-VIDEO- 'Night at the Majorca Air Strip'

Notes about video

11 minutes recorded in late 1990's.
Sorry but there is a lot of background voices.
A 1999 interview with VFP-62 photo Navy pilot, , Robert Lynn
This event happened in either 1958 or 1959.
If anyone listening to this recording knows about this event off the USS Intrepid please email me at

daniel@ lynnautorepair.com

The following is a transcript of the video.

Did I ever tell you about the time that we had to divert in the Mediterranean to the Island of Majorca? Spanish Island yes. Well it brings in a couple of interesting things about Africa. The winds off the desert in Africa, blowing on the Mediterranean Sea. They have a name for them. Anyhow, we were airborne. A beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky. We had gone on to do our runs, in flight refueling on way there and in flight refueling on way back. Which meant they had 2 launches and 2 recoveries, by the time we got back. But by the time we got back to the carrier, there were 18 to 20 planes in the air in front of us. And as we started back ?----?. I told Jerry Vaught look at that sea state down there, big white caps I mean just all over the place!

Still Clear? Sky still clear. One of these big hot wind storms had kicked up the Mediterranean Sea 20 foot waves.
The Intrepid Carrier was doing this, bobbing around like a cork. And a the Pri-Fly said well we are going to try to get you a flight on board. So they took a flight of 3 fighters down, had them break and tried to land . All 3 of them crashed on board the carrier but not catastrophically. All three of them there had about the same kind of problem. Coming down to the carrier about when they touched down the carrier deck comes up, like that, and drove the landing gear right up through the wings. Planes spun around….

Kill the pilots? no ….. no didn’t kill any one.
Did they still catch the arresting cable? I can’t recall, don’t know if they did or not. But I don’t think they did….the ship was doing this.
So they said ‘we can’t bring you down. We only have one small tanker put in the air’ and that was an AD, a propeller plane which was an emergency tanker. We always kept above the carrier in case someone, somebody came back in emergency low fuel state where they might not have even enough fuel to make the pattern around and land .
What about , can you hook up to one and get enough fuel that fast? Well yea but only one can hook up at a time, while the others are all rolling around burning up fuel.
So they said we want you all to divert to Majorca. There is a Spanish air base there, air force base and we will advise the Spanish authorities them you care coming --------- So we all headed on our own. I mean, there was NO organization. This flight of three, this flight of two…George Modrak and I, boy, we all headed to Majorca on our own to Majorca. We all had pretty low fuel state. Most of us had our fingers crossed we would make it.
Is there an optimal speed you could go to conserve fuel? Yes and an optimal altitude. What is the altitude? Yea it had to be about 16,000 feet. But then of course you would use a lot of fuel going up there, we were down about 2 thousand feet. It was kind of a tossup. We were all 2 thousand to 3 thousand feet above the carrier circling see. So we all headed to Majorca.
Was that within sight distance? No. But they had 2 runways. It was decided we would land on which ever runway we could pick up the quickest, so we were landing on both runways …no matter what the wind was, if we had a side wind….. we would just …….it and guys were landing on all runways at the …. It was an absolute mess. The runways were short, and we were blowing tires by having to slam on the brakes. Pow. I don’t know how many tires we blew but it was a bunch of them.

The Spanish didn’t know we were coming. They thought they were being attacked. Out came armored personal carriers. We saw tanks rolling out. But finally I guess they got the word and everything.

Were ya’ll sitting in your planes until? We were wearing poopy suits. You know what a poopy suit is? A poopy suit is a suit that you wear when the water temperature goes below 50° Fahrenheit It was regulations that you had to wear… it was a rubberized suit.
In case you bailed out in water? Yea what it had it had an opening down hear that you crawled into you put your arms in it you put your legs in it. Your hands came out but it was a real tight seal on your wrists and your ankles. Then you rolled this thing up here and snapped it, you know like a cocoon you were, except for your feet and your hands. The idea was if you had to go into the water you might live a little longer. You might lose your hands or feet something like that ---- called it a poopy suit because it was baggy. And when you walked around you had this big bag here it got the slang poopy suit because you had the back side was baggy etc. that was not the official name… well we were all wearing them. You can imagine what it smelled like in there when you been wearing them a couple of hours or so and sweating you know. You sweat when you fly. You use up a lot of adrenalin.
It was getting late in the afternoon. By the time they could bring out repair crews, extra tires, some wheels for the planes and all that would have to wait until the following morning. So we had to spend the night.
The Captain, the commander of Spanish base there at Majorca there, invited us all to dinner. With the officers and the officers ????
How many people was it would you say? I would say there were about 20 of us. We all sat around this big long banquet table and all, you know. There were Spanish officers on that end and they were smart to be on that end, because this end stunk like hell.
What was the name of the Island? M A J O R C A Palma de Majorka It was a resort Island. The Europeans would go there in the winter time. We never saw the town or anything like that but they had the Spanish air base there.
Anyhow we sat at this long table and the Spanish Commander get up and in poor English He says “gentlemen, we are so sorry what you’ve just gone through, and I have advised the commissary officer that he would use our monthly meat ration tonight for this occasion. Monthly meat ration. We got spaghetti. ??????????? They had a barracks where we could lay and sleep, still in our poopy suits and ?????????.
So you flew your planes back, then? George Vaught, and I rotated on, care of the planes our cameras were full of exposed film, we had just come back. And we had 38 revolvers. The planes were parked together, we were out at the end of the runway.
Was everyboudy elses planes with film in them? Just our 2 planes were the only ones that had cameras.
You called him George Vaught? No Jerry Vaught. George Modrak was another fellow, he was on board the carrier, he was a part of our unit.
Who else? There were 4 pilots Norm Youngblood, myself, Jerry Vaught and George Modrak. Modrak. Only 2 of us were airborne then.
Well most of the film was that of other planes or special assignment? No special assignment. Was any of it of Spain or Majorca? No, we had been, I am trying to remember where had been, but, I think where we had been was, in Yugoslavia.