Almost every aircrew that flew the corridor had memorable events to relate.
Personal experiences are worth recounting. After the blockade was officially over, we continued to fly a reduced
schedule into Berlin to show our resolve to keep the corridors open.
On departure out of Berlin, the corridor took us right over a major E. Berlin/Russian maneuver area just short of
reaching the border. Often at night you could see artillery fire and flares during exercises.
One night, in late September , long after the blockade had ended, I made a flight into Berlin on
what could have easily been my last flight ever. The flight was routine.
The night was clear, moonless and very dark. My Intel had indicated the possibility of Russian exercises. It was
about midnight when I made a routine take off and climb out to my assigned departure altitude.
With almost unlimited visibility, I would see an occasional artillery flash. Just short of
reaching the border, there was a violent thump just under the pilot's compartment
followed by a wind rushing noise like perhaps the nose gear door had blown off. By looking through the
floor access door, the flight engineer confirmed that the right door panel appeared to be open and twisted.
The remainder of the flight was uneventful and when actuated, the gear went
down and locked. The touchdown and landing was uneventful. After parking the bird, our investigation disclosed that an
object had indeed struck the a/c in the nose area about two feet
forward of the nose gear door. The object left a long, deeply indented gouge in the skin
and had ripped open the right nose gear door. There was also paint residue in the damaged area.
Intel figured that we had been hit by some type of a small "spent" surface fired rocket from
the exercise area. As far as I know, we were the only "Big Willie" to receive a rocket hit.
Charles S. Allen, Col. USAF (ret)