Col. Helmantoler Speaks to Scott AFB in 1952

Alton Evening Telegraph | Alton, Illinois | Tuesday, September 09, 1952

VART Mean Rigors, Risk Involved in Testing Jets

Lf. Col. Wini« Helmantoler. public Information officer at Eglin Field. Fla. Air Force proving grounds, Monday night at Civic Memorial Airport, addressed the 9W9fh Volunteer Air Force Reserves squadron. Helmantoler’s home Is In Wood River.
Col. Helmantoler told squadron member* of some of the exciting experiments carried on at his home base in effort to further the war effort. It is their Job to test new jet airplanes of all makes, suggesting improvements or adjustments after they have been tested for actual combat performance. Equipment of all kinds comes under the scrutiny of Eglln Field for their approval or rejection. But the most interesting phase of the work Is with the aircraft.
In spite of the hazardous work. Eglin Field has had an exceptional safety record, with few losses. An experimental mistake at Eglln may not only cost a life, but thousands—even millons of dollars in equipment. Theirs is a serious business, and only the best men in electronics, radar, and aviation can be used. The newer jets, like the all-weather ship the FXW), our newest, requires a real technician to fly It. You can’t be “Just a pilot” any more in any of our aircraft, Col. Helmantoler said.

Col. Helmantoler gave some vivid accounts of experiences encountered by some of the men employed to keep the U. S. Air Force up to date, and ahead of the enemy. He mentioned that at 45,000 feet above the earth, one has a gray outlook, as it is almost twilight in appearance even in the daytime. Consequently, you get only one “pass” at an enemy plane, because after that (in a jet) you couldn’t find him again.

Eglin Field is totally in an air war, as they have a deadly game going on with Strategic Air Command, which come* In at intervals to “bomb” the base. It is the job of Eglin Field men to get jets in the air, once the enemy has been spotted on radar, and shoot down the bombers before they can get over the Field for a bomb run. These men feel th seriousnesss of the situation constantly, because most of them have families living on th base, who would nave been bombed out had one of the raids been successful . . . and sometimes they are.
There are 13.000 people on Eglln Field, Helmantoler said, and the over all area of their “work shop”
is 500 square miles of Government owned land.

After a question and answer period that kept the Squadron at Civic Memorial far into the night, Maj. Ben Moore, squadron commanding
officer, expressed appreciation for the moat enlightening talk of the year, and closed the meeting.