The Road to the F-100 Database Project

My affair with the F-100 began in Europe. I saw my first one, an F-100C, at Soesterberg AB, Netherlands, in 1956 and it just clicked. It's a gorgeous airplane and it projects power, as a great fighter/bomber should. In addition, the first of the Century Series set the stage for supersonic flight by breaking down a significant number of technological barriers. Therefore, the F-100 is an aircraft that deserves special attention.

Naturally, I believe that the people who flew and maintained her deserve much more credit than they have received thus far. But I have a more personal reason for my love affair with the F-100. I’ll make the story short – no story can compete with the F-100 anyway. So here it goes.

My road to the U.S. – and to the F-100 Super Sabre database project -- was long and winding. We were in the Dutch East Indies -- now Indonesia -- when the Japanese invaded. We were in Japanese concentration camps from 1943-45, then to a refugee camp after liberation. Repatriated to the Netherlands in early 1946, the Red Cross helped us find my Dad late in 1946.

We returned to Indonesia in early 1948, only to stumble right into the so-called war of liberation. Then the communists tried to take over -- and (thankfully) failed. What a mess. Combat at an early age. Back to the Netherlands in 1954 to go to school.

Passing through the Suez Canal in ’54, we were buzzed by British Vampire jets, thus triggering my instant love affair with jets. Better yet, while entering the harbor in Naples, Italy, the USAF gave us an impromptu air show with a series of high-speed F-84 passes. What a great way to discover the USAF.

After my arrival in the Netherlands, it took no time at all to discover that the USAF based various aircraft at Soesterberg AB. I saw my first F-100C there in 1956 and fell in love with it. (An F-100 with the burner on is a symphony and the F-100 is, to me at least, the most beautiful piece of sculpture to ever grace the sky.) Not surprisingly, the hours spent along the Soesterberg AB perimeter, as close as possible to the taxiways, were the highlights of my existence. (When I was particularly lucky, the F-100 pilots spotted me and waved or even saluted as they taxied by ... and I would be ten feet tall. Those guys were my heroes.)

Looking and waving were OK … but picture-taking was a no-no along the base perimeter during those Cold War days. One day, the U. S. MPs caught me with my little camera and I really thought my time was up. To my surprise, the MPs put me in their jeep -- they even found room for my bicycle -- and drove through the main entrance to the American side of the base. After I had explained in my best schoolboy English what I wanted, I was taken to a small metal building, where I was given a hamburger and a Coke -- the first I'd ever had. After that royal treatment, I was ready to join the USAF. (Side note: How I wish I could find those MPs now -- they never knew what a miracle they performed. Great people. Of course they were -- they were Americans.)

Becoming an American citizen became a major goal. My parents had already applied for immigration status in 1950. In 1959, my parents and I were given formal permission to enter the U. S. as immigrants. Anne –- my wife-to-be –- and her parents made it to the U. S. in 1960. Anne and I had known each other since 1948, I was in love with her by 1954, we became engaged in late 1960, and we were married on January 30, 1961. My parents and I earned the coveted title "U. S. Citizen" in 1964 and Anne and her parents earned that title in 1965. (Need I add that we discovered that the U. S. was every bit as good as we knew it would be?) Our son Pete, the first American-born member of the family, was born in Texas in 1966. He earned his college degree after serving in the first Iraq war and is a quality assurance engineer for Nissan. Pete married a smart, witty, and gorgeous woman named Sheena in 1991. (Our family decided that she was perfect after Pete’s second date with her …) Pete and Sheena have two sons, both of whom are academically and athletically gifted.

During 1959-1960, I enrolled in Air Force ROTC at the University of Florida -- but I was told that I couldn't get into the senior program because I wasn't a citizen yet. After earning my Citizenship papers, I kept trying to qualify for USAF pilot training. Unfortunately, my eyes kept me out of a fighter cockpit. However, as the Vietnam War heated up, I kept reading about the lack of pilots, so I hoped that they'd waive the 20/20 requirement. They never did. (Anne, my best friend and wife, occasionally reminds me that I just about camped on the recruiting office's doorstep during 1968-70 -- I sure was ready to forget about that Ph.D. degree I was working on in order to fly F-100s.) The miracle never happened, so no F-100 stick time. (OK, I would have settled for an F-105 or an F-4 – but the F-100 was and remains the aircraft on which I lavished most of my aviation affection.)

After earning the Ph. D. degree in early 1970, I became a college professor, teaching (mostly) a variety of statistics courses. I also managed to earn a Private Pilot’s license during the summer of 1970. During 1970-71, I earned my commercial pilot's license with instrument and multi-engine ratings and started flying charter part-time. (Academic years are relatively short, so that gave me ample opportunity to fly during the winter and summer breaks. I also flew charter trips during weekends, picking up a lot of night flying experience.)

Charter pilots tend to fly a wide variety of aircraft in all sorts of weather and route conditions. After six years of charter flying, I had the experience required to help me earn the coveted Airline Transport Pilot's license … which opened up even more part-time flying opportunities. All in all, I flew charter for 16 years all over the U. S. and Canada, picking up a few thousand treasured hours of Pilot in Command time. (There were more than a few occasions when my co-pilot and I would look at each other and ask “can you believe that somebody is actually paying us to do this?” OK, there were some times when weather conditions, equipment glitches, and flight schedules made flying a real challenge -- but overcoming such challenges added to the spice of flying.)

By 1981, my academic horizons had widened considerably. I had learned various programming languages and had written several books and statistical application packages. Given the growing need to devise data storage and management strategies, I expanded my skill set to include database design and application development. During the next period of twenty-plus years, I wound up writing 28 books and manuals. The 7th edition of one of my books, Database Systems: Design, Implementation, and Management, co-authored with Carlos Coronel, a former graduate assistant and a valued friend, is available from Course Technology, a Thomson International company. Carlos and I are currently working on the 8th edition, which will be available in early 2008.

I bought an airplane in 1990 and sold it in 1996 when I simply didn't have enough time to stay current. (Too much database systems design consulting and book authoring in what laughingly was referred to as my “spare” time.)

In spite of all the other activities that occupied my time, I never forgot the Super Sabre, building many models and collecting a substantial library. After retiring from college teaching and research in 2002, I wanted to pay homage to my favorite airplane, to the pilots who were lucky enough – and good enough -- to fly her, and to all the great people who kept her flying. That’s what the Super Sabre database project is ultimately all about.

If you have F-100 experience as a pilot, a crew chief, or a technician and you want to know how you can help make the Super Sabre project a success, please read the material you can access by clicking on the About this Project ... link on the left side of the home page. The motto for this project is “100,000 stories and 100,000 pictures.” You can help make it happen!

With apologies to Paul Harvey, now you know the rest of the story.

Cheers, Pete

P. S. If you use e-mail, please write F-100 Project in the subject line to make sure that I do not accidentally delete your very important message. (Like you, I get a lot of spam, so I tend to use use my "delete" key often.)

If you want to use e-mail to contact me, you can click on this link, you can click on the Contact me link shown in the navigation frame on the left side of your screen, or you can click on the Contact me link in the navigation bar at the bottom of your screen.

All of your contributions will be gratefully acknowledged.