People Near Here | Plattsburgh Airforce Base Reunion

Derek Muirden has the story of fighter pilots and their crewmates from the 380th Bombardment Wing who gathered for a reunion to remember their years stationed at the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, here in the North Country, during the Cold War.

  1. I will always remember Plattsburgh AFB. I had just returned stateside from Sidi Slimane AB, Morocco. The Cold War was warming up. Oct.22, 1962, 380th Bomb Wing responded to the Cuban Missile Crisis. As at all SAC bases, every bomber on the Plattsburg AFB was prepared for war. Nuclear weapons were often seen on the flight line, but this was different. They were everywhere as all the planes were being simultaneously uploaded. One airman commented, “If they had pylons under the wings, they’d stick them on the tankers too.”

    The wing was ordered to deployed eight of its B-47s to an unknown dispersal base. Orders were sealed and pilots were not permitted to open them until the plane was airborne. They went out to their planes and were surprised to find the planes sitting very high on their struts. They were practically empty. Only 3,000 pounds of jet fuel had been put each of the main tanks. That’s only 460 gallons. The plane used its drop tanks to taxi, but at full throttle, as when taking off, each of its jet engines consumed 35 gallons per minutes. Each main tank fueled two engines. The pilots quickly calculated that they had only six and half minutes of flying time. The aircrews did not know where they were going and had never heard of a low altitude refuelings. All were very apprehensive. As the planes left the ground, the pilots tore open their orders and were surprised to find that they were being ordering to Burlington Airport, in Vermont just across Lake Champlain – an easy three minute flight. Then it made sense. The planes were carrying minimum fuel to reduce weight making it easier for them to stop on the short 5,000 runway. A good plan, at least on paper. One plane suffered the loss of two engines on final approach and slammed into the runway so hard that it snapped off its JATO collar. Six of the rockets ignited and one went through a hanger at Burlington. Each tank fed two jet engines, which at full throttle – as in takeoff – consume 35 gallons per minutes for a total of 70 gallons per minutes. All of the planes main tires blew out and the metal mesh reinforced rubber tread tore large holes on the underside of the aircraft. Maintenance crews were dispatched from Plattsburg and quickly repaired the damage. The aircraft and personnel stayed at Burlington until Nov.25, 1962. The wings other aircraft and personnel remained on alert at Plattsburgh AFB. This was my introduction to the north country of up state New York

    1. That had to be one stressful time for You. My story isn’t as interesting, however I did love Plattsburgh and did a 3 way swap to get there. I had orders to Clarke in the Philippines,one guy had Carswell afb in TX and the other PAFB. We all did our swaps and went our separate ways. I am from Western NY, So it was closer to home and still far enough away to be completely different than my Home town. I enjoyed Your story and thank you for sharing it.

  2. Hello,
    First, let me thank each of you for your service. I am writing this letter because we are trying to locate an old friend who served with my father at Plattsburg’s Strategic Air Command from 1960 to 1965. My father was Sergeant Frederick “Slick” Mason. He was an airplane mechanic form Charlotte, North Carolina. The soldier friend we are trying to find is First Sergeant, Trice. If there is anyone who can give me any information on Sergeant Trice, it would be very much appreciated. My father passed away some time ago and he left these mementos that are supposed to go to Sergeant Trice or members of his family. As my father’s daughter, I would like to fulfill his dying wish. The military has not been forthcoming with information. So I would appreciate any information that can be shared.

  3. He was assigned to the the 380th OMS Thats who you need to try and contact. I was in the 380th FMs who worked only on the engines. The people like your Dad worked the rest of the aircraft.

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