Losses and Aviation Safety

USAF F-102 pilot recalls when he was left alone in the cockpit of a KC-135 flying from the US to Okinawa

The F-102 Delta Dagger

The primary mission of the F-102 Delta Dagger was to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft. It was the world’s first supersonic all-weather jet interceptor and the USAF’s first operational delta-wing aircraft. The F-102 made its initial flight on Oct. 24, 1953, and became operational with the Air Defense Command in 1956. At the peak of deployment in the late 1950s, F-102s equipped more than 25 ADC squadrons. Convair built 1,000 F-102s, 889 of which were F-102As.

The F-102 Delta Dagger fighter jets belonging to the 16th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing at Naha Air Base, Okinawa were deployed to Vietnam.

F-102 pilot alone in the cockpit of a KC-135

Former F-102 pilot Roger Daisley recalls on Quora;

‘During the Vietnam era, I was stationed in Okinawa, as a pilot, flying the F-102. I had just finished an R&R to the states and was returning to Okinawa. To get back, I caught a “hop” in a KC-135 (Jet tanker) from Travis Air Force Base, California, to Okinawa. Normally, the passengers sit in the back of the aircraft, where many times it is also packed with cargo, such as spare engines, etc. In this flight, there were about five to ten passengers, as I recall.

‘About half way through the flight, I decided to walk up to the cockpit and chat with the pilots. I was wearing my fighter pilot flight suit. (In the KC-135, the entrance to the cockpit is not blocked or locked. It is not unusual for a passenger to walk up front and talk to the crew members).’

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. KC-135R Stratotanker 161st Air Refueling Wing, 197th Air Refueling Squadron “Copperheads”, 63-8038 – Arizona Air National Guard – Sky Harbor ANG Base, AZ

Daisley continues;

‘We chatted about “pilot things,” such as: Where are we now, what are you using for navigation aid, (before GPS) how is the fuel going and what is our ETA … those kind of things. After about fifteen minutes, the Copilot, sitting in the right seat, asked if I would like to sit in his seat for awhile, while he took a break. The AC (Aircraft Commander), who sits in the left seat, agreed, so I slid into the right seat, as the copilot departed.

10 minutes of KC-135 flying time

‘After about ten minutes, and more “pilot talk,” the AC said he was going to go back and get a cup of coffee. He got up and left the cockpit. So … there I was, the only pilot in the cockpit and I have never piloted a KC-135 before! I sat there and contemplated and marveled at the situation (the aircraft was on autopilot).

‘After about ten minutes, the AC returned and we started chatting again. He asked, “How long have you been flying the KC-135?” I replied, “About ten minutes … I’m an F-102 pilot.” No comment! End of chatting.’

Daisley concludes; ‘I logged 10 minutes of KC-135 flying time in my Air Force flight log!’

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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