"Ransom Rideout" Avstry #10b

Ransom a World War II pilot serving in the Pacific Theater, is shot down in China

Published Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2012

Direct link to m4a audio file of show. Recommended (right-click to download/save).

Before we get to this episodes we ask that you consider making a small financial donation to the Aviation Story podcast. This donation will help us gather better stories, and share them with the Aviation Story podcast community.

Sincerely, The Avstry Team

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

Show Notes

Ransom Rideout: I was on my 38th mission and I was told by this watering commander that I would lead this mission and that it would comprise of flight from Nanking to Hankow, so it's a river sweep on the Yangtze River. And he chewed us out, I'll never forget that. Because we were always exposed to danger and he chewed us out for not getting more results. Not sinking enough ships and not destroying enough enemy... whatever.

So that was stuck in the back of my mind. I lay awake most of the night. Even though I had 38 missions, China was never familiar to me at any time. There were no landmarks that you could use, just a vast, vast country. There were no streets, highways, railroads that you could use. You did have the Yangtze River.

Early morning I went down to ops and was briefed and told that if anything happened to go north as far as you could from the Yangtze because everything else was all in Japanese. So we were showing our flak, zones of flak. After the briefing the Chinese two guys on my wing and I, we climbed in our P51-D's we had two, each one of us had two demolition bombs. And of course we had our six...

J.R. Warmkessel: 50 caliber?

Ransom Rideout: 50 caliber machine guns. So we were heavily armed. And we took off, joined up, and headed for Nanking.

It was a gorgeous day, it was a pilot's day to fly. The air was so smooth, the Merlin just purred so smoothly, and I look over to my left side and I see in the early morning sunlight this ten-story, I figured it was ten-story, it could have been twelve or five, but it was a beautiful white marble pagoda. And as I gazed down at that gorgeous pagoda I thought to myself, "How could there be killing going on and everything below me?" It was just a serene setting, it made it hard to believe there was anything harmful going on. And about that time I could see Nanking in the distance and I told my wingman, "Let's drop down to 5,000 feet," and we did and we started our sweep from Nanking to Hankow which was approximately 800 miles.

We were now 1,000 miles behind lines into Japanese territory. And of course we had no radio aids at all and that's what made it spooky. If weather could come in behind you, how the Hell am I going to find my way home? We'd write our courses down on the back of our hand so that we had at least a small reference but everything was dead reckoning. We had no radio aids whatsoever.

After we got down to 5,000 we started our sweep and an hour went by and shoot, no luck, we didn't see anything. I figured about this time the old man is going to have fun with this when we get home 'cause we're not sighting anything. And about that time I saw in the distance this gorgeous big, white yacht. I mean, what a thing to see. A big gorgeous yacht. Big power yacht.

Now that time of year, the Yangtze River is way down. The banks of the river are some 40 feet high. And this big yacht was nestled right up to the base. Before a bend in the river, it was based down here.

I told my wingmen to give me cover while I went down and strafed it up a bit. So I took a pass at that beautiful yacht, gave them a long burst with my 50s, couldn't get a fire started. I don't even know if I ever hit them or not. Anyway, I broke to the left and my wingmen were screaming to me at that time, "Rideout, they're shooting at you! They're in the bank of the river there. They're firing at you."

So I made one more pass and this time I broke to the right. Well, as I broke to the right, I could not, I was down on the deck, I had just finished my pass, and I was breaking down to the right. I couldn't believe it. I'm under the biggest camouflage net in the world, it stretched for miles. And underneath this massive camouflage net are 11 huge, huge landing craft. I mean, they were big and there were 11 of them. Well this time of year the Japanese were pulling back their forces for southern China and India. I mean, all from the continent of China, comeback to protect their homeland, and these obviously were waiting for the troops to come and then they would take them back to Japan. I didn't have time to make any decision, it just was natural. I pushed the throttle to the fire wall, armed my bombs, and took on the first landing craft. And, holy smokes, I had not gotten into that run two, three seconds when all hell broke loose. Boy, I was just hit by big 40 millimeter stuff, and the side of my cockpit was ripped off and I knew my engine was hit and I was just lucky I wasn't hit. I broke immediately. As I was down on the deck I broke right down to the top of the water on the Yangtze River, and as I headed towards the north side, which we were alerted to do, I had no idea how much longer my engine would run. I went by a channel marker buoy and the sides dropped as I got by it and there was a quad with four 20 millimeter canon in it, just pounding me. The nose of my 51, I don't know whether you're familiar with it, but it stretches out quite a ways in front of you, and it just looked like a cheese grate all of a sudden. And I kept heading and climbing steadily, but very slowly, up for altitude on the north side of the Yangtze River, and my wingmen are all screaming at me, "Get out, Rideout! You're on fire! Get out! Get out!" I couldn't get out. I'm only, down on the deck, and I just nursed that little plane up, just kept going. I was just so thankful for it, and after about, oh, two minutes maybe, I got up to about 5,000 feet when the oil pressure just dropped down. So I saw the oil pressure go, but I had gotten at least to 5,000 feet so I knew I had to get out and I was just so grateful to that little Merlin Rolls Royce, but when that oil quit and that engine is windmilling, I'll never forget the feel and the sound of the rotating gears with no oil in them. Oh, what a horrible crunch and growling sound it made. My wingmen still calling for me to jump, get out. Well, I reached for my cockpit to roll my canopy back and there's no lever. It's gone. There's no crank. That's blown off the aircraft. Well I got an emergency lever. I reached over for this little red emergency lever to eject the canopy and it just went like that. The wires had all been cut, so what in the hell can I do? I lowered the seat of my cockpit down to the very bottom and I got my feet up pushing up on the top of that canopy, and they are heavy. I didn't realize how heavy they are. And then I jumped my fingers gradually into the entrance of it like a gradually jerked out heavy canopy back to where I could climb up through it. Well, that was good. So I trimmed the aircraft for she had a beautiful gentle glide of 19 knots. I trim her up, so she goes straight, load my flaps, my gear so she glided straight. I didn't want that thing to swing around and hit me after I bailed out. I stood up on the pilot's seat to go over the side and realize holy cow I've still got my headset on. I took it off, passed it down into the cockpit and as I looked down there's my cigarettes one the instrument panel. So I grabbed those, put them in my pocket, zipped it all up. I don't know why you do things like this. I did. And then I climbed up onto the seat of the pilot, pilot's seat, to jump over the side. And as I looked down, I say "Holy Smoke! They don't teach you anything about this. And I just got out. Here we go. So I dove headlong for the threading edge of my left wing. I have no sooner jumped for that wind that I felt this tremendous bang thump on my back. It was just humongous. It was so humongous that I was later to learn, my shoulder holster where we carried our gun, our 45, tore it loose. And this was big thick leather. It just tore it loose. So I rolled up into a ball and under the canopy. I don't remember pulling the rib chord at all. I didn't have the rib chord in my hand. I enrolled and then floated under this big canopy and I, that was a very pleasant experience. I could hear voices caught in this big canopy from down below. And I came down just before a little clump of trees and there is my P51 about 100 yards ahead of me. Hit the ground and blew up. And my parachute canopy caught into a young little grove of trees, there weren't trees any place except right there. The parachute caught on them; the trees bent and set me down on the ground like a baby. It was just wonderful how I didn't have to land hard because I had broken my back and I wouldn't realize that I had broken my back for two years later when I had to take a regular medical and a doctor. Said when did you break your back and that was the first time I realized. I knew I was injured but I didn't know I had broken my back. So I, in my parachute like we're supposed to do waited, we were told only give yourself up to old men or children. Nobody in between. And we all had what we called flying chits. CHITS. And army's chits were in several languages including Chinese, Burmese, Indian. To whoever it may concern, help this American flyer. He is your friend and you will be compensateda. So I waited and waited. And here comes by golly an old men coming down this path in this rice paddy and I come up. Jumped up and I held one of my big chits. He took one look at that and he was gone like a short. I said " Oh my God! So much for our intelligence. And I just, oh God I just felt so alone. Injured, don't speak the language, in a strange place, over a thousand miles behind enemy lines, and I just felt you know, in despair. And then 8 Chinese guys came down this little slope towards me. They were dressed all in white with red bands, head bands. All smiles, I had " Oh man, this is great. These guys look friendly. And they were just so smart and so forth. They had two questions. They wanted to know where my gun was. They could see remnants of my shoulder holster. And they wanted to know I had my ring on. A gold ring. And they took me to this farmhouse. And in the back of this farmhouse where the chickens and cattle and everything was, was that old man that I had first shown my blood chit to. And a woman came with a tub of hot water, cloths to wipe the blood off my face and clean me up a little bit. And I was just in a state of shock as you can all imagine. There was a little table, a low table, and I climbed on it, laid back and I must have just gone to sleep, I don't know. I just passed out. And I was made aware of sudden little rustling noises around me and I opened one eye and here are all these little children. All, I would say from 6 to 10 or 11 years old. And they were looking at me so close, my shoes and my clothing and I thought I will give them a treat. So I all of a sudden jumped up. And then pretty soon they got the gist of it. And they were all smiles and very friendly. And I was to find later on some more about what took place that morning. Those 8 guys in beautiful uniforms, they were taking me to the Japanese for a price. I wasn't to learn this at the time. And I was in effect, I was a prisoner and they were going to take me and sell me. But before they could do that the old man had actually alerted the guerilla forces. So I had only been there perhaps 3 hours. When these tough monkeys, I though Oh man, this is bad. These guys are going to get me. And they had no uniforms. They were in all different kinds of uniforms. Their weapons were Chinese, Japanese, Korean, you name it. They were a very, they were not an army that I was used to. Well they killed those 8 guys. And took me, of all things, it was getting night. And they put me on a horse. I swore that was a wooden saddle. And we travelled all night and on horses. And we had to get out of there because the Japanese were chasing us. They chased us for a whole week. And so all of our travelling was by night time. That first evening, in midnight or so, we were sitting around having a bowl of gruel. Big pot of rice. And I've been eating mine. And I have an interpreter. His name was Mr. Wye Wye Sze. SZE. He spoke beautiful English. He wrote a beautiful hand, and Mr. Sze told me all about who these guys were, that they're guerrillas that kill, and so forth, and who I was with and where we were going, but he also said, "Captain Rideout, the soldiers, they think you are a nobleman, a king. You sit so straight in the saddle." Well, little did they know, my bottom was just raw with blisters and so sore. I couldn't sit comfortably. I had to try to keep rising myself off of my butt and it was so sore and tender, so I could've been a king or a nobleman, but I was really hurting, and, as a matter of fact, at dawn, where we got to our next place, they took me to where I was to sleep, and here on this bunk is a little container of tiger balm. I don't know whether you're familiar with that, but tiger balm is a cure-all and has been known in China for many, many years. It still is available. So I take a little dip of that and I rub it all over my butt. The next morning I was free and clear, wasn't sore, no more blisters, but in the meantime, during the night, while we were on the way, they made a litter for me so they carried me the rest of the way. I didn't have to ride on the horse anymore, which I was very grateful for, and there were pillows all over that bed with embroidery. I've still got them, all embroidered with, I couldn't read it but I suppose it said, "Thank you, American flyer," or something like that, and so I was with the guerrillas then for two weeks, and they carried me, after the first week, we no longer travelled at night. We travelled during the day, and every night was a party, you might say. I had one interesting experience. Than night when we were on the horses, we came down this little gully, and, good god, here is a 60-foot Chinese boat, all teak, under construction. Now there's no way, how in the hell are they gonna get this to the ocean? Or wherever it's going? Anyway, it was just one of the unusual things about China that I saw, and I saw so many of them but that one took the cake. I'm sitting miles from water and here it's being built. Anyway, that was interesting, and I'll never forget. So this, we arrived at this one little village after traveling all night being carried on this litter, and I turned to Mr. Sze and I said, "You know, Mr. Sze, I got to go. I haven't had a bowel movement for over three days." "Oh," he said, "just out there in the compound." So I walked out this compound, just starting to get light, and I see this little lean-to out there with a plank going across underneath the roof, and I go out there and I walk out on this plank and I'm thinking to myself, "This is going to be interesting." I tried to lower by drawers and balance myself on this plank and do business, and about that time I heard this strange crinkly noises and I looked down in that early morning light and that pot, that big ol' pot, is just boiling with maggots. Oh, jeez. God, no way could I handle that, so I went out in the middle of the compound. So I just couldn't handle that, standing in the middle of that pot full of sewage. The stench was overcoming, so I went out to the middle of the courtyard and I just lowered my drawers and squatted and things started to happen. Oh, man, I was so glad, and I was suddenly made aware of funny little sounds, "oohs" and "ahhs," and I looked into the wall of this compound, which was about four feet tall. There were hundreds, hundreds of little faces peering over that wall, watching me crap. They were so happy to see that I was having luck. They were just, they couldn't have been happier. They were cheering me on, as a matter of fact. So I turned to them and I bowed, pulled up my drawers, and walked into the house, and that was a funny little thing. Lots of strange things happened. Got to, after we got out of enemy territory, I told you earlier it was a party night every night, and I was with all of these generals. There were seven or eight of them around this table. We had a huge buffet dinner, and they were serving wine and they were pouring it from this bottle with a cute little figure head in it, so I took a sip of my wine, and, oh man, it was so powerful. I nearly suffocated from the fumes, and it's customary in China to, if somebody says gombay, that's "bottoms up," and they were serving this rice wine in little saucers about that deep and about an inch and a half across, two inches across. And the generals were gombay, and after the second one I knew they would have to carry me out of there if I had any more gombay, so I didn't have any more. I would just raise my rice thing, but I didn't chug it, but by then I was hit by the alcohol content of this drink to the point where I got the giggles. I was looking at this strange little creature on the stopper of the wine, and I turned to Mr. Sze and I said, "Mr. Sze, who is this?" "Oh," he said, "that's part of our Japanese folklore. That is Iron Staff Lee, and he can do all sorts of strange things," and I told him. I said, "Well, he's certainly got strange things, doing strange things to me. I can't stop giggling and looking at him." That's the last I heard about that. Two years later, the war is over. I get a box, two boxes, handmade kampfer boxes, and inside are four figurines, so I have now the eight immortals of Chinese culture, and there they are up on my wall, up there on the shelves.

J.R. Warmkessel: Oh, wow.

Ransom Rideout: Mr. Sze had sent those, at great expense to me, and in his letter, accompanying letter, he said, "Please excuse the quality of those stuffs." That's the way he phrased it, and I think they're beautiful. Well, anyway, the following night was the last night I was to spend with the guerrillas. I didn't know this, but it was to be my last night. We had gotten to Lee Wang and AGAS, Air, Ground, Aid, Section. That was founded by John Birch, and how he could've fallen into the hands to being a pallbearer for the John Birch society, which was a very conservative group, I can't imagine, because it was no my impression of the original John Birch, but he founded this group to help downed airmen and it was beautifully organized and they could keep in touch with whoever forces, wherever a downed airmen was and they would rescue him. So we were in the last night and Mr. Sze told us they were going to put on quite a performance for us at, this was the mayor's house. We got to this place and they lowered me from the litter next to a brand spanking new 1942 Buick Century. There are no roads. What is that big beautiful car doing here? Well, it travelled about 100 yards back and forth, and it took dignitaries to the mayor's house, and that was all it was driven. Just that little area. And I thought that was fantastic. So we had dinner there and then we went down into this little town, and there was like a little Shakespearean theater, tin, candlelit, lights on the stage, and they put on the most wonderful performance of ancient Chinese opera and a martial arts sort of gymnastics thing where they swing the swords all around. It was fascinating to watch. Afterwards I asked Mr. Sze if I could go up on the stage and thank the people. So he and I both went up on the stage, and I bowed to him, he bowed to me, and then... and I don't know what I said but I must've had a lot of fun. I could've been the Franklin D. Roosevelt's personal envoy to China. I don't know, but I thanked them profusely and told them how much they meant to me personally and how I hoped an end to the conflict would come soon and that we would be the victors. Then I would turn to bow to Mr. Sze, he would bow to me, and then he would speak in Chinese and translate what I had said and that went on for three or four minutes. Had a good time doing that, and that evening, that was the last evening I had. The next day we got to AGAS headquarters and there was a landing strip along this little stream, and there was a C47, waiting with the door open, the engines still going, three P51s upstairs for cover, and I was almost in tears to leave those guerrillas. They had saved my life and I'd lived with them so closely for so long. As we were saying goodbye, here came a worker with a pogo stick across his back, with this great, big can on one of the ends of the pole, and Mr. Sze said, "This is your parachute." I never expected to see that parachute again, and I still have it, and my seatpack was there, which I had about 50,000 dollars of Chinese money, I had medicines. I gave all the medicines to Colonel Wey, who had been introduced to me as Captain Wey in order that my being a Captain, I would not feel badly if I needed anything, I could say, "Captain Wey, could I have this, could I have that?" But I might not have done it had I known he was Colonel Wey, and he was a doctor. I gave him all the medical stuff and gave Mr. Sze the money, and I boarded the aircraft and they flew me back to Cungking, and at Cungking I met a guy who loaned me clothes and that's why he changed into a uniform which didn't fit of course. And then shortly they flew me to my squadron back at Xinjiang, the 27th Chinese-American composite squadron. There was nobody there. The guys had even gone so far as to go into my footlocker and took all of my cognac. I had a beautiful bottle of cognac in there and they'd taken that. That's all they'd taken, but to go into my footlocker, I felt that was the last straw, but I had been given up for lost. There was nobody there. The whole squadron was in India bringing back brand-new P51s. So I didn't have a chance to tell my tale to anybody. Most of the guys thought I was gone, and, as a matter of fact, my mother received two telegrams, which I have to this day, one stating that I was missing in action, and the other that I had been given up. Over that certain period of time, they figure you're lost. Well, unbeknownst to the War Department, the moment I had gotten back, I didn't expect this letter to reach my mother, or my wife in Europe, so quickly but it just click, click, click. I wrote that letter stating, "I'm here. I'm okay. I'll be home shortly," and to make a long story short, the mailman delivered this letter, this tragic letter from the War Department, at the same my letter arrived and my mother told me that that postman just wept. He said it was the first time he'd ever delivered that kind of a message, tragic message, to anyone only to find there was not a victim, he was okay. Well, I'll tell you, I have many more things. I think I should tell you some of the aircraft that I flew, just for the fun of it.

J.R. Warmkessel: I would love to hear that.

Ransom Rideout: Yeah, okay. Well, the primary, we flew the little Ryan PT-23s. PT stands for "primary trainer." Then I flew the Valtee Bomber. That was the basic trainer, and then I flew the AT-6, advanced trainer, and P-36, which was the forerunner of the P-40. My first station I flew L1s. L1 was a high wing external crank for inertia, wonderful visibility. You could actually fly it backwards in a headwind of 20 miles an hour, 25 miles an hour, and I used to do that. I'd fly over Salinas backwards just for the fun of it. 0-52s I mentioned to you, cartridge starting aircraft. Wonderful visibility. It was a high wing, and the O-47s, and the O-42. O-52? No, O-46. The O-46 was a North American built, open cockpit. I used to pretend I was a World War I ace when I would fly that airplane, high wing, fixed machine gun through the prop, .30 caliber, but it had a tail gunner in the back, and it was the most unusual plane but it was...the "O" stood for observation. And then we had a twin engine, the same plane that Amelia Earhart had, a twin engine Lockheed Electra. We had one of those. Now hydraulics on that works interesting. You had a pump in between cockpits. There was a pump that you had to pump all the time to keep your breaks, your flaps, functioning. The engine instruments, that was one thing that fascinated me. The engine instruments on that Electra were the outside on the insides of the nacelle, so you took a flashlight at night, posted it out there to see what your oil pressure was and your oil temperature. Very primitive, but this was early in the war, and then I've told you about the P-39, and the B-25 was a dream. It was a dream to fly. I had...I took a long flight. I put a camera in the nose and I flew from Fort Riley, Kansas to Salt Lake City, Utah, and I got a strip, and I have it to this day buried some place, a strip of the great divide. So you can see the geographic exposure of the land in this strip. The L5, that was a Stinson built courier plane. It was a tail dragger also that had more horsepower than the L3s. You know, I could get, if you wanted to get my log...

J.R. Warmkessel: I'd love to.

Ransom Rideout: It should be right in that second drawer.

J.R. Warmkessel: Yup.

Ransom Rideout: Right there. This is my log of all the planes I flew, every mission I flew. Here's some examinations that we used to take before we flew an airplane. I flew the 820 also. I can't read that, can you?

J.R. Warmkessel: Yeah, that's an 820.

Ransom Rideout: 820.

J.R. Warmkessel: DB7B, or an A20.

Ransom Rideout: And this is the exam you take.

J.R. Warmkessel: Okay. Right. Sure. They still have us do it nowadays.

Ransom Rideout: Yeah.

J.R. Warmkessel: Bendix Stromberg injection.

Ransom Rideout: Oh, yeah. The Bendix. Most of our carburetors were Bendix.

J.R. Warmkessel: You know, you would laugh, but when I got my A&P certificate, they had a whole supply of Bendix carburetors. I mean, the biggest carburetor you've ever seen for all these radial engines.

Ransom Rideout: Oh, yeah. This is a P-39 I think.

J.R. Warmkessel: Yeah, yeah. Look at that.

Ransom Rideout: So it's kind of fun to go through these old things. Oh, this was when I was at the tach recon school. Yeah. I told you I was sent there at Meridian, not Jackson. Meridian, Mississippi.

J.R. Warmkessel: Oh, look at that. These are just incredible. This is history.

Ransom Rideout: That's real history. On the last airplane I flew...I didn't take you on to China yet.

J.R. Warmkessel: Well, that's okay. Keep going.

Ransom Rideout: I stayed in the military for 22 years, and during that time I was the number two man in the California Air National Guard. I was director of operations for the 144th Fighter Interceptor Wing. That included California, Northern California, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. It was Idaho. And the last plane I flew was the Sabre jet, F-86. Checking out in that plane was something else because I was light Colonel then, and they didn't pay much attention to you. They thought you knew it all, and that was a bad, bad thing to think.

J.R. Warmkessel: Was it?

Ransom Rideout: My first flight in that damn F-86 scared the bejeezus out of me. I had my dive flaps out. I didn't know it.

J.R. Warmkessel: Oh, my.

Ransom Rideout: And she didn't want to get off the ground. I had almost 20,000 feet of runway. it was a huge runway for B-52s.

J.R. Warmkessel: And you used it all.

Ransom Rideout: And I used it all. I just finally took it off. I don't know...what are those?

J.R. Warmkessel: That's a...let me just...

Ransom Rideout: Oh, I flew the A-36 also, which was the P-51A with dive brakes.

J.R. Warmkessel: Well that was supposed to be a bomber, right?

Ransom Rideout: Yeah, it was a dive bomber.

J.R. Warmkessel: It was a dive bomber. It was an never went into production.

Ransom Rideout: It was used in Italy.

J.R. Warmkessel: Was it?

Ransom Rideout: Extensively by my classmates.

J.R. Warmkessel: T-33, that was trainer. That was the...

Ransom Rideout: T-33 jet, yeah.

J.R. Warmkessel: Yeah, it was one of the early trainers.

Ransom Rideout: Great plane to fly.

J.R. Warmkessel: Now, the C-47, was that the DC-4?

Ransom Rideout: C-47 was the DC-3.

J.R. Warmkessel: DC-3. Did you know that there are still places that you can take instruction on a DC-3?

Ransom Rideout: No, but I wouldn't be surprised. It was a real workhorse.

J.R. Warmkessel: It really was, and then the F-86, that was the Sabre, and so this page is the last page of your service.

Ransom Rideout: Yeah, that's when I opted out of flying. Why I opted of flying was, I lived in Redwood City. I had to commute to Redwood City and Fresno. That's where our base was, and when I flew that F-86 I was low on fuel. I was coming in and had been cleared for the south end, land 360 north, and I'm on my final, coming in. I was about 300 feet coming in on my final and at the other end is a B-52 shooting GCAs. God. I escaped. We didn't hit each other.

J.R. Warmkessel: It's big airplane.

Ransom Rideout: But I said, "Hey, that's enough for me. I'm getting out of here. Can't handle this."

J.R. Warmkessel: So what are you thoughts about, you know, kind of the going from a radial engine, then to the Merlins, then on to the jets? Was it a...

Ransom Rideout: Well, I was comfortable in the T-33. I didn't have enough time in the F-86 to get comfortable in that. I prefer propellor out in front of me.

J.R. Warmkessel: So you were a lifetime service member.

Ransom Rideout: Yeah, well a reserve.

J.R. Warmkessel: A reserve.

Ransom Rideout: Weekend warrior. What do you call this?

J.R. Warmkessel: Well, I think you were a real warrior. I think that you already served your time. Have you had an opportunity to...there's a facility in Salinas that repairs P-51 mustangs.

Ransom Rideout: I didn't know that.

J.R. Warmkessel: Yeah, it's one of the very, very few ones and they have a...

Ransom Rideout: Well, Salinas was my first unit.

J.R. Warmkessel: Yeah, right, and at that airport in Salinas. It's called Pacific Cal Arrow, I believe and...

Ransom Rideout: I've heard of Pacific Cal Arrow.

J.R. Warmkessel: Yeah.

Ransom Rideout: Bit outfit.

J.R. Warmkessel: They have all the ability to manufacture any of the parts, so when they take...when they get an aircraft to restore, they take it all apart, they take all the rivets out, they repair anything that's broken, then put the airplane back together, and it's, you know, a multi-million dollar operation.

Ransom Rideout: Oh, yeah.

J.R. Warmkessel: But I'm sure that they would love to meet you and maybe give you a tour of their facility if you arranged it.

Ransom Rideout: I'm not up to that anymore, J.R.

J.R. Warmkessel: Oh, well. If you ever want to change your mind. A Link? What's a Link?

Ransom Rideout: Link trainer.

J.R. Warmkessel: Oh, is that a simulator?

Ransom Rideout: It''s counterpart would be that machine you got into as a replica of your airplane, oh, what do we call it?

J.R. Warmkessel: flight simulator.

Ransom Rideout: Flight simulator, yeah. And it was for instrument training.

J.R. Warmkessel: The early P-51s had a high back to the canopy and in the later models they went to a bubble canopy.

Ransom Rideout: The 51 was just a straight from the top, but just went into the fuselage.

J.R. Warmkessel: And did you have any visibility problems when you tried to look behind you?

Ransom Rideout: No.

J.R. Warmkessel: No? Okay. This is incredible. 1,300 hours in your flying career? About?

Ransom Rideout: I don't know. I don't remember what it was.

J.R. Warmkessel: Yeah, your log here says it was about 1,300.

Ransom Rideout: Well, it's all fighters. So most of it's all fighters, and 1,300 hours in a fighter is...

J.R. Warmkessel: That's a long time.

Ransom Rideout: Yeah, it is.

J.R. Warmkessel: P-51A. Wow. BT-13s.

Ransom Rideout: I think I took my wife on that flight to Kansas to pick out her engagement ring.

J.R. Warmkessel: Is that the UC-78 there?

Ransom Rideout: Yes, I took that on my honey moon.

J.R. Warmkessel: An hour 45. I don't think that most of us remember how important it was to the Chinese that we came.

Ransom Rideout: Oh, yeah.

J.R. Warmkessel: Came to their rescue.

Ransom Rideout: Oh, and they never forgot that. I've been invited three times now to their annual appreciation day for the Chinese pilots and I'm the only caucasian that's been invited. Yeah, I was the only caucasian. Everything was in Chinese, but Victor Chang was there, poked me in the ribs. He said, "Ransom, stand up, stand up. Colonel, they're talking about you." I didn't know.

J.R. Warmkessel: Yeah, that's incredible. So when you mustered out, you mustered out at a rank of Colonel?

Ransom Rideout: Light Colonel.

J.R. Warmkessel: A Light Colonel. And I should ask you about your medals. You must have a chest full of medals.

Ransom Rideout: No, no, no. I have just an air medal, the Purple Heart, a unit citation, and a Chinese flying badge.

J.R. Warmkessel: Well that's still very impressive, and I want to thank you for your service.

Ransom Rideout: Oh, J.R., no problem.

J.R. Warmkessel: I think that it was an incredible time.

Ransom Rideout: Yes, it was.

J.R. Warmkessel: Challenging and hard.

Ransom Rideout: Yeah.

J.R. Warmkessel: But still an incredible time.

Ransom Rideout: Oh, I think of strange one day. I was up in my T-33, checking out, and my mission that day was to go through certain routines at certain speeds, certain altitudes, etc., and it was a beautiful clear day there in Fresno and it was in the morning, and I took off and I went through all of the stuff and when I landed it was overcast. I'd just been going up and down in San Joaquin Valley and the jet stream, you know, was just, I made it perfect overcast in that San Joaquin Valley.

J.R. Warmkessel: I'm looking here at a drawing, a diagram, of the fuel control system for an airplane.

Ransom Rideout: Oh I wounder which one it is

J.R. Warmkessel: I'm going to go back and look here. Oh, it's for the F-86.

Ransom Rideout: Oh, I see.

J.R. Warmkessel: And it's all beautifully hand drawn out, drawn the fuel pumps and everything, the fuel filter, the whole enchilada.

Ransom Rideout: Yeah.

J.R. Warmkessel: This must've been a test to qualify for the aircraft.

Ransom Rideout: Yeah.

J.R. Warmkessel: You know, I can tell you that when I got my pilot's license I had to do similar tests. Not on beautiful aircraft like that, but still, nonetheless, almost exactly the same kind of questions and, you know?

Ransom Rideout: Yeah. They're pretty standardized.

J.R. Warmkessel: Well, you know, they want to make sure that you go through the airplane and think about the differences of this airplane versus maybe the last ones you flew and all the performance...

Ransom Rideout: The 86 was the extreme difference of all of them.

J.R. Warmkessel: Yeah.

Ransom Rideout: It was that damn throttle.

J.R. Warmkessel: Yeah.

Ransom Rideout: It went this way, and this way, and this way, and this way. It went in all different positions and there were buttons on it also, and lots of red buttons. And if any of those red buttons came on you had three seconds to eject.

J.R. Warmkessel: Oh, my.

Ransom Rideout: It scared the hell out of me.

J.R. Warmkessel: Yeah.

Ransom Rideout: Now I'm too old to fly that thing.

J.R. Warmkessel: It must've been pretty scary after you got shot down and kind of...

Ransom Rideout: Yeah. Oh, yes. Oh, yeah.

J.R. Warmkessel: This has been fantastic, and I really want to thank you once again.

Ransom Rideout: Certainly, You're welcome, J.R.

J.R. Warmkessel: Well, I think I should probably let you get off to your son and...

Ransom Rideout: Yeah, it's about that time.

J.R. Warmkessel: About that time.

Direct link to mp3 audio file of show (right-click to download/save).

Show Notes