Stanley H. Wells

 


 

Preferred Name: Stan

Nickname/Call Sign: Stan

Date Of Birth: 09-19-1931

Highest Military Grade Held: Major

Hometown: Idaho Springs, CO

Stan Wells

Stan WellsThe 523rd TFS was flying out of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, in October, 1963. I was lead of a two ship flight with a mission of refueling over Qal’at Bisha for an overflight at Abha, Saudi Arabia, just north of Yemen. I was in an F-100F with Dr. Larry DeSanto, Flight Surgeon, in the back seat. Dick “Deacon” Dyer was in a “D” on my wing. Doc was very cautious with whom he flew and I guess I had just passed the caution test with my about 2,000 hours in the F-100 without major incident.

Just after takeoff, I had a couple of words with Doc reading the newspaper in the back seat instead of paying attention to the flight; to which I received no response. We flew inland to Qal’at Bisha for rendezvous with our KB-50J (Anzac 30, Deacon reminds me) at 20,000, made an orbit and spotted the tanker coming inbound, made radio contact, and started a join up on the left wing as Deacon started to slide in on the right. I pulled the power to slow down into position and started to slide in as I saw the hoses reeling out. All was smooth as I eased the power up to connect. The engine did not accelerate and then all of the caution lights came on at once!

I made a quick comment about pulling aside to see what the problem was. Doc quickly came back with “Check your Speed Brake” and I told him that I had never put it down and re-checked it in the up position. Then he said something like “come on Stan, don’t play games.” I went through the ejection procedure with him quickly. I don’t think he really believed any of my radio calls or warnings of ejection until I blew off the canopy. Then I looked in the rear view mirror and saw him bent over to the right. I couldn’t get him to respond until I took off my mask and hollered to him. Whether he heard me or not, he straightened up in his seat. (I found out later that he had actuated the ‘green apple’ on his emergency oxygen supply located at his right knee, and he could not feel the pressure coming into his mask so he was determining the problem.) I took the opportunity of him being erect and squeezed the trigger starting the sequence of giving him a rocket ride out first then a half second later, if everything worked right, I would go. It worked.

Everything went as advertised, even though I chased through the post bailout sequence of seat belt, push away, pull D ring. I was smoothly flying through the air as I looked and saw Doc hanging from his chute when I realized that I shouldn’t be that much lower than he was. My head was down so I turned to look up behind me and saw a long cigarette roll instead of an inflating canopy. I reached back and grabbed the risers, gave them a tug, and received one heck of a whiplash on chute opening. No problems from there on except a nice burn on the side of my neck from the downhill riser.

Then it was really smooth and I enjoyed a great view of the desert, and upon looking up again, saw Doc – way above me now. I landed upright and dropped my chute, turned around and saw Doc descending, watched him land, not on his feet, and he didn’t move. He was a couple of hundred yards away from me then, so I started toward him to make sure he was alright when the wind picked up his chute and started dragging him across the desert. I picked up my speed to try to catch the canopy and as luck would have it, the canopy snagged the only shrub within viewing distance. I slowed to a walk, then I saw that he was not moving, so started running again. When I got to him, he was lying on the sand, apparently alright, and on his third or fourth lap around his rosary beads! I was quite relieved and then he really relaxed me with “Stan, I am never going to fly an F-100 again.”

I got out my Guard channel emergency radio out and talked to Dick and to the tanker. Doc flagged down a water tanker truck – in the high desert you just generally drive from A to B without thought of highways. We got some water from the Arab driver and he was on his way. That is when we noticed an arc of trucks sort of abreast, coming directly toward us. You must understand that Saudi Arabia is a band of independent emirates, most of which followed King Saud. We had letters of introduction from the King, in Arabic of course. So when these 20 or so trucks full of men in robes with rifles, crossed bandoleers of bullets and an occasional sword, came upon us, we were not sure that the letter would do much good. I gave it to them anyway. Most of them went over to the hood of one of the trucks and scrutinized the letter, talked rapidly, and looked often in our direction. I started with giving my chute and other items to the men surrounding me and Doc, calling them each sadiky (sp?), friend. No one spoke English. Finally the letter group joined us and after much discussion between them, they physically boosted or tossed us up into the back of a truck. By radio, I kept my fellow pilots overhead up on what was going on.

Then we took off across the desert toward a village.

When we got to the village, we turned toward a fort like the French Foreign Legion had in all of the films I watched in my youth. Were we to be held or entertained?

As we entered the gate of the fort, the truck stopped and we were unloaded into a stair area within the 20 foot walls. We were led up the stairway into a large reception room. There we met with two doctors and the Emir. The doctors had been educated in an English speaking country so we were able to determine that we were with friends and were presented with glasses of ice water. The ice was compliments of the two refrigerators that were used to keep medicines for the doctors. I was then asked to describe, to the Emir, our aircraft markings. I found the importance of that later.

It was about then that I remembered that Col. Woody was meeting with some Arab Emirs along the border of Yemen and at that time they were probably looking over the hill tops and saying, “Our flight of two armed Super Sabres will be coming in right over that hill in about two minutes. So, you can see that you don’t need to worry, we can protect you with our airpower, wherever needed.”

In the meantime, the tanker received permission to land at a new, previously unused airstrip a few miles from the fort (that was nearly wiped out by the F-100 when it finally came to roost – a couple of hundred yards from the end of the runway). Deacon had flown down the runway in the D to get an estimate of it’s length to help Anza 30 determine if it would be safe to land at the unknown strip. After getting the news of the landing, we asked for a ride to the airstrip and had many volunteers. We were driven out to the strip and were just climbing into the tanker when we got word that we were invited to lunch with the Emir. We had been advised at our in-country briefing to not turn down social requests, so after a minute or two of discussion, the tanker crew stayed with the tanker and Doc and I went to lunch.

It was another great hall within the fort’s walls. We sat next to the Emir and 15 or 20 other Arabs. There on the table in front of the Emir was a two foot platter with a huge mound of rice with pieces of meat strewn over it. At our seating places was a large round flat piece of bread, a small bowl of okra, and a spoon. After having rose water poured over our hands, our hands were then dried by another attendant with a towel, we sat down and tried to follow the Emir in eating. He took the spoon in one hand and plunged it into the mound of rice, apparently trying to pick up a piece of goat meat with it, and then dropped the meat. He tossed the spoon to the other side of the room and proceeded to eat with his hands. Enough western etiquette for him.

With the two doctors next to us, interpreting, we found that the Emir was very apologetic saying that he had a dream the night before that he was to have visitors drop in from the sky. Armed with that knowledge, the Emir said that he should have sent out into the country for a young sheep or goat – because of that oversight we had to eat old goat. The doctors then advised us that the two men at the end of the table were not too happy with us. The two had manned the anti-aircraft artillery which were installed at the end of the airstrip and, after being invaded by two paratroopers and bombed by that huge explosion and fire next to the airstrip, they had attempted to shoot down the other aircraft, sadly missing. All the time Deacon did not know he was being shot at while circling the site. That was the reason for the Emir seeking the description of the US markings. The two gunners had obviously already received that new bit of information.

After lunch, more rose water for our hands, then we were led to the far corner of the room where someone had neatly piled up the unexploded 20 mm HE/HEI ammo that survived the intense fire that resulted from the impact of our fully loaded aircraft . We removed ourselves quickly after advising them to gently remove the ammo to a deep hole. As we were leaving the hall, the table was filled with the second shift of eaters taking over our seats and reaching for the goat and rice. I wondered how many eating shifts there would be.

We traveled with an entourage of smiling Arabs back out to the KB-50J awaiting on the airstrip, then departed for home. Capt. Fred Haeffner (later a Major General and Commander of the AF Inspection and Safety Center) was appointed to investigate the accident. He and the investigating team flew in with a transport, loaded up the wreckage and stretched it out on a floor in Dahran for investigation. They found the culprit to be a sheared bevel gear which links the engine driven fuel pump to the turbine drive. We had flamed out with almost 6,000 pounds of fuel on board. Neither Doc nor I suffered any lasting injuries. We met and compared notes in 2007 at the SSS reunion in Las Vegas.

My now-teenage son has asked me annually to tell him this story (my story about being shot down three years later in Viet Nam while flying a FAC combat mission in an O-1 hasn’t held his attention at all)

~Stan Wells

Biography

Home Town: High School – Idaho Springs, CO

Last 40 years – Davis, CA

Units Assigned

  • 1950 – 1956 Air Traffic Control–
  • 1957 – 58 Flight Training, Graham AFB (T-34/T-28), Webb AFB (T-33), Luke AFB(F-84F), Nellis AFB (F-100)
  • 1958 – 1962 55th TFS, Wethersfield RAF, UK, F-100
  • 1962 – 1966 523rd TFS, Cannon AFB, NM, F-100
  • 1966-67 7th AF, PACAF, O-1 FAC attached to – 2nd Bde, 25th Inf Div, (Tropic Lightning)
  • Mar 1967- Aug 1968 , David Grant Hospital, TravisAFB, CA

Awards & Decorations

Flight Info

Military Education

  • Air Traffic Control
  • OCS
  • Flight Training
  • SOS
  • Flight Safety (USC)

Civilian Education

  • JD, LLM
Caterpillar Club

Stan Wells

Stan WellsThe 523rd TFS was flying out of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, in October, 1963. I was lead of a two ship flight with a mission of refueling over Qal’at Bisha for an overflight at Abha, Saudi Arabia, just north of Yemen. I was in an F-100F with Dr. Larry DeSanto, Flight Surgeon, in the back seat. Dick “Deacon” Dyer was in a “D” on my wing. Doc was very cautious with whom he flew and I guess I had just passed the caution test with my about 2,000 hours in the F-100 without major incident.

Just after takeoff, I had a couple of words with Doc reading the newspaper in the back seat instead of paying attention to the flight; to which I received no response. We flew inland to Qal’at Bisha for rendezvous with our KB-50J (Anzac 30, Deacon reminds me) at 20,000, made an orbit and spotted the tanker coming inbound, made radio contact, and started a join up on the left wing as Deacon started to slide in on the right. I pulled the power to slow down into position and started to slide in as I saw the hoses reeling out. All was smooth as I eased the power up to connect. The engine did not accelerate and then all of the caution lights came on at once!

I made a quick comment about pulling aside to see what the problem was. Doc quickly came back with “Check your Speed Brake” and I told him that I had never put it down and re-checked it in the up position. Then he said something like “come on Stan, don’t play games.” I went through the ejection procedure with him quickly. I don’t think he really believed any of my radio calls or warnings of ejection until I blew off the canopy. Then I looked in the rear view mirror and saw him bent over to the right. I couldn’t get him to respond until I took off my mask and hollered to him. Whether he heard me or not, he straightened up in his seat. (I found out later that he had actuated the ‘green apple’ on his emergency oxygen supply located at his right knee, and he could not feel the pressure coming into his mask so he was determining the problem.) I took the opportunity of him being erect and squeezed the trigger starting the sequence of giving him a rocket ride out first then a half second later, if everything worked right, I would go. It worked.

Everything went as advertised, even though I chased through the post bailout sequence of seat belt, push away, pull D ring. I was smoothly flying through the air as I looked and saw Doc hanging from his chute when I realized that I shouldn’t be that much lower than he was. My head was down so I turned to look up behind me and saw a long cigarette roll instead of an inflating canopy. I reached back and grabbed the risers, gave them a tug, and received one heck of a whiplash on chute opening. No problems from there on except a nice burn on the side of my neck from the downhill riser.

Then it was really smooth and I enjoyed a great view of the desert, and upon looking up again, saw Doc – way above me now. I landed upright and dropped my chute, turned around and saw Doc descending, watched him land, not on his feet, and he didn’t move. He was a couple of hundred yards away from me then, so I started toward him to make sure he was alright when the wind picked up his chute and started dragging him across the desert. I picked up my speed to try to catch the canopy and as luck would have it, the canopy snagged the only shrub within viewing distance. I slowed to a walk, then I saw that he was not moving, so started running again. When I got to him, he was lying on the sand, apparently alright, and on his third or fourth lap around his rosary beads! I was quite relieved and then he really relaxed me with “Stan, I am never going to fly an F-100 again.”

I got out my Guard channel emergency radio out and talked to Dick and to the tanker. Doc flagged down a water tanker truck – in the high desert you just generally drive from A to B without thought of highways. We got some water from the Arab driver and he was on his way. That is when we noticed an arc of trucks sort of abreast, coming directly toward us. You must understand that Saudi Arabia is a band of independent emirates, most of which followed King Saud. We had letters of introduction from the King, in Arabic of course. So when these 20 or so trucks full of men in robes with rifles, crossed bandoleers of bullets and an occasional sword, came upon us, we were not sure that the letter would do much good. I gave it to them anyway. Most of them went over to the hood of one of the trucks and scrutinized the letter, talked rapidly, and looked often in our direction. I started with giving my chute and other items to the men surrounding me and Doc, calling them each sadiky (sp?), friend. No one spoke English. Finally the letter group joined us and after much discussion between them, they physically boosted or tossed us up into the back of a truck. By radio, I kept my fellow pilots overhead up on what was going on.

Then we took off across the desert toward a village.

When we got to the village, we turned toward a fort like the French Foreign Legion had in all of the films I watched in my youth. Were we to be held or entertained?

As we entered the gate of the fort, the truck stopped and we were unloaded into a stair area within the 20 foot walls. We were led up the stairway into a large reception room. There we met with two doctors and the Emir. The doctors had been educated in an English speaking country so we were able to determine that we were with friends and were presented with glasses of ice water. The ice was compliments of the two refrigerators that were used to keep medicines for the doctors. I was then asked to describe, to the Emir, our aircraft markings. I found the importance of that later.

It was about then that I remembered that Col. Woody was meeting with some Arab Emirs along the border of Yemen and at that time they were probably looking over the hill tops and saying, “Our flight of two armed Super Sabres will be coming in right over that hill in about two minutes. So, you can see that you don’t need to worry, we can protect you with our airpower, wherever needed.”

In the meantime, the tanker received permission to land at a new, previously unused airstrip a few miles from the fort (that was nearly wiped out by the F-100 when it finally came to roost – a couple of hundred yards from the end of the runway). Deacon had flown down the runway in the D to get an estimate of it’s length to help Anza 30 determine if it would be safe to land at the unknown strip. After getting the news of the landing, we asked for a ride to the airstrip and had many volunteers. We were driven out to the strip and were just climbing into the tanker when we got word that we were invited to lunch with the Emir. We had been advised at our in-country briefing to not turn down social requests, so after a minute or two of discussion, the tanker crew stayed with the tanker and Doc and I went to lunch.

It was another great hall within the fort’s walls. We sat next to the Emir and 15 or 20 other Arabs. There on the table in front of the Emir was a two foot platter with a huge mound of rice with pieces of meat strewn over it. At our seating places was a large round flat piece of bread, a small bowl of okra, and a spoon. After having rose water poured over our hands, our hands were then dried by another attendant with a towel, we sat down and tried to follow the Emir in eating. He took the spoon in one hand and plunged it into the mound of rice, apparently trying to pick up a piece of goat meat with it, and then dropped the meat. He tossed the spoon to the other side of the room and proceeded to eat with his hands. Enough western etiquette for him.

With the two doctors next to us, interpreting, we found that the Emir was very apologetic saying that he had a dream the night before that he was to have visitors drop in from the sky. Armed with that knowledge, the Emir said that he should have sent out into the country for a young sheep or goat – because of that oversight we had to eat old goat. The doctors then advised us that the two men at the end of the table were not too happy with us. The two had manned the anti-aircraft artillery which were installed at the end of the airstrip and, after being invaded by two paratroopers and bombed by that huge explosion and fire next to the airstrip, they had attempted to shoot down the other aircraft, sadly missing. All the time Deacon did not know he was being shot at while circling the site. That was the reason for the Emir seeking the description of the US markings. The two gunners had obviously already received that new bit of information.

After lunch, more rose water for our hands, then we were led to the far corner of the room where someone had neatly piled up the unexploded 20 mm HE/HEI ammo that survived the intense fire that resulted from the impact of our fully loaded aircraft . We removed ourselves quickly after advising them to gently remove the ammo to a deep hole. As we were leaving the hall, the table was filled with the second shift of eaters taking over our seats and reaching for the goat and rice. I wondered how many eating shifts there would be.

We traveled with an entourage of smiling Arabs back out to the KB-50J awaiting on the airstrip, then departed for home. Capt. Fred Haeffner (later a Major General and Commander of the AF Inspection and Safety Center) was appointed to investigate the accident. He and the investigating team flew in with a transport, loaded up the wreckage and stretched it out on a floor in Dahran for investigation. They found the culprit to be a sheared bevel gear which links the engine driven fuel pump to the turbine drive. We had flamed out with almost 6,000 pounds of fuel on board. Neither Doc nor I suffered any lasting injuries. We met and compared notes in 2007 at the SSS reunion in Las Vegas.

My now-teenage son has asked me annually to tell him this story (my story about being shot down three years later in Viet Nam while flying a FAC combat mission in an O-1 hasn’t held his attention at all)

~Stan Wells

Biography

Biography

Home Town: High School – Idaho Springs, CO

Last 40 years – Davis, CA

Units - Education - Awards - Flight Info

Units Assigned

  • 1950 – 1956 Air Traffic Control–
  • 1957 – 58 Flight Training, Graham AFB (T-34/T-28), Webb AFB (T-33), Luke AFB(F-84F), Nellis AFB (F-100)
  • 1958 – 1962 55th TFS, Wethersfield RAF, UK, F-100
  • 1962 – 1966 523rd TFS, Cannon AFB, NM, F-100
  • 1966-67 7th AF, PACAF, O-1 FAC attached to – 2nd Bde, 25th Inf Div, (Tropic Lightning)
  • Mar 1967- Aug 1968 , David Grant Hospital, TravisAFB, CA

Awards & Decorations

Flight Info

Military Education

  • Air Traffic Control
  • OCS
  • Flight Training
  • SOS
  • Flight Safety (USC)

Civilian Education

  • JD, LLM