Lightning Strike

The C-54 Skymaster aircraft, nicknamed the Sacred Cow

The C-54 Skymaster aircraft, nicknamed the Sacred Cow

In 1965 our wing commander, a Brigadier General, traveled to the mainland on a base flight C-54 aircraft.  Of course, no one shared with us the nature of his trip.  We wouldn’t have known it had occurred if the aircraft had not sustained a lightning strike somewhere over the Atlantic during the return journey.

Even though aircraft manufacturers take measures to prevent damage from such an event, this strike destroyed the lights, generators, radios, radar, LORAN, and all instrumentation.

The general and his flight crew were in the dark and on their own.

The navigator fetched his sextant and star book.  With the aid of whiskey compass and a flashlight they found their way to the Ramey runway in the middle of the night.

There was a lot of damage.  We worked many long hours for more than two weeks.  Without the General’s influence, acquiring replacement equipment and preparing the aircraft for a test hop would have taken much longer.