Greased Lightening

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61-2059			95 B-58A		Can Do/Greased Lightning

Assigned to 305th BW; flew an 8028 n. mile mission from Tokyo to London, non-stop at an average speed of 938 mph; static display at the Strategic Aerospace Museum, Offutt AFB.
 On October 16, 1962, 61-2059 crewed by Major Sidney Kubesch, Major John Barrett and Captain Gerard Williamson, flew supersonically from Tokyo to London, spending five hours at supersonic speed. The flight set five world absolute records.

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Greased Lightening

by Charles Comstock

This is another of the many varied missions flown by the aircraft and men of the 552nd Airborne Early Warning and Control at McClellan AFB, California. Greased Lightning was the code name for a mission in which the 552nd AEW&C utilizing their Super Constellation aircraft with their airborne radar platform to try to locate and track the B-58 Hustler, a supersonic jet bomber, making a high altitude flight over the Arctic Circle from the Far East. Greased Lightning to me turned out to be a bucket of worms…   We had to get de-iced before we left Eielson AFB, Alaska and it was very early in the morning.  Before we had left McClellan AFB, California the navigators were told not to depend on the Central Gyro Reference System (CGRS).   Well, would you believe Murphy’s Law, that is just what they did and we got lost.  The other Connie was behind us and I think they also got lost.  By the time we got to station, we were definitely lost and heading for Siberia.  We had an overcast sky condition and the navigators could not determine their position since no star shots could be made.  The pilot requested that I put out a MAYDAY call and see if anyone could pick us up.  Thank Heavens, the last White Alice (BMEWS)* heard our call and gave us a vector back to Eielson, in 30 degree increments, in turn we would give the heading to the other aircraft.  We had the other aircraft on our radar so we knew that they were following us.  We had to climb the Connie up to 29,100 ft and with the fuel load and the weight of the airplane, we were just hanging on the props.  We did get a star shot at that altitude and was able to make it back. I had my .38 Smith and Wesson** with me.  If we had of crashed, I don't think the pistol would have killed a polar bear, but it gave me a little confidence. I don't know if the other aircraft in Greenland or Japan saw the B-58, but we sure didn't.  After we got back to the base, the officers stayed out in front of the barracks for about an hour trying to figure out what they were going to tell them back at McClellan.  I have no idea what was said.

We had a Hawaiian with us on the trip and during our time off, we went into town.  There, they had Moose Burgers.  We stuck our head into a bar and had a beer.  There were 3 Eskimo women in the bar and when they saw the Hawaiian, they really gave him the smiles. That is about all that I can remember about Greased Lightning, hope it is of some help to you.  It was interesting though. Note: The CGRS had a mode of operation called DG (Direct Gyro) which did not use the input from the C-2 Compass located in the left wing. When you fly that far north the magnetic lines of deviation varies greatly. This was the mode that was supposed to be used in the far north or south. (Dean Boys)

*BMEWS –Ballistic Missile Early Warning System.

** A 38 cal. S&W pistol was part of of a survival vest worn on some missions. Note: Charles "Chuck" Comstock retired from the Air Force in October 1977 as a Senior Master Sergeant and resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. His Air Force career began as a ground radar operator. He later became a crew chief on the Super Constellations at the 552ndAEW&C Wing at McClellan AFB, California, and flew on them for eleven and one-half years supporting various type missions. One such mission is described above.

His e-mail address is:  

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B58 Hustler

  Edited by A.J. Northrup