P3 Orions of Patrol Squadron 9

Circa 1970


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   These images are from my collection of 35mm slides taken while I was attached to VP-9 from 1969 to 1972. I joined the squadron at NAS Moffett Field in California shortly after its return from a Sangley Point deployment. Cdr Larry Phillips, Jr was the outgoing CO and Cdr Matt "P-12" Pasztalaniec was the XO/incoming CO.

   During my time in the squadron we made two 6 month deployments to WestPac: the first to NS Adak, AK and the second MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. Throughout the entire Adak deployment, we maintained a 3 plane, 4 crew detachment at NAS Agana, Guam, rotating the crews on an 8 weeks in Adak - 4 weeks in Guam basis. My general impression: Guam is Good! ... a welcome relief from the dreariness of the Aleutians.

   During our Iwakuni deployment we sent detachments to U Taphao AFB, Thailand to operate in the Indian Ocean and Misawa AFB, Japan for missions in the Sea of Okhotsk.

   Flight operations in the Orion were quite a contrast to what I'd experienced in flying boats... and not simply because of the contrast in performance and runway-based operation of the big, new birds. Seaplane ops still had traces of "WWII casual" flying, updated a bit by early standardization programs. Orion ops were 100% "professional aviation" in the best spirit of that term. As much as I appreciated that significantly more competent, safer, more satisfying level of flying, I have to admit that, every now and then, I detected just a twinge of nostalgia for the old "kick the (beaching gear) tire and fire her up" seaplane days.

   All images except "Shootdown" are my originals. Permission is granted for noncommercial use of these graphics, as long as you give me appropiate credit.

   This site is always under construction - look for more graphics and such "pretty soon".....

  Comments or Feedback to:bigleytl@earthlink.net
T. L. Bigley, CDR USNR-TAR (Retired)

Distinguished Flying Cross Defense Meritorious Service Medal Air Medal Navy Commendation Medal Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal National Defense Service Medal Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Service Medal Armed Forces Reserve Medal Gallantry Cross Unit Citation RVN Gallantry Cross with Palm Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

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Adak Approach

A "Standard Navy" day at NAS Adak, approaching Runway 23 from over Kuluk Bay to the east. This was a pretty common view for the cockpit crews - except for the good visibility.

Adak Approach

A less typical CAVU day, approaching from the east. Zeto Point is in the foreground, Clam Lagoon behind it. The main base and runways are off the picture to the left. Mount Moffett to the right.

Adak Approach

Runway 34 from above Sweeper Cove to the south. Zeto Point is off the picture to the right, Mount Moffett off the picture to the left. This was the "Rocket Run" approach that went over the ridge from the end of Finger Bay.

Adak Approach

Short final for a low pass down Runway 23.

Adak BOQ

Sweeper Cove from my palatial digs at the Adak BOQ.

Adak Quonset Huts

Abandoned WWII vintage quonsets on the way to Clam Lagoon, as I recall ... or possibly near Finger Bay. Hmmm... I guess my digs were "palatial".

Cleared for Takeoff

Taxiing to the south end of 16/34. Mount Moffett and "White Alice" in the background. Note that the "pot-hole" is in the over-run, not the runway surface.

Adak Liftoff

Airborne on Runway 05. That's Mount Sitkin in the distance. As I recall, we had a similar sounding but more colorful nickname for it...

Another view of Sweeper Cove out the window of my BOQ room. The traffic circle and totem pole are to the right. The end of Runway 34 is off to the left...

Adak Short Final

... just far enough to give me a great view of the planes on short final.

Adak Short Final

Short final on Runway 34. The approach consisted of flying the "downwind" up Finger Bay, a ground skimming, wing-over style "90" atop the ridge in the background ...

Adak Short Final

.. and then a "rocket run" down to the flare. This was the most exciting approach at Adak — if you exclude a little weather-related excitement now and then.

Looking down the chain

Looking down the Aleutian Chain. This is a really awesome chunk of the world.


Landing at Kodiak on a clear day was an unforgettable experience, especially if you had always made IFR approaches in the past and hadn't seen where the runway over-run ended — part way up that mountain!

NAS Moffett

After Adak and Kodiak, dear old Moffett looked like child's play. All you had to do was avoid all the other traffic... Now that I think back, this was the most dangerous flying of all.

Formation over the Sea of Okhotsk

Soviet IL-38 May that joined up with us over the Sea of Okhotsk in, roughly, Sept 1971. We were (uninvited) observers of a Soviet ASW exercise at the time.

Bent Bird at NS Sangley Point

This is VP-9's BUNO 150506 that ran off the runway at NS Sangley Point, RP, in April '65, killing the Radioman. While deployed here with VP-40, I watched in awe as Lockheed techs repaired this literally bent bird and a brave crew of Niners flew it back to Moffett!

VP-9 bird shot down by Soviets

P2V-5, Buno 131515 on St. Lawrence Island just south of the Bering strait. Shot down by Soviet fighters during a patrol out of Kodiak, AK in June 1955. Ten injuries due to gunfire and crash landing. No fatalities!

VP-9 Crew 12

Crew 12 showing a bit of mid-deployment scruffiness in Adak. I'm in the middle of the front row - and still had hair on top. Now it's all on my chin.

FE at battlestations

Some members of the crew found our operations very exciting and - others less so...

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Links and Such
    The Rescue of Alfa Foxtrot 586
by Andrew C. A. Jampoler

The true story of AF- 586's fatal mission on 26 Oct. 1978. A prop malfunction and subsequent engine fire force VP-9 PPC Jerry Grigsby to ditch his P-3C Orion in icy seas west of the Aleutians. Available now!

Order from Amazon or Naval Institute
Alfa Foxtrot 586

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