Hi Res

On 2 March 2010, I started building a 1/72 scale model of Rivet Ball (Modified RC-135V by AMT / ERTL). I hope to have it finished in time for the upcoming "Tales of The 55th" program on 9 April 2010. Click on the following high resolution photo links and you can watch it develop: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53 (Completed on 7 April 2010).

Hi Res

On 9 April 2010, I participated in the eleventh annual "Tales of The 55th" program in the Airmen Leadership School at Offutt AFB in Nebraska. Attendance included General Shanahan (55th Wing CC), General Reg Urschler (USAF, Ret.) and about 250+ active duty personnel, veterans and invited guests. The event was tri-sponsored by the 55th Wing Association, the Strategic Roost of the Association of Old Crows, and the LeMay Flight Order of Dadaelians. Colonel Jim Thomas (USAF, Ret. / President of the 55th Wing Association) organized, coordinated and emceed the event. My focus this year was the History & Heritage of the RC-135S / Cobra Ball aircraft and its predecessor Rivet Ball (# 59-1491) aka Wanda Belle / Nancy Rae. Click on the following links for my presentation tables: 1, 2, 3, 4 (Rivet Ball), 5 (My wife Janelle with our Grandson Jaxen), 6 (Yours truly with Jaxen). Click on the following links for a wider perspective: 1 (Alongside 45th RS Tables), 2 (Wide Overall View).

I want to personally thank Col. Thomas for the opportunity to participate in this year's 2010 "Tales of The 55th" program at Offutt. I consider it an honor and very much appreciate the invitation. Thank you sir.

"Tales of The 55th" 2010

Hi Res

On 15 March 2011, the 45th RS at Offutt AFB hosted a 30 year memorial tribute to those who perished on Cobra Ball II (#61-2664) when it crash landed on Shemya in 1981. Guest speakers included survivors Dr. Kerry A. Crooks and Lt Col William Maxwell, USAF (Ret.). After the formal proceedings, everyone toured Cobra Ball I (#61-2663). A reception followed in the 45th RS "Heritage Room" that capped off the event with heartfelt conversation between several survivors, veterans of the 24th SRS and invited guests. It was a very successful event thanks to the outstanding efforts of Capt. Jeremiah Gilmore, Capt. Devin Long and members of the 45th RS. We thank you very much for remembering and honoring those that perished in the line of duty.

Cobra Ball II (664)

Hi Res (R) - Hi Res (L)

Hi Res

On 25 March 2011, Mr. Jim Thomas (Col. USAF, Ret.), president of the 55th Wing Association, did an outstanding job as organizer, director and master of ceremonies at the 12th annual "Tales of The 55th" event held on Offutt AFB in the Airman Leadership School. About 300 people attended along with Nebraska Public TV (NET). There were four guest speakers this year that shared their stories on stage with everyone. Click Here for a photo of the guest speakers toasting with their presentation tankards.

Once again, I want to thank Col. Thomas for a job well done and giving me the opportunity to tell my story about Rivet Ball, Rivet Amber and Shemya. Your support is much appreciated by old timers like myself and "Cold War" veterans of Shemya.

My contribution this year was a display showcasing the 50th anniversary of the very first RC-135S, "Rivet Ball" (#59-1491) aka "Nancy Rae" / "Wanda Belle". It was fun meeting everyone and sharing war stories. My special guest this year was 81 year old FBF Bob McCullough (CMsgt. USAF Ret.) from Denver, CO. Bob was one of the very first photogs on 491 when named "Nancy Rae" in 1961. He was also one of the original members of "The Black Pearl Society". Thanks for making the long drive from Denver Bob. It was a pleasure meeting you and sharing stories. I hope to see you again next year.
King Hawes

Trivia: After setting up my display, as shown below, I left the building for about an hour to get some supplies. When I returned at 2:00PM, one hour before showtime, I was shocked to find everything soaked with water. The ceiling was leaking directly above the display as snow melted on the roof. It was a disaster. Fortunately, I was able to rescue almost everything and move to a dry location before the doors opened at 3:00PM. The show went on from there without a hitch or a glitch and no one knew the difference.

"Tales of The 55th" 2011

Hi Res

On 5 August 2011, I told my story about Rivet Ball, Rivet Amber and Shemya, "A Tale of Two Airplanes", at the 2011 IPMS/USA National Convention in Omaha, NE. The audience was wonderful. They were very interested and appreciative in what we did during "Cold War" with our unique reconnaissance aircraft. They were also touched by the losses we endured. Many guests stayed for more than an hour after my one hour talk wanting to know more and share some of their own stories.

I want to thank Jay Chladek of the IPMS Fort Crook Chapter in Omaha, NE for giving me the opportunity to tell my story. I also want to thank everyone that attended the seminar, especially those that stayed after my presentation and offered unconditional support. It was a very rewarding afternoon for me, my wife and grandkids. I sense it was the same for everyone that attended. May we meet again.

King Hawes

IPMS/USA National Convention

Hi Res

The B-58 model shown above is just one example of the craftsmanship on display throughout the Convention. More than a thousand models of equal quality were on display. The only way to really appreciate these works of art is to view them in person. They were amazing. Click Here for the 2011 IPMS / USA National Convention awards. Winners are posted in reverse order following each category (3rd, 2nd, 1st Place).

On 23 September 2011, "Flat Stanley" visited me in my office for the first time. That's when I told him my story about Rivet Ball, Rivet Amber and Shemya. I hope he remembers what I told him and passes it onto everyone he comes in contact with.

Flat Stanley Visit

Hi Res

On 19 December 2011, my website story about Rivet Ball, Rivet Amber and Shemya ("A Tale of Two Airplanes" @ www.RC135.com) received the following award:

"Recognizing The Best Aviation
Websites On The Internet"

Best Aviation Sites
Best Aviation Sites
Best Aviation SitesBest Aviation SitesAwarded to quality airplane information websitesBest Aviation Sites
Best Aviation SitesBest Aviation Sites
Best Aviation Sites

On 21 January 2012, I was surfing the net and found a 1/72 scale model of Cobra Ball I (RC-135S, #61-2663) under construction by Alberto Accumolli in Novara, Italy. It was posted on HyperScale Forums under Plastic Pics (Search: "RC-135S"). Alberto's attention to detail and quality of construction is amazing. Click on the links below to follow Alberto's work in progress. You will not be disappointed.

HyperScale Forum Links

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41

Photo Album (Summary)

1 (Start),
50 (The End)

Hi Res

Cobra Ball I (#61-2663)

Alberto Accumolli
Hi Res

On 30 March 2012, the 55th Wing at Offutt held its annual (13th) "Tales of The 55th" forum in the CMSAF James M. Mc Coy Airmen Leadership School. Doors opened at 1500 local for socializing and viewing of unit displays. My display and story focused on Rivet Ball, Rivet Amber and Shemya along with the history and heritage of Cobra Ball Operations between1961 and 1992. The centerpiece in the photo below is a poster listing the airmen and aircraft lost between 1969 and 1985 (R. I. P.). Six of the 28 airmen lost were members of the 55th SRW (Aircraft Maintenance / TDY). The remaining airmen were assigned to the 6th SW and USAFSS. All four aircraft were assigned to the 6th SW.

At 1630 several 55th wing veterans were given the opportunity to share their personal stories with the entire audience.

As usual, Colonel Jim Thomas (Ret.), president of the 55th Wing Association, did a wonderful job of organizing everyone and everything along with being an Emcee Extraordinaire. Thanks Jim, much appreciated.

Click on the following links for event photos (Clockwise): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

"Tales of The 55th" 2012

Hi Res

The POW/MIA bracelet that I'm wearing in the photo above is for Col. Charles A. Levis. Charlie was a good friend and fellow Raven that flew on Lisa Ann/Rivet Amber when we were operating out of Shemya AFB in the 60s. He was the lead Raven for Lisa Ann when she became operational in September 1966. After this assignment he rotated to a sensitive staff position at HQ SAC. Charlie was not a happy camper pushing paper at HQ SAC and wanted something with more action. By pulling strings and obtaining waivers he managed to get assigned to my outfit, the 388th TFW, 42nd TEWS at Korat RTAFB Thailand. I remember the day he entered our squadron like it was yesterday. I looked up from my desk and saw him standing in the doorway with a big grin on his face. In shock I said, "Charlie what the hell are you doing here, you're not even allowed to be here." He smiled and said he managed to get a waiver by twisting some arms. He also said, "I wanted to pull my oar before the war was over." With that I said "Welcome Aboard". Five months later Charlie and four other crewmembers were killed on 2 April 1972 when his EB-66C was hit by a SAM south of the DMZ. The only survivor was the navigator Ltc. Gene Hambleton. Their call sign was Bat 21.

FAQ: What's with the hat?
It's an illegal, unathorized Aussie style "Go To Hell", "Sierra Hotel", boonie/bush hat that many aviators like myself wore with pride when assigned to the 388th TFW at Korat RTAFB, Thailand during the Vietnam War. Click Here for some famous versions.

On 7 May 2012, I mounted a new set of plates on my beloved 1991 VW Vanagon. They serve as a memorial tribute to the loss of "Rivet Amber", aka "Lisa Ann", and her crew of 19 that vanished over the Bering Sea on 5 June 1969. When someone asks me about the plates or makes a comment I give them my story card and a short story about Rivet Ball, Rivet Amber and Shemya.

Lisa Ann

K. Hawes
Hi Res

On 12 June 2012 at 2100L (CDT), the hit counter for "A Tale of Two Airplanes" registered 150,000 hits. Thanks to all for visiting my website, reading our stories, watching our videos and contributing with stories of your own. Without your support this website would not be what it is today. Most importantly, guestbook entries about the loss of Rivet Amber and her crew help with closure for those in need and put a face on the reality of what happened on that fateful day, 5 June 1969. That in itself is priceless. Thank you very much.

King Hawes

The Count Goes On

On 3 July 2012, the Omaha World Herald (OWH) along with HyVee and the City of Omaha sponsored a "Cold War Victory Salute" parade. It served as an "overdue warm thanks" and tribute to veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam War and Strategic Air Command. Click on the following links for parade details published in the OWH newspaper (123).

My contribution was a static display in front of the CenturyLink Center arena where the parade began. Bob Danielson, owner of FASTSIGNS in Omaha on 114th Street, donated the large banners shown on my beloved 1991 (2.2L) VW Vanagon Carat. Thanks Bob, much appreciated.

More than 500 veterans marched in the parade as several thousand people lined the street in support. It was a wonderful tribute and very much appreciated by all that attended. Thank you Omaha.

Click on the following links for my static display and parade photos:

Static Display

Hi Res

On 11 September 2012, a day to remember, I told my story about Rivet Ball, Rivet Amber and Shemya to members of the Golden K Kiwanis Club in Omaha, NE. Frank Watt, former president and personal friend, made it all possible after reading "A Tale of Two Airplanes" on the internet. Thank you Frank. Your support is most appreciated. My wife and I enjoyed meeting club members, sharing stories and making new friends. I also want to thank President Bob Schropp for the lovely gift. Hopefully, it will help improve my writing skills. :)

Click on the following links for briefing photos: 123456789101112131415, 161718192021222324252627282930

Golden K Kiwanis

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