1960 - 1962
My tour with VA-126 began after I graduated from AT-A school, NATTC, Millington, TN in July of 1960. When I arrived at NAS Miramar in August of 1960, Cdr. C. J. Lee was CO and the squadron had three types of aircraft. - FJ-4B, A4D-1 and F9F-8T. The FJ's and A4's were used for training loft bombing and close air support techniques and the F9's for instrument flight training. Our call sign was Cherry Coke.
I don't remember exactly when Cdr. Chapman became CO, but it was sometime in early to mid-1961. We made a trip to MCAAS, Yuma for bombing exercises in late 61 or early 62 with the last group of pilots to qualify with the FJ's. The FJ's were replaced with A4D-2's.
Shortly thereafter the squadron was split
into two groups. The A4's went to then new NAS Lemoore and the
F9's stayed at NAS Miramar. I stayed with the F9's. During this
transition period the squadron adopted a radically different
maintenance program designed to increase aircraft availability.
The program was very successful. We had 100% availability at
least twice in April and May of 62. The skipper wanted to show
the world we really did have 100% availability so, on a clear
day in May, 1962, he arranged for a flyby of all 22 aircraft
in the squadron. We had one more F9 designated 00, it was being
used by CAG and was on a different flight that same day. After
take off the squadron formed up in a 4 x 4 diamond with two groups
of three behind the rear diamond and flew over the station. An
F8-U PP plane flew alongside taking official photos. I had an
OMIAS card and was privileged to ride in the back seat of the
lead plane in the left group of three.
VA-126 fly by formation
Lined up for take off - Photos by L.S. Garner
Forming up off La Jolla
Over Ramona lining up for fly-by