[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
66°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
December 17
1925 - Jenks Harris robs Piru bank of $11,000 [story]


Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer, USN
| Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014

darrylmanzer021014The United States Air Force has thought, since its inception, that all military aircraft should belong to it. It wanted all airplanes in the Air Force. The Navy and the Army didn’t like that idea then, and they still think it’s dumb.

Some of the inter-service arguments were still being heard long after the decision was made. In the following story it was nearly 10 years after the fact. Maybe this is one reason the Navy and the Army still have aircraft, as does the Coast Guard.

On Aug. 16, 1956, the Navy launched a drone. The drone was a World War II aircraft called an F6F Hellcat. There were plenty of those old airplanes around after the war, and the Navy was using them for target practice over the Pacific Missile Range at Point Mugu Naval Air Station on the coast south of Oxnard.

Now, Command and control of drones in 1956 wasn’t like that of the drones we have today. An operator couldn’t sit in an isolated bunker thousands of miles away and direct the drone. He had to be pretty close.

So the old Hellcat airplane gets launched and heads out to sea, then control was lost. The darned thing was flying over downtown Los Angeles at least twice and was making slow circles to an altitude of around 30,000 feet.

Soon the Hellcat decided to head east over Santa Paula and Fillmore. It took a turn toward Frazier Park and then on toward Castaic.

It must have really hurt Navy pride to call the Air Force for assistance. The idea was for a couple of Air Force jet fighters to shoot down the errant drone.

It was over Castaic that the first shots were fired in what was called “The Santa Clarita War” or “The Battle of Palmdale.”

The Air Force fighter jets were not armed with guns. No, the planes had no guns, but they did have a rocket pod on each wing that each carried 52 unguided Mighty Mouse rockets. There is a good possibility that the solid fuel for those little rockets was made at the SCV’s very own Superfund-wannabe site, Bermite Powder Co.

Anyway, each plane having 104 Mighty Mouse rockets, there was a good possibility the old Hellcat drone would be shot from the sky.

It didn’t happen. The Air Force had a rocket control system that prevented firing the little rockets when the fighters were turning. So the pilots turned off the system and fired by pointing the plane as best they could.

Oh, I forgot to mention the new rocket system meant the gun sights had been removed from the Air Force planes. Why have them? They didn’t have any guns.

The jets fired at least 42 Mighty Mouse rockets at the drone over Castaic. All missed the drone but managed to start some brush fires – one just north of Castaic and another near Newhall.

At least one Mighty Mouse skipped around Placerita Canyon, starting a couple of fires near oil wells and the Oak of The Golden Dream. At one point, the brush fires threatened Bermite Powder Co. in Saugus.

Still the old Hellcat “droned” on. You know, at this point it was just a large, unguided plane. It really couldn’t be called a drone. It was just a plane without a pilot.

Not to be seen as bad pilots and worse, to be shown up by an obsolete, unpiloted, unguided, unarmed and slow propeller-driven airplane, the Air Force tried again. Airmen shot another 62 Mighty Mouse rockets at the old Hellcat. Every one missed the drone.

The tiny little rockets did hit a few things in Palmdale. Homes, a car and a garage. The brush fires burned over 400 acres. More than 800 firefighters were called to put out the fires.

The old Hellcat kept flying over Palmdale and finally crashed about eight miles north of town in an empty field. Nothing much was left. Just small pieces.

So the Battle of Palmdale ended. Old Navy Hellcat, 1. Modern Air Force jets, 0. (No points for the brush fires and other damage.)

Maybe having drones above us today isn’t so bad. As long as the Air Force isn’t sent to shoot them down.

Soon you can read the whole story in a form better suited to history books. I couldn’t help but give the USAF a little poke in the ribs. It is just the sailor in me.

Looking back, I am also glad the Navy got to keep its own planes. If those Air Force guys couldn’t hit an old plane, we know they could never land at a Naval airport. The Navy runways are always moving and are far too short. The Air Force requires an Air Force Base to have golf courses, bowling alleys, clubs, housing, pools and all sorts of recreational things.

Not any room for that, even on the biggest U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries, published on Tuesdays and Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

5 Comments

  1. DennisO says:

    Those old Grumman Hellcats had a heck of a record of success during the war, shouldn’t be surprising that it carried over into Peacetime.

  2. old granny says:

    – – what a great read – THANKS

  3. Burt says:

    I just read about the Battle of Palmdale for the first time. Shook my confidence that those F-89 “all-weather interveptors” could ever have shot down Russian Bear bombers. Glad I was hiding under my desk in elementary school!

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Sunday, Dec 10, 2017
Derelict since the 1994 earthquake, the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall was the first productive oil refinery in the American West and is believed to be the oldest existing refinery in the world today. Unfunded restoration plans have come and gone. Now that the surrounding property is under development, will the promises be kept?
Friday, Dec 8, 2017
A National Memorial designation for St. Francis Dam will honor those who lost their lives in the nation’s worst engineering disaster and the role it played in ushering in a new era of oversight for dam construction.
Thursday, Dec 7, 2017
Eliminating net neutrality would allow Internet service providers such as Verizon, Comcast, Spectrum and AT&T to create a “slow lane” and a “fast lane” on the Internet, prioritizing certain companies over others and dictating what websites you’re able to visit and at what speed, or even blocking you entirely from visiting certain websites of your choice.
Monday, Dec 4, 2017
In his monthly message for December 2017, Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin encourages residents to shop and party locally during the holidays to keep the cash in our community.
Friday, Dec 1, 2017
The big day is almost upon us and a year of celebrations is wrapping up. On December 15, 2017 our city will officially be 30 years old.
Thursday, Nov 30, 2017
Create and decorate your own holiday wreaths, centerpieces, candles and ornaments using a large assortment of fresh-cut greenery, pine cones and other beautiful natural treasures this weekend at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1925 - Jenks Harris robs Piru bank of $11,000 [story]
1902 - Hi Jolly (Hadji Ali), Gen. E.F. Beale's Syrian camel driver, dies at Quartzsite, Ariz. [story]
The National Weather Service has called a Fire Weather Watch for this weekend for Los Angeles and Ventura County mountains and valleys including the Santa Clarita Valley due to gusty northeast wind and low relative humidity.
Weekend Fire Weather Watch Called for SCV
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies arrested a 21-year-old man who had an outstanding warrant and was allegedly in possession of cocaine in Canyon Country early Thursday.
Bicyclist Arrested for Warrant, Cocaine in Canyon Country
Valencia-based Princess Cruises, voted the #1 international cruise line in Japan, announced its 2019 program featuring Japanese-built Diamond Princess returning for her sixth season, sailing roundtrip from Tokyo (Yokohama) and Kobe.
Princess Cruises Unveils 2019 Japan Cruise Program
Valencia-based Princess Cruises released its 2019 Canada and New England cruise schedule, featuring Regal Princess and Caribbean Princess on the line’s largest fall deployment and the opportunity to visit Greenland roundtrip from New York
Princess Cruises Sets Fall 2019 Cruises to Canada, New England
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department looks back at five years of work by its Domestic Highway Enforcement Team, which has disrupted the operations of the drug cartels by confiscating millions of dollars in illegal drugs and drug money.
Elite LASD Drug Enforcement Team Disrupts Cartel Operations
College of the Canyons quarterback Andrew Brito, wide receiver Desean Holmes and linebacker KJ Latu have been named to the 2017 Region III All-California Community College Football Team.
Brito, Holmes, Latu Represent Cougars on All-State Team
Tickets and sponsorships are now available for the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce's 2018 awards ceremony and installation of new officers at Tournament Players Club in Valencia on Friday night, January 26.
Jan. 26: SCV Chamber of Commerce 2018 Awards, Installation Gala
Sponsorships are now open for the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation's 2018 Economic Outlook Conference, set for Thursday, March 8, 2018 at a location to be announced shortly.
SCV 2018 Economic Outlook Conference Tickets, Sponsorships Open
SetPoint Medical, a Valencia-based biomedical company developing therapy for chronic inflammatory diseases, has received approval from the FDA to initiate a pilot trial in the U.S. for patients with drug-refractory rheumatoid arthritis.
FDA OK’s SetPoint Bioelectronic Therapy Study for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., representing the United States - and states and regions leading on climate across the globe - joined world leaders at the One Planet Summit Tuesday, the two-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement.
Brown in Paris: ‘We Can’t Wait for White House to Wake Up’
The regular Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 19 has been canceled, according to a notification from the city of Santa Clarita today.
City Cancels Dec. 19 Planning Commission Meeting
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, December 19, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Dec. 19: L.A. County Board of Supervisors Meeting
L.A. County's Bringing Our Loved Ones Home Task Force officials unveiled their final recommendations, endorsing a plan to use a voluntary system of trackable bracelets to find people prone to wandering, like those suffering from Alzheimer’s or autism.
County Task Force Calls for Tracking Bracelets to Locate Lost Individuals
The Community Development Commission of the county of Los Angeles looks back on 35 years of advancing its core program areas: affordable housing and housing, community and economic development.
County Community Development Commission Marks 35th Anniversary
Metro is seeking two new members to join the Measure M Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee.
Metro Seeks 2 New Measure M Oversight Committee Members
The California Air Resources Board approved a $663 million low-carbon transportation plan Thursday to increase the use of clean cars, heavy-duty trucks, buses and freight equipment.
Air Resources Board OK’s $663 Million for Clean Vehicles
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station has released its public safety and crime information report for Saugus (Zone 4) for December 4-10, 2017.
Crime Blotter: Shoplifting, Petty Theft in Saugus
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed his strong opposition to the Trump Administration’s illegal attempt to suspend the 2015 Clean Water Rule for two years.
California AG, 10 Others Oppose Feds’ Suspension of Clean Water Rule
Conservation groups on Friday lobbied a federal judge for permission to join a fight between the federal government and a ranching association over a trio of California amphibian species.
Conservationists Lobby to Join Fray Over Frog Habitat
1987 - Incorporation: Santa Clarita officially becomes a city [story]
With an offense that challenged the program’s single-season goals record, The Master’s University women’s soccer team was almost almost never out of any game it played: The Mustangs were always within striking range.
Lady Mustangs Within Range of Directors’ Cup Top Spots
When Ed Jackiewicz met Tera Trujillo in spring 2015, she was studying at a desk she’d carried to the corner of the California State University, Northridge soccer field, in a “time out” of sorts, unable to practice because she’d just earned a D in an economics class.
CSUN’s “Under Armour Faculty” Promotes Academic Success in Student-Athletes
When Rafael Munoz recalls his time at the Layer 8 Computer Security Club at California State University, Northridge, he feels proud and thankful.
CSUN’s Tech Education Makes Top 10 List
The city of Santa Clarita Arts and Events division is currently seeking proposals for solo exhibits for 2018 in the gallery space at The MAIN, the City’s newest arts venue in Old Town Newhall.
City Seeking Artists for 2018 Solo Exhibits
NORTHRIDGE, Calif.---CSUN Men's Basketball returns to the road for the final time in the non-conference season this weekend.
CSUN to Face-Off Against Formal Rival Eastern Washington
Here is a list of Santa Clarita arts-related events for Friday:
Dec. 15: Santa Clarita Arts Calendar
This Friday and Saturday (Dec. 15-16), The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance brings their annual Winter Dance Concert to the REDCAT stage.
Dec. 15, 16: Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance Concert at REDCAT
The William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board has approved naming Dr. Collyn Nielsen as Chief Administrative Officer and Jan Hayes-Rennels as Director of Special Programs and Staff Development.
Hart Appoints Nielsen, Hayes-Rennels to District Office Positions
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - The CSUN men's volleyball team was picked to finish third in the inaugural Big West Men's Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll announced Thursday.
Big West Pre-Season Coaches Poll Puts Matadors Volleyball at No. 3
A 44-year-old transient was arrested by SCV Sheriff's Station deputies Wednesday afternoon after he allegedly tried to pick up his 8-year-old niece from a school in Santa Clarita.
Suspect Arrested in Attempted Kidnapping
It was a night to honor exceptional mentors at California State University, Northridge, but the five recipients of the 2017 Don Dorsey Excellence in Mentoring Awards just wanted to talk about their students.
CSUN Pays Tribute to Mentors Who Have Made a Difference
The words leapt right off the page and hung in the air, heavy, encircling the audience. Their creator stood, offering his gifts of verse — shared in a powerful baritone voice.
Literary Star Power Comes to CSUN
While critical fire conditions continue through Friday, the final numbers for the Rye Fire have been released.
Officials Release Final Numbers on Rye Fire
The William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board held it’s annual reorganizational meeting Wednesday night, naming Steve Sturgeon as Board President.
Steve Sturgeon Named 2018 Hart Board President