Carole Rice 2003

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