Azores Roller Coaster…

“…we’d be airborne half the time, and the roar of the van on a cobblestone road…was unbelievably loud…”

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My first Active Duty assignment after Tech School in the Air Force was to Lajes Field, Terceira island, Azores, Portugal. Once there, I was assigned to the Cinco Pico Transmitter site;

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3243233
Credit: José Luís Ávila Silveira/Pedro Noronha e Costa – Public Domain

the site was approximately 5 miles east of the base in an extinct caldera in the middle of the island. At one time it was considered a “remote” assignment; that’ll tell you something about the road conditions at that time! By the time I got there, they had cobble-stoned the roads that went up there, so it was possible to commute from the base if you needed to.

Up at the site it became understood pretty early on that I was a crazy coonass; and I became the designated driver to go down to the base and pick up the newbies. We had an Air Force van assigned to the site; Chevy, short wheelbase, automatic transmission 350 cubic inch V8! WAY more power than it needed to haul people around…

…so I’d go pick up the mark, and introduce them to the high speed cobblestone roller-coaster of a road between the base and the site. It started out pretty mellow, being on base and all, then we began picking up speed as we got further up the ridge; there were spots where you saw nothing over the wall looking downhill for a coupla hundred feet, and blind curves, and herds of cattle, and buses that took up more than half the road…then you went down this cut in the ridge, down into the caldera… in the winter time, the wind would be blowing up this cut so hard sometimes you’d have to downshift going downhill and give it the gas to keep going!

After a couple of sweeping curves,

I would floor it, and get it up to over a hundred…MPH… and we’d be airborne half the time, and the roar of the van on a cobblestone road going that fast was unbelievably loud…

then make the left turn on the road toward the site on two squealing tires then coast on up to the site parking lot.

There would be a gang of people at the top of the stairwell watching out the windows to see how long it took the newbie to recover enough to walk… some of ’em took a few minutes… but they all have a helluva story to tell the grand-kids about their tour at Cinco Picos!

To be continued; same life, different story…

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