Friday, April 2, 2010

A Very Small World

Back when I spent many hours hanging out on the approach end of Runway 17 at NAS Dallas, the sight of fleet squadron aircraft coming in transient was enough to make my camera shutter click fast and hard. Navy Dallas was a reserve base. Most of the Navy and Marine transient aircraft that passed through were RAG birds. Seeing fleet aircraft was a treat.

One day in July of1986, I shot a rather non-descript A-6E belonging to the VA-75 Sunday Punchers. BuNo 161660, AC-503, was in between cruises on the USS JFK at the time. Nasty, worn grey camoflage, but it was still a fleet bird. For some reason, it stuck in my mind over the years - it was the only VA-75 A-6 I ever saw at Navy Dallas.

Fast forward to 2006. I am in my local post office., mailing yet anouther care package to Outlaw13 over in the sand box. The clerk, who I had come to know by name over the past couple of years, asked about the package - he had seen me send many of them to that APO address. I told him where it was going. He mentions that he flew in the Navy. Oh yeah, what? I was a BN (bombadier/navigator) on A-6s. Which unit? VA-75. He mentions he does not have any pictures of the aircraft he flew in during training or active duty service. I tell him I have many A-6 pictures, taken over the years. He lends me his log book, so I could see if I had pictures of any birds he flew in. There is an entry for July 1986, flying in BuNo 161660, passing through NAS Dallas on the way to San Diego.

See where this is going?

Of all the folks who flew in the Intruder, I photographed him 20 years previously, landing out at Navy Dallas. I was on the starboard (that's right to us non-squid type persons) side on approach. The BN sits in the right seat. I look at the photo carefully, he's looking right at me as the plane goes by. Can't see his face because the visor is down.

I make a large print of the photo and give it to him. He confirms that the helmet markings were his, and the dates match up.

An amazing coincidence. The A-6 is gone now. Navy Dallas is long since closed. VA-75 is no more. The USS JFK has been decommissioned. I don't shoot nearly as many photos as I used to. After this much time and change, for the circumstances to come together just as they did defy the odds, for sure. Not exacly earh shattering, but I found it amusing.

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