We arrived at the AA terminal just as it was getting light. There was a scurry of activity around one of AA’s C-47s. The ground crew was loading wooden boxes about 30 inches long by a foot high by a foot wide onto a feed-scale. From the look of it, they weren’t light. One man recorded the weight of each box.
I looked around for my equipment. Near the stack of cargo was the unmistakable Olive Drab cube, 2 feet on a side with TS-452 stenciled on three sides. This was the critical piece of equipment for testing transmitters. In training we used the ring box mounted permanently on the radar and had students draw a graph that showed the transmitter spectrum. That took a good half hour. The TS-452 could be hooked up in less than a minute and would show transmitter health as soon as the tubes warmed up. I stood looking at the stack of equipment.
“So you’re the one passenger dispatch mentioned?”
“I think so. If you’re going by the highlands on your way.”
“Where, exactly is it that you’re going? Dispatch didn’t bother to tell us that.”
“Probably because they don’t know. I don’t even know except that Mr. Shackley made me memorize the coordinates.”
“In that case I have a pretty good idea where that is. How ‘bout you write it down on your clipboard and I’ll take a look.”
“By the way, how much does that big box weigh?” asked the pilot, nodding at my box.
“About 50 pounds.”
“Do you really need it?”
“It’s the last thing I’d leave behind,” I said tapping the colonel’s checklist on my clipboard.
“What doesn’t need to go? We’re really weight limited today. We’re carrying extra fuel because we stop in Phnom Pen too.”
“That’s not so far, why the extra fuel?”
“We don’t end there. We go on to Rangoon and back.”
“Oh. That is far. But I actually need all this stuff.”
“How much do you weigh?”
“165 dressed with boots.”
“What’s the temperature,” the pilot asked the crew chief.
“Hunh,” He muttered sotovoche. “Unless we can get off the ground before it gets any warmer, I’ll have to tell Halftrack a couple of his boxes have to go on the next shipment. He won’t be happy,” he said to himself, only just audible above the airport noise.”
Startled, I scratched out the coordinates Mr. Shackley had given me on a new sheet and handed it to the pilot. This, apparently was either Halftrack’s shipment or he was in charge of it. I suspected I knew more about this than was good for me and decided to keep it to my self. Ten minutes later the crew had all my equipment, Halftrack’s boxes, and me on board.