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Charlie Battery - Fort Bliss 1960

Our Annual Service Practice At McGregor Range - White Sands

Periodically Charlie Battery had to travel from Germany to Fort Bliss, Texas McGregor Range to gain the experience of using our training in a real time missile preparation, target acquisition, and missile firing on drone aircraft. I was given the honor of being chosen as part of that crew.

We traveled from the battery to the Frankfurt Rhine/Main Air Force Base, boarded a DC-8, flying first to Preswick, Scotland to fuel for the long journey across the Atlantic Ocean, stopping to fuel again in New Foundland, then for final fueling at McGuire Air Force Base, and finally on to El Paso, Texas. To view our travel orders “Click Here”.

The flight was long and grueling, and we may have been close to traveling half way across the planet.

We did well on our mission, and it certainly was well worth the time and effort. Many of us had cameras to document our unique experience, in fact if you look at last image on page 2, the IFC trailer, you will see the figure farthest to the right side, the Range Officer, compiling our test data.

I really wanted to shoot some images of a missile launch. The first time I tried to photograph an Ajax firing was a complete bust. I was totally awestruck by the burst of speed of a launch, particularly of an Ajax. By the time I depressed the shutter the missile was already 1,500 in the air, it was that fast of an event - I completely missed it!

So with a little practice I managed to get the Hercules lift off just right. It's the one I use in the header group above.

However, I never did get a good shot of an Ajax lift-off.

A lot was accomplished in the short time we were there, so by the time we started back we were all very tired and rundown.

We boarded a Lockheed Constellation, it had a long curved body, with 3 tail stabilizers. A beautiful aircraft that gave us a good ride, as well as much quieter engine noise.

The flight back home, was again, long and grueling. We flew from El Paso, stopping to fuel in Charleston, South Carolina, again across the Atlantic, on to fuel again in the Azores, then back to Frankfurt Rhine/Main Air Force Base, flying directly over Paris, France late at night, which was totally awesome... that city is so huge.

All and all it was a great experience, even though I came down with the flu (rundown), but it was good to get one's life back to a more “normal” routine.

A Reminder: Don't forget to click the thumbnail images on the next page to display an even larger image. Then click anywhere outside of the larger image and it will close itself.