C5 Squadron Flies to Labor Day 1997!!
by Racer Dan
The General called early on Saturday morning. He knew that it would probably take all day to get the project done, and it would collectively take all of the C5 Squadron to accomplish it.
They flew in one at a time. No one ever would take his bet, but as usual, the Arkansas Flash arrived first. He always comes in first. No matter if he is across the ocean when he gets his notice. That damn Fighter Jet sure is tuned up to the max. Racer Dan was looking out of the hanger window when he landed. The smoke of the Goodyear Eagle tires was the only sign that it had touched down.
They were all in the meeting room by 10 am Eastern time. That was not a big deal for the two West Coast Squadron members, since they had the advantage of the time zone changes as well. They were taking a lot of ribbing from the East Coast gang for taking so long to get here because they left at 4 AM - their time.
The General's instructions were very easy to understand. This mission had been requested from a VIP in the National Corvette Museum. Although I cannot disclose the person, his request is now a matter of record.
The Junkyard Warrior stood up, as he opened the manila envelope. Inside was a one page letter. He handed it to Blue Streak, to read to the group.
Blue Streak sheepishly stood up, and started to speak. But he stopped abruptly, and reached for a small paper cup in front of him, and turned his back for a few seconds. The Tall Cool One looked to Shane with an expression of confusion, and Shane just smiled and pointed to his cheek.
Blue Streak turned back around, and said: "Sorry about that. I'm not much of a speaker, but it helps if you don't chew while you are talkin'..." He smiled, and a few in the group chuckled. Then he continued...
Then Blue Streak finished by reading the hand written approval on the bottom of the letter... "C5 Squadron. Your mission is to investigate any good and bad things that will happen on Labor Day at the Museum in 1997. Mission approved."
Blue Streak then passed around the table the letter for all to read if they liked. As Racer Dan picked up the parchment printed letter, he drifted off into the past, recalling the very first time that he saw a letter with the General's signature on it.
It was that foggy night several months ago, when he got his Stars and Stripes Fighter Jet. The General's letter of introduction along with the little note that hung on the knob that lowers and raises the landing gear. Racer Dan then pulled out his wallet, and removed a small card folded in half. He slowly opened it, and read to himself the message that was hanging on that knob that night. It simply said "I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed making it! Save the wave. It was signed by a very special person - Zora!
Racer Dan slid the note back into his wallet, and focused back on the conversation in the group. Carl was telling the group that last week he had received the necessary parts to modify all of the Fighter Jets in the Squadron so they too could travel to the tunnel he discovered on his last two missions. There was a lot of whooping and hollering in the group as they all realized that they too would get to travel on this mission.
The modifications were installed, with the help of three new members of the Squadron. They were very helpful in running the wires, and rigging the mounting on the heavily clustered dashes of each fighter jet. But they were three totally different men. One, was young, and sometimes would get a little crazy for the older guys in the group. But most of them could recognize that they too were this way a few years ago. The second one was kinda quiet like Glen. He just did his work, skillfully without saying a lot. But when he talked, you could tell he was a very intelligent man, who knew a lot about Corvettes! The third man was an older man, who had obviously been around Corvettes a long time. He drove a ZR1 all of the time, and I do mean DROVE it! On the road, on the track, it didn't matter. But he was a skillful driver, and he had the trophies to prove it!
They all three felt a sense of accomplishment when they were done. JYW and Carl did the testing, and all systems tested perfect. The time had come to break for the night. So the group headed to the recreation room for a cold one.
Each of the men had just gotten a cold beer. The ice was still dripping off of the bottles when from the rear of the room, one of them hollered, "Hey, we ought to drag these new recruits through some sort of initiation don't you think?"
The rest of the group yelled in agreement, except for the three newcomers who didn't know what to expect. They had been told up front that there was an initiation, and it required being able to drink 12 beers, then withstand 7 G's on the test wheel. Kinda tough, especially since it was also told they had to be strapped in - upside down!!
The older C5 Squadron members surrounded the newcomers, and shuffled them through the corridor to the older part of the hanger. This area is primarily used for storage, but inside was something special for each of them!
Ernie blindfolded each one, and you could tell that the youngest of the group was 100% up for anything. But the other two were a little more reserved. Once blindfolded, the rest of the Squadron laughed a lot as they continued to guide them into the older hanger. The lights remained off, and they all stumbled to the center of the room. Shane tripped over some old ZR1 parts that the Junkyard Warrior has stored away. "That guy will squirrel away parts anywhere!" Racer Dan offered.
The blindfolds were removed and the lights turned on. In front of each of the men was a Fighter Jet. They still had on the camouflage paint that the Air Force uses for each warplane they order. But they were all three brand new. In order to tell them apart, there was a red hash mark on each wing and each fuselage to identify them, just like the old racers in the 60's. The first one had one stripe, the second, two, and the third had three in a row.
Then they were given the manuals for the Fighters, and told if they expected to fly tomorrow, they had to memorize the manual by 0700. A test would follow.
The group welcomed the three new members, and then left them in the hanger and returned to the rec room. They continued to party until around 0100 when they decided they better check in for the night.
Racer Dan hit the lights, and then decided to check to make sure each of the new members were OK. He quietly opened the door to the hanger, and looked inside.
Sure enough, they were all three busy. The oldest of the group was checking out his twin turbo LS1's. As racer Dan walked up to him, he looked at him with a big smile, and said: "Boy they sure did fit these in here right! I can't tell you how much I am going to enjoy this, Racer Dan!"
Racer Dan replied: "Well, you earned the privilege to fly it. I know you are used to a lot of horsepower with that ZR1, but tomorrow you will learn what real thrust is all about! We are glad you joined our group!"
Then they shook hands, and Racer Dan walked over to the second Fighter Jet, who's new pilot was busy in the cockpit learning the controls. As he climbed up the steps to the cockpit, the new pilot was deep in thought, with his eyes closed, memorizing the motions of landing and taking off.
Racer Dan climbed back down without saying a word, and walked to the third pilot. He was sitting down by his Jet, reading the last chapter in the manual, maintenance and care of your Fighter Jet. He looked up, and said "It looks like it is a lot easier that I thought it would be. Are we actually going to get to go on the mission tomorrow?"
Racer an reached into his pocket and pulled out a cigarette. He lit it without replying, and took a deep drag off of it. Then he exhaled the smoke, and it slowly rose up to the metal halide lights hanging from the ceiling. He then replied: "Yep. The general feels the more information we can gather the better. We need to all be in different places, checking out what is going on the whole weekend, so we are assured we can address anything that might have gone wrong."
The pilot looked back at the Fighter Jet, and placed his hand on the outer fiberglass skin, and rubbed it back and forth. Then he said aloud "Don't worry baby. I'll take good care of you. We are going to have a great time together!"
Racer Dan shook the new pilot's hand, and then walked back to the door way. He turned one last time, looking at the three new pilots one more time, and smiled. "We sure got a great group of men" he mumbled. Then he went to the barracks. It didn't take 10 minutes for him to drift to sleep. The ceiling fan above the bed wobbled just a little from side to side, and the only sound you could here was a cricket, somewhere outside, looking for company. The rest of the Squadron was sound asleep.
To be continued... but ...
Read about the 1997 Labor Day Event, how it went and what the C5 Squadron saw and learned, on the next story, exclusive for NCM Net users!!
Experience the flight of the C5 Squadron. On the NCM Net! The NCM Net is used ONLY for issues and articles on the National Corvette Museum. It includes Official NCM announcements, and promotions. It does not carry technical posts like the Vette Net or ZR1 Net, so it is not a duplicate of what you presently get!