UFO (perhaps Commie Spy Plan(e))
SHOT DOWN OVER NAMPHONG SKIES!
There were rows of bad boy planes at the Rose Garden. A6's with the electronic smarts to dodge Sams all night and then let loose a few CBU's to really ruin somebody's picnic. Phantoms with things called Sparrow and Sidewinder to reachout and smack Uncle Ho's brave few pilots that ventured off the ground. But I'll bet you never heard 'bout the evening a UFO was down by a brave aircrew from the Garden.
The incident happened in the summer of 72. The time was an hour or so before sundown. The sunset was shaping up to be one of those magnificent displays of color that I've rarely seen anywhere else. You probably know it... but every color you could imagine would shortly be on display. My vantage point in the control tower, allowed me to often see these sunsets and I would just as often sit and watch the show. Seems not much ever happened at sunset 'cept the sunset. It would be another 12 hours before the sun would show again. Another 12 long hours, but aleast it was cool at night.
I was awoken rudely from my light show by the ringing of the GCA phone line. I fig- ured there probably was some inbound radar traffic. One of my buddies, working the Approach Control Position, asked an unusual question: "Hey, do you see an aircraft south
of the field?". This wasn't the usual phraseology for a radar handoff; Also unsual because the Search Radar could see, oh, 150 miles or better; why were they asking me? A quick look to the south and I answered, "No, don't see anything." To which my buddy
replied, "Oh, Ok". Well that was that and I commenced to enjoy my sunset again.
I got to enjoy for about another ten minutes when that GCA phone rang again. GCA guy, "Sure you don't see anything south of the field?" I replied, "Nope, why are you asking?". GCA guy, "We've been watching a target moving real slow 10-15 miles south. Sure You don't see something?". I replied,"Standby, I check it out with the Binoculars".
I put the binoculars up and took a good close look. I still had the handset up to my ear and I asked for a bearing. GCA Guy, " about 200." 200 degrees put the UFO just west of the end of the runway as the runway was 190 degrees. There it was a shiny small disk
outlined against a puffy white cumulous cloud. "I see it!, Ya, I see it but don't know what it is." I blurted out to the GCA guy. GCA Guy replied,"Its not squacking anything".
Squacking is a way that individual aircraft can identify them selves on radar. Most planes squack one code or another, so this was unusual. We hung up and we both watched the disk. GCA guy on radar and me on the binoc's.
After a minute or two of watching this UFO, the control tower radio barked out:"Rose- garden Tower, Rose Garden Tower.. Leprechaun 21 requesting the numbers." Leprechaun was the callsign of the H-46 helocopter squadron. I gave the chopper pilot the numbers. He
replied: "Tower, Leprechaun 21 is the SAR bird tonight." I replied,"Leprechaun 21, tower wind calm, cleared for takeoff. As the H-46 lifted off going down runway 19, the pilot issued a last transmission, "Tower, Leprechaun 21 we'll be departing the pattern to the south west for night training ops." I replied by clicking the microphone two quick clicks. The customary way to say "Eye Eye Sir".
I returned to watching the shiny disk, it hadn't moved much in the last five minutes.
could just see Leprechaun 21 heading in the general direction of the UFO but at
lower altitude in the bottom of the glasses. On an impulse, I
called out on the tower
frequency, "Leprechaun 21, Tower".
Chopper Pilot, "Tower,Leprechaun 21, go ahead". I told the helo
pilot, "Leprechaun 21, Tower, We have a report of a UFO 10-15 nm south of the airfield. Its at your 1 o'clock High position."
There was silence for a whole minute.
The pilot must have thought I had cracked up (or perhaps something more illegal). Finally the pilot came back with, "Tower, Leprechaun 21, Say again UFO traffic?" A bit of a raise in the pilot's voice at the end of the transmission told what he really was thinking.
GCA guy came
up on the emergency Guard frequency (My buddy in GCA had been monitoring
my conversation with the helo all along).
"Leprechaun 21, RoseGarden Approach, on Guard, we'll give you Radar vectoring
to UFO bandit."
My buddy in GCA got the pilot pointed in the right direction and the chopper began to climb toward the UFO. Shortly into the climb the chopper pilot announced, "Tally Ho UFO!"
We were running a radar intercept just like the big dogs up in Udorn RTAF. Hot Dam...
A bit later the chopper pilot stated, "Rose Garden Approach, Leprechaun 21 has bandit in gun site and has downed the weather balloon with the M60.. out. The pilot's tone of voice
was very matter of fact but I'll bet he had a smile on his face...
This combat action never made the Stars and Stripes. But I'll bet It made a few good war stories for the few and the proud that defended the skies over the Garden that night.
Well that sort of popped our bubble of fun for the night
by Chuck Stanley