A Cold Sweat at 50 Feet

By Luther E. Franklin

January 2016

It was at the Navy's blimp training base in Glynco, Ga. (near Brunswick), and we pilot cadets were being trained to navigate. While in the clear and over the coast, we just flew low and read highway signs with binoculars. Then we got into fog and had to use radar and dead reckoning. Suddenly we broke out, at about 50 feet, right over the active runway of an Air Force Boeing B-47 base. Not only that, but one had to swerve sharply to the right to miss us.

As we maxed throttles, climbed and struggled to get out of the way, a voice came from below: "Navy Airship, would you puhleazzze get off our runway?"

Our instructor was in a cold sweat all the way back to Glynco, worried that a reprimand had been sent home. Luckily for him and us, no dispatch.

Drawing of blimp fighter pilots in a dogfight. Naval Air Station Glynco was built during World War II, expanded in 1952 and decommissioned in the 1970s.

Courtesy of Luther E. Franklin