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Ballad of 578

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The Ballad of 578

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The Ballad of 578
(Dick Parks)

On any given evening, if you step into the gloom
Of any given "O" Club, in one corner of the room,
You'll find a grizzled bunch there, drinking lemonade,
Of salty fighter pilots - masters of their trade.
Anchors aweigh, tailpipes aglow;
Old pilots never die!

These crusty, daring devils fulfill an ancient role
That calls for nerves of iron and a stainless steel soul.
It's there that great traditions are shouted to the stars;
Not in sissy flying schools, but down in O Club bars.
Anchors aweigh, tailpipes aglow;
Cowards need not apply!

"Sure anyone can fly a plane", you'll hear these veterans say,
But it takes a cast-iron occiput to dive into the fray
That blazes every evening like a napalmed ammo barn,
When they spin sea stories gruesome; each one a classic yarn.
Anchors aweigh, tailpipes aglow;
War stories never die!

Heroes of the past still soar, although in ghostly thread,
Like the first test Frisbee pilot whose gyroscope went dead.
And the F-11 driver whose luck had turned dark brown:
The shells that he had fired - caught up, and shot him down.
Anchors aweigh, tailpipes aglow;
Anecdotes of the sky!

But these were nothing half so grim as the tale of one F-4
That blasted off a catapult on the bleak New Jersey shore.
Where once the fabled  Hindenburg  lighted up the night,
This battle-weary Phantom jet took off on its last flight.
Anchors aweigh, tailpipes aglow;
Lakehurst is never dry!

Full of secret hardware, old one-five-five-sev'n-eight
Roared off into the fog, then failed to elevate!
"Flameout", said the pilot, when they plucked him from a tree.
But "flameout" never did explain the absence of debris.
Anchors aweigh, tailpipes aglow;
New legend of the sky!

Unlike the flying Dutchman, which is seen without its crew,
No trace of wreckage could be found, excepting just one clue:
A secret radar module, about six inches square
Was found beneath the pilot's tree, as if it were put there!
Anchors aweigh, tailpipes aglow;
Without radar, you can't fly!

But to this day, five-seven-eight, its radar finally right
Without the secret module, patrols the gloomy night.
A legend now, when fog rolls in above the Jersey mud,
The phantom Phantom, still aloft, screams past and chills the blood!
Anchors aweigh, tailpipes aglow;
Ghost Phantom in the sky!

- partially based on a partially true event!
from TechRep Ballads
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