Hot Rod Coogan

We used tractors to haul aircraft around the base. They were called mules. A tripod bar about twenty foot long was attached to the mule at the apex. The open ends had a hook that slipped into a receptacle on each wheel of the plane. The operation required two people, one to drive and one to hook up the plane. This operation can be seen at all the modern airports today.

At the close of each day, twenty to thirty planes had to be pulled from the flight line and towed to A & R (assembly and repair) area for a periodic inspection after a designated number of flight hours. No one was given their liberty cards until this task was completed.

The mules were governed for 10 miles an hour. It generally took a couple of hours to pull all the checks.

I ran a wire from the governor to a handy place I could reach on the mule. Pulling on this wire by-passed the governor and the mule would do maybe thirty miles an hour.

The next concern pertained to the planes already parked at A & R. One of our crew would keep a continual watch to be sure all planes were in place and tied down.

With this assurance, I could tow planes through the A & R shops at 30 MPH with two feet clearance for each wing tip. With everyone doing their assigned job, the checks were pulled in one hour and every one had their liberty cards an hour earlier.

Coogie was the hero.

He was until some loud mouth claimed he served on Guadelcanal and was entitled to drive the mule. He screwed up the first day by breaking the tail off of a Peril. Also, I never showed him the by-pass wire.

"Give the mule back to Coogie", was the rallying cry. Their wish was granted.

GO TO the next chapter in my life

RETURN to the table of contents

RETURN to the home page