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CF-100 deployments and visitors page 2

Stories by charles alexander and “turbo” tarling

That same summer in Goose, I suffered the most humiliating experience of my flying career. During our stay we had at least one live scramble a day against unknown targets. Usually they were just B-52s or old civilian freighters trying to find a landfall, little realizing they were about 100 miles off track.

One bright, sunny day, however, we launched against an unknown which was approaching swiftly at high altitude. The ground controller put us in a good position from which to complete a successful identification run. Even on that old radar set, I had a 17-mile pickup, so it had to be a huge target. Confidently I took over the intercept, secure in the knowledge that not one had ever gotten away. With that bored detachment of a professional, a turn toward the target was initiated to break the collision course, usually a shrewd opening move. Instead of drifting lazily toward the nose, it really zipped across. Panicked by this seemingly irrational pattern, I screamed at Gary to start the counterturn, which slowed the target’s drift, but the range was not closing as fast as I would have liked. Already going full bore, the only solution was to turn harder, causing more pressure on the seatpack.

Although range was closing, the unknown was still on the outside of our turn, so even Gary could not get a visual. Finally the contact came down to something approaching minimum range, leaving nothing more to do but level our wings and have a look. All we got was the flash of a tail bearing the symbol of Lufthansa, then the rapidly decreasing form of a Boeing 707. With the CF-100 on limiting Mach and the 707 just cruising, it was fruitless to continue. We filed a lame report to GCI and headed for base.

As far as I was concerned that was the end of the CF-100 as an effective front-line interceptor. With an attack speed of 440 knots TAS, versus a passenger aircraft cruising at about 480 knots, its days were over.

scrambles at harmon – “Turbo” Tarling
For the months of September/October 1957, 410 and 428 Squadrons were tasked with the alert duties at Ernest Harmon AFB (YJT) in Stephenville, NF. The recently departed USAF 61st FIS was to be replaced in October by the 323rd FIS from Truax Field in Wisconsin with their F-102 Delta Daggers.

USAF alert hangars were different from any we had ever used. Aircrew sleeping quarters were on the second level above the two aircraft bays. When the scramble horn sounded during the night, pilots and navs would dress in a matter of seconds, charge down the stairs, dash to their respective aircraft, strap in, start up and take off. Officially, we were allowed a maximum of 10 minutes from horn to airborne, but as a matter of pride, the RCAF crews always tried to shave this time down, especially since the Americans were watching our performance.

As often happened, the horn went off in the wee hours, but this particular scramble did not go quite as smoothly. One of the pilots had been blissfully sleeping on his side when the horn blared. Struggling out of bed he discovered half his body completely paralyzed with sleep. The other aircrew were already dressed and bounding down the stairs as he flopped around the now-deserted room trying to get organized. By the time this pilot had hobbled down and over to his aircraft, the nav was already strapped in waiting for him.

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