Unusually for a top-secret mission, a civil airliner was used. Although it really makes sense - who's going to notice a civil airliner ferrying around the place? But the really strange thing is, I, a non-military person, was allowed to captain the aircraft.
The rest of the crew were very high ranking American officers - one Colonel Staines (USAF) and a naval officer, Naval Flight Officer Tisley. They refused to give me their first names, but luckily it didn't really matter.
So how did I, a non-serving Brit who lives in Ireland come to command this flight? Well, the story is long, complicated but most importantly, classified. All I can tell you is that the RAF and the Irish Aer Corps have played their cards about me to the Americans.....
Anyway, onto the flight. After an extensive walk around, avoiding the cargo doors (which were under armed guard), I boarded the aircraft. Around me there was
Inside, Tisley was sat at the Flight Engineer's station and Staines in the co-pilot's seat. I slid myself into the comfortable seat and proceeded to start up the aircraft
Me - Blue
Staines - Red
Tisley - Green
ATC - Purple
OK, let's start her up. Ground switches
APU on please
Door open, starting APU
Thanks, let's plan out the navigation. INS or GPS?
GPS - I have it
OK, you are navigating, I'm flying
Engine 4 start
Fuel, rich. Starter switch, on, N2 rotation
Starter switch off, fuel valve closed
Ground, this is Eastern 742, requesting push back to the left
Eastern 742, this is Grand Forks Ground. You are cleared to push back to the left, then taxi to runway 35 Left at your discretion
Rodger, push to the left, taxi to 35L, Eastern 742
With a cough and a splutter, the old engines slowly wind up
All four engines running, let's taxi. You have control
I have control
It's tight around here!
Tower, this is Eastern 742, requesting take-off on 35 Left
Eastern 742, you are cleared for take-off, 35 Left. Make a 180 turn 2 miles out of the airport, climb to 7000ft, then resume your own naviagtion
Rodger, 2 milesout, turn right to 170, climb 7000, cleared for take off 35 left, Eastern 742
Get a move on!
And we are off
Flaps slowly coming up
Climbing up into the air
And we're trailing
Staines had gone to the toilet, so a quick, sneaky shot was taken
Descending now into what I now know as Boeing Field
Over the mountains
Some nice 'lumps and bumps'
I have control
I grab hold of the stick as the gear comes down. Now's my moment
Flaps 35 please
For some reason we have a very high descion height
From my seat
A nice, smooth touchdown (for once - at least they don't know my nickname!)
Eastern 742, a follow me car has been provided. Please follow
Wilco, Eastern 742
The follow me car was tiny in comparision to the Whale Jet. But,as we taxied, we were slowly shutting her down
Engines 2 and 3 off. Fuel off. Air con packs, off. APU, on
Eventually, we arrived at the gate. It was very remote and the wind howled across the airfield. From my view, the ground crews were already at the aircraft, unloading the precious cargo
The ground carts connected up, and we handed it over to the ground crews. On my way out, Tisley caught my arm
Not a word of this to anyone, OK?
Why not? After all, it's only a ferry flight
You know far too much. OK then, goodbye
And with that, he left.
Thanks for looking and reading, I hope it wasn't too bad!
(PS - here are the other legs - Leg 1 - http://forum.mutleys...land-to-the-uk/
Leg 2 - http://forum.mutleys...he-uk-part-two/
And, if you are wondering, the text in the green at the top was from Classic S-Combo (the Ready for Pushback 747-200 from Just Flight)