off its hinges and smashed against Ollie's leg, breaking his ankle, as he was later and painfully to learn. "Slow it up, slow it up!" shouted one of the crew over the roar of the blast that hit us. Engle, Analavage, and Kinzer were all veterans of flying non-scheduled airlines. Engle had some 20,000 hours in the cockpit. I was aboard because of my test-pilot time in the experimental turboprop version of the Stratocruiser, and also because I had flown forty different kinds of aircraft since my World War II pilot days. Oliver had served as a crew chief on the Boeing military Stratocruisers and had been hired to help remold the Boeing into the Guppy. Friezner operated a specialized-services company for testing all types of aircraft. We had all been through many tight spots, but none like this. We all sensed that our time had come. There had been no indication of any defect in our preliminary VD test the day before when we attained a speed of 250 mph. The only complaint we had for that day's flight was the frustrating loss of the radios because of a recurring short in the electrical system. The uncontrollable buffeting and vibration were severe now, and as the power was reduced, the airspeed fell off rapidly to 150 miles an hour. But the instinctive action to slow up the huge craft boomeranged. Buffeting became almost unbearable, indicating an approach to stalling speed. "We're gonna lose her," I thought. Now another obstacle occurred. If the giant plane stalled, it would have been virtually impossible to bail out. We faced the stark prospect of being carried straight down to a fiery crash on the desert, almost 8,000 feet below. Hurriedly, we shoved the power back up. The Guppy wallowed like a giant Moby Dick plowing through mountainous waves,
Super Guppy's cargo compartment is larger than C-5A's.
Projections behind the cockpit are hinges for her swinging nose.

but she managed to creep back up to 175 mph. As the first shock passed and the aircraft somehow continued to fly, someone yelled above the terrific wind roar, "We'd better bail out while we have a chance." I reached for the mike to let the outside world know what was happening to us, but a sudden thought sent a new wave of fear through me. If we bailed out through an emergency floor hatch in the nose-gear well, we would be carried along the underside of the plane. Radio antennas, which had been relocated to improve reception, protruded along the belly. If the slipstream flung one of us against one of the antennas, they could slice him through like a bayonet. We were trapped in a nightmare situation. The high-speed dive had to be flown at the maximum gross take-off weight of the aircraft. We had prided ourselves in being resourceful and had arranged to borrow from a chemical dealer in Mojave 30,000 pounds of borate in 100 pound sacks. As the tearing, shredding metal from the nose blew aft inside the mammoth interior, the flying slivers ripped holes in the paper sacks of borate powder. The whole interior, including the cockpit, wasfilled with a swirling cloud of powdered borate by the slipstream being rammed into her. The bailout order was momentarily withheld. Ollie, still not aware that his ankle was broken, inspected the front of the huge cargo compartment and the super-structure high above us. Hobbling on his good leg, he got back to the cockpit to report his findings. "The whole damn nose section has caved in," he shouted in disbelief. "We got a helluva hole over the cockpit!" Just then, Sandy scrambled up to the flight deck from his compartment below. He ripped open the floor hatch just in time to strike Ollie's ankle a second painful blow. Ollie slumped down and grabbed his leg in agony. We no longer had to guess what had happened to us. The force of the dive had smashed the whale superstructure above the cockpit. We had a gaping twenty-three-foot hole, and pieces were still collapsing and tearing off. Broken stringers and pieces of frame were being ripped loose, shooting through the air like arrows, impaling themselves like steel through tinfoil in the frames that supported the fuselage at the rear of the cargo compartment! It was like flying a giant scoop, and just about as difficult. We decided to risk the antennas and bail out. As we got ready, I was suddenly thankful for the six crash helmets I had scrounged for the crew-just in case. I had taken a bit of ribbing for stowing them aboard. It was difficult to hold the hand mike steady as I transmitted the Mayday calls. The aircraft shook so severely that the mike bashed me in the teeth each time I held it to my lips to speak. I wondered if my radio message would even

Reprinted From AIR FORCE Magazine April 1971
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