It all started at thirty-minutes past midnight on January 13, 1969 ― the saga of the Bouncing Ball. You can find details about Ball as well as Rivet Amber on King Hawes site: http://www.rc135.com ― an exhaustive and excellent web page. My narrative is also on my web site (www.johnachor.com) via the Bouncing Ball link at the bottom of the home page. For a direct link, use: http://johnachor.com/a-ball.html
I recently posted a couple of items on Facebook (FB) and this will explain more about them than I thought I could jam onto my FB page. The FB images are of the Ball plaque and the cartoon ― both of which are also included here.
Enough background, this is about the plaques I created for the eighteen aboard the Ball on 13 January 1969. A day or two after the accident, a couple of NCOs from our maintenance staff came to me with a pair of Cadillac steering wheel emblems. The emblems are about 3 1/2” in diameter (top circle on plaque) and I have no idea what year Cadillac they came from. We all referred to Rivet Ball (RC-135S ) as the Cadillac of the fleet, so somewhere along the way, the maintenance crew located these emblems and attached them to both pilot’s control wheels. These NCOs told me they thought since I was the last crew commander to fly her; I deserved to have the Cadillac symbols.
I accepted the hubs because even that early, I had an idea of how to use them. I asked these gents if they could get me a small piece of the aircraft skin. I pictured maybe a 12” x 12” chunk of aluminum from the airplane. To gauge the size I received, many of you remember the old A-3 bag ― soft but tough fabric that measured about two-feet by two-feet by three-feet when stuffed full of flight gear. I needed to lay the piece of aluminum skin into my A-3 bag on a diagonal with flight suits, etc. stuffed on top and beneath the chunk. It had to be around a two-foot square. I turned that piece of the airplane skin into the 2 1/2” by 3 1/2” plates screwed to the plaques.
For the plaques, I purchased walnut boards 3/4” by 6” and cut them to size and beveled the top edges. To gauge the effort, realize I did all my work in the basement of on-base housing at Eielson AFB, AK using a footlocker for a workbench. My well-equipped “workshop” consisted of a hand-held saber saw with a metal cutting blade and a vibrating power sander. The vertical and horizontal lines that show on the piece of aircraft skin (middle piece on the plaque) were from the sole plate of the saber saw ― not for effect, just happened.
Two of the plaques are 6” by 10” as shown above ― with the Cadillac hub, aircraft skin and a personalized name plate. The one in this image here reads: J N Achor / 13 January 1969. I created another sixteen plaques measuring about 6” by 7” on which I mounted a piece of the skin and a name plate. I kept one of the “Cadillac” plaques, and I gave the second to my copilot, Usto (Sam) Schulz. Sam, I apologize because I think I misspelled your name the other day on FB. But, I still remember what F.E. stands for.
An aside: the tail number of Rivet Ball was 59-1491. It was not until after the accident that someone pointed out I shared the tail number with my Air Force serial number. In those days my number was: FR 3048491 ― same last three as the bird. Make of it what you will …
Here’s the other item I referred to. It’s a cartoon for Rivet Ball devotees – the caption reads “Whoa!!! You sonofabitch! Whoa!” ― I received it while I was at Shemya (as I recall) after the accident. It is drawn on a scrap of white paper in pencil — I’ve lost the name of the artist, and I hope the person is still with us and will send me his name. I’ve enjoyed it for nearly 50 years and hope everyone enjoys the right-on sentiment of the caption. Yee-haw!