Hello again! This is my first journal post in about two years. My apologies. I enjoy writing them and, evidently, you enjoy reading them. And enough people have bugged me about it so I guess I should dust off some ideas and start banging the keys again. Here goes.
Ahem. Well, I actually DO have a missile in my basement and I thought that telling the story of how it got there might prove an interesting read.
Back sometime in the 90s, Liz and I attended an All Weather Fighter Aircrew reunion held at some hotel in Ottawa. It might've been the Delta. No matter. We were both excited to see some great friends and old colleagues from our Voodoo days at 409Sqn Comox, 410Sqn in Bagotville plus some characters from 425 and 416 (Chatham NB) thrown in for good measure. General Ray Henault was CDS (Chief of Defense Staff) at the time and as an old Voodoo pilot himself, he and bride Lorraine were in attendance as well.
As we approached the party reception desk, I recognized the familiar lines and colours of an AIM-4D Infra Red air to air missile (dis-armed mind) standing tall by the desk. The Voodoo carried two of these and they were so good, we fired them both at the same time on one target(!) The missile, used for weapons technician training, was to be raffled off that night! I thought to myself:
"I got nothing when I left the Air Force. Bupkis! (meaning I hadn't managed to "lose" anything of note before I left) Other guys had helmets, flying suits, flight jackets, flying boots, stick grips....some even had ejection seats in their basements!. I wanted that missile!" I must've been thinking out loud because Liz gave me that look and rolled her eyes. I eagerly bought 5 tickets and hoped for the best.
Well, t'was not to be. A gentleman by the name of Dave ("Threads") Morrow (VERY natty dresser) won the missile.
Though I had not worked with him in the fighter world, ( he was a few years older) I had flown with him as crew to his Captain at Air Canada a few times on the L-1011. He was a good guy with a big boisterous personality and fun to fly with. I also knew that at that moment, he lived in Ireland and commuted to Toronto Pearson to pick up his flights. That was one long commute! I wondered; "How the hell is he going to get a missile, even an inert one, into Ireland?" So I went to work. At an opportune moment, I cleverly sidled up to his date/girlfriend while he was off telling war stories with his buddies. I introduced myself and we chatted;
"So, I see you now have yourselves a missile?"
"Yes." she replied through clenched teeth.
"And you live in Ireland I understand."
"Yes we do."
"And how is Ireland these days?"
"Wonderful, thank you."
(Insert more clever small talk here)
"Well, it was lovely to meet you. (It really was) I'm off. By the way, before I go, what's Dave's go-to favourite drink?"
"A large martini" (without hesitation)
"And what would be his favourite gin?"
"Very nice. Thank you again. Bye for now."
Armed with this vital intel, I tracked down Dave in a gaggle of buddies. He was deep into "There I was..." mode with the "him" and "me" gloves on and everything. I waited for my opening, struck right from his 6 o'clock and whispered in his ear:
"Dave, a jug of Bombay Sapphire for the missile"
"DONE!" says he, without even turning around!
So we dragged the thing home to Barrie on the roof of our van. Luckily, it came with its own custom plywood storage box that looked rather more like a coffin for Andre the Giant. Strapping the thing on the roof racks naked and in the "go" position would've badly frightened the horses I thought. The boys were absolutely ecstatic when I opened the crate and stood it up. It's heavy too! Took all three of us to muscle the thing down the stairs. Word spread around the neighbourhood and soon we had urchins from all over banging on the door wanting to see if the rumours were true. Good times and good fun...especially the looks on the kids faces.
Back to Ottawa. Although promised, I could not go and buy the gin. (Hint: Ontario, 1990s, LCBO, weekend...hello) And Dave and I never crossed paths again before we all launched for home on Sunday. Now fast forward to spring 2019. Dave had forgotten all about the gin and the missile but I hadn't. We met up at a monthly luncheon for RAPCAN (Retired Airline Pilots of Canada...Florida Chapter) at Indian Rocks. The convenor warned me that Dave would be in attendance so I went armed. After standing and retelling the entire saga before the assembled group of airline vets, I reached down to a bag hidden under the table and withdrew the largest bottle of Bombay Saphire gin known to man and presented it to Dave. I even had a blow up print of "his" missile to go with it. There was much laughter and the look on Dave's face was worth the price.
Picture below. The room where the missile stands is a single purpose theatre room and bar. So we had some fun with the decorating. Maybe too much fun. It looks much better with the lights dimmed and no, there are no green velvet curtains(!)
Until next time
Over 'n out.