Paul F. “PK” Kimminau



Preferred Name:
Paul
Nickname/Call Sign: PK
Date Of Birth: February 9, 1936
Highest Military Grade Held: Lieutenant Colonel (O-5)
Hometown: Kingman, KS

Biography

I was asked to prepare a bio for the SSS.  It was mentioned that maybe someone would one day read the bio.  This little attempt I hope will fill the bill.
My life started on 9 Feb. 1936 in Kingman, Kansas, the seventh of nine children.  My parents were Chris and Clara Kimminau.  As I write this, only brothers Leo, James, and I remain alive.
I attended St. Patrick School in Kingman until the sixth grade.  The family then moved to Scott City, KS.  This is a small town in Western Kansas.  I completed elementary school and high school in Scott City.

I had no idea what I was going to do after I graduated from high school.  One day, sitting in a Rexall Drug Store, I read in the Hutchinson (Kansas) Newspaper about a scholarship to the Municipal University of Wichita, in Wichita, KS.  After talking to the Counselor at school, I managed to get to Wichita and take the test.  I did not get the big scholarship but did get a “remission of tuition” grant.  My family moved to Wichita just after I graduated, so I was able to live at home and go to school.

[I should note at this time my family was far from wealthy enough for them to pay my way through college.  As my Dad use to say, “We don’t have a pot to pi** in or a window to throw it out of.”   To say I was lucky to get to go to College would be a huge understatement. I was able to attend my Freshman year of school without having to work, except help my Dad with his job as janitor of the St. Anthony Elementary School.]

During the summer after my Freshman year, I got a summer job at Beech Aircraft Co. helping with the inventory they were doing that summer.  I was then able to continue working at Beech during the next three years of college.  I had a second shift job, 3:30 pm to midnight, five days a week.  I did this while attending classes full time.  Second semester of my second year of school, I got a failing grade in one of my engineering classes (I was taking Aeronautical Engineering, so had to take summer school to make up that class.)

In the summer of that year I was extremely lucky to meet the wonderful woman that would become my wife.  Funny the way this happened.  My younger sister (Mary Ann) was attending Sacred Heart College (a Catholic college in Wichita).  She had a friend who had attended a Fred Waring music camp in Pennsylvania that summer, and upon returning was unable to get into the dorm right away.  She stayed with us for a few days.  When she came into our home, I happened to see her and was smitten by the yellow sweater she was wearing.  (Guess why!)   I asked my sister about maybe going out with her but she told me I could not do that since I was at that time dating another young lady from Sacred Heart.  To make a long story short, I broke up with that girl and started dating my future wife, Lois Jean Stickney.  We were married in Claflin, Kansas (her parents home) on 7 May 1957.  If anyone is wondering, I am still married to the beautiful lady and we had four children, son, Jon Alan; daughter, Lori Diane; son, Brian Keith, and son, Alex Paul.  (We unfortunately lost our daughter in 2012.)

When I enrolled at the University of Wichita, I decided to take Air Force ROTC.  I think this was a natural thing to do since my oldest brothers  Jerome  [pilot for SAC (Strategic Air Command)], Alfred [Radio Technician], and Leo [pilot in MATS (Military Airlift Transportation Command)] were all in the Air Force.  During my senior year, ROTC had a program called Flight Indoctrination Program.  This program was designed to see if you were going to be able to learn how to fly.  I received about 30 hours of flying time in a Cessna 140 aircraft and received a Private Pilot License.
I was able to pass the physical and received a Pilot Training slot in the Air Force.  There was some mix up as to when I would enter the Air Force since I had attended school for five years to get my Bachelors Degree.  If you took Aero Engineering and ROTC, it was almost impossible to get your Degree in four years unless you attended summer school for a couple of those years.  In my class there were actually  four others who were in ROTC and taking Aero Engineering, and also took five years to get their degrees.

I got a job with Boeing Aircraft as a Structural Engineer from June to early December.  I had a reporting date to the Air Force on 16 December 1959.  I went to Lackland Air Force Base for Officer Indoctrination and in late January of 1960 went to McAllen, Texas, for Primary Pilot training.  [I have written a book, “I was Lucky: I got to be a Pilot.”  It is all about my Air Force experience of flying.]  My oldest son, Jon, was born at McAllen.

The first aircraft I flew was the T-34 Mentor.   Having passed the first 30 some hours in the T-34, we then flew the T-37.  This was a twin engine jet aircraft from Cessna Aircraft.  The cockpit was designed with the IP and student sitting side by side.  After finishing Primary Training with just over 100 hours in the T-37, I was assigned to Laredo Air Force Base in Texas (just up the road from McAllen).

At Laredo I flew the T-33 single engine jet trainer for 115 hours and received my Pilot Rating in the United States Air Force.  I did really well in flying the T-33 and ended up number one in my class.  I picked the F-100 Super Saber.  It was off to Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona, for training.

Arriving at Luke AFB, it was pretty neat to see a lot of fighters sitting on the ramp, F-84s and F-100s.  We flew the T-33 for about 31 hours for instrument training and then an instrument check before we started F-100 training.  The reason for this was so they could teach us how instrument approaches were flown in Tactical Air Command rather than how we were taught in primary training.  I am unsure just how many hours of flying we did in the F-100 while at Luke.  I know we got qualified in Skip Bombing, Dive Bombing, Nuclear Weapons Delivery, and Strafe.
[Note: My daughter Lori Diane was born while I was in training at Luke.]

After Survival School at Stead AFB, near Reno, I was assigned to Nellis AFB at Las Vegas to complete my F-100 training.  Here we had a lot more Nuclear Weapons delivery training, Air-to-Air Refueling (KB-50), and Air to Air gunnery (The Dart).  We also went to the Tactical Range for practice.

After completing F-100 training (December 1961) I was assigned to the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, 306th Squadron at George AFB, CA.  The squadron had a Major as the Commander and all the guys were VERY experienced F-100 pilots.  In the first few weeks I got Combat Ready.  There was a rumor that the Wing would be moving, but no one would say just where.  The 306th was to deploy the last part of April to Kadena AB, Japan, to sit Nuclear Alert for the Wing assigned there.  They were sending pilots back to the States to check out in the F-105. At this time TAC announced that the wing would be moving to Homestead AFB, FL, starting in April. My wife was pregnant with our third child and I could have changed squadrons but decided I wanted to stay with the squadron I had trained with.  (Knew the guys and they were all good guys.)

TDY to Kadena was the first time I learned about “wishing your life away,”  meaning that you always wish time would go by real fast and you could get home to the family.  My first TDY with a fighter squadron was a real learning experience.  Here I was, a 26 year old fighter pilot sitting alert in a single engine, single seat fighter, with a 1.1 megaton nuclear weapon on board, with a mission that I just might not return from.

Back to George in July and moved the family to Homestead AFB, near Miami, Florida.  [Note: My wife was pregnant with our third child, Brian, and the doctors insisted she should fly with the two small children while I drove.  She stayed with friends until I arrived.]  Since the 306th was the last squadron to move, a lot of us did not get base housing and had quite a time finding a reasonable place to live.

Being in TAC at that time you spent a LOT of time TDY.  I was TDY to Itazuke AB, Japan for 3 months, a month to Nellis for Bullpup training, two weeks to Alaska for an exercise, 3 months to Cigli AB, Turkey, two weeks to Air to Ground Operations school (Ground Forward Controller School), and I am not sure how many other TDYs.  To make a long story short, I put in my papers to get out and go with the airlines. A couple weeks later I had an interview set up with Pan Am in Miami.  I had an interview with the Wing Commander about my reason for getting out.  I told him I was spending a lot of time away from my family and it looked like if I stayed in, I would be doing a lot more TDYs and time away.  I mentioned in passing that the guys like myself who had gone overseas had a pretty stable life for 3-4 years. The morning I was to go for my interview with PanAm I got a call from the Wing Commander and he told me he had an assignment to the 79th TFS at RAF Woodbridge, UK, and I could have it if I wanted.  Well, I withdrew my papers and took the assignment.

[Note: Our third child, Brian was born while we were at Homestead.]

Flying in Europe with the 79th was the best, most enjoyable tour of my Air Force career.  Sitting Nuclear Alert at Woodbridge often, once at Cigli AB in Turkey, going to Wheelus AB in Libya for gunnery training, and taking three F-100Ds to RAF Lechuars in Scotland just stand out as great times.  Sitting Nuc Alert was mostly boring but still as a Captain and having an F-100D loaded with a 1.1 megaton weapon kinda gets you to thinking.  The highlight of the tour was getting the opportunity to go to the F-100 Fighter Weapons School.  I attended that from Sept to Dec of 1965.  {Details of this are in my book.)

Of course during my time at Woodbridge, the little affair in Viet Nam was getting real hot.  Assignments were coming hot and heavy.  One day we got a notice asking for volunteers for several different prop type aircraft, one of which was the A-1E.  I did not know what this was but after looking it up decided that flying that big old bird might be fun.  After I volunteered it wasn’t two weeks until I had an assignment to Bien Hoa in South Viet Nam with check out in the A-1 at Hurlburt AFB in Florida.  In Jan 1967 I moved the family to Hurlburt for 3 months training.

[Note: Our fourth child, Alex, was born at Lakenheath Hospital during our stay in England.]

Checking out in the A-1 was a blast, having flown the F-100 (which, if flown correctly, required you use the rudder).  With the large prop and powerful engine on the A-,1 a lot of torque required you to use rudder.  I am sure all the guys that checked out in the A-1 had this experience.  When we did the night work under the flares, the smoke from the flares and/or some puffy clouds would cause you to see the shadow of the airplane when you would be rolling in or turning final.  It happened every time and you would be scared to death that you were about to have a midair.  While at Hurlburt, my orders were changed and I was to report to the 602nd Fighter Squadron (Commando) at Udorn Royal Thai Air Base in Thailand.   Off to South East Asia (SEA).
After settling my family in Wichita, Kansas, to be near family, I headed to Travis AFB, CA, then on to Clark AB, Philippines.  It was raining when we got off the airplane and rained every day we were at the two week Jungle Survival School.  If fact, while we did go out for a few nights in the jungle, we stayed in static camp because the class before us had a couple guys killed by a landslide when they were on the trek.  I won’t say I enjoyed Jungle Survival,  but I did learn a lot.  I’m not sure, though, that anything I learned would have helped me a lot if I would have had to survive after jumping out up North.

I arrived at Udorn around the end of May 1967 (because my log book shows my first combat mission (“Dollar ride”) was 10 June 1967).  This first mission was very interesting for a couple reasons which I must mention.  During the briefing we received about the FACing of some F-105 to do a road cut just to the east of the Plain De Jars (PDJ), I noted where the ground fire might come from.  The IP I was with in the A-1E was a Major.  He was very proud of the fact that he had never been hit by ground fire on any of his missions up to that time.  Major X briefed the F-105 on the target and the run-in heading he wanted them to fly and he made sure they had him in sight.  After they acknowledged that they had him in sight, he said he was rolling in to mark the target.  In my head I thought “If he rolls in from here, he will be going right into where the guns are supposed to be.” Being the “Newbie” I didn’t say anything.  During the pass, I saw something I had never seen, stuff going past us, and I asked Major X what that was.  He hollered, “They are shooting at us!”  We did not feel anything so assumed we had not been hit.  When we get back and looked at the aircraft, we found one hole in the right flap, his first hit.  During the debrief, I mentioned that I sure thought he was rolling in right toward the guns and he asked why the hell I didn’t say something.

I won’t say any more about my time at the 602nd.  (It is all written down in my book.)  In fact it is probably a good thing if I just say you should read the book to see what happened during the remainder of my one year tour in SEA.

My assignment coming from SEA was to the F-100 Fighter Weapons School as an instructor.  This, of course, is at Nellis AFB, Nevada.  Without a doubt, the second best tour I had during my career in the Air Force.  Normally this would have been for a minimum of 4 years but the Air Force closed down the F-100 Weapons School and I ended up going to an ALO/FAC assignment to Fort Carson, Colorado.  (That is near Colorado Springs.)

I’ll say this about my ALO/FAC tour with the Army: If you are going to do a tour with the Army, Colorado Springs is as good a place as you will get.  Having volunteered for this tour, Tactical Air Command said you could get your choice for the follow-on assignment.  I wanted to go back and fly the A-7D and that is what I ended up doing.  Checked out when they were still assigned to Luke AFB and joined the squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.  Stayed on as an IP until the A-7D Fighter Weapons School was established at Nellis, then went there.
The assignment to the A-7D Weapons School only lasted about 4 months when I got an assignment to Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA.  After that six-month school, I returned to the A-7D Fighter Weapons School as an instructor.  I was only there about a year when I got a remote A-7D assignment to Korat, RTAB in Thailand.  The interesting stuff about the year at Korat is also in my book.

After the remote tour, it was back for a tour in the Pentagon.  Once the family was settled, this assignment was what I would call “only just acceptable.”  It did not turn out the way it should have and I ended up getting as assignment back to Davis-Monthan as the Wing Training Officer.  This only lasted a few months and I got the Chief of Stan Eval assignment.  Flew the A-7D for a while then checked out in the A-10, and finished my Air Force career 1 August 1982.

I then went to work for Hughes Aircraft Company.  My first job, for about two years, was as a Subcontract Manager.  Then I went to Field Services and had the job of going out and briefing the Air Force and Air National Guard on the Maverick Missile, both the EO and IR missiles.  I was then promoted to manage the program to integrate the AMRAAM Missile on the German F-4 and the Euro Fighter.  The Euro Fighter was/is being produced by Germany, Great Britain, Spain and Italy.  This was a very rewarding job and I enjoyed it very much.
I retired from Hughes Aircraft in 1996 and have been enjoying retired life ever since.

I flew the F-100 fo4 152 Hours and only ejected once!

Other flying included the Cessna 140-37 hrs: T-34-35 hrs: T-37-105 hrs: T-33-148 hrs: U-6-80 hrs: T-39-29 hrs: A-1E/H-352 hrs: A-7D-808 hrs: A-10-76 hrs; F-113/114-4 hrs. Have logged pilot time in T-5 Lighting, T-38, RC-121, O-2, and F-4.Total time ~ 3535 hrs.

Paul “PK” Kimminau – Caterpillar Club

Paul "PK" KimminauOK, there I was, 50,000 feet, on my back, out of control, oops…wait, this is a story about a Hun!

Actually I was a student at the Fighter Weapons School in the fall of 1965. In early November, I was number three in Reno flight. We went to the range and our last event was 500 knot strafe. On base we would light the burner so we could get close to 500 knots going downhill toward the target. On my last pass, I got a Master Caution light and the cause was an Oil Overheat light. The ONLY time I had ever seen that light was when checking all the lights during preflight. Well, I pulled the throttle back and the light went out. Checked everything, including the oil pressure, and everything was normal.

Told Reno 4 (Max Templin, the IP) what had happened and that I was pressing on for the join up. Anyone who has been to the Weapons School knows the students tried like hell to be all joined up before the IP got in formation. I was back to full throttle and gaining on one and two, who were already joined up. We climbed to 10,000 headed South to depart the range complex at Indian Springs.

It seemed to me that I wasn’t getting all the power that I was used to. Reno 4 was already on my wing and I still had a ways to go to get in formation. Just as I slid into position on Lead’s right wing, I noticed a Master Caution light again. Again, the Oil Overheat light, but this time I also had a FIRE WARNING light. Told Reno 4 about the lights and he said to go to Guard Channel. I was very calm and threw the UHF radio lever out board.

OK, guys, I’ll fess up right now. That is not Guard but Manual. Inboard would have been Guard. However, I was in TR & G so all transmissions on Guard I received. In fact the first transmission I heard was Reno 4 calling Mayday to Indian Springs tower. He then asked if I was up. I replied, “Yeah, I am up.” Of course I am transmitting on Manual, so no one hears me. Range One tower could have heard it,  if it had been manned.

We were exactly at 10,000 ft indicated and directly over the west end of the Indian Springs runway. The tower did not answer Reno 4 for what seemed like forever, but finally acknowledged our Mayday. I asked Reno 4 what the direction of traffic was for the SFO. I thought I remembered that it was right, but he was on the right wing so I transmit that I would be going left. Put the gear down, and remember to this day that only the nose and right main showed green. At about this same time I noticed the oil pressure go to zero. Also, both rudder pedals go all the way forward and pushing on one did not make the other move. Oh well, I thought, guess something is amiss. Started a left turn and did not get but about 15 degrees of bank in when Reno 4 says smoke is coming out the left side of my fuselage. I answered, “OK, I am getting out!” Rolled wings level, pulled up on the handles, the canopy leaves and it took no time at all for me to find the triggers and pull. Up I went! Did what I think was about one tumble and thought I better get out of the seat, when the chute opened. Butt snapper worked like a charm and the one and zero lanyard did likewise. Had not disconnected it because I was a bit busy at the time I would have normally unhooked it. Chute fully deployed and the survival kit also deployed. The lanyard which had the one man life raft connected to it kept wrapping around my legs, so I jettisoned the kit.

Now I am all alone about 7-8 thousand feet above the ground and it was really quiet! Just a swishing sound the chute made. I could see vehicles coming from both Range One and Indian Springs toward where they thought I would land. I just kept looking out and enjoyed the ride down. Did not see the aircraft once I was out.
As I get closer to the ground I got ready for the landing. Remember those chutes where a small cable ring was under a cover which you raised and the ring would pop up so you could just jerk on the ring to jettison the canopy? Did not seem a big deal when you were on the ground to raise that cover and see that ring pop up but when you are hanging under the chute it makes you wonder if raising that cover might release the canopy!

When I was what I estimate to be about 300-400 feet, I see this big thing that looked like a tree. Probably a Joshua Tree Cactus. All I could think about was, “All this damn desert out here and I am landing in a tree!” Did what they told you to, looked out at the horizon, toes together, and just waited. Lucky as hell!!! Landed on the West edge of a very shallow drainage ditch with soft dirt in the bottom. Maybe a knot or two of wind from the west, so I do a perfect PLF, pulled those rings, jettison the canopy, and end up on my back in the bottom of that ditch. Not a bruise on me!
After about 30 seconds of laying there thinking I am OK, I get up, take the helmet, G-suit, and harness off. About this time an ambulance arrives but is on the opposite side of a large ditch. A guy runs over and asks me if I am OK, I say sure am. He says something like, “We could give you a ride to Indian Springs in the ambulance but there is a helo coming and you might like to ride it back.”
I wait and sure enough a Pedro arrives in a couple minutes. I gather my stuff up and jump on board. They take me to Indian Springs and drop me off where I wait for the helo from Nellis to get there. [The Pedro that picked me up had a VIP group on board touring the range where they set off all those Nuclear things underground. When the pilot heard the Mayday call he landed in the desert and told them to get out, he would be back after he picked up the pilot (me). ] Got back to Nellis and we landed at the New Hospital [I was the first guy to get delivered to that hospital in a helicopter.] After the required physical, an ambulance took me back to the squadron and afternoon academics.

All in a days work! I flew the next morning with a 05:00 brief. Kids, now days, don’t believe that.

The time of day I jumped out was about 11:00 am. One other funny thing about this story. Many years later I was telling this story and my son’s father-in-law was listening. He is astounded! He tells me he was in the Indian Springs tower that day working. Also told me that the reason for the delay in their answering our Mayday call was the fact that the Thunderbirds were there practicing and they had to get them out of the way for us. Talk about a small world!

-Paul “PK” Kimminau

Units Assigned

  • 11/1958-4/1959 ROTC Flight Indoctrination Program (Cessna 140)
  • 12/1959-12/1960  Officer Training, Randolph AFB, TX
  • 2/1960-7/1960 Pilot Training, McAllen AB, TX (T-34, T-37)
  • 7/1960-1/1961 Completed Pilot training at Laredo AFB, TX (T-33)
  • 2/1961-8/1961 F-100 Training, Luke AFB, AZ (F-100 C/D/F)
  • 9/1961-12/1961 Finished F-100 training at Nellis AFB, NV (F-100 C/D/F)
  • 1/1961-7/1964 306th TFS (308th Tactical Fighter Squadron)/31st Tactical Fighter Wing, George AFB/Homestead AFB, FL
    (Had a lot of TDY during this time to Kadena AB, Okinawa; Itazuke AB, Japan; Cigili AB, Turkey; Elmendorf AFB, AK; and many stateside TDYs. Was at Homestead and sat alert for two weeks during the Cuban Missile Crisis.(F-100D/F)
  • 8/1964-1/1968 79th Tactical Fighter Squadron/20th Tactical Fighter Wing, RAF Woodbridge, UK (F-100 D/F)
  • 3/1968-5/1968 Check out at Hurlburt AF, FL (A-1E)
  • 5/1968 Jungle Survival at Clark AB, Philippines
  • 6/1968-9/1968 602nd Fighter Squadron at Udorn/NKP Thailand
  • 10/1968-5/1969 Barrel Roll Frag Officer, HQ 7th AF, Saigon, RSVN
  • 6/1969-9/1970 Instructor @ F-100 FWS, Nellis AFB, NV
    (While at the FWS flew 6 Sorties in the F-113/114)
  • 9/1970-5/1971 ALO/FAC, US Army, Ft Carson, CO (U-6, T-39, F-100C/D/F)
  • 5/1971-7/1971 Training, Luke AFB, AZ (A-7D)
  • 7/1971-8/1972 Instructor, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ (A-7D)
  • 8/1972-12/1972 Instructor, A-7D FWS, Nellis AFB, NV (A-7D)
  • 1/1973- 8/1973 Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA
  • 8/1973-6/1974 Instructor, FWS Nellis AFB, NV (A-7D)
  • 7/1974 SAR School, Alexandra AFB, LA (A-7D)
  • 8/1974-6/1975 Wing Chief of Weapons, Korat AB, Thailand (A-7D)
  • 7/1975-2/1978 Program Officer PRPT, Pentagon, Washington, DC
  • 2/1978-8/1981 Wing Chief of Training/Stan Eval, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ (A-7D, A-10)
  • 8/1/1981 Retired USAF

Awards & Decorations

Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters)
 Bronze Star
 Purple Heart
Air Medal (with 8 Oak Leaf Clusters)
 Air Force Commendation Medal
 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters)
 Combat Readiness Medal
 National Defense Service Medal
 Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Medal (with 4 Bronze Stars)
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm (and 1 Bronze Star)
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Flight Info

Cessna 140-37 hrs
T-34-35 hrs
T-37-105 hrs
T-33-148 hrs
U-6-80 hrs
T-39-29 hrs
A-1E/H-352 hrs
A-7D-808 hrs
A-10-76 hrs
F-113/114-4 hrs.
Pilot time in T-5 Lighting, T-38, RC-121, O-2, and F-4
Total Flight Time ~ 3535 hrs.

Military Education

  • 1963 -1964 SOS (Correspondence)

Civilian Education

  • 1959 BS Aeronautical Engineering –University of Wichita
  • 1978 MA in Business from Central Michigan University
Biography

Biography

I was asked to prepare a bio for the SSS.  It was mentioned that maybe someone would one day read the bio.  This little attempt I hope will fill the bill.
My life started on 9 Feb. 1936 in Kingman, Kansas, the seventh of nine children.  My parents were Chris and Clara Kimminau.  As I write this, only brothers Leo, James, and I remain alive.
I attended St. Patrick School in Kingman until the sixth grade.  The family then moved to Scott City, KS.  This is a small town in Western Kansas.  I completed elementary school and high school in Scott City.

I had no idea what I was going to do after I graduated from high school.  One day, sitting in a Rexall Drug Store, I read in the Hutchinson (Kansas) Newspaper about a scholarship to the Municipal University of Wichita, in Wichita, KS.  After talking to the Counselor at school, I managed to get to Wichita and take the test.  I did not get the big scholarship but did get a “remission of tuition” grant.  My family moved to Wichita just after I graduated, so I was able to live at home and go to school.

[I should note at this time my family was far from wealthy enough for them to pay my way through college.  As my Dad use to say, “We don’t have a pot to pi** in or a window to throw it out of.”   To say I was lucky to get to go to College would be a huge understatement. I was able to attend my Freshman year of school without having to work, except help my Dad with his job as janitor of the St. Anthony Elementary School.]

During the summer after my Freshman year, I got a summer job at Beech Aircraft Co. helping with the inventory they were doing that summer.  I was then able to continue working at Beech during the next three years of college.  I had a second shift job, 3:30 pm to midnight, five days a week.  I did this while attending classes full time.  Second semester of my second year of school, I got a failing grade in one of my engineering classes (I was taking Aeronautical Engineering, so had to take summer school to make up that class.)

In the summer of that year I was extremely lucky to meet the wonderful woman that would become my wife.  Funny the way this happened.  My younger sister (Mary Ann) was attending Sacred Heart College (a Catholic college in Wichita).  She had a friend who had attended a Fred Waring music camp in Pennsylvania that summer, and upon returning was unable to get into the dorm right away.  She stayed with us for a few days.  When she came into our home, I happened to see her and was smitten by the yellow sweater she was wearing.  (Guess why!)   I asked my sister about maybe going out with her but she told me I could not do that since I was at that time dating another young lady from Sacred Heart.  To make a long story short, I broke up with that girl and started dating my future wife, Lois Jean Stickney.  We were married in Claflin, Kansas (her parents home) on 7 May 1957.  If anyone is wondering, I am still married to the beautiful lady and we had four children, son, Jon Alan; daughter, Lori Diane; son, Brian Keith, and son, Alex Paul.  (We unfortunately lost our daughter in 2012.)

When I enrolled at the University of Wichita, I decided to take Air Force ROTC.  I think this was a natural thing to do since my oldest brothers  Jerome  [pilot for SAC (Strategic Air Command)], Alfred [Radio Technician], and Leo [pilot in MATS (Military Airlift Transportation Command)] were all in the Air Force.  During my senior year, ROTC had a program called Flight Indoctrination Program.  This program was designed to see if you were going to be able to learn how to fly.  I received about 30 hours of flying time in a Cessna 140 aircraft and received a Private Pilot License.
I was able to pass the physical and received a Pilot Training slot in the Air Force.  There was some mix up as to when I would enter the Air Force since I had attended school for five years to get my Bachelors Degree.  If you took Aero Engineering and ROTC, it was almost impossible to get your Degree in four years unless you attended summer school for a couple of those years.  In my class there were actually  four others who were in ROTC and taking Aero Engineering, and also took five years to get their degrees.

I got a job with Boeing Aircraft as a Structural Engineer from June to early December.  I had a reporting date to the Air Force on 16 December 1959.  I went to Lackland Air Force Base for Officer Indoctrination and in late January of 1960 went to McAllen, Texas, for Primary Pilot training.  [I have written a book, “I was Lucky: I got to be a Pilot.”  It is all about my Air Force experience of flying.]  My oldest son, Jon, was born at McAllen.

The first aircraft I flew was the T-34 Mentor.   Having passed the first 30 some hours in the T-34, we then flew the T-37.  This was a twin engine jet aircraft from Cessna Aircraft.  The cockpit was designed with the IP and student sitting side by side.  After finishing Primary Training with just over 100 hours in the T-37, I was assigned to Laredo Air Force Base in Texas (just up the road from McAllen).

At Laredo I flew the T-33 single engine jet trainer for 115 hours and received my Pilot Rating in the United States Air Force.  I did really well in flying the T-33 and ended up number one in my class.  I picked the F-100 Super Saber.  It was off to Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona, for training.

Arriving at Luke AFB, it was pretty neat to see a lot of fighters sitting on the ramp, F-84s and F-100s.  We flew the T-33 for about 31 hours for instrument training and then an instrument check before we started F-100 training.  The reason for this was so they could teach us how instrument approaches were flown in Tactical Air Command rather than how we were taught in primary training.  I am unsure just how many hours of flying we did in the F-100 while at Luke.  I know we got qualified in Skip Bombing, Dive Bombing, Nuclear Weapons Delivery, and Strafe.
[Note: My daughter Lori Diane was born while I was in training at Luke.]

After Survival School at Stead AFB, near Reno, I was assigned to Nellis AFB at Las Vegas to complete my F-100 training.  Here we had a lot more Nuclear Weapons delivery training, Air-to-Air Refueling (KB-50), and Air to Air gunnery (The Dart).  We also went to the Tactical Range for practice.

After completing F-100 training (December 1961) I was assigned to the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, 306th Squadron at George AFB, CA.  The squadron had a Major as the Commander and all the guys were VERY experienced F-100 pilots.  In the first few weeks I got Combat Ready.  There was a rumor that the Wing would be moving, but no one would say just where.  The 306th was to deploy the last part of April to Kadena AB, Japan, to sit Nuclear Alert for the Wing assigned there.  They were sending pilots back to the States to check out in the F-105. At this time TAC announced that the wing would be moving to Homestead AFB, FL, starting in April. My wife was pregnant with our third child and I could have changed squadrons but decided I wanted to stay with the squadron I had trained with.  (Knew the guys and they were all good guys.)

TDY to Kadena was the first time I learned about “wishing your life away,”  meaning that you always wish time would go by real fast and you could get home to the family.  My first TDY with a fighter squadron was a real learning experience.  Here I was, a 26 year old fighter pilot sitting alert in a single engine, single seat fighter, with a 1.1 megaton nuclear weapon on board, with a mission that I just might not return from.

Back to George in July and moved the family to Homestead AFB, near Miami, Florida.  [Note: My wife was pregnant with our third child, Brian, and the doctors insisted she should fly with the two small children while I drove.  She stayed with friends until I arrived.]  Since the 306th was the last squadron to move, a lot of us did not get base housing and had quite a time finding a reasonable place to live.

Being in TAC at that time you spent a LOT of time TDY.  I was TDY to Itazuke AB, Japan for 3 months, a month to Nellis for Bullpup training, two weeks to Alaska for an exercise, 3 months to Cigli AB, Turkey, two weeks to Air to Ground Operations school (Ground Forward Controller School), and I am not sure how many other TDYs.  To make a long story short, I put in my papers to get out and go with the airlines. A couple weeks later I had an interview set up with Pan Am in Miami.  I had an interview with the Wing Commander about my reason for getting out.  I told him I was spending a lot of time away from my family and it looked like if I stayed in, I would be doing a lot more TDYs and time away.  I mentioned in passing that the guys like myself who had gone overseas had a pretty stable life for 3-4 years. The morning I was to go for my interview with PanAm I got a call from the Wing Commander and he told me he had an assignment to the 79th TFS at RAF Woodbridge, UK, and I could have it if I wanted.  Well, I withdrew my papers and took the assignment.

[Note: Our third child, Brian was born while we were at Homestead.]

Flying in Europe with the 79th was the best, most enjoyable tour of my Air Force career.  Sitting Nuclear Alert at Woodbridge often, once at Cigli AB in Turkey, going to Wheelus AB in Libya for gunnery training, and taking three F-100Ds to RAF Lechuars in Scotland just stand out as great times.  Sitting Nuc Alert was mostly boring but still as a Captain and having an F-100D loaded with a 1.1 megaton weapon kinda gets you to thinking.  The highlight of the tour was getting the opportunity to go to the F-100 Fighter Weapons School.  I attended that from Sept to Dec of 1965.  {Details of this are in my book.)

Of course during my time at Woodbridge, the little affair in Viet Nam was getting real hot.  Assignments were coming hot and heavy.  One day we got a notice asking for volunteers for several different prop type aircraft, one of which was the A-1E.  I did not know what this was but after looking it up decided that flying that big old bird might be fun.  After I volunteered it wasn’t two weeks until I had an assignment to Bien Hoa in South Viet Nam with check out in the A-1 at Hurlburt AFB in Florida.  In Jan 1967 I moved the family to Hurlburt for 3 months training.

[Note: Our fourth child, Alex, was born at Lakenheath Hospital during our stay in England.]

Checking out in the A-1 was a blast, having flown the F-100 (which, if flown correctly, required you use the rudder).  With the large prop and powerful engine on the A-,1 a lot of torque required you to use rudder.  I am sure all the guys that checked out in the A-1 had this experience.  When we did the night work under the flares, the smoke from the flares and/or some puffy clouds would cause you to see the shadow of the airplane when you would be rolling in or turning final.  It happened every time and you would be scared to death that you were about to have a midair.  While at Hurlburt, my orders were changed and I was to report to the 602nd Fighter Squadron (Commando) at Udorn Royal Thai Air Base in Thailand.   Off to South East Asia (SEA).
After settling my family in Wichita, Kansas, to be near family, I headed to Travis AFB, CA, then on to Clark AB, Philippines.  It was raining when we got off the airplane and rained every day we were at the two week Jungle Survival School.  If fact, while we did go out for a few nights in the jungle, we stayed in static camp because the class before us had a couple guys killed by a landslide when they were on the trek.  I won’t say I enjoyed Jungle Survival,  but I did learn a lot.  I’m not sure, though, that anything I learned would have helped me a lot if I would have had to survive after jumping out up North.

I arrived at Udorn around the end of May 1967 (because my log book shows my first combat mission (“Dollar ride”) was 10 June 1967).  This first mission was very interesting for a couple reasons which I must mention.  During the briefing we received about the FACing of some F-105 to do a road cut just to the east of the Plain De Jars (PDJ), I noted where the ground fire might come from.  The IP I was with in the A-1E was a Major.  He was very proud of the fact that he had never been hit by ground fire on any of his missions up to that time.  Major X briefed the F-105 on the target and the run-in heading he wanted them to fly and he made sure they had him in sight.  After they acknowledged that they had him in sight, he said he was rolling in to mark the target.  In my head I thought “If he rolls in from here, he will be going right into where the guns are supposed to be.” Being the “Newbie” I didn’t say anything.  During the pass, I saw something I had never seen, stuff going past us, and I asked Major X what that was.  He hollered, “They are shooting at us!”  We did not feel anything so assumed we had not been hit.  When we get back and looked at the aircraft, we found one hole in the right flap, his first hit.  During the debrief, I mentioned that I sure thought he was rolling in right toward the guns and he asked why the hell I didn’t say something.

I won’t say any more about my time at the 602nd.  (It is all written down in my book.)  In fact it is probably a good thing if I just say you should read the book to see what happened during the remainder of my one year tour in SEA.

My assignment coming from SEA was to the F-100 Fighter Weapons School as an instructor.  This, of course, is at Nellis AFB, Nevada.  Without a doubt, the second best tour I had during my career in the Air Force.  Normally this would have been for a minimum of 4 years but the Air Force closed down the F-100 Weapons School and I ended up going to an ALO/FAC assignment to Fort Carson, Colorado.  (That is near Colorado Springs.)

I’ll say this about my ALO/FAC tour with the Army: If you are going to do a tour with the Army, Colorado Springs is as good a place as you will get.  Having volunteered for this tour, Tactical Air Command said you could get your choice for the follow-on assignment.  I wanted to go back and fly the A-7D and that is what I ended up doing.  Checked out when they were still assigned to Luke AFB and joined the squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona.  Stayed on as an IP until the A-7D Fighter Weapons School was established at Nellis, then went there.
The assignment to the A-7D Weapons School only lasted about 4 months when I got an assignment to Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA.  After that six-month school, I returned to the A-7D Fighter Weapons School as an instructor.  I was only there about a year when I got a remote A-7D assignment to Korat, RTAB in Thailand.  The interesting stuff about the year at Korat is also in my book.

After the remote tour, it was back for a tour in the Pentagon.  Once the family was settled, this assignment was what I would call “only just acceptable.”  It did not turn out the way it should have and I ended up getting as assignment back to Davis-Monthan as the Wing Training Officer.  This only lasted a few months and I got the Chief of Stan Eval assignment.  Flew the A-7D for a while then checked out in the A-10, and finished my Air Force career 1 August 1982.

I then went to work for Hughes Aircraft Company.  My first job, for about two years, was as a Subcontract Manager.  Then I went to Field Services and had the job of going out and briefing the Air Force and Air National Guard on the Maverick Missile, both the EO and IR missiles.  I was then promoted to manage the program to integrate the AMRAAM Missile on the German F-4 and the Euro Fighter.  The Euro Fighter was/is being produced by Germany, Great Britain, Spain and Italy.  This was a very rewarding job and I enjoyed it very much.
I retired from Hughes Aircraft in 1996 and have been enjoying retired life ever since.

I flew the F-100 fo4 152 Hours and only ejected once!

Other flying included the Cessna 140-37 hrs: T-34-35 hrs: T-37-105 hrs: T-33-148 hrs: U-6-80 hrs: T-39-29 hrs: A-1E/H-352 hrs: A-7D-808 hrs: A-10-76 hrs; F-113/114-4 hrs. Have logged pilot time in T-5 Lighting, T-38, RC-121, O-2, and F-4.Total time ~ 3535 hrs.

Caterpillar Club

Paul “PK” Kimminau – Caterpillar Club

Paul "PK" KimminauOK, there I was, 50,000 feet, on my back, out of control, oops…wait, this is a story about a Hun!

Actually I was a student at the Fighter Weapons School in the fall of 1965. In early November, I was number three in Reno flight. We went to the range and our last event was 500 knot strafe. On base we would light the burner so we could get close to 500 knots going downhill toward the target. On my last pass, I got a Master Caution light and the cause was an Oil Overheat light. The ONLY time I had ever seen that light was when checking all the lights during preflight. Well, I pulled the throttle back and the light went out. Checked everything, including the oil pressure, and everything was normal.

Told Reno 4 (Max Templin, the IP) what had happened and that I was pressing on for the join up. Anyone who has been to the Weapons School knows the students tried like hell to be all joined up before the IP got in formation. I was back to full throttle and gaining on one and two, who were already joined up. We climbed to 10,000 headed South to depart the range complex at Indian Springs.

It seemed to me that I wasn’t getting all the power that I was used to. Reno 4 was already on my wing and I still had a ways to go to get in formation. Just as I slid into position on Lead’s right wing, I noticed a Master Caution light again. Again, the Oil Overheat light, but this time I also had a FIRE WARNING light. Told Reno 4 about the lights and he said to go to Guard Channel. I was very calm and threw the UHF radio lever out board.

OK, guys, I’ll fess up right now. That is not Guard but Manual. Inboard would have been Guard. However, I was in TR & G so all transmissions on Guard I received. In fact the first transmission I heard was Reno 4 calling Mayday to Indian Springs tower. He then asked if I was up. I replied, “Yeah, I am up.” Of course I am transmitting on Manual, so no one hears me. Range One tower could have heard it,  if it had been manned.

We were exactly at 10,000 ft indicated and directly over the west end of the Indian Springs runway. The tower did not answer Reno 4 for what seemed like forever, but finally acknowledged our Mayday. I asked Reno 4 what the direction of traffic was for the SFO. I thought I remembered that it was right, but he was on the right wing so I transmit that I would be going left. Put the gear down, and remember to this day that only the nose and right main showed green. At about this same time I noticed the oil pressure go to zero. Also, both rudder pedals go all the way forward and pushing on one did not make the other move. Oh well, I thought, guess something is amiss. Started a left turn and did not get but about 15 degrees of bank in when Reno 4 says smoke is coming out the left side of my fuselage. I answered, “OK, I am getting out!” Rolled wings level, pulled up on the handles, the canopy leaves and it took no time at all for me to find the triggers and pull. Up I went! Did what I think was about one tumble and thought I better get out of the seat, when the chute opened. Butt snapper worked like a charm and the one and zero lanyard did likewise. Had not disconnected it because I was a bit busy at the time I would have normally unhooked it. Chute fully deployed and the survival kit also deployed. The lanyard which had the one man life raft connected to it kept wrapping around my legs, so I jettisoned the kit.

Now I am all alone about 7-8 thousand feet above the ground and it was really quiet! Just a swishing sound the chute made. I could see vehicles coming from both Range One and Indian Springs toward where they thought I would land. I just kept looking out and enjoyed the ride down. Did not see the aircraft once I was out.
As I get closer to the ground I got ready for the landing. Remember those chutes where a small cable ring was under a cover which you raised and the ring would pop up so you could just jerk on the ring to jettison the canopy? Did not seem a big deal when you were on the ground to raise that cover and see that ring pop up but when you are hanging under the chute it makes you wonder if raising that cover might release the canopy!

When I was what I estimate to be about 300-400 feet, I see this big thing that looked like a tree. Probably a Joshua Tree Cactus. All I could think about was, “All this damn desert out here and I am landing in a tree!” Did what they told you to, looked out at the horizon, toes together, and just waited. Lucky as hell!!! Landed on the West edge of a very shallow drainage ditch with soft dirt in the bottom. Maybe a knot or two of wind from the west, so I do a perfect PLF, pulled those rings, jettison the canopy, and end up on my back in the bottom of that ditch. Not a bruise on me!
After about 30 seconds of laying there thinking I am OK, I get up, take the helmet, G-suit, and harness off. About this time an ambulance arrives but is on the opposite side of a large ditch. A guy runs over and asks me if I am OK, I say sure am. He says something like, “We could give you a ride to Indian Springs in the ambulance but there is a helo coming and you might like to ride it back.”
I wait and sure enough a Pedro arrives in a couple minutes. I gather my stuff up and jump on board. They take me to Indian Springs and drop me off where I wait for the helo from Nellis to get there. [The Pedro that picked me up had a VIP group on board touring the range where they set off all those Nuclear things underground. When the pilot heard the Mayday call he landed in the desert and told them to get out, he would be back after he picked up the pilot (me). ] Got back to Nellis and we landed at the New Hospital [I was the first guy to get delivered to that hospital in a helicopter.] After the required physical, an ambulance took me back to the squadron and afternoon academics.

All in a days work! I flew the next morning with a 05:00 brief. Kids, now days, don’t believe that.

The time of day I jumped out was about 11:00 am. One other funny thing about this story. Many years later I was telling this story and my son’s father-in-law was listening. He is astounded! He tells me he was in the Indian Springs tower that day working. Also told me that the reason for the delay in their answering our Mayday call was the fact that the Thunderbirds were there practicing and they had to get them out of the way for us. Talk about a small world!

-Paul “PK” Kimminau

Units - Education - Awards - Flight Info

Units Assigned

  • 11/1958-4/1959 ROTC Flight Indoctrination Program (Cessna 140)
  • 12/1959-12/1960  Officer Training, Randolph AFB, TX
  • 2/1960-7/1960 Pilot Training, McAllen AB, TX (T-34, T-37)
  • 7/1960-1/1961 Completed Pilot training at Laredo AFB, TX (T-33)
  • 2/1961-8/1961 F-100 Training, Luke AFB, AZ (F-100 C/D/F)
  • 9/1961-12/1961 Finished F-100 training at Nellis AFB, NV (F-100 C/D/F)
  • 1/1961-7/1964 306th TFS (308th Tactical Fighter Squadron)/31st Tactical Fighter Wing, George AFB/Homestead AFB, FL
    (Had a lot of TDY during this time to Kadena AB, Okinawa; Itazuke AB, Japan; Cigili AB, Turkey; Elmendorf AFB, AK; and many stateside TDYs. Was at Homestead and sat alert for two weeks during the Cuban Missile Crisis.(F-100D/F)
  • 8/1964-1/1968 79th Tactical Fighter Squadron/20th Tactical Fighter Wing, RAF Woodbridge, UK (F-100 D/F)
  • 3/1968-5/1968 Check out at Hurlburt AF, FL (A-1E)
  • 5/1968 Jungle Survival at Clark AB, Philippines
  • 6/1968-9/1968 602nd Fighter Squadron at Udorn/NKP Thailand
  • 10/1968-5/1969 Barrel Roll Frag Officer, HQ 7th AF, Saigon, RSVN
  • 6/1969-9/1970 Instructor @ F-100 FWS, Nellis AFB, NV
    (While at the FWS flew 6 Sorties in the F-113/114)
  • 9/1970-5/1971 ALO/FAC, US Army, Ft Carson, CO (U-6, T-39, F-100C/D/F)
  • 5/1971-7/1971 Training, Luke AFB, AZ (A-7D)
  • 7/1971-8/1972 Instructor, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ (A-7D)
  • 8/1972-12/1972 Instructor, A-7D FWS, Nellis AFB, NV (A-7D)
  • 1/1973- 8/1973 Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA
  • 8/1973-6/1974 Instructor, FWS Nellis AFB, NV (A-7D)
  • 7/1974 SAR School, Alexandra AFB, LA (A-7D)
  • 8/1974-6/1975 Wing Chief of Weapons, Korat AB, Thailand (A-7D)
  • 7/1975-2/1978 Program Officer PRPT, Pentagon, Washington, DC
  • 2/1978-8/1981 Wing Chief of Training/Stan Eval, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ (A-7D, A-10)
  • 8/1/1981 Retired USAF

Awards & Decorations

Silver Star
Distinguished Flying Cross (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters)
 Bronze Star
 Purple Heart
Air Medal (with 8 Oak Leaf Clusters)
 Air Force Commendation Medal
 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters)
 Combat Readiness Medal
 National Defense Service Medal
 Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Service Medal (with 4 Bronze Stars)
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm (and 1 Bronze Star)
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Flight Info

Cessna 140-37 hrs
T-34-35 hrs
T-37-105 hrs
T-33-148 hrs
U-6-80 hrs
T-39-29 hrs
A-1E/H-352 hrs
A-7D-808 hrs
A-10-76 hrs
F-113/114-4 hrs.
Pilot time in T-5 Lighting, T-38, RC-121, O-2, and F-4
Total Flight Time ~ 3535 hrs.

Military Education

  • 1963 -1964 SOS (Correspondence)

Civilian Education

  • 1959 BS Aeronautical Engineering –University of Wichita
  • 1978 MA in Business from Central Michigan University
Photos
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