Weekend Open Thread

| August 10, 2018

Friday, 24 April 1959, was just another day. Except, perhaps, at one particular location in Michigan.

The year 1959 was during the height of the Cold War. The Strategic Air Command existed then, and was flying – a lot.

On that date, Capt. John S. Lappo was the pilot for one of those SAC aircraft flying. He and his crew were returning to their home base – Lockbourne AFB, OH, which is today Rickenbacker ANGB – from a training mission. They were over Michigan, near the Straits of Mackinac.

From his cockpit, Capt. Lappo saw this:

Later, Lappo was asked about what happened next. When asked, he remarked: “. . . . I’ve always wanted to fly under a big bridge. I thought it would be the Golden Gate.”

That day apparently Lappo decided that Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge would do equally well. So, with a maximum of 155 feet of clearance between the bottom of the bridge and the water . . . he flew his aircraft under the freaking bridge.

Oh, did I mention he was flying one of these?

Yep: that day, Lappo was flying a a strategic bomber – a B-47 Stratojet. The aircraft is just over 107 feet long, has a wingspan of 116 feet – and is 28 feet tall at the tail.

Cojones muy grande. Cerebro? Tal vez no tanto.

The incident wasn’t widely reported at first. But the word got out, and eventually reached the USAF.

Predictably, the USAF “was not amused”. Seems Lappo had violated USAF regs by flying under that bridge.

Capt. Lappo was court-martialed for violating regulations on 10 August 1959. He was found guilty.

However, in that day and age you still had senior officers who had a sense of humor – and valued risk-taking, at least to a point. So Lappo wasn’t “body slammed” as he might have been today.

Lappo’s wings were revoked – permanently. He never flew for the USAF again.

But the USAF didn’t kick Lappo to the curb, either. He was allowed to continue serving. He did – and was promoted twice afterwards, retiring as a Lt. Col. in 1972.

Lt. Col. John S. Lappo, USAF (Ret), passed away in 2003 at the age of 83. His obituary made prominent mention of his 1959 “underflight” exploit – though it appears to have gotten the date wrong (they seem to have listed his court-martial date as the date he flew under the Mackinac Bridge).

. . .

Think I’m kidding about the above? Think again. It’s not a “tall tale” – the above really happened.

Enough YGBSM! history for today. Enjoy yer WOT, everyone. (smile)

Category: Open thread, YGBSM!!

Comments (154)

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  1. Frankie Cee says:

    In my weekly update on the NON Ranger, NON Special Forces, NON Officer, NON British, NON CIA, NON military, Kyle Christopher Barwan, Florida incarcerated Convict, I will go over the aliases that he has used in the past, just in case he reverts to using one, or more, of them.
    He has used:
    Christopher Barwan
    Kyle Christoper
    Klutch Barwan
    Klutch Reborn
    Klutch Denton
    Kyle Denton
    Christopher Denton

    and more. But he is best known as a 100% jerk, a non-achiever, a non-worker, and has never been an asset to society in general. He is a 5 ft 6 in, 138 pound, sack of lies.

    • Roh-Dog says:

      5’ 6” and 138 lbs…
      I remember those days, when I was 12.
      Barwan better bulk up or he’s gonna get plugged up!

  2. OAE CPO USN Ret says:

    Late Breaking News!

    Bernath is still a disbarred lawer and his location is still 27°14′25″N 82°22′50″W -6ft AGL, SPD OKts.