Plane Captain Of The Month

Found this picture of an F9F-8T Cougar from H&MS 13 that was probably the same one I flew in the back seat in ’63 when I made Plane Captain of the month. Although this pic was taken at Chu Lai, it’s still the same H&MS 13 that my squadron, VMA 212, was a part of at Kaneohe Bay in 1963. They only had one Cougar trainer. That year, my squadron established an award to be designated “Plane Captain of the month” and I happened to be lucky enough to be the first one. Before I could actually fly, however, I had to take pressure chamber and ejection seat training at NAS Barber’s Point. After that initial training I was ready for the flight. The pilot was a Captain from H&MS-13 and the hop was about an hour long. We did all the maneuvers including a loft bombing where he put it in a power dive from around 30,000 ft. and pulled back on the stick at about 6,000 ft. climbing back to altitude and flipping over, simulating special weapons delivery. I was watching the G meter climb to about 7 G’s. I could hear the wings creaking like rusty hinges as my G suit filled up with bleed air. After that maneuver he let me take the stick. “Put your left wing down”, he said, and I eased the stick left. Same thing with the right wing. So now I get a little confident and asked if I could try an aileron roll. “Go ahead if you think you can” says he. Now I’m feeling very confident, even though I wasn’t a pilot (did that years later as a civilian), and I just whipped that stick over in my right lap. I didn’t know that you have to give it a little nose up before entering an aileron roll. Nobody mentioned that part. Anyway, we were up around thirty thousand when I started the maneuver. I was looking straight up at the ocean getting closer and the airplane was not coming out of the roll. It was falling towards the water upside down. I still had the stick all the way over in a death grip, looking up at the ocean, watching the waves turn into whitecaps. The Captain said “Let Go Of The Stick”. “Are You Sure You Got It Sir”, says I. “Let Go Of The Godd-mn Stick” says he with more emphasis. So I let go, and he rolled out to level flight before we got wet. He didn’t say a word to me after that all the way back to Kaneohe and after landing he got away from that plane post haste and left me in the fuel pits. At any rate, there was only one PC of the month after me. They discontinued it after that guy because he puked in his Oxygen mask. Made a h-ll of a mess so I hear. They discontinued the award after that.

Norm Spilleth
Cpl. 1960-1964

Submit your own Story>>

6 thoughts on “Plane Captain Of The Month”

  1. Hi Norm.
    I was stationed at KMCAS 1970-71 with H&S Eng 1/3, and later with A Co. 9th Eng. VFMA 212 and VMFA 235 were the 2 squadrons of F4J Phantoms there at that time. Our outfit built a SATS runway at the West end of the runway and just North of it. There’s still an imprint of that visible from Google Earth. We had a VMFA 235 F4 with a power problem on take off go into the bay about 1 am, and our dozer operators had to pull it out. No loss of life, but the pilot suffered severe injuries. A few months later while we were working on the SATS an F4 from VMFA 212 caught fire while refueling. The fire was out quickly with no injuries.
    When I arrived home after my time, a F9 had been placed on a pedestal at the then new City Park in my hometown of Union. Ms. Its still there the last time I went through there.

    1. Lot of memories of my time on the rock. VMA 212, the Devil Cats and VMA214 Black Sheep, then VMF 232 Red Devils. 212 and 214 had A4Ds 232 had F8Us. All part of H&MS 13 at the time. 61-63.

  2. I can not believe my eyes. I was in this unit and worked as a mechanic on this aircraft from 1966 thru 1969. I was lucky enough to get a back seat ride on a test flight in this very same plane. During that period of time we had four of these F1s. I believe it was early 1969 that these planes were replaced with A4s. I have a picture of this aircraft with me in my flight gear. This was one of greatest experiences of my life. Unfortunately, after I returned to the US duty station, I found out that one of our aircraft was lost to enemy fire and the pilots remain missing in action. My good friend Captain James Conner was the pilot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.