Monday, January 26, 2009

The Lake - 4

I went for a visit yesterday and ended up at the front gate of Lake Nuncansee Air Force Base. Commander Kodee met me there and gave me a tour of the place, explaining some of its history as we went. There is only one runway there and its run North-South for almost three miles. Since the wind is usually from either the north or south there was no need for an east-west runway. That plus the fact that Kodee did not want to get his pilots confused with the presence of another runway is why there is only the one.
Kodee and his Lawst County Airmen are stationed in a very relaxed atmosphere that shows some military discipline and some common sense. Every month they conduct at white-glove inspection. All the airmen make sure that their white gloves are clean and pressed and Commander Kodee spends about a half an hour inspecting them. Since this is the only time the white gloves are used there is very little chance of them getting dirty or wrinkled. Thus, everyone passes this monthly inspection.

The mission of the base and its band of hardy airmen is air defense. They are assigned to defend the O zone is the Northern sector of New England. This zone consists almost entirely of the airspace directly above Lawst County so they are right at home in fulfilling their mission. They do perform other tasks, however. Every Memorial Day they fly over the town parade in a missing man formation to honor those who have died in the service of their County. This came about quite by accident. About ten years ago the Lawst County Airmen were scheduled to fly a four-aircraft formation over the parade but one of the pilots flew off in an unknown direction. The other three flew the formation leaving an open space in case the other pilot found his way back and could join up with them. The pilot was never seen again, however, and was presumed lost in the O Zone. He is the only person assumed to have lost his life (not to mention his sense of direction) in the service of Lawst County. He also serves as the towns Unknown Airman since no one could remember his name or face two days after he disappeared. It is said now that on still, foggy nights, if you listen very carefully, you can hear that airman's aircraft engines softly whining for home as he circles endlessly above the base but he always becomes lost in the O Zone again.

Commander Kodee is very proud of his unit (the 0th Tactical Fighter Squadron). He and his charges maintain a very low budget for a unit of its size. The photographic squadron, for example, uses no film. This eliminates the need for costly developing solutions and photographic paper. Just one of many reasons the budget is kept so low. They also pride themselves on developing cost-saving ideas. Just last year the motor pool was beginning to run up high expenses in rust treatment for the vehicles,. Then one day one of the airmen decided to drain the water out of the pool and store the vehicles in a garage instead. The savings amounted to over $15,000. The cost of aircraft maintenance is also kept to a minimum. They have one of every type of aircraft in the U.S. Air Force stationed there. If one of the aircraft breaks down to the point where it cannot be flown, it is put in the Lawst County Air Museum and the public is charged admission to see it. Thus, instead of losing money in maintenance costs Commander Kodee is actually turning a profit from it. There may be some very creative bookkeeping behind some of this low budget but that is hard to determine since Commander Kodee has placed the Accounting And Finance Office under a Top Secret security blanket, "In the cause of National Defense", as he says.

There are so many different ways they save money there it is almost unbelievable. To save jet fuel on take off the pilot does not turn over his engines until 16 airmen have pushed the aircraft down the runway some 200 feet. Also, instead of costly camouflage paint Commander Kodee Bas used Country Kitchen wallpaper instead, thus eliminating the cost of paint but also the expense of spraying equipment, masking tape, drying lamps etc. He truly is a remarkable person.

Last week had a great deal of stormy weather and there was a tornado warning issued. Only this time a tornado really formed and bore right down of the Lake Nuncansee Air Force Base. It blew in from the northeast and did some damage around the area. It blew away one house completely except for a dresser mirror that wasn't so much as cracked - amazing; it will probably be enshrined in the Historical Society where people will bring all their relatives to look at it. The tornado also picked up a Chevy pick-up and set it back down 500 yards away on the Interstate facing in the proper direction but, sadly, on its roof. Just before the tornado blew itself out it took aim on the statue of the Unknown Airman and blew a piece of hay about six inches into the unfortunate Airman in an unusual place. A place where you certainly would not expect to find grass on a person, a part of the body where you've been told to insert nothing bigger than your finger in a washcloth.

The clean-up detail pulled it out, of course, but the root apparently was embedded in the stone so it keeps growing out. They thought of using some sort of herbicide but they didnot want to risk an ugly stain on the statue. It was finally decided that every time the ground beautification detail moweed the grass they would reach up with a pair of garden sheers and snip the stalk right where it emerges from the left ear. It really isn't that noticeable. You really have to look to see it.

The ice finally melted through on last Tuesday and Mr. Henry's Ford did its annualdive into the water. Response wasn't as great this year however and only 73 dollars were raised. The chairman of the fund set out to think of something ~ew and more challengingthan picking the day and hour an old beat up Ford makes yet another plunge. He thoughtfor a long time until the perfect idea hit him as he was shopping for a new truck. He had been to all the dealers in the area and was at his last stop at the local Isuzu place when the idea hit him. The salesman, some guy named Joe, was demonstrating the Trooper II whenit occurred that he had never sean a Trooper I. Yet common sense told him that there must have been a Trooper I before there could have been a Trooper II. So now there are chances being sold for $5.00 to get in on the Great Trooper Hunt. The first person to find andeither photograph or bring back a Trooper I wins $1,000.00! It will be awhile before weknow how well tickets are selling.

The local minor league baseball team is about to open its season next week. TheLake Nuncansee Monks play in the Class Q League and always field an interesting team.Last year, over a 120 game schedule, they were undefeated as they finished with a recordof 2 and O. They used some unusual strategy to gain this record. Every time they were losing after four innings they called time until it got too dark to play and so they games never counted. When they were ahead after five they again called time for a long time and emerged victorious. They play all night games because the local Little League has control of the fiel during the daylight hours. Th'e league has changed a few rules this year to avoid such situations arising again but it may be hopeless. The field electrician has been complaining about t~ the poor wiring to the field lights and has said that they could go out at almostany time without warning. He is the same fella who set up the baskets in the local gym for the high school hoop team. It should be a very interesting season.

I think Zero wants to take over the writing for a bit. The next few entries will be hers.

No comments:

Post a Comment