Originally published March 1998
The highly non-classified and much hyped Operation Rubidoux VI, The Raid On Flabob, was launched on schedule as expected on 21 February 1998. Mr. Niño had raised his ugly head the day before, generally soaking the desert and causing the Project Police to consider other modes of transportation for the annual scheduled inspection tour of The Mother Of All Chapters, namely Chapter 1 of Rubidoux CA, based at Flabob International Airport in full view of the Riverside Flight Service Station (FSS).
In order to preserve operation security (that sounds so much better than "Because we kept putting off making a decision…), final operation plans were not formulated until two days before the event, being distributed in a flurry of e-mails (just one more reason for you Luddites to get on-line!) The highly detailed plans stated that the duly authorized Project Police Tactical Assault Force would be formed at the Apple Valley Airport Restaurant between 1630Z and 1700Z for further decision making and briefing. That, and a chance for a pre-raid breakfast.
Arriving first was the pre-strike infiltration team of Jack Roth, Joyce Ford, and Ron Applegate in the Special Operations PAVE NAVION. With the airfield secured, the lead strike team of Gary Aldrich, Russ Erb, and George Gennuso arrived in the FC-180 Fighting Skywagon. Shortly thereafter arrived the formation of Bryan Duke and Tanya Adams in the Vari-Stealth-eze with wingman Steve Irving in the newly completed AT-18. They were followed by the recce support team of Josh Knerr and Travis Lumley in the cleverly disguised RC-150.
During our planning sessions and efforts to support the fine businesses of the Apple Valley Airport, we noticed a newly opened and terribly bare section of cinder block wall in the restaurant. The restaurant had been recently expanded, and though our waitress suggested we serve ourselves so as she wouldn't have to make the multiple-mile hike from the kitchen to our table, she also pleaded with us to do our part to decorate the blank wall so that it would match the rest of the restaurant. Hey, the Project Police are here to help! We even left a chapter logo (laboriously copied from the experimental proposed Project Police summer uniform shirt…details some other time if it is approved) and, of course, our chapter web site URL.
Just as the planning session was coming to a close, Miles Bowen arrived by Ground Assault Vehicle VFR non-direct from Tehachapi. Mister Niño had successfully threatened Tehachapi with less-than-VMC for the afternoon, and Miles had decided to take the alternate route (it turned out later to be a good decision). Due to confusion with the manifests, he missed the chance to link up at Fox. Miles was quickly added to the crew roster for the lead strike team in the Fighting Skywagon. Two weather casualties were Norm Dewitt (who had just returned from picking up his new Edge 540) and Ed Dutreaux. They had planned a formation attack from San Carlos, but Northern California was firmly in the grips of Mister Niño.
More so than the Borg, the Project Police are an irresistible force. Steve Irving, already familiar with Chapter 1000 from our Young Eagles rallies at his facility at Fox Field, couldn't stand the pressure any more, watching as $40 jumped out of his wallet into Ron Applegate's hands. In return, we compensated him by granting him full Chapter 1000 membership and provided him with his own Project Police uniform shirt so that he could blend in with the rest of the strike force.
Following the distribution of placards, the final official briefing to "form up in columns of bunches" and review of the safety package "Don't hit each other and don't do nuthin' dumb," the well nourished (what a great breakfast!) Rubidoux Raiders formed up for one last picture of themselves before heading to the flight line. Checklists were run, engines were started, and aircraft were taxied. We took off and headed toward the Cajon pass. We were able to squeeze under the ineffective cloud screen set up by the Flabobians, and contacted strike control (code name SoCal Approach) for our final vectors to the target area.
Learning from the errors of the Vietnam War, the attack was not carried out in predictable trail formation, but from all aspects. In fact, the plan worked so well, everybody seemed to be participating. Flying a loose fighting wing formation on the PAVE NAVION, at one point I looked up to see the Vari-Stealth-eze/AT-18 formation circling overhead from left to right, a Bird Dog FAC crossing the formation from right to left, and who knows how many other aircraft swarming the field like so many flies over a fresh pile of …well, you know…. The plan worked so well that I made a sketch of it, presented here, for planning purposes for future raids.
In spite of defensive radio calls from the ground meant to confuse the strike forces, the PAVE NAVION successfully secured the field, followed quickly by the reinforcements in the Fighting Skywagon, and then the rest of the tactical assault force.
After landing, tying down the Aerial Assault Vehicles, and declaring Project Police martial law (as though anybody there noticed), we discovered why the invasion had been so easy. There to greet us were Project Police Commandos Jenna and Joe Ware, who had arrived earlier by Ground Assault Vehicle from Oxnard. We also saw the ORV-6 Grampa's Delight, indicating that Jack Hakes was about, and Jack Huffman, who had arrived in the FC-177 Cardinal. The field thus secured, Scott Liefeld arrived in the Pietenpol RF-85 Aircamper. Charleen Beam was also there, joining us after dispensing several boxes worth of Aircraft Spruce propaganda. Herb Carlson was there trying to figure out how Chapter 1 processes so many Young Eagles.
We then set about scoping out the field, preparing for our final assault. We found some examples of J-3 Cubs, and a Super Cub in Cub Yellow, posing as a J-3. The Project Police were quick to note the cowled engine, and cited the aircraft for impersonating a low-powered long wing Piper.
We noted a Piper Tri-Pacer, and after a comment about the "Flying Milk Stool" found ourselves in the company of our previous Young Eagles Coordinator George Heddy III. Begging for mercy, claiming that he had always meant to join Chapter 1000, George also watched in disbelief as $40 levitated from his wallet and he was presented with an official Project Police uniform shirt.
The appointed time was now approaching for the massing of the Project Police Tactical Assault Force for the final assault and the obligatory photo session. During the massing of the force, the Project Police, always here to help, set about forming a crack investigative team to determine the cause behind Jan Johnson's apparent lack of acceleration on takeoff roll. After several tension-filled hours of deliberation, the source of the problem was determined. Jan's Woody Pusher was cited for an incomplete propulsion system. Later, interrogation of Jan under bright lights (code name Solaris) yielded a confession that prior to Operation Rubidoux Sundown V last year, several Chapter 1 members, possibly taking a hint from the Iraqi Air Force, were "helping" to push her airplane into the hangar. This hangar has a low door, and the propeller had been left in the vertical position, exceeding the available height of the door. This eventually resulted in the propeller being snapped off. Apparently they thought that if the Project Police found the aircraft obviously damaged, it would be considered a non-combatant and spared. It must have worked, because the propeller was still missing a year later! (or was it just removed??? Hmmm....) A citation, signed by all members of the investigative Tiger Team, was placed on the aircraft for all of the assembled masses to see.
A special award was made this year to Ron Karwacky and his beautiful Cessna 195. Perhaps you've seen it at local fly-ins. He was presented the award for "Lifetime Achievement in Pitot Tube Cover Design."
Searching the flight line for clues into the operation of Chapter 1, the Project Police Intel Squad were shocked to find out that Chapter 1 was SELLING their secrets for next to nothing! This intelligence coup was quickly purchased and spirited away to the safety of the Skywagon. It will be studied at a later time to determine what sort of secrets it might contain. Additionally, in the spirit of the former Soviet Union and the TU-4 Bull, it may yield some clues to the successful creation of a Chapter 1000 T-Shirt suitable for sale to the great unwashed masses.
The Project Police learn from their experiences! Fearing another incident in the steak sandwich line like last year, Prezident Aldrich had arranged for us to have that full and satisfying breakfast in Apple Valley. As such, we were able to skip the steak sandwich and hamburger line, which at this point seemed to stretch back so far that the other end was being serviced by Chapter 14 in San Diego, and jump right to the ice cream line, which was significantly shorter. After sampling these wares (no, Jenna and Joe were not being sampled), we continued the inspection of the flight line. One Cessna 170B owner was shocked, no, amazed, no, shocked and amazed when Miles walked up and correctly identified the year of his aircraft by the bolt pattern on the strut! This was, of course, made possible by Miles' super powers as a Project Police officer, but the aircraft owner bought the cover story that Miles is a director of the Cessna 170 Association.
Bill Turner and Repeat Aviation are still at it, still creating outstanding replicas of Golden Age race planes. They were currently working on a couple of secret projects. They must be secret, because none of us could identify them.
Finally we reached the inner sanctum of the messing facilities which revealed the first feeble signs of resistance--a doctored photo of three Project Police heavies proclaiming that Chapter 1 was the place to be. Of course, the joke was on them--the Project Police all agreed that on this day, Flabob and Chapter 1 WAS INDEED the place to be!
Moving in to defend her territory, Chapter 1 Prez Jan Johnson reasserted her belief that Chapter 1 was in control. Of course, once again the Project Police had to step in and set the record straight. While there, the Project Police, so excited to be noticed and anticipated, graciously agreed to autograph the aforementioned poster as a sign of honor. When challenged for who gave us permission to sign it, we proudly proclaimed that we did! After all, the Project Police are welcome everywhere. It says so in our bylaws....
Fearing a possible inter-chapter incident, a summit meeting was hastily called, with Prezident Aldrich meeting with Prezident Johnson. After several rounds of discussion as to the shape of the conference table (that one ended when we determined we only had one shape available, and getting any others delivered would take too long and cost too much), and consumption of many chocolate chip cookies, the summit ended with all parties agreeing to fabricate their own accounts of the day's events as they might have happened.
Eventually, we declared Victory! and prepared to go home before Mister Niño stopped us (again, a good decision). Being suitably impressed with what we found, and in spite of the defiance shown, we once again decided to leave the diplomatic power of Chapter 1 in place to ensure stability in the region (and so there would be someone around to plan another great party for us to
raid attend next year!). Pictured with Jan "The Hammer" Johnson (at the lectern) are Project Police Officers (back row) Beam, Irving, Ware, Ware, Heddy III, Applegate, Gennuso, Bowen, (front row) Duke, Erb, Aldrich, and Roth.
To the members of Chapter 1: Thanks for another great party! We expect you to return the favor by coming to visit us on 16 May 1998 at the Seventh Annual Scotty Horowitz Going Away Fly-In at Rosamond Skypark (L00)! But don't get complacent--the Project Police will be back to check up on you again next year--you can count on it!!
See the color pictorial version of this report at http://www.eaa1000.av.org/pix/orsvi/orsvi.htm!
Contents of The Leading Edge and these web pages are the viewpoints of the authors. No claim is made and no liability is assumed, expressed or implied as to the technical accuracy or safety of the material presented. The viewpoints expressed are not necessarily those of Chapter 1000 or the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Revised -- 28 February 1999