Yeager Will Get it (P-80) Back (in one piece)

June 11th, 2013

I wasn’t so thrilled when I was shot down to say the least, but because I survived and was an evadee,  after the war, I got my pick of airbases. I chose Wright Field in Dayton, OH because it was the closest to home, Hamlin, West Virginia.

There was an opening as Maintenance Officer in the Fighter Test section so they assigned me there.

I flew everything – I had to fly the airplane to check what was wrong & then afterwards, of course, I had to fly the airplane to check we had fixed it – so I knew more about the P-80 than the 5 test pilots :-).

One day, General, then Colonel,  Boyd sent 5 test pilots & me to pick up 6 P-80s from Lockheed and fly them to Muroc Air Base (now Edwards AFB).

I flew all the P-80s because of maintenance issues so again, got the most experience.

When Col Boyd wanted a P-80 flown to Wright Field, against all the test pilots’ protests, he chose me. The test pilots, not about to give up, asked why me, a junior officer, not a test pilot….

Col Boyd replied simply: “Because he’ll get it there!”

When I got back, Col Boyd told me he wanted me to go to test pilot school.

I said: I only have a college education.

Col Boyd: I know a few guys who’d love to tutor you…heh heh….

Uh oh. Probably the same ones I kept beating out on choice assignments…

Col Boyd protected me though – he told me to stay close to Jack Ridley and made sure Jack Ridley watched over me in class together.

Thank goodness.


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