M’Lords and M’Ladies, a short time ago I had the – was paid the great compliment of appearing at the Air Force Association in New Orleans. And I had such a charming time doing a show there that I was, eventually, invited to take a jet ride so that I might describe it to the people in publicity for the Army – the Air Force rather. And so I should like to describe it for you. And, unbeknownst to me, they had given the order to “ring me out”, as it were. So, I should like to describe to you what took place in a sort of a half hip, as it were.
I went out there expecting to take a nice, cool, easy, serene ride, never dreaming what I was going to get into. But here’s what jumped off.
I picked up the phone and a cat on the other end said,
"This is Captain Shalleck, of the United States Air Force. I have been assigned to this project and I'll pick you up at 8:30 in the morning and we'll go to Palmdale for the jet ride . . . you are Lord Buckley, aren't you?"
I said, "Solid,"
He said, "roger" and cut.
I said to myself,
“Man here's where I flip out into the wild blue yonder.”
And I found out later why they call it “Wild”.
The Captain hit my pad at 8:30 and by 10 we were there at Palmdale. We fell into the scene that was Security City. Man, there was fuzz walking . . . fuzz riding . . . fuzz to the left . . . fuzz to the right . . . fuzz digging the fuzz and all of them putting the burn on me like I had personally cut out with the Statue of Liberty.
Well, we cut upstairs and I was introduced to a tall cat with a face like a tanned hatchet. This was Captain Brown, The Cool . He dug me with a "take" that said,
"This man don't look like he's breathing too good at sea level."
They put a pre-flight jazz book on me, that was a gasser. The opening lines were a solid hanger. And it said, and I quote:
"It is a known fact that it is very difficult for the observer (that's me!) in an AT-33 aircraft to determine the state of an emergency should one arise. Therefore all observers must rely on the action and words of the pilot when unusual occurrences take place."
Man, I began to suffer from a seizure of the flips. "Extent of emergency? Unusual occurrences?" They must have pulled a switch on me. This book is for the test cats, not me. While panicking on the cool words of advice in this goodie, a cat comes up with a space hat and said,
"Try this on for size."
I tried it on and he took it off, squeezed it, and this time it felt like it was glued to my wig. Next he came up with a set of Churchill striders to put on my stompers and the chute pack. The cat hips me that when I have to yank the chute release, not to come on with no delicate lick. I told the cat that if the time comes for me to pull this item, I'll come on like a madman at a taffy pull.
Now I've got six hundred and ninety-two straps on me all holding this jazz in place comes on. Next comes the oxygen sniffer. Jack, I mean to tell you, the scene was getting pretty far out, but I'm holding in there real tight. But I feel - I sure feel like a cat wrapped up and tied to be flipped clean out of this world.
Well, I read a few more lines in the space head book, while waiting for the pilot Captain Brown.
"One very important consideration for all to a make is to determine if the aircraft is still under control. This can best be determined by the position of the aircraft and its lateral or longitudinal movement, if any."
“If any what?”, I said to myself.
Man, this is the first time in the history of the Air Force that an aircraft is way out of control before it even gets in the air! Man, I now got the jammies and the double flippies, but I still keep diggin' the 14th commandment:
“Thou shalt not goof.”
And it say there,
"The canopy is normally blown clear when the right arms rest of the ejection seat is raised.”
Man, a cat can automatically blow his top in this gig, by just lifting the handle. Wow!
It states the pilot will hip you in case of any bad jazz. when to jump. And therefore don't make any hasty decisions regarding bailing out before you are reasonably sure that the aircraft is out of control and you are unable to contact the pilot. Dad, I won't even count ten without getting an okay from the space head cat. That’s the way I dig the ship. And furthermore, I ain't about to grab the wheel on this scene. Flip and jump the ship? Never.
Captain Brown drops by and we make it out to the space ship. Jack, let me double hip you. This real way out set of wings, looks like a multimillionaire's son's special kick-ship. Comes on like a flying sword. Look just like it came out of some king-size Tiffany's window.
I make it up the short ladder into the observer's seat behind the pilot's seat. Captain Brown, the cool, is now hipping me to the gig again. He comes on to say that the lever on the left blows the canopy and the one on the right is the main day double 7 ply tail buster to end all gassers. He said that in case I had to pull it, to be sure and pull in my stompers, hold my arms tight, and hold back my wig, because this is the jazz that blows the whole seat clear out of the place. And to be sure and not forget to unbuckle the seat when I got up and out before I pulled the chute release. I said,
“Jack, that’s the last thing I would forget to do in my whole life. I swear to goodness.” I tell him.
He also hips me to another gadget which I am not to touch at any time. I tell him I wouldn't even sneak a peek at that jazz, in fact, I’d already forgotten it was there.
On goes the oxygen sniffer. The windshield is pulled down over my space hat. Down goes the canopy. I feel like the top part of a ketchup bottle under glass. Man, I am in like some strap spider flung a web on me.
I'm digging a dial on the dash with a set of lips on it. When I breath, it does too, Real coo coo. I got a phone and a receiving set in my space hat, and Captain Brown sounds me, am I ready. I say,
And just then a 60 foot giant, which I somehow didn’t dig before, hauled off and gave that ship a swinging kick in the tail pipe and vrrrrrpt, we were off for Moon City.
The Air Force base was 65 miles north of Los Angeles and before I could say "Help" we're over San Diego upside down and at 18,000 feet and scooting along at 500 miles an hour.
And I’m going to hip you, Jack, the city looks pretty far out in this position and I say to myself,
“Jack, you are now a Mars Head, a Space Head and an “A” number one Moon Man number one."
Well, we turn right side up and Captain Cool's voice comes thru to say,
"Don't fight the ship."
What this cat don't know, that I can't spare anyone to fight the ship. All my boys is fighting to keep in the 2 eggs, and the orange juice, and the hotcakes that I had for breakfast. And, man, I mean, they are engaged to the hilt and calling for reinforcements to hold the line. Oops, looks like a breakthrough for the orange juice but by the grace of the great swinger, my cats are still in there fighting and I’m all right.
Now Captain Cool really takes off a sky flipping flim flam. We're doing outside outs and inside ins and the Maniac Twist. And then we're jumping in to the straight again. And flipping and flapping and double flipping and hoop dee doing all over that sky. And thru all this Captain Cool is coming on like a polished penguins personal salute to the North Star. Jack, he was real chilly, he was so cool.
He sounds me thru the wigphone clear and cool, asking how I would like to pick up on 4 1/2 G's. I say to myself,
“Dig this cat, this far-out penguin head. For not fighting the ship and playing it cool, and being real groovy, the Air Force is going to put 4 1/2 big ones on me, four and a half grand cash. Ain’t that nice?” “ Wow,” I said, "Crazy man, Crazy, when can I pick up on it?"
He says, "Right now."
And, Jack, we cut down stairs like a red tailed hornet bird. It's a kick like you don't know where you're going, but you sure know you are on your way. When suddenly Captain Cool started upstairs again. And when he made that move from down – I didn’t go with that cat at all. I kept right on going down. I felt like the low man on a fat man's totem pole. I was so down that my space helmet weighed 7 gillion pounds. If Marilyn Monroe was to walk by in her calendar suit, I'd have to take a rain check, because man, I couldn't lift my wing. If a cat had come by with a couple of buckets of diamonds I’d have had to say,
“Put them over there in the corner I’ll see you in a minute”
“Don't fight the ship, man.”? I'm fighting to get all these lead-tailed cats off my back. When, woom! we upstairs again. And before I could get my stomach out of my shoes we were swinging in on the runway.
We stopped, the canopy flips up as two Air Force cats jump back with a startled look, like the Captain had picked up upon a technicolored Martian.
I looked like a cat on a quince diet. But, Jack. I was back. And to lay it on you straight, I'd like to make that whole riff over again. But this time I’d like to do it misslehead style.
And that’s a little thing that happened to me. And I want to tell you it was a gasser.
from an unissued recording
Transcribed by Michael Monteleone