The Spring and Summer of 1978 was a really busy time. We had a three year old and a six year old….and a dog named “Snuffer.” Far Guy was so busy at work and getting ready for the William Tell Load Competition that we hardly saw him. The team practiced “loads” in the evenings and on Saturdays for weeks.
The William Tell Competition was named after the guy that shot the apple off of someones head. Load Teams came from all over the United States and the World to Tyndall AFB Florida.
The teams got points for their flight time and arrival times. The Canadians announced their arrival with an upside down pass next to the Air Traffic Control Tower. They also had lots of “Moose Milk” …the different teams would host get togethers and meals. I think The Happy Hooligans served BBQ steak and no one knows remembers what they drank.
Anyways arrival times got points, maintenance on aircraft got points, load crews got points and the pilots scored points with hits to targets. In the end the points are totaled and the highest score won. In 1978 they took 2nd Place which is/was a pretty big deal.
The Load Crew also had to take a written test. The last question was “How many photon torpedoes does the Star Ship Enterprise carry?” Far Guy says “I got it wrong.”
Merle, Gene, Jerry (RIP), Jim and Phil
The loaders were designated as A, B, C and D. Phil was the trainer.
The A guy was the Crew Chief he had the checkbook and checked things off as the tasks were completed. B and C guys had various tasks inspecting, installing wings and fins and fitting the missiles to the aircraft. The D guy was the jammer driver. The jammer was a specialized vehicle that transported missiles.
Arial Targets that were rockets were fired over the Gulf for the aircrews to shoot at. The aircraft (F-4’s) would go out in groups of 4’s to intercept the targets. One of the aircraft had to get close enough to positively identify it as the target before any of the other aircraft could release their missiles, he would peal out and the firing would commence. In 1978 it was a “Live” fire however the missiles did not contain warheads, they did have guidance and control units.
Later as years went by in this competition technology was such that they could shoot at the target but the missile never left the aircraft and ground control could tell if it was a hit or a miss. Sort of like a giant video game.
Far Guy says “It was one big party.” Have you ever been Hooliganized? WELL. As I understand it…they tried to Hooliganize almost everyone…especially women. They all had numerous stickers in their billfolds. The stickers were red and white and said The Happy Hooligans. I will leave it to your imagination where they were placed.