Wednesday, October 21, 2009

U2 Spy Pilot




One of my "New Year's Resolutions" this year was to record some of the interesting stories my Dad occasionally enlightens us with about his days as a U2 Spy Pilot in the 60's. To honor his 80th birthday my sister has been collecting pictures of our Dad in his glory days for a slide presentation and while combing through old trunks in my basement I came across several news articles about his FAMOUS "Half-way to Hickham" story. Now, all I can do is print the facts as they appear in these various articles...it's not the same story without Dad's animated expressions, his hands imitating the wings of a plane, and lots of cursing, as all pilots do when they are telling a "flame out" story...but it's the best I can do on my public blog!

In the News- November 24, 1960
A boy, weighing 6 pounds 3 ounces is born to President -elect and Mrs. Kennedy........
Cheating the Pacific Ocean, a Laughlin Air Force Base pilot flying a U2 aircraft made a deadstick landing at Hickham Air Base in Hawaii Thursday at 6:01 pm after a flameout caused brief engine failure......

Intrigued????

"Captain Robert (The Deacon) Hall's plane had a brief engine failure about 1,100 miles northeast of Hickham before 3 pm. He was able to complete a normal air start and continue toward Hawaii but the fuel was exhausted several minutes before he reached there. The pilot established a glide pattern and a T-33 jet trainer was launched from Hickham to guide him through the overcast into the landing pattern. An SC54 rescue aircraft from the 76th Air Rescue Squadron at Hickham was dispatched to intercept and rescue the U2 when Captain Hall reported the possibility of fuel shortage which was caused by the high rate of consumption which caused the original engine failure"

Here's the humorous part...
While waiting word on her husband's arrival, Mrs. Hall stayed by the phone and entertained her children...."When they called me, I told Colonel Wilcox that I knew Deke wasn't going to get all wet. He has too many babies at home to think about!" Officials notified her as soon as the message reached Laughlin (Del Rio, Texas) that he had made a safe landing.
(I'm sure, She and Miss Kay poured themselves a stiff one, babies or not!)




A great story, a great career, a great man...
Happy Birthday Dad!

4 comments:

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

You forgot 'the rest of the story'...
Many years later when he was teaching a class to future pilots, someone came up and introduced himself as the airline pilot who radio'd in the mayday.
Halfway to Hickham!
Happy Birthday Dad~

annette royce said...

Wow, He sure was a handsome devil! Great story Holly. Hope you have a wonderful birthday celebration with your Dad!

Debra said...

Great story.

A Tale of Two Cities said...

Holly,
Hope you plan on sharing more stories in the future. He was quite a character, and I love seeing the pictures to go with the story. Hope his birthday was very special.

Debi