I was all of 6 1/4 years old when I decided I wanted to be a Fighter Pilot. I entered pre-flight in February 1959 and attended Primary at Malden AB, MO. I was the first to Solo in the T-34 and kept working to be right at the top of my class thinking the higher I was the more likely to get assigned to fighters. I maintained this philosophy at my Basic training class at Webb AFB, TX. In doing so, I felt that I was maintaining myself within the top 3 and then four ship formation training came along.
I took my first four ship formation flight and passed it with flying colors and was cleared to solo. The next day I was scheduled solo and I don’t know why but they scheduled me to lead the flight. The first time ever I was to brief and lead a flight. My three wingmen were dual on their first four ship flight.
I felt the briefing went well and the flight went well. Then it came time to debrief. The three instructors on the flight gave me a top briefing and very good lead on the rejoin maneuvers. However, they said I took too long between rejoins so they flunked me.
I thought I recovered very well and right at the end of Basic it came time to select our future aircraft. We were all in one room and first they wrote up our class standings, as we got to select by our standing. Due to my one failing flight I was eighth.
They then wrote up the numbers by type aircraft we got to select from. Lo and behold there were eight F-100s (the only fighter to choose from). I did breath a sigh of relief then as I knew I was going to get a chance to select a Fighter!
However, as #8 I was the first one to select the F-100. I think the word then of having to have 700 hours by 5 years and 1500 hours by 15 years and the only commands you stood a chance of getting those hours were rumored as SAC, ATC and MAC. The first seven chose an aircraft from one of those commands.
The requirement for those hours soon went away, but after our class. And by the way, I stayed in Fighters for my career in the AF! Minus 1 1/2 years spent getting my Masters and a 4 1/2 year stint at the Pentagon (Air Staff and Joint Staff - my choice). I flew 3150+ hours in the F-100 and about 900 in the F-4.