|They looked like giant grave markers standing stark white against barren hills. Flying closer, I saw movement - long, thin vanes sweeping in arcs from the top of stanchions. Windmills! They spun in response to the wind as it surged down the pass to splash eastward into California's Antelope Valley.|
|As I descended, dust devils swirled on the desert floor. Three runways appeared, a triangle carved atop bleak arid soil. I banked the Kingair and called the tower for landing instructions. As I listened, I saw below me the hulks of huge airliners - Boeing 747s and Lockheed L-1011s - and smaller planes seemingly abandoned near the runways. Many were cut open, their insides bleaching in the sun.
There on the ramp sat row after row of F-4 Phantom II fighters - nearly a squadron's worth. I had flown the F-4 years ago in combat in Southeast Asia... But sadly, the last Air Force F-4 unit deactivated several years ago. What were these chariots of war doing here now?
Excerpt from The Retired Officer, January, 1998.