Monday, October 8, 2007

Security? Surely, you jest!!!

Off course, again. I’m deviating from the “True Tales From The Fabled Road” series.

As is want to happen, another Blogger, Bob B. at FH1100 Pilot posted and it diverted my thought process.

After reading about the ‘Incident in Podunk Pensacola’ I decided to skip ahead…

Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, OK.

Officially, I was posted there “Permanently”. In this case permanently equaled one year.

I was assigned to work with, uh, the Boys on the South End of Tinker. The ones with the big ships anchor at the entrance to their area. (They were a little touchy about their anchor after someone, NOT ME, painted it pink!)

I arrived before the airplane. The plan, I found was to house the airplane in a lean-to, to set up an office in one hangar and set up shop space in another hangar. We were to beg for space inside either hangar when maintenance was necessary.

Both hangars were full of High Priority aircraft. Heavy jets, “roped off” by Red Lines painted on the floor. (Remember the Red Lines. They will become very important later.)

Obviously, the plan was unsat! Unsatisfactory. Having me and my work partner, our tools and shop, the airplane and maintenance space scattered about haphazardly wasn’t going to work.

One of my Pilots had scoped out an unused hangar in (literally) the middle of the airfield. It was a “Hush House” formerly housing fighter jets for engine runs. That had to be a sight to see/ hear!

The hangar was HEAVILY reinforced. There were small electric doors that opened along each side, a larger door in back that opened on a long tube to duct and diffuse exhaust and noise. The office space had a large window that looked out into the hangar. There was a large control panel in the office to control all of the louvers and doors. It was the only hangar I’ve ever seen where I could open the hangar doors without leaving my comfy chair!!!

Problem was. (You knew there had to be problems.) It was smack dab in the middle of the airfield.

The Boys on the South End of Tinker issued us a cargo van (add the cargo van to the red lines.) and a hand held radio. We could not drive our personal vehicles to the hangar.

We could have parked the van at Base Op’s on the North End but after the Painting Pink of the Large Ships Anchor, the Boys on the South End were leery. Parking At Op’s would have saved a lot of trouble.

As it worked out we parked on the South End. We drove to the entrance to the secured area (more Red Lines outside the hangars), cleared security, drove to the edge of the ramp (the outer perimeter of the Red Lines) and called Ground Control on the handheld and drove to the hangar as per their instructions.

To leave…
Call Security from our office.
Get in the van and radio Ground for permission to proceed.
Drive to the Red Line (IN A CARGO VAN).
Radio Ground and declare ourselves clear.
Wait for Security to clear us into the secure area.
Drive around the hangar and clear security outbound of the secure area (IN A CARGO VAN).

Feeling a pain in the ass here?

Soon, patterns emerged.

Security would pull up, drivers window to drivers window, glance at badges and wave us through (IN A CARGO VAN).

Security would wave us in from afar. (IN A CARGO VAN!)

We would get to the Red Line and Security would be a No-Show. We’d radio Ground for an assist and would be told something like, “They say they are on their way.”

Often we could see the Security truck on the ramp. Usually, under a shady lean-to. We got calloused and began breaching the Red Line. As we drove past the lean-to we would see the guard napping!!! Not just once or occasionally but often!

My time at that Permanent Duty Station was coming to a close. Most of you know that I ten days between the phone call dispatching me to Honduras and arriving in Honduras.

One Sunday night I recovered the airplane and followed the steps to head home.

At the Red Line… Security was a No Show. Ground couldn’t help. After a year of this, I thought nothing of crossing the Red Line.

I drove across the ramp, around the hangar and to the manned checkpoint to get through the fence. I pulled up, the gate opened and a little S.P., USAF, Female, One Each Armed approached the drivers window.

“Did you just cross the Red Line?”


“Wait here.” With that she went back into the guard shack. The gate closed and she returned with reinforcements.

Now, with a face full of automatic weapons, I decided to cooperate.

“Sir! Shut off the engine, put it in park and slowly exit the vehicle with your hands up!!!”

It wasn’t the weapons that made me nervous. It was the NERVOUS pimply face kids wielding them that made me nervous.

I wondered, briefly, if the weapons were actually loaded but decide that I didn’t really want to know.

By now the lights and sirens were approaching.

Soon after, I had a large, loud mouthed illiterate A.P., USAF, NCO, Asshole, One Each Armed getting in my face.

I didn’t like that.

[A quick aside here. As a rule, I ‘Sir’ Enlisted Folks and ‘First Name’ officers. I ‘Sir’ Warrant Officers but that’s because you’re not supposed to. But, that’s just me…]

This BackwardsAssedIlitterate, I ‘Last Named’ as snidely as possible.

A shouting match ensued.

He wanted to lecture me about Red Lines.

I informed him that I had been traversing that Red Line unchallenged for an entire year IN A CARGO VAN THAT NOT ONE A.P. ONE EACH EVER LOOKED INSIDE BECAUSE THEY WERE SLEEPING IN THE SECURITY TRUCK UNDER THE SHADY LEAN-TO!!!!!!!


I’ll give the Cracker this much, he stood up for his people. I can only hope he ripped them later.

I lost the match. It’s fair to say that I was out manned and out gunned. Oh, and hand cuffed for the first and so far only time in my life.

I had to call the Officer of the Day to come get me. I very nearly would rather gone on to jail than ask that particular idiot for help… When he arrived he out ranked slash smooth talked SGT Cracker and got me sprung.

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