The trip west seemed routine until Long Beach cleared our ship for a straight -in approach. At touch down, the aircraft rolled the full length of the strip, 10,000 feet, OOPS!!!- the co-pilot forgot to drop the flaps.
After indoctrination on over-water flying at Sacramento's McClellan Field, we moved on to Hamilton Field (near the Golden Gate Bridge) for a fully loaded 9 PM takeoff, west to a Hickaam Field touchdown on Oahu. Neither pilot moved from his seat for the full 12'30" and we landed with enough 130 octane for 45 minutes of the wild blue yonder.
On July 3 (day #two), an early A.M. takeoff for Christmas Island, 1000 miles SW, with excellent weather, broken clouds at 2000 feet, and south-southwesterly winds. The navigator (barrowed from the Air Transport Command) selected a dead-reckoning heading, shot a few sun lines, crawled up on the Chart table and took a short nap. Pilots followed the time and distance heading but NO ISLAND! Pilots began a square search, after 1 1/2 hours located Christmas Island, landed, and chewed out the navigator. Said navigator was extremely alert during the remaining daytime island hops to Samoa, Tutuila, New Caledonia and Brisbane.
Bone chilling cold at Brisbane's Eagle Farm Field! The crew was elated to have completed the Pacific journey with only one near miss, bedded down in cold, unheated barracks. The man in the last bunk was required to turn off the single overhaed bulb. "Mr. Last" looked up at the offending bulb, pulled out his "45", shot out the light and put a sizeable hole in the ceiling. This brought out both US and Aussie MP's. no one let out a peep; however, our slow moving marksman the next night used the light switch and then crawled into the sack.
Aircraft and crew were ordered north to Townsville and then inland 60 miles to Charters Towers strip. The 38th formed up two new squadrons-822 and 823. In the process of training breifings, the instructors always emphasized "Don't buss the dry river beds" but never gave the reason WHY. A few days later, a dust- covered fighter pilot carrying his chute, showed up in Operations, his initial statement, "I buzzed the river bed!" Seems in the rural outback the Aussies, unable to afford bridges, used cable lifts to cross rivers in wet seaon. Cables are hard to see at 200 plus MPH-"nuff said". Flew numberless hours of low level, 75mm gunnery and made endless landings. At conclusion of training the C.O. threw a giant party with tubs of fish, chips and hundreds of bottles of Tooth's bitter pale Ale, a send off to 17-mile strip at Port Morseby and combat, humongous headaches and all.