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Sperry, Don (1954-1967)

Profile Added:  7/19/2011 11:34:34 PM

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Hometown:  Charles City, Iowa

Unit at Loring:  75BS/69BS

First day at Loring:  I arrived in mid June, 1954 and discovered there was still snow behind the nose docks on the flight line.  I was a new graduate of the advanced navigator training, Class 54-D, at Mather AFB, CA  and had little knowledge of the B-36. I was overwhelmed by the size of the aircraft.  I was assigned as a Co-Observer which was the third and junior navigator on the crew, the other two being the senior navigator and the radar bombardier.  My duties were to assist the navigator as required but primarily in celestial navigation, and as understudy to the navigator position.  Both the navigator and the radar bombardier were WW2 vets.  The aircraft commander was Capt Robert Childs who was also a WW2 vet, as was most of the crew.

Most memorable experience:   That would be the first time I navigated the Atlantic as the navigator which happened too soon in my young career and taught me a lot about the challenge of navigating across a large ocean with only a sextant and dead reckoning to get us to Upper Heyford AB where we would spend 30 days practicing our wartime profiles.  We had an overcast midway between Goose AFB, Labrador, we were leading the formation and I had only dead reckoning and the forecast wind to rely on.  For two hours we could not see the stars and depended totally on dead reckoning.  When we finally broke out of the overcast and I took my first star fix, we were over 100 miles off course and the other navigators were requesting a course correction to get back on track.  Boy could I have used GPS then!

Last Day at Loring:   It was a sad day for me as I had served two tours at Loring AFB, met and married a local girl, served both in the 75thBS and the 69thBS, had my second son born at the Loring AFB Hospital, bought my first house and hunted and fished in northern Maine for nine years.  I had served as a co-observer and navigator in the B-36, navigator and radar navigator in the B-52, gone from 2nd Lt to Major, had a spot promotion on a Select crew and served as the Wing Chief of the Bomb Nav section through some tough ORIs, and was leaving for SAC Hqs for a job that I did not have a clue about.


What did you do after Loring: Five years at SAC HQs flying Looking Glass and developing concepts for new (B-1) and modified aircraft and systems (B-52), four years at the Pentagon as Deputy and Director of Strategic Bomber analysis, two years at Tinker AFB as CV of the AWACS Wing followed by retirement directly to Boeing Seattle, 20 years at Boeing in both the Defense and Space and Commercial divisions, retirement in 1998 after 46 years in aviation.  Since then, moved to Tucson AZ for 10 years now back in the Pacific NW.  RVing all over the US, fishing, hiking, golfing, woodworking, squaredancing, significant political activities, some writing for local publications, now mostly enjoying retirement.


If you agree, people can contact you at (email):sperrynav54@msn.com