by Phil Rowe
Our new Wing Commander had just recently joined the 305th Bombardment Wing (Medium) at Bunker Hill AFB, Indiana. Col. Paul K. ('PK') Carlton replaced recently transferred Col. Frank O'Brien.
It wasn't long before our new C.O. wanted to start his transition into the B-58 bombers. Our crew was among those chosen to assist in orienting Colonel Carlton to the new airplane. That meant we would work with him in the flight simulator and on his first flight in the TB-58, the two-pilot version of the bomber.
On the day of the first flight for our Commander, my pilot and I were assigned to be his instructors. We would fly a mission that included both supersonic and subsonic training, as well as an hour or so of instrument flying practice. Colonel Carlton was in the front cockpit, my pilot in the second station as the instructor pilot, and I brought up the rear as Defensive Systems Officer in the aft cockpit. My duties were really mostly flight engineer and radio operator.
The supersonic portion of the flight was to take us Southbound down the middle of Lake Michigan. We were accelerating normally from subsonic cruise at Mach 0.91 to reach 600 knots and then climb to reach Mach 2.0 at about 45,000 feet. If the ram air temperature permitted ( i.e. did not exceed 115 degrees Celsius ) we could go to Mach 2.0.
Shortly after we reached the Mach 2.0 speed at altitude, Colonel Carlton asked me to switch the radio to the Command Post frequency for Kincheloe AFB in upper Michigan. After we established radio contact, Colonel Carlton asked the Command Post to patch us in to the telephone and connect him with the Wing Commander at Kincheloe. Soon another Colonel came on the phone ( via the radio connection ). Colonel Carlton asked the fellow talking to us, obviously an old friend, " Hey old buddy ! Guess where I am ? " But before the Kincheloe Colonel could comment, our exhilarated student pilot was telling him excitedly that he was roaring South over Lake Michigan at Mach 2. PK was obviously enjoying himself and the thrill of flying that sleek high performing airplane.
After the ground-to-air phone call was over, Colonel Carlton inquired what was limiting our speed. He noted that the ram air temperature was only 105 degrees. " Won't this thing go any faster ? ", he asked. Well, before we knew it he had pushed the throttles forward more. Before we got to the 115 degree limit we were indicating Mach 2.2. And excitedly Colonel Carlton pronounced that he was the fastest man in the Wing.
Not being diplomatic I couldn't resist saying, " We're here too, Colonel."