30 November 1957 – Capt Benny Lacombe is killed when he unsuccessfully attempts to bail out of Lockheed U-2A, 56-6704, Article 371, 13 miles SE of Laughlin AFB. Ejection seats had not yet been fitted to U-2s at this point. The history of the U-2 program is fraught with fatalities and crashes. “CIA pilots Wilburn S.
Donald R. Delauter
Don’s Pilot story
This is a very short account of the last F-100 I ever saw up close. It was not a USAF bird. The last flight I took in the Super Sabre was at Luke AFB on January 15, 1971. The last operational F-100 I was ever close to, and the subject of this anecdote was a Royal Danish Air Force jet at Ramstein Air Base in 1980. In fact, the Danes got rid of their Huns in the 1980s, some of the last aircraft likely went to the Turkish Air Force. (I suppose one might – but I don’t — consider the pilotless QF-100 an operational aircraft. It was a remotely piloted aerial vehicle. The 82d Tactical Aerial Targets Squadron was using this full-size aerial target at Tyndall when I was there in the mid-1980s.)
At the time of this story, I was flying the F-15 Eagle out of Soesterberg Air Base in the Netherlands. I had flown my Eagle Jet to Ramstein and, as luck would have it, transient alert parked me right next to the Danish F-100. The sight of the Hun stirred all sorts of vivid memories, for example, Victor Alert at Spangdahlem Air Base from 1958-1960 and a year at Phan Rang in the 614th Fighter Squadron 1968-1969. But the feeling of irony that really hit me was the realization that I was sitting on two F-100 (F for fan) engines in the Eagle while parking next to a real F-100 Super Sabre. Both the fan engines in the Eagle and the J-57 in the Hun were built by Pratt and Whitney.
I’m certain this sounds ridiculous and unimpressive to most people. To me, this insignificant coincidence was striking as I looked at these two great warbirds I had been privileged to fly. That I am recalling and writing about it these many years hence perhaps indicates how strong the feeling really was. In looking back, I can’t help but feel how fortunate I was to have been a USAF fighter pilot.
In NC, after retiring, I played a little Golf, served on the town council, and spent eight years on the Moore Cty Airport Authority where I could still smell jet fumes and hear turbines and fans, as the business world came to Pinehurst to play golf. But nothing I’ve done after retirement could compare with 31+ years in the greatest flying and fighting organization in the world.
Don Delauter was born on April 9, 1933, in Myersville, Maryland, and graduated from Middletown High School in 1951. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park, an MBA degree from Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, and a Master of Education from, Boston University, Stuttgart, Germany.
Don received his USAF commission through AFROTC in June 1955 and entered active duty in March 1956. He completed primary flight training at Stallings AB, Kinston, NC and basic flight training at Laredo AFB, TX, receiving his pilot wings in May 1957. This was followed by combat crew training at Luke AFB in the F-84F and at Nellis in the F-100. He was then assigned to the 49th TFW, 8thTFS at Etain Air Base, France, flying the F-100D. While at Etain Don met and married USAF Nurse Lt. Mary Coco. (They are still together these many years later). In 1959 the wing was moved to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany where he completed his first operational assignment.
In December 1960, Don was assigned to Luke AFB as an instructor pilot in the 4511th combat crew training squadron with additional duty as an instructor in the academic squadron. In 1964 he completed parachute training at Ft. Benning, GA, and was assigned as a forward air controller with the 2nd Armored Division at Ft. Hood, TX.
In 1966 he enrolled in the AFIT program at Ohio State University, and after graduating, was re-qualified in the Super Sabre at Luke. He was assigned to the 614th TFS at Phan Rang in June 1968 where he flew 269 combat missions. After Phan Rang, Don returned to Luke where he instructed with the 426th squadron. He also returned to teaching academics until resigned to Tactical Air Command headquarters at Langley AFB, VA.
Initially, at TAC, he worked in the IG scheduling branch. He later transferred to the Programs division of TAC/XP. In 1974, he was selected to attend the Naval War College at Newport, RI. He graduated in 1975 with the highest distinction.
From Newport, Don moved to US European Command headquarters at Patch Barracks, Stuttgart. Germany. He was a war planner in the operational plans division of the J 5 directorate. In 1978 he was assigned to the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron (later Group) Soesterberg Air Base, Netherlands, as vice commander, then commander. While there he flew the F-4E and the F-15. As commander, he also was a member of the US Ambassador’s country team.
After a reluctant goodbye to Holland and the Eagle jet, Don and Mary moved to Heidelberg, Germany where he was assigned to Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force headquarters’ offensive air division. While at 4ATAF, Don was promoted to brigadier general and was reassigned to Tyndall AFB, FL.
In 1983, Don became commander of the NORAD SE Air Defense Sector and TAC’s 23rd Air Division, and –joy, oh joy – flew the F-15 again. In 1986, he moved to NORAD headquarters as chief of the NORAD planning staff where he served until retirement on September 30, 1987.
Don is a command pilot with approximately 3900 flying hours in T-33, F-84F, F-100A/C/D/F, F4E, F-15A/C/B/D.
As a civilian, Don worked for Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group in Linthicum, MD. He retired from Westinghouse in 1996 and he and Mary moved to North Carolina where they now live in Southern Pines. Don & Mary have two daughters: Leslie living in Philadelphia, PA, and Diane in Cotuit, Cape Cod, MA.