ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

by Les Waltman

This event occured in the mid-1950s when I was a member of the 104th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Maryland Air National Guard. We flew from Friendship Airport (now Baltimore-Washington International Airport), just to the south of Baltimore. The 121st Fighter Interceptor Wing was made up of squadrons from the Maryland, Delaware, DC, and West Virginia Air National Guards, all of which were equipped with the North American F-86E Sabre.

In those days each unit flew a fairly heavy evening schedule. One of our prime activities was to bounce eveything airborne in our area. On this particluar evening we were trolling along Maryland's eastern shore. I was flying Number Three in a flight of three Sabres. Element lead was another Maryland pilot, Joe Russell, an acknowledged champion of air-to-air tactics. We spotted a two-ship flight of F-86s from the Delaware squadron.

Russ commenced his attack on the unsuspecting Maryland Sabres, supported by me in a high position. He was, however, too aggressive in his attack and it looked like he was going to overshoot. I saw him suddenly yank back on the stick, complete what certainly looked like a one-turn spin, and drop neatly into the 6 o'clock position, and within range of his target - the Maryland ANG Leader. Somewhat in awe at the extraordinary tactics employed by his attacker, the Maryland Flight Leader voiced over the radio, "What am I supposed to do now?!"

I quietly replied through my mask mike - "APPLAUD!"


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