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GREGORY O. STAPLES

 

 

MAJOR, USAF(RET)
Entered service 28 January 1974
Commissioned through Officer's Training School 24 April 1974
Retired 31 January 1994
Meritorious Service Medal w/1 OLC
Aerial Achievement Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal w/2 OLC
Air Force Achievement Medal
Combat Readiness Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
National Defense Medal w/1 dev
Southwest Asia Service Medal w/1 dev
Air Force Overseas Long Tour Ribbon
Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon w/1 dev
Air Force Training Ribbon
AIRCRAFT FLOWN:
T-41, T-37, T-38, KC-135A, KC-135R
My favorite aircraft was the KC-135R because it is the one I flew the most and the one in which I felt the most comfortable. I loved the human factor design of the throttles (spools), speed brakes lever (wedge), flap lever (fowler shape), and the landing gear lever (a really big wheel and strut). I loved the fact that its systems were simple, straightforward and for the most part, fail-safe. For instance, the primary flight controls were positioned by air loads on trim tabs that were directly connected to the yoke by stranded wire cables (this was long before fly by wire) There were hydraulic assists with the spoilers and powered rudder, but things still worked even if all the hydraulics and electric systems failed. I even liked its air superiority gray paint scheme and am glad that Air Mobility Command is returning to gray after the ugly (and hot) years of dark green. Most of all, I loved the KC-135 because it never failed me. I had my share of systems problems and suffered the rare engine losses, but I never felt that I was in trouble. I specified the R Model because it is everything the A model should have been. A rugged, reliable airplane made more reliable with upgraded electrics and more effective with the power to takeoff with a full load.
ASSIGNMENTS AND POSITIONS:
Deputy Chief, Data Automation Division, 341st SMW, Malmstrom AFB, MT 1974-1976
Pilot training, 64th FTW, Reese AFB, TX 1976-1977
KC-135 CCTS, Castle AFB, CA 1977
Pilot, 92nd AREFS, Fairchild AFB, WA 1977-1982
Assistant Director, Semi-Automated Ground Environment (SAGE) Programming Agency, 26th AD, Luke AFB, AZ 1982-1983
Chief, Computer Support Division, 26th AD, March AFB, CA 1983-1985
Assistant Flight Commander, 22nd AREFS, March AFB, CA 1985-1986
Instructor Pilot and Chief, Command/Control Training Branch 22nd AREFW, March AFB, CA 1986-1989
Command/Control Communications Systems Planner, HQ USCINCPAC, Camp Smith, HI 1989-1990
Flight Commander, 92nd AREFS, Fairchild AFB, WA 1990-1992
Director, Quality Support and Readiness, 453rd Operations Group, Fairchild AFB, WA 1992-1993
Operations Officer, 43rd AREFS, Fairchild AFB, WA 1993
Operations Officer, 92nd AREFS, Fairchild AFB, WA 1993-1994
CAMPAIGNS AND COMBAT EXPERIENCE:
The closest I got to combat were two tours in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The first was in 1981 when our mission was to refuel the
AWACS that were observing the war between Iran and Iraq to prevent it spilling over into Saudi Arabia. I went in January as a
copilot and spent two weeks there as a part of a six week TDY to the European Tanker Task Force. The second trip was during the cease fire following Desert Storm. I was the supervisor of nighttime operations that refueled the AWACS and fighters patrolling the no-fly zone. In additon to my supervisory responsibilities on the ground, I was able to fly 26 missions as an instructor pilot. This TDY lasted for six weeks.
CALLSIGN AND NICKNAMES:
I used HOTROD as a flight call sign on several occasions because of my involvement in the National Street Rod Association and ownership of a customized 1927 Model T Ford.
HIGHLIGHTS:
1993. I had been grounded and “put out to pasture" in a staff job awaiting retirement because of an Air Force-wide management policy concerning pilots passed over for promotion to Lt Col. I was called into the Group Commander's office and told they needed me to fill in as Operations Officer in the 43rd AREFS for two months-maybe longer. I accepted the challenge and requested that I be put back on flight status. It took three months to get the request through all the wickets (it needed approval from the AMC vice-commander and by that time I'd moved to be Operations Officer for the 92nd AREFS), but I re-qualified for the third time and got to do some more flying before I retired. I don't know how many people get to be Operations Officer in more than one squadron, or how many people requalified more than twice in the KC-135, but I suspect this is unusual.
1992. I was selected to fly with the SAC inspection team because one of the local Stan/Eval IPs was on a long term DNIF. I was concerned that I was going to do poorly because I did not have a lot of instructor experience and had only been re-qualified in the KC-135 about six months. My squadron commander and longtime friend, Lt Col Smokey Rickerd had no doubts that I would do well, but I think I surprised even him when I was the only pilot at Fairchild to win an "Outstanding Performance". Maintenance problems and numerous tail number changes caused us to slip our takeoff time 3 1/2 hours and then we had to use the hangar queen with an inoperative autopilot. I suppose the adversity helped us to pull together as a crew and stay focused on the mission instead of the evaluation. Once we got airborne, everything else seemed easy. The crew was Mike Spangler, CP, Wally Painter, Nav, and Jim Sugden, Boomer. The EP was Mike Lane.
1990. On the staff of the CINCPAC, I was the joint staff action officer for a highly classified command/control system initiative. I prepared and presented a formal briefing to Admiral Huntington Hardisty and his staff concerning the progress and prospects of the program. I also gave a personal briefing to General Merrill A. McPeak who at the time was serving under Admiral Hardisty as Commander, Pacific Air Forces. Given time and some declassifications, I'd like to tell more about this cold war initiative.
 
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