Stan Bloom and I happened to be in the area of Sault Ste. Marie at the same time and I had some work to look at, on the Kinchelo Air Force Base, so he went along with me. A part of the work involved revamping some of the Runway and Parking Ramp Lighting, and in as much as we had installed much of the original equipment, I was familiar with the work and needed no help to find the location. What I didn’t know was that since the last time that I had been on the Base, the Facility had been activated as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) Base, and strict security was being enforced.
I remember that the thought crossed my mind when I drove the Company car along side a B52 Bomber, that was parked right where I wanted to look, that it was odd that they would allow us to be there. The truth of the matter was that they wouldn’t have allowed it if they had known it, but I hadn’t seen the sign that said something about no one being allow beyond that point. That is, I didn’t see the sign when we went in, but I did see it when we came out, because the Air Patrol showed it to me.
I think that it was when we were marveling at the size of those B52 Bombers and K135 Tankers, that a Jeep loaded with Air Patrol personal, and carrying a sign on it’s rear bumper, that said “FOLLOW ME”, pulled up in front of us, so I followed them. They drove straight to the office of Provost Marshall and it only took that Officer about two minutes to convince Stan and I that we were going to spend the rest of our lives in Kansas; Levenworth that is. However, it finally got through to us that he was not nearly as concerned about us being out there as he was about how we could have gotten through his guard posts and under the wing of a SAC Bomber, without his people stopping us.
If we had asked for help, we would have been taken, under escort, to any place that we wanted to go. I knew that, but I didn’t know that they had tightened their security, and I had been in the habit of wandering around the Base, at will. I think that before our thirty minute ordeal, with the Provost Marshall, was over, he was convinced that it was going to be him that would be spending time in Kansas, for being derelict in his duties instead of us for being off limits in an area that his men should have been guarding more closely. I can also imagine that the Air Patrol crew finally figured out that they would have been better off if they had taken us to the NCO Club and bought us a beer, instead of trying to make points by taking us to their Commander.
There was another occasion, on another Air Base, that a similar event took place. This one involved the Air Patrol on the K.I.Sawyer Air Force Base near Marquette, Michigan. After the Runways and Parking Ramps were completed and the Flight Control Facilities were activated, we would fly up there and upon approaching the field, our Pilot, Red Otterbacher, would request permission to land. He would then Buzz the job site and Sam would come over to the hangers and pick us up. Red would then park our Twin Beach and let it sit there, on the Parking Ramp, until we were ready to leave. This system worked real well, all during the time that our work was in progress.
Some time after we had completed our contract, we were asked to bid on some more work, at that same base, and flew up to have a look at it. As usual, when we came within range, Red contacted the Tower and was given landing instructions. The problem was, the Flight Controller misunderstood Red’s identification and thought that he was Military. We landed and taxied up to the Parking Ramp, as usual, and were greeted by a Jeep load of AP’s. This time they wanted to take us anywhere that we wanted to go but would we PLEASE get that Civilian Aircraft out of there. They told us that there was some Top Brass from Washington due to arrive at any moment, and a Red White and Blue Twin Beach Craft wouldn’t look right, parked among the B52 Bombers and the K135 Tankers. This Base had also been activated SAC (Strategic Air Command),since the last time that we had been there.