"ARIZONA Life Style"
From the Album Part I: "Those wonderful men in the Cactus Starfighter Squadron"
C-Editors: Col. Barney Oldfield, USAF Ret. and Chief Master Sergeant Tom Rhone,
A "Nostalgic Look Back" at the Flying Training period of German Air Force and German Navy fighter pilots who took part in the Flying Training in the F-84 F "Thunderstreak" 1957-1964 and F-104 "Starfighter" 1964-1983 in Luke, AFB Arizona.
"We cry with one eye and laugh with the other when we leave our second home
in Arizona!" So has departure from Luke AFB, AZ been described by German student
pilots during their flying training period here during the years 1957-1983.
As are the tourists from America's northernmost states they were captivated
by the Arizona lifestyle, the good life in the almost continuous Arizona sunshine.
The tug of leaving the desert eventually evolves into a pleasant keepsake memory
they will retain for the rest of their lives. Many came back to Luke for a second
course or full time duty. A few have married and settled in the Copper State,
and American girls have gone to Germany as fighter pilot brides. With so much
living and playing in the sun they often wonder how they had time to do it all.
Scottsdale still echoes from rousing and boisterous singing at Peter's Hofbräu. Tempe and Arizona State University are still places where the girls are. Steaks and fun can still be had at "Pinnacle Peak" and "Reata Pass". Food that reminds of home at "Vienna Kitchen" on McDowell Road. The Rodeo at "Veterans Memorial Coliseum" or watching "Roadrunners" hockey and the National Basketball Association "Phoenix Suns".
Those who came to Arizona competent glider pilots soared over the mountains near Prescott and viewed the majestic vastness of the Grand Canyon. Many purchased turquoise and silvery jewellery at Indian Trading Posts, and now that prices and values have risen, wished they had bought more. There were those mysterious silences of Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly. Sailing and skiing on water at Roosevelt Lake, and skiing on snow at the White Mountains and Purgatory. Tubing down the Salt and Verde Rivers. Scuba diving and fishing off Rocky Point in Mexico. Arizona State football, American intercollegiate style, and five colorful years of the Fiesta Bowl.
Some went on horseback into the Superstition Mountains, met and talked with real gold prospectors. Others sat in with gunslingers and Old West "bad men" in the Scottsdale Wax Museum. Joe Hunt's famous Restaurant became a favorite waterhole. That necessary shopping spree for the western clothing to take back to Germany. The two pilots who lived out of saddlebags for two weeks between Roosevelt Lake and Williams AFB. The Arizona State Fair that comes once a year. Sunday afternoons with families and girlfriends gathered in Monterey Park or at some other soccer field. The time the Luftwaffe won both the Knockout Cup as well as a League Championship. The "Go-Go" girls at Chick's lounge. That talented Abu, the Luftwaffe pianist, who sat in with the combos at Calhoun's.
Nearby Las Vegas with craptables, 21 and Baccarat dealers. A 4-day weekend that can allow for a six-hour drive to San Diego and the California seaside. That one cross-country flight which always seems to point toward San Francisco, one of America's most cosmopolitan cities. The celebrated Disneyland, which opened its arms to and entertained so many German families. Barbecues at the White Tanks. Golf at Estrella Parks. And in America's Bicentennial year of 1976, Memmingen and Glendale became "sister cities".
Luke's Officers Mess on Friday nights. The Instructor Pilot parties. The Wickenburg Kay El Bar guest ranch providing happy hours in saddle and swimming pool, and the suntans on those attractive, leggy Fraus and Frauleins! Graduations and "Auf Wiedersehens" to friends. That day when Instructor pilots shook their student's hand and said: "Welcome to the Club, Fighter Pilot!" Learning the tools of fighter pilot trade at Luke, so important; the German-American friendships and mutual respect deep and warm enough to last forever, so enduring.
The "Arizona Life Style" means "Gemütlichkeit"