completing about a dozen landings, I thought most of us had a mastery of the technique. Coming into the landing circle, you lower the landing gear, you lower flaps and tail hook, and you approach the carrier flight deck from dead astern with nose up, tail down, fuel set for rich mixture, and power on just above stalling speed. Guided by the LSO, the landing signal officer, you line-up on the flight deck and when he gives you the Cut signal, you cut your throttle and drop to the deck in what can only be described as a controlled stall.
Al Hunt was a mischievous, fun-loving guy. His claim to fame at Jacksonville came when he put the wheels and flaps down on an SNJ and flew it up and down over the giant roller coaster at Jacksonville Beach.
He wasn’t booted out of the Corps. But he did face a disciplinary hearing.
He ended up with a blemish on his record that cost him his promotion to Colonel in the reserves, many years later.
Almost two years passed before I met up with AL again. He joined our torpedo squadron in the Pacific as a replacement pilot, shortly before the action at Iwo Jima.
Reports of bizarre happenings and mysterious disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle have been recorded for centuries. Sometimes called the Devil’s Triangle or the Twilight Zone or the Limbo of the Lost, it’s a triangular area of the Atlantic bordered by Bermuda, Southern Florida and Puerto Rico.
We heard the weird stories. But we ignored them.
My flight group took several long flights far into the Bermuda Triangle. These were over-water, navigational flights and anti-sub drills. The TBF Avenger had a range of 1,200 miles. Flying in a loose formation of six planes, we would head out into the Atlantic on three-hour and sometimes four-hour assignments. Several times we flew through heavy rain squalls without a problem.
One year later, however, five Navy TBF Avengers on the same kind of over-water, navigational training flight, disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle without a trace. A PBM Mariner flying boat carrying thirteen crewmen and rescue equipment departed on a search for the missing TBFs. Ten minutes after take-off, the pilot checked in with the tower—and was never heard from again.
On weekends in Jacksonville, pilots on