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HAROLD "BURGIE" BURGESON

Burgie

In October 1957, Burgie was flying the RF-84 with the 45th TRS at Misawa AB, Japan. Later in the 1950s, he was the first of the 45th TRS pilots to check out in the RF-101, becoming flight commander. From there, he transferred to Shaw AFB, SC as instructor pilot in the training squadron for the F-101. From there, circa November 1961, he and F-101 VooDoo pilot Dick Roussell transferred to the 1129th for Project OXCART at Groom Lake, Nevada under the command of CIA administrator Warner Weiss and Col. Robert Holbury. Burgie was assigned to Colonel Doug Nelson where he and Ray Haupt received flight training from the Lockheed test pilots in the CIA A-12 Mach-3+ reconnaissance plane for the job of becoming standardization instructor pilots to train the CIA project pilots.

Besides being an excellent pilot, Burgie is fondly remembered by members of the 1129th for his management of House Six, unofficial hangout of the Air Force and CIA pilots for their poker games. As the OXCART Project terminated, Burgie became the base commander during the operations shutdown period.

From the 1129th at Groom Lake, Burgie was stationed at Lindsey Air Station USAFE in Wiesbaden where he was assigned to the Plans Division. He served a tour in Vietnam before retiring.

BGen Ray Haupt rememberance of Burgie:

Doug Nelson and I were scheduled as the first two folks to go to Shaw AFB for checkout in the F-101F. John Kelly and I left Nellis AFB, early on the morning of 2 January 1962 in our T-33, complete with a baggage pod loaded with my clothes for the anticipated 10 weeks stay at Shaw to check me out as an instructor in the F-101. Nelson drove his car to the east coast for his staff qualified checkout pilot in the aircraft.

We immediately after arrival entered ground training in the Wing FTD (shepherded by Burgie) Then Burgie immediately started the flight training phase of our check-out. Since we had priority in training, we zipped right on through the course. We even completed low altitude photography runs during the normal checkout since for security purposes this was supposed to look like a normal checkout. About midway through training Nelson and I started discussing the bucket of worms we were faced with back at the ranch with our aircraft ranging from a Cessna 180 through U3-B, T-33, C-130, F101-B, F101,-one crazy Helicopter, and our mission aircraft.

Nelson made a couple calls and we indicated our interest in Burgie as the guy to handle the 101's while we looked after the operational end of the program. I had been soliciting Nelson's support in getting a total rewrite of the Article flight manual in standard USAF format. The concept sold all the way to the agency, they were an easy sell since the U-2 manual had been a pain in the neck before we had re-written it after the arrival of the aircraft and at least 6 months of operation with the factory ozalid U-2 Manual.

Although I maintained I P status in the F-101, the program was what Burgie made of it from day one of his arrival at the ranch. The unspoken intent was for him to take over standardization for the A-12 when I left the program.

During my three and a half years the C-130 and Helicopter crews were self standardized by their Aircraft Commanders. Danny Mitchell and I interchangeably handled standardization checks in the T-33 and U-3B and also administered annual instrument checks. That arrangement posed a long reach for Danny since I checked him out raw in the T-33 and pushed him right on up to instructor status in the T-Bird; he was not previously jet qualified.

When I extended my 3 year tour at the ranch, and added on an extra 6 months, I started Burgie's checkout in the A-12 Trainer. My last A-12 flight was his final check, and instrument check, in the trainer. As a side light of no value, we suffered a lightning strike from a small shirt-tail cumulus cloud a couple miles south of the VOR, while turning onto final approach to a GCA full stop landing on his instrument check/final trainer checkout flight. The next morning I drove out of the gate to go home and start the move to Beale.

Burgie was worth his weight in gold during his stay with the program. The last time I saw Burgie was while I was in Washington briefing the Air Staff on the SAC SR-71 program. Someone told me that Burgie was recuperating from Cancer treatment and was at Andrews. I spent one afternoon with him in transient quarters at Andrews.

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