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The Ghost Plane Episode

Turbo Tarling's private casebook:

425 AW(F) Alouette Squadron, RCAF Station Bagotville, Quebec (1962-65)   -   CF-101 Voodoo 
F/L Turbo Tarling & F/O Pat Clancy 


425 Squadron’s first operational mission was launched from the Quick Reaction Area (QRA) on the night of 10 December 1962.


Turbo and Flying Officer Pat Clancy, already airborne in the area, had insufficient fuel to intercept the 'unknown'. Within minutes the No. 1 QRA crew, Flight Lieutenant Ron Jensen and Flying Officer Gerry Walker, were airborne heading southeast and climbing under the direction of Ground Control Interception (GCI), call sign 'Scabbard', with orders to identify the 'bogey'.


With this guidance they soon made contact with their AI radar and, despite heavy snow, acquired their target visually at half a mile, a KC-97 tanker flying at 7,000 feet and 'lit up like a Christmas tree' - but this was not the end of the story. Drawing alongside the big aircraft the Voodoo crew could see that all the interior lights were on but that the plane seemed totally deserted - and Ron Jensen reported this to Scabbard.

This unlikely story was relayed to Bagotville, where on landing the crews were pledged to secrecy - but it was too late. When Turbo arrived home a mere thirty minutes later, his wife, Claire, immediately asked, "What's the word on the KC-97?"!

In fact, the crew of the tanker had believed that an electrical fire on board was out of control and baled out, leaving the aircraft to wend its way north on autopilot - to where, nobody knew. For their skill and perseverance it was congratulations all round for the 425 Squadron crew, with commendations from their Deputy Air Officer Commanding and NORAD Headquarters and an interview with NBC to follow.