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The Mefford Field Anachronisms

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Retired In Kalifornia II:

Wartime Heinkel 177 A-5 With SC1000 Bomb


Before WWII the City of Tulare, California established Mefford Field airport northeast of U.S. 99 (California State Route 99) & South K Street (Avenue 200), the city in 1940 leasing it to Rankin Aeronautical Academy Inc. (RAAI) founded by aerobatic pilot, barnstormer, air racer & flight instructor John Gilbert "Tex" Rankin (1894 – 1947) under a U.S. War Department contract to train Level 1 United States Army Air Corps flight cadets flying Stearman PT-17s, civilian airport operations resuming after the war. Presumably also in 1940 a low height, wide door arched wood frame & corrugated metal hangar with adjoining stucco-clad T-shaped operations building was constructed, the hangar large enough to shelter a squadron of PT-17s, the sole surviving structure of WWII RAAI operations.

On August 5, 1958. USAF Operations Chief Major General Maurice Preston flew Boeing DB-17G serial 44-85738, Vega Aircraft Burbank Construction No. 8647-VE, to Mefford Field for donation to American Veterans (AMVETS) Post 56 as “Preston’s Pride” residing alone on a teardrop-shaped land spit adjacent to Tex Drive & northbound 99 on-ramp in 2018 undergoing significant restoration work by volunteers. After decades of loneliness on June 20, 1993 AMVETS took charge of a purported MacDonald GF-4C-25-MC Phantom II serial 64-0912 ("Phantom" hereon, no record of "GF-4" variants on Internet) loaned by the National Museum of the United States Air Force parked 40 feet south of Preston’s Pride in full SEAC regalia both fenced-off & security lighted at night from vandals neither capable of becoming airworthy ever again.

In the Twilight Zone Of Flight NO Warbird Is Ever-Never Airworthy, Exhibit 1 The Miraculous Restorations Of "The Mefford Twins" Plus One.

Midnight, Sunday November 13, 2022 two highballing northbound big rig truckers on Highway 99 approaching Avenue 200 noticed flickering violet lights, believed power transformer shorts stunned the big riggers gazed upon Preston’s Pride & Phantom - "The Mefford Twins" - some seconds later glowing bright blue-violet overwhelming security lighting, barreling along in disbelief passing the Mefford hangar second later they’d spied a third larger airplane parked yards north of it faintly glowing blue-violet but with one of its engines on fire. Hurriedly AND simultaneously the truckers 911’d Tulare County fire & police dispatching whilst pulling off the road, far off & blocked by roadside fencing they could do nothing other than drop warning flares down road alerting following traffic of the fire danger.

The aircraft engine fire continued burning but didn’t spread beyond its mounting, hot metal, burning oil, grease & tubing dripping on smoldering wet grass from previous night’s rain, all by design maybe her fuel tanks also were empty, other vehicles stopping behind the flares within minutes witnessing the bizarre spectacle of a fire that should have already engulfed the airplane! First emergency vehicles on the scene were two California Highway Patrol (CHP hereon) units dozen full minutes into the burn closely followed by dozen Tulare City & County Fire & Police Department (PD & Sheriff) ones on Tex Drive north & southbound in front of the burning airplane, no roadside fence other than “Airfield Operations Area No Authorized Persons Or Vehicles Beyond This Point” signs encumbered vehicles from approaching it but within seconds ghastly discoveries were made escalating the event into a full-fledged crime scene – or something else!

“It’s an old airplane…there’s bodies on the ground!” a fireman yelled, “One’s moving!” starboard behind the mainwing, “They’ve got flight suits on…” yelled another, “…not Air Force or Navy, nothing I’d seen before!” Second later another fireman shouted: “There’s a body inside the nose, cut up from shrapnel, bullet holes all around, looks like he’s dead!”

EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians EMT hereon) arriving minutes after the CHP units immediately tended to the injured airman; “He’s wearing a World War Two German Luftwaffe uniform, look at the ‘Eagle Swastika’…” an EMT exclaimed whilst pulling off the Mae West, “…is this a ‘reenactment’ gone bad or what?!” Removing the airman's uniform blouse & trousers shrapnel wounds peppered his legs & torso none life threatening though requiring bleeding control; "’s speaking foreign language…” whilst was groaning “…anybody here figure out what?!” leaning over to hear one Tulare City PD officer said was German, “He’s complaining about the pain, glad I’d taken it (German) while in high school!”, can you get his name asked the tending EMT, “Wie heißt du…Name bitte!” eyes half shut the airman replied: “Mein Name ist Joachim Klaus-Martin, Unterfeldwebel, wo bin ich?” acting on training the EMT asked him to translate that he’ll be taken care of: “Wenn Sie in ein Krankenhaus gebracht werden, erhalten Sie einen Übersetzer für Sie, um Unterstützung bei de Behandlung zu erhalten!”

Whilst tending to the wounded airman firefighters extinguished the engine fire, spot lights quickly erected all around the "Mefford Luftwaffe Bomber" (MLB) by Tulare law enforcement folks cursory inspection of it commenced; “There’s no more bodies outside…” a Tulare County Sheriff’s deputy proclaimed, “…if any inside (the aircraft's fuselage) somebody experienced crawling around dark tight spaces with live explosives strewn around gonna have to go in!” two other Sheriff’s deputies meantime flashlighting into a straight longitudinal opening underneath the aircraft's fuselage made a shocking discovery: “There’s bombs on hangers inside, BIG bombs, they could be live!” one loudly proclaimed. Flabbergasted by the discovery the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department Site Commanding Officer (TCS-SCO hereon) , a Captain assigned operational authority & control over emergency operations in accordance with California Governor’s Office Of Emergency Services (Cal OES hereon) protocols by the Tulare County Sheriff, at 12:20 a.m. declared a Mefford Field Airport Bomb Threat Emergency; “Ain’t no ‘X-Files’ or ‘Outer Limits’, ‘Twilight Zone’ for sure!” a Tulare City PD officer quipped to his beat partner pointing at the lighted-up aircraft rudder sail Swastika on the MLB.

…To Be Continued…

I like it ... and am hoping that you continue the story  :smiley:

Retired In Kalifornia II:
With potentially live bombs aboard the MLB getting road traffic off California State Route 99 was paramount, CHP & Tulare City PD units within minutes after the Bomb Threat Emergency was declared they between 12:25 a.m. & 12:47 a.m. working together setting up two-way detours on South I Street between Avenue 184 & East Bardsley Avenue completely bypassing Mefford Field, closing South I & K Streets parallel to 99 until further notice.

Everybody within a mile of the 1940s RAAI Mefford hangar had to be evacuated, including hundreds living in the Country Estates manufactured home community less than 600 feet northwest of it, lotta manpower was needed and fast, time now at absolute premium the Tulare County Sheriff-Coroner on advice of the Mefford Field Incidents Sheriff’s Department Site Commanding Officer personally contacting the Cal OES Inland Region Watch Officer within minutes of the MLB's discovery for whatever state assistance it could provide in evacuating people well as securing Mefford Field for disarming bombs, conducting forensic examination of the MLB, contacting & coordinating U.S. federal support, including sending whatever unexploded aerial bomb and atomic radiation detection experts could be helicoptered in on short notice, caravan of Inland Region personnel, mobile site command & communications vehicles arriving on scene by 1:30 a.m.

Confronted with an unprecedented potential disaster situation of a possible WWII era Luftwaffe aircraft loaded with potentially live bombs within yards of a populated residential community there also was the potentially unprecedented situation of having to “keep at bay” the curious never mind news media armed with iPhones & Androids well as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) from getting images of it up on the Internet before official explanations could be proffered, there also was the weather, hard rain forecasted later in the morning made for field conditions where the MLB was parked, if not enough already more shocking discoveries forthwith came necessitating urgent need for yet more on-site security!

Even before First Responders arrived at Mefford Field CHP officers had to contend with slowed-up Highway 99 traffic, the aforementioned big rig drivers laying road flares yards south from where they’d spotted the still burning MLB. Traffic little at is was shortly after midnight November 13th slowed to gawk, woman in one car poking out an Android to get action video, would she post it on social media before the night was out? The big rig drivers, Pakistani & Ecuadorian immigrants, also took videos but within minutes of doing so were confronted roadside by CHP officers for witness statements.

Speaking broken English the big riggers relayed seeing bright blue & violet glowing lights blocking views of The Mefford Twins, faint light surrounding the MLB, starboard engine on fire, “…light was very bright, hurt my eyes!” the Pakistani exclaimed, CHP officer asking if they’d thought the airplanes were on fire, “No!” they’d exclaimed, “No fire, something ‘heavenly’ AND ‘scary’, not real, not real!” the Ecuadorian said with frightened eyes, “…didn’t ‘see Jesus’ but something was there, something!” Clearly concerned after hearing radio traffic of the MLB bomb discoveries the CHP officer forthwith radioed units to check out "The Twins".

Within the minute Tulare County Sheriff & Tulare City PD units were next to The Mefford Twins Cal OES personnel not yet having arrived, strong metallic odors gave way to heat radiating from both aircraft, “…'birds' were cooked by something, lightening maybe?” a Sheriff’s deputy quipped. Guarded by strong wrought iron fencing nobody couldn’t get closer, a City PD officer flashlighing inside the Phantom's engine wells made a startling discovery: “Damn thing has jet engines in it!” he’d loudly exclaimed, “Gonna need Lemoore (Naval Air Station - NAS) people to check ‘em out!” Checking out Preston’s Pride simultaneously another Tulare PD officer flashlighted into the clear nosecone; “There’s equipment inside, bombsight, guns with ammo, God knows what else!” another excitedly exclaiming, “Twilight Zone & ‘Close Encounters’ (Of The Third Kind) all in one night, every “Alphabet” (US Intelligence Agency) gonna be here by day break, NO ‘time off’ for us anytime soon!”

…To Be Continued…

Retired In Kalifornia II:
With potentially live ordinance lurking inside The Mefford Twins area adjacent to Highway 99 was closed off, frantic calls made to Mefford Field Airport Operations Staff by the Sheriff’s Department Site Commanding Officer, hustle somebody over to unlock the fence gates pronto!  With only the airport night guard on duty it be sometime till someone showed up with keys to unlock the gates decision being made then-there by the Commanding Officer to bolt-cut double-door padlock by Sheriff deputies.

Moving quickly those of the Phantom were cut first by senior Sheriff’s deputy present behind him his beat partner cautiously walking past the double-doors walking in first; “Damn thing’s hotter than ‘mom’s ass’…” he’d exclaimed, “…just foot away from the (starboard main) wing, thing’s too damn hot getting close (to)…get a (wood) nightstick so can touch it!” Forthwith retrieving one from the squad car, handing it to his beat partner the senior Sheriff admonished; “Thing’s brand new, don’t let it burn!” whilst tapping the starboard drooping aileron; “Don’t smell wood burning ‘Sarge’…” forthwith feeling the baton end; “…ain’t even warm…wing’s still too hot to touch…what gives here?!” Grabbing a water bottle the senior Sheriff’s deputy tossed a palm full on the aileron; “Ain’t even steaming…WTF?!”

Reporting inspection results of The Meffford Twins to the Mefford Field Incidents Sheriff’s Department Site Commanding Officer the senior Sheriff’s deputy couldn’t say whether explosives were on board either airplane; “Damn things too hot to touch…don’t burn wood or boil water, something straight out a 1960s Star Trek TV episode!” he'd growled. The airplanes continued radiating heat for hours after spotted by the big rig truckers minutes past midnight November 13, 2022 preventing close inspection meantime three Lemoore NAS Air Operations Department MH-60S Seahawks landing adjacent to the MLB at 2:00 a.m. crammed with atomic energy, ordinance, airframe, avionics, medical & other specialists well as equipment to service a entire flight of combat aircraft, whether all were needed wasn't questioned what mattered was defusing the MLB's bombs-pronto!

...To Be Continued...

Retired In Kalifornia II:
Whilst Tulare County 911 Dispatcher took calls from the big rig truckers shortly after midnight November 13, 2022 Tulare City PD & Sheriff Watch Officers hearing them forthwith alerted their Crime Scene Investigative (CSI) specialists on assumption of arson activity at or adjacent to Mefford Field Airport. Mixed in with emergency first responders all donned with hooded disposable hazmat jumpsuits & gloves arriving on Tex Drive yards from the burning engine MLB dozen minutes past the 911 calls the CSI folks correctly realized the “crime scene” was far beyond their investigative scope then-there asking the TCS-SCO to request Cal OES CSI support personnel & resources, including an atomic radiation detection team, their efforts meantime centered on examining Deutches Luftwaffe Unterfeldwebel Joachim Klaus-Martin, body of his deceased comrade yards aft of him well as another behind the aircraft’s nose “greenhouse” before were moved off-site.

With scant time to spare a hooded disposable hazmat jumpsuit & gloved donned CSI officer quickly photographed Unterfeldwebel Klaus-Martin still being tended to by EMTs others bodies of his deceased comrades, physical evidence markers placed meantime by Tulare Sheriff’s deputies & City PD officers also donned with hooded disposable hazmat jumpsuits & gloves at CSI officer's direction. Klaus-Martin & nearby deceased comrade wore partially opened parachute packs, canopies trailing yards aft of them, stunned by body placements & parachute canopy deployments the senior CSI officer present couldn’t resist surmising they were in process of jumping out of the airplane; “Kabuki…” he’d muttered; “…so impossibly weird, look for evidence of them (bodies) & parachutes having been deliberately placed guys!” Speaking to the Site Commanding Officer the senior CSI officer forthwith requested an armed escort ride with Klaus-Martin to Adventist Health Tulare Hospital, place him under 24 hour quarantined armed watch till could be questioned, readily agreeing on-site EMT & Adventist Hospital personnel forthwith were contacted & briefed regarding the decision; “Just wanna be sure the “airman” isn’t part of some criminal or terrorist operation gone awry...” the senior CSI officer emphasized, "...absolutely be sure to scan him, EMT team & (armed police) escort for atomic radiation before entering the hospital, 'rad folks' on way there now!"

Moving attention to the MLB CSI officers beforehand were told potentially live aerial bombs were onboard; “Can we get a microdrone to look inside (the fuselage) for (other) bodies?” the senior CSI officer asked the Site Commanding Officer; “Gotta wait for the Lemoore (NAS) (atomic) radiation & weapons guys to check it (MLB) out first, nobody’s heard noise coming from inside…yet.” Whilst speaking one of Tulare City PD officers came alongside him iPhone in hand; “Sir, think I’d identified the airplane, Heinkel 177 ("Heinkel" hereon) flown by the World War II German Luftwaffe, none exist today, take a look!” raised-eyed the Site Commanding Officer & senior CSI officer passed eyebrows at each other; “Whole new ‘kettle’ here Arnie (CSI officer)…” he’d quipped; “…'Feds' (US Government) gonna lock down this area for months!”

…To Be Continued…


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