(On this date, October 20, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the fourth member of the OCHF Class of 2016.)
“Tucker” Barton – The Early Years
by Mary Ellen (Barton) Titus, sister
G. J. Barton was born November 21, 1936 in Lucas, Kansas, just two blocks from the Garden of Eden and 22 miles from Paradise – Kansas, that is. Herb Barton, Tucker’s father, was at a high school football game when his wife went in to labor. A neighbor, Mr. Tucker, went to get Herb and quickly drove him home. When the little red-headed boy was born he was nicknamed Tucker in honor of Mr. Tucker. He would use that nickname in his youth. His parents formally named him G. J. Barton – just the initials only – after his grandfather, George Joshua Barton.
When Tucker was about three years old the family moved from Lucas to Osborne, Kansas. There his parents operated Barton Wholesale, a fruit and vegetable warehouse, and his father had a trucking company which brought fresh fruits and vegetables from Colorado, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas.
Tucker was Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn all rolled into one. He had bright red hair, lots of freckles, and a mischievous smile that would light up any dark spot. Everyone in Osborne was his friend. He was always curious about everything, which more than once got him into some kind of minor difficulty. Tucker was a good student without any effort when something caught his interest, involved in sports and school plays and clubs. He was a member of the Osborne Methodist Church and very active in the Methodist Youth Fellowship.
Tucker graduated from Osborne High School in the spring of 1954 and worked for his father until the spring of 1955. He worked at the warehouse and as a second driver on his father’s trucks.
At the very end of May 1955 Tucker and his friend Everett Waugh were involved in a terrible accident near Pryor, Oklahoma. They had stopped for a four-way stop and then started across the highway. An oil truck came from their right and hit them. A terrible explosion ensued and the driver and his son in the oil truck died. Tucker and Everett both were injured and terribly burnt. They both spent many months in and out of St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma undergoing plastic surgery.
In the fall of 1956 Tucker went to school at Fort Hays State College in Hays, Kansas. Tucker was a serious cook and lived with a house full of boys in Hays and did most of the cooking. His mother, Mary Ellen, was a wonderful cook and he had learned much about cooking from her.
While he was at Fort Hays State Tucker took a test to enter the army as a helicopter mechanic. In spite of the condition of his hands, as a result of the accident in Oklahoma, he passed the test, enlisted in the army and went to Fort Leonard Wood for basic training. [An aside: During World War I, Herb Barton drove Colonel Leonard Wood around in a motorcycle side car at Fort Riley.]
After basic training the man now usually called “Jay” went to Fort Rucker in Alabama for helicopter mechanic training. He spent time based in Hawaii, and then went back to Fort Rucker to become a helicopter pilot.
“Jay” Barton – The Adult Years
by Kathy Barton, wife
Jay completed helicopter flight school, and from age 21 to age 41 Jay served in the army as an aviator, eventually attaining the high rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4.
To circumvent Air Force objections about armed aircraft, the Army’s first unit of armed helicopters in Vietnam with a misleading name: The Utility Tactical Transport (UTT) Company. Activated in Okinawa on July 25, 1962 were operating in Vietnam by mid-summer 1962. Jay got his orders for Vietnam soon after flight school and served the first of his two tours of Vietnam in 1962-1963 in the U.S. Army’s UTT unit. His call sign while in Vietnam was Playboy.
On January 2, 1963, Jay performed in such an extraordinary manner under fire while flying a combat mission that he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded only for extraordinary heroism and achievement above and beyond the call of duty. Jay was specifically cited “for heroism while participating in aerial flight.”
Osborne County Farmer, July 11, 1963, Page One:
Flying Cross to G. J. Barton
George (Tucker) Barton, Warrant Officer serving with the United States Army at Saigon, Vietnam, was awarded on June 22 the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic action on January 2, 1963.
The citation was given “for heroism while participating in aerial flight.” Brigadier General Joe Stillwell, Jr., presented the award at the Tan Son Nhut Airport, Saigon.
Colonel Robert H. Shell gave the following as reason for the award:
“Warrant Officer Barton distinguished himself by heroism while participating in a heliborne operation on January 2, 1963. Warrant Officer Barton was the copilot of a UH-1 helicopter providing armed helicopter escort for troop carrying CH-21 helicopters engaged in an aerial assault near Ap Bac, Vietnam.
“As Warrant Officer Barton’s aircraft approached the landing zone intense ground fire from fortified Viet Cong positions was received. Two CH-2l’s were forced down in the landing zone and were unable to proceed.
“With full knowledge of the mounting dangers, Warrant Officer Barton made a firing pass on positions to provide covering fire for the downed crews. Warrant Officer Barton’s craft sustained a hit that struck the machine gun ammunition boxes and caused them to burst into flames. All though one UH-1 had already been shot down, Warrant Officer Barton, with professional calm, continued his firing passes while the burning ammunition was being jettisoned.
“Throughout the day he continued his escort mission and completed several medical evacuations while under insurgent fire. Warrant Officer Barton’s devotion to duty and courage under fire reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.”
Barton is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Herb Barton, Osbome. He is a 1954 graduate of Osborne High School. He attended Fort Hays State College before entering the service January 26, 1957.
When his tour in Vietnam was completed in the fall of 1963, Jay was then assigned to the Kansas City Air Defense Command, which was headquartered at the Olathe Naval Air Station, Olathe, Kansas.
Osborne County Farmer, November 26, 1964, Page 3:
Tucker Barton Receives Fifth Oak Leaf Cluster For Combat
Army Chief Warrant Officer G. J. Barton. 27, son of Mr. and Mrs. Herb B. Barton, 11 Hall Street, Daleville, Alabama, received the fifth Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal during ceremonies at the Olathe Naval Air Station, September 17. An Oak Leaf Cluster is given for each additional award of the medal after the initial presentation.
Barton received the award for his meritorious achievement while engaged in aerial combat support of ground forces of the Republic of Vietnam during his recent assignment in Vietnam.
He served in Vietnam from December 19, 1962, until November 10, 1963. Currently he is serving as a helicopter pilot with the 55th Artillery s Fifth Missile Battalion at the Olathe Naval Air Station. Barton entered the Army in February of 1957.
To receive the honor a soldier must participate in at least 25 combat missions. Barton participated in 162 missions to win the fifth cluster. He and his parents are former residents of Osborne.
While stationed at Olathe Jay met Kathy Treat, a medical social worker at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. They were married on June 19, 1965. Less than two years later Jay received orders for a second tour in Vietnam. After transitioning to the Chinook helicopter, he headed back to the combat zone.
Jay served in the 196th Assault Support Helicopter Company (ASHC) in 1967-1968. After a short training period, the 196th deployed to Camp Lane in the Republic of South Vietnam in January 1967. Jay’s call sign for this second Vietnam tour was Flipper 53. It was on January 19, 1968 that Jay once again demonstrated himself as a hero and was awarded a second Distinguished Flying Cross.
When Jay’s second Vietnam tour was over he returned to the United States and was again assigned to the Kansas City Air Defense Command for a short time, before being reassigned to the Dayton/Cincinnati Air Defense Command. It was in Ohio that on April 21, 1969, a daughter, Karen Suzanne Barton, was born. Before her first birthday the family headed to Fort Eustis, Virginia for Jay to attend the Aircraft Maintenance School to become an Aircraft Maintenance Officer. The next move was to Fort Stewart, Georgia for stage 1 of fixed wing school, and then on to Fort Rucker, Alabama for stage 2. Upon completion of fixed wing school, Jay was assigned to the flight detachment at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where he was the maintenance officer and flew fixed wing aircraft.
While stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Jay was chosen to be one of two pilots to ferry a twin engine military plane all the way from the Beech airplane factory in Wichita, Kansas to Ankara, Turkey, a then-unheard of flight in a small aircraft at the time. He and his co-pilot, CW2 P. R. Lefebvre, wrote an article about their trip that was published in the July 1972 edition of the Army Aviation Digest. There were some very tense moments such as loss of radio contact, temporary loss of engine power, and various weather-related issues that could have dumped them in the icy water among the icebergs.
[The story of Jay and Lefebvre’s “ferry flight” can be found reprinted in full at the end of this biography.]
By the time Karen was two years old she had lived in five states, and then in January 1973 the family was on the move again, this time for Jay to attend the Warrant Officer Advanced Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Finally in late summer of 1973 they settled in Aurora, Colorado, where Jay was assigned to Readiness Region VIII Flight Detachment. There he flew out of Denver’s Stapleton International Airport until his retirement on May 31, 1978, having flown approximately 970 successful missions flown in his 20-year military career.
Besides the two Distinguished Flying Cross medals mentioned above, Jay was also awarded the following commendations:
- Air Medal (with 28 Oak Leaf Clusters)
- Master Aviation Badge
- Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
- National Defense Service Medal
- Vietnam Service Medal with Silver Service Star
- Vietnam Campaign Medal
- Army Commendation Medal
- Armed Forces Reserve Medal
- Good Conduct Medal
- Vietnam Cross
Jay rarely talked about his military career and achievements after his retirement from the Army. The Bartons remained in Colorado and Jay worked for several years as a district manager for a mobile home-moving company. When the company downsized and eliminated his job, he decided he didn’t want to work for someone else anymore, so Jay went into partnership with a retired marine who was repairing lawn mowers and other small engines in a tiny shop in Aurora. They soon moved to a larger building, hired another mechanic, and began selling lawn mowers, snow blowers, chain saws and other power tools. After some time, Jay bought out his partner’s share of the business. The business continued growing, but in 1992 he was forced to sell it due to health problems. He had been on oxygen for one year by then.
Jay’s new challenge was finding purpose with his health limitations. He was on oxygen full time and no longer had energy for much of anything. Then his doctor urged him to start walking. He only went one block and back home the first time, but because he was determined, he kept increasing the distance until he could walk two miles. Soon after, he learned of a study being conducted at National Jewish Hospital for patients with emphysema and thus began a long association with National Jewish. Long after the study was concluded, he continued to go there every day to exercise, and gave credit to exercise for living so long while impaired. Nineteen years on oxygen is a very long time.
Jay had a great sense of humor; he loved history and politics, doing crosswords, watching football and playing cards. His favorite TV show was Jeopardy, and he knew 99% of the answers. He was a member of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association and enjoyed working in the kitchen, cooking and baking, and his wonderful desserts and peanut brittle became legendary among his friends and family. Jay won prizes for his pies at the church picnics, won first place in more than one chili cook-off, and won the hearts of many people for his nut brittle. One Christmas Jay estimated that he had made 70 pounds of nut brittle to give away.
Jay Barton’s Famous Nut Brittle Recipe
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup 3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine 2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups mixed nuts/peanuts (roasted & salted)
Mix sugar, syrup, and water in heavy 4-quart pot. Bring to a rolling boil on high heat, turn heat down to medium high (on our stove I use #7 setting). Cook at this setting for about 13 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. At this time you should be able to spin a thread with the liquid (candy thermometer will be at about 270 degrees).
Turn the heat down to medium low (I use # 4 on our stove) and stir the nuts into the liquid. Cook at this setting for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice (use a regular table knife to clean off the spoon or the candy will stick to it).
At the end of 5 minutes stir in the butter and baking soda. The candy should fluff up. Pour immediately onto a cookie sheet with sides and allow to cool. After candy cools break it up into small pieces.
Yield about 2 1/2 pounds.
At some point after his retirement, Kathy decided that since Jay liked to cook more than she did, and had more time, it only made sense that he should be the one to prepare the evening meal. He agreed, and did so until his health issues made it too difficult.
Jay was an overcomer. He overcame a near-fatal accident, two tours in Vietnam, and the loss of breath brought on by emphysema. He persevered through these trials and more in his life, but he came to realize in his latter years that he needed and wanted help from his Heavenly Father so he committed himself to Jesus. Jay faithfully attended church and Bible study at the Harvest Fellowship Church in Brighton, Colorado for as long as he was able.
G. J. Barton passed away on December 23, 2010 in Aurora, Colorado. A military service was held on January 3, 2011 at the Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado, where he was buried with honors.
It is with the utmost respect that we honor G. J. Barton, a military veteran of distinction, as he takes his rightful place in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.
CW3 G. J. Barton
CW2 P. R. Lefebvre
(First published in the U.S. Army Aviation Digest, July 1972, ppgs. 24-29)
[NOTE: The T-42A Cochise was a military version of the Beechcraft Baron 95-B55 for use by the United States Army as an instrument training aircraft. The Army Aviation School took delivery of 65 aircraft, while a further five were bought for delivery to the Turkish Army.]
HOW DID WE feel about a “once in a career” flight to Turkey? We were indeed excited and impressed, but apprehensive. The apprehension came from realizing the largest body of water ever crossed by either of us was Possum Kingdom Lake. Now we would be flying one of two brand new T-42s across hundreds of miles of open ocean. The other T-42 was to be flown by Captain John Tykowski and WOl Robert Wimpy.
Many questions had to be answered and much interservice coordination arranged, for the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group (USAF), Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, was to handle the flight routing, navigational briefings and flight following.
The first question was, how do we get to Ankara? Were we to use the southern route – South America across to Africa? Or were we to use the northern route – Labrador to Lajes in the Azores? Or finally the Arctic – Greenland to Iceland, then to England? The answer to this was provided by the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group. We were to start our trip from Langley and proceed as follows: Loring Air Force Base, Maine; Goose Bay Air Force Base, Labrador; Sondre Stromfjord Air Base, Greenland; Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland; Lossiemouth, Scotland; Weisbaden Air Force Base, Germany; Naples, Italy; and finally Ankara, Turkey.
Several other questions also needed to be answered. For example, how were the aircraft equipped for an extended overwater flight to include fuel range, radio gear, survival equipment, etc.? Most of the answers were provided by the Beech Aircraft Corporation. The aircraft had internal auxiliary fuel cells with 120-gallon capacities. This provided a 10-hour plus fuel endurance. Radio equipment on each aircraft consisted of dual VHF navigation receivers, dual VHF communication radios, 64-code transponder, ADF receiver and a 10-channel preset high frequency (HF) radio. At that time all looked well, with the exception of survival equipment. All major questions were answered and any further information or guidance required would come from the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group in Virginia.
Armed with the knowledge provided by Beech Aircraft and the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group, we kissed the little woman, threw the white scarf over the shoulder and proceeded to Wichita, Kansas, to pick up our aircraft from Beech.
At Wichita we received a thorough briefing on the internal auxiliary fuel system. In addition, we were informed of an overgross condition of 700 pounds. When fully serviced the aircraft center of gravity was on the aft limits. A test flight/currency ride followed and then we were off to Langley Air Force Base and a briefing for the next two legs to Loring Air Force Base and Goose Bay Air Force Base. We picked up our survival gear, overwater and arctic equipment, then attended the briefing. We were informed that our 10-channel preset HF radio would not net with the flight following facilities to be used.
A search of the supply system with the help of the U. S. Army Aviation Systems Command (AVSCOM) at St. Louis, Missouri, indicated the earliest we could possibly receive any new crystals would be three weeks. However, we were fortunate enough to locate a company that would provide us with the proper crystals in two days and arrangements were made to purchase them.
The men of the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group at Langley were very helpful in helping to clear up other problems and getting us on our way. However, they gave us a feeling that we wouldn’t make it to Turkey. Everywhere we went they would shake their heads and say, “A two engine airplane on a four engine ocean!”
The trip to Loring Air Force Base was uneventful because we were still in the States and VOR navigation was excellent. Weather kept us in Maine an extra day, then we went on to Goose Bay Air Force Base. This flight was routine except for the fact while at the minimum enroute altitude (MEA) we were not in radio contact with anyone nor could we pick up the navigational facilities. Back to pilotage. While enroute we were VFR under the cloud deck and we saw some of the most beautiful countryside either of us had ever encountered. We flew over a mountainous area that hosted thousands of lakes with no visible habitation. The one single most impressive thing was the visibility. The only restriction was our own eyesight.
At Goose Bay we were met by a 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group representative. The next morning we received our briefing on the next two legs of our flight. These would take us across the North Atlantic to Sondre Stromfjord Air Base, Greenland, and then on to Keflavik, Iceland. The flight to Sondre Stromfjord would require five hours with 600 miles of our trip over water – very cold water, for this was iceberg country. We were more apprehensive about the successful completion of our mission than at any other time. Things looked even worse when we were informed our high frequency radios could not be fixed to net with the North Atlantic flight-following service, however, we might be able to pick up New York Airways on its secondary frequency.
During our briefing at Goose Bay we were told we could pick up Kook Island radio beacon at Char. (Char is an oceanic reporting point approximately 100 miles off the coast of Labrador.) The straight line distance between Char and Kook Island is 500 miles. We were somewhat concerned about the navigational portion of the briefing at Goose Bay; after all, who ever heard of picking up an NDB [non-directional beacon] at that distance?
Once again we were ready for liftoff. The weather was forecast to be clear at our altitude. Our alternate Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island, was forecast clear, so we took off. About 45 minutes prior to Char, you guessed it – we went IFR [instrument flight rules (IFR) is one of two sets of regulations governing all aspects of civil aviation aircraft operations; the other is visual flight rules (VFR)]. We arrived at Char on time and turned toward our next checkpoint. At Char we tuned in Kook Island beacon not really believing we would pick it up. Much to our surprise Kook Island came in loud and clear at a range of 500 miles.
We were then assured of making it: our ADF [automatic direction finder] was tuned, our clock was in working order and our mag compass full of fluid. But then our internal auxiliary fuel system started to leak inside the cockpit. Shortly after finding the leak our high frequency started to smoke and it burned up. With the fuel fumes we weren’t about to try the radio again because we thought the lack of air circulation caused the high frequency to overheat. We had radio contact with the other aircraft so all was well.
About 200 miles out of Char the layers started to break up and we would break out only to see buildups in front of us. But there was no turning back now. We secured all the loose gear and readied the aircraft for turbulence penetration.
All this was in vain for the clouds were as smooth as glass – not a bump.
We continued our flight, reporting our position to our friends in the other aircraft via VHF and they relayed our position to New York Airways. We broke out of the clouds about 100 to 200 miles off the coast of Greenland and we could see the island.
Visibility was so clear we took a visual wingtip bearing and this further assured our position. We also were very interested in the icebergs we saw floating below; they looked quite large even though we were cruising at 11,000 feet. They reminded us of the 1 hour and 30 minute survival period should we be forced down in the water.
Suddenly we got an urgent call from the other aircraft that it lost both engines, was still AI and was going in. There was a USAF Duckbutt on strip alert at Goose Bay but its flight time to our position would have exceeded the survivability time.
We tried unsuccessfully to establish some sort of radio contact. After about 3 minutes they called to tell us they got both engines back and were continuing with the flight. By this time we were beyond the point of no return. It was quite a scare and unexplainable. A check of the internal auxiliary fuel system to see if the fuel had been turned off revealed it hadn’t. When it was switched back on it worked fine.
The rest of the flight was uneventful except for the approach and landing at Sondre Stromfjord Air Base which was unusual in several ways. VFR minimums at Sondre Stromfjord are 4000-3, due to the fact that the terrain around the airfield elevation is 165 feet with peaks from 2,000 to 8,000 feet surrounding it on two sides. The icecap which is 2,000 to 9,000 feet was on the third side.
The view of the surrounding area from the airfield is spectacular. You can stand on the parking ramp, look to the east and see the icecap of the world; a fjord to the west with a water temperature of 32 degrees; and looking in all directions see nothing but treeless, barren rock cliffs. For you fishermen the fjord at Sondre Stromfjord is a fisherman’s paradise where a 10-pound Arctic char is a baby and is thrown back.
The next day it was off to Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland . . . mostly a routine flight. While flying over the icecap our single engine zero climb altitude was 1,000 feet below ground level – and that would be some heavy flying if we lost an engine.
We had to cross 300 miles of solid ice with only two very small radar sites where humans could be found; one was in our flight path and the other was 100 miles to the south. After takeoff we climbed to 13,000 feet and proceeded to Iceland. On climbout the heater became inoperative. At 13,000 feet the outside air temperature (OAT) was minus 16 degrees Fahrenheit – and for a 5-hour flight that is cold!
Two events remain outstanding in our minds. First, the visibility – you could actually see the curvature of the earth with no obstructions and no haze. Just fantastic! The second was an optical illusion that one encounters when dealing strictly with one color; depth perception is nil. We saw nothing but pure white. Even though we at times were 4,000 feet above the icecap, it would appear that we were contour flying.
We arrived at Big Gun ADF on the eastern coast of Greenland and proceeded on course. Thirty minutes out of Iceland we encountered a strange icing condition. We entered a light fleecy cloud and exited less than five seconds later and the whole airplane was covered with clear ice . . . not just the leading edges but the whole airplane, every square inch.
Our descent was uneventful but the landing was of great concern in both our minds. Flying at 13,000 feet with an OAT of minus 16 degrees Fahrenheit and no heater for almost 5 hours, your feet become ineffective except for them being a shoetree. Luckily the wind was down the runway and a crosswind landing was not necessary at Keflavik.
Due to bad weather in England our takeoff for Lossiemouth, Scotland, was delayed six days. On climbout we again noted fuel fumes in the cockpit, only this time it was worse . . . almost nauseating . . . so we returned to the airfield. Our companions were 30 minutes ahead of us and elected to continue.
We waited two more days in Iceland and conferred with the Beech Aircraft Corporation and AVSCOM about our problem. There was no explanation.
During our 8-day stay we had a chance to really see Iceland. The name “Iceland” implies a wasteland, barren and ice-coated, but we found the island extremely green and beautiful. The people are friendly and – believe it or not – the average temperature at Keflavik is higher than Chicago’s.
When the weather improved we took off. All went well until we were halfway to Scotland. We had a dual instantaneous engine failure, no cough, no sputter, no fuel pressure drop – just immediate silence.
Knowing all the serious problems we were having with the internal auxiliary system, the only thing we could think of was to get off that system. We hit the boost pumps and switched to the aircraft’s main tanks. Both engines started without a problem, although I can’t say the same for my heart . . . and that poor seat cushion was never seen again. The rest of the flight was good IFR time and a GCA [ground-controlled approach] was made into Lossiemouth to 100 feet scattered, 200 feet overcast and one mile visibility conditions.
The Scottish countryside is a beautiful place. The rolling hills were covered with foliage as if made of velvet, and imaginary leprechauns were popping up from behind every rock, tree and underpass. It was truly a paradise.
The next day began as usual with a weather briefing and it was forecast, according to the Royal British Navy, as a “cup of tea” along our routing to Weisbaden. All went as briefed until we were halfway across the English Channel. Instead of the stable status and fair conditions forecast, we ran into a line of heavy thunderstorms. We were told to turn eastward for a vector through the line. We did and were vectored into a fairly large cell which gave us several bad moments. The rest of the flight to Weisbaden was a series of dodging thunderstorms that weren’t supposed to be there. Our arrival at Weisbaden surprised the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group representatives for they couldn’t believe we took off with such bad enroute weather.
Because of the serious problems encountered with the internal auxiliary fuel tanks, we had the system defueled and scheduled additional fuel stops in Pisa, Italy, and Athens, Greece. We received our final flight briefing at Weisbaden for the trip into Turkey and the additional diplomatic clearances needed for our extra stops.
The flight to Naples was routine and impressive since neither of us had ever seen the Alps. Roughly we followed the eastern French border to St. Tropez, then to Corsica and finally into Pisa. Throughout our flight in France we were never out of sight of an airfield. While on approach to Pisa there was quite a bit of neck stretching to see the leaning tower, however, the duties of landing the aircraft came first. The job of refueling was accomplished with hand signals because neither us nor the Italians could speak the other’s language. This language barrier presented an additional problem in reading back our IFR clearance.
When all of this was behind us, we departed for Naples only to arrive there with thoughts that Mt. Vesuvius had erupted; the visibility was terrible! After an exciting night in “Old Napoli” we caught a cab for the airfield and unexpectedly experienced 45 minutes of bumper-to-bumper cars at 60 miles an hour. Goodbye to Naples!
Our flight path followed the coast of Italy southward to the toe of the boot then across to Athens. The major portion of this leg was routine until the sky filled with thunderstorms. After our experience over Amsterdam we decided to go VFR underneath. The last 100 miles from Araxas to Athens was low level along the water to our destination. Ah – beautiful Athens . . . it left us a little older, wiser and poorer when we departed for Ankara, our final leg.
All things went well until we arrived at the Turkish coast at Izmir; we went IFR and at the same time the whole world stopped talking to us. The next words spoken to us were from Ankara approach control. After a successful approach and landing we were met by a representative from the Joint U. S. Military Mission for Aid to Turkey plus a swarm of Turkish customs officials. We landed at Esenboga Airport and the final flight was to the Turkish Army Flight Training Center.
Well, that’s the end of our story. We left R21054 in the hands of the Turkish government. In all we spent 49 hours and 50 minutes in the air from Kansas to Turkey. We met some fine people and saw some beautiful countryside. Our last look at that proud bird was over our shoulders; she indeed was beautiful, but her appearance was somewhat marred by the fact that we spent many uncomfortable hours getting her to Turkey. Still, the trip home was nice as we sat back and relaxed on a 747 while someone else worried about getting us across all that water.
SOURCES: Kathy Barton, Brighton, Colorado; Mary Ellen Titus, Manhattan, Kansas; “Ferry Flight”, with P. R. Lefebvre, U.S. Army Aviation Digest, July 1972, pages 24-29; Salina Journal, July 23, 1963, Page 9; Osborne County Farmer, November 26, 1964, Page 3; Kansas City Times, January 7, 1965, Page 24; Kansas City Times, June 19, 1965, Page 30.