Back in the day… We had crew hats that were done in theater… Japan, 1976-77


But the real reason for this is a picture one of my shipmates sent me, asking, “Remember this?”

The ubiquitous electric skillet… Every crew had at least two of these, some crews had three (although I’m not sure where they plugged the third one in). We would draw what was called ‘unprepareds’, which was basically uncooked items to make a meal, provided by the flight kitchen, that we prepared inflight. Our other option was to chip in and go to the commissary and get better stuff, which a lot of crews did.

Now if you had a GOOD cook, you got some great food, if not… well 12 hours is a LONG time to be hungry… Sometimes the crews took turns cooking, other times there was a designated cook. I was lucky on my last crew, our Ordnanceman loved to cook, and was actually a chef part time. Yep, we ate GOOD!!!

What made it ‘really’ fun was cooking in turbulence… Sometimes you ended up with ‘interesting’ one pan meals… Because the cook was basically holding the lid on with one hand and a leather flight glove, while hanging onto the overhead bar with the other, just trying to stay in place…


Which brings to mind another funny story… On the 76-77 deployment, we got a brand new kid on the crew, straight out of, I think, Nebraska. Never seen the ocean, much less eaten fish… Or Japanese food EVER…

We go out for a crew dinner to a nicer little Japanese restaurant in Misawa, JA. Not as fancy as the picture below, but they had the ‘demonstration’ plates up on top of the sushi bar.

So we go down the line and order…

And he has a tray full of food when we get to the end of the line, the rest of us…

Not so much. He didn’t realize they were plastic, and thought THAT was dinner. Much hilarity ensued, and what was even funnier, was when his food did come, he took the plate back up and compared it to the plastic display. More laughter, and the chef even came out of the kitchen and watched, a smile on his face.

Every other time we went out to eat, we always would remind him, “Don’t eat the plastic.” πŸ™‚


TBT… — 16 Comments

  1. Not in the military, but love those electric skillets. Wife uses it to cook fish outside so that house is freed from the fish smell which lingers. Great for other ‘smelly but good’ dishes.

    Another good is use when backyard bar-b-que needs some items requiring frying – those items rock for that too. Even has a cover to hold in heat and keep flies from landing.

  2. My mom had an electric skillet that looked JUST like that one. She used to make this meal she called β€œChicken Garden Skillet.” It had a cream sauce over everything, and we INHALED the vegetables; the only veggies I remember for sure are carrots and Brussels Sprouts.
    I hope one of my sisters got the recipe.

  3. I spent many hours cooking in the back. I was NOT a good cook. Fortunately, our In Flight Technician WAS a decent cook and he taught me a lot.

    Things could get a bit confusing around mealtime on long flights. Since the table only held 4 people, everyone would sit, eat as quick as possible, and get out and make room for the next guy. One time, when it was the ordnanceman’s turn to cook, he turned around from countertop to serve the pilot his dinner and stopped dead. The pilot, co-pilot, and 3rd pilot were all seated at the table. The 2P and 3P were both busy shoveling food in their faces. The ordnanceman quietly asked the pilot “who’s flying the plane?”. All 3 pilots look up, see the other pilots all sitting at the table. It was a**holes and elbows as they all scrambled to get out of the booth and race up to the cockpit where they find the radar operator happily occupying the pilot’s seat (the radar op was also a rated private pilot who had more flight time than most junior pilots).

    Just another night on patrol.

  4. Love the story, Ray. Otto Pilott, WO2, come save the day again! πŸ™‚

    In our case, it was ensuring the 2-man rule for either security or surety on long test days (16-20 hours). When the break count came out wrong (odd number), you got that sudden puckery feeling.

  5. A couple of aircrew (who shall remain nameless, to protect the guilty) treated me to electric skillet culinary “skills” in the BOQ … with varying results. πŸ™‚

  6. Misawa..we landed (Air America..heh) into a tunnel of smow.

    Stacked up 8-9 feet on both sides of the runway.

  7. My Mom had a Sunbeam electric skillet, but it was an earlier one than your picture.

    It had warnings on it not to submerge the entire skillet when washing it, as the controls were in the handle, and not detachable like the one pictured.

    Never had in-flight military chow, but I’ve been on “those flights” that just barely got out of the airport, and the flight attendants brought us last-second-locally-sourced “brown bag” food!

  8. j.r.- There is that… πŸ™‚

    Pat- I’ll take that recipe if you find it…LOL

    Ray- I’ll guarantee that happened more than once! πŸ™‚

    LL- Yep! πŸ˜€

    WSF- Good point!

    PK- Ouch!!!

    Rev- Snerk… Wasn’t me. I COULD cook…

    Skip- Yep, it got a ‘tad’ deep up there. We taxied out in the winter with the outboards shut down and feathered to cut through the snow on the side of the taxiway.

    drjim- LOL, yeah we cleaned ours with coffee…

  9. One of those AW types, eh?
    I was a poor ground- (or ship-) bound AX. Similar, but slghtly different, rating badge/patch.

  10. I had to laugh! For some reason it reminds me of a girl in Ontario. I showed her a fig and she asked, “Is it meat?”

    No, we call this a “fig.”

  11. While deployed WestPac ’67-’70 while unreping we would sometimes liberate a block of cheese some bread and the occasional steak, one of us would make a makeshift grill heated with an acetylene torch and make grilled cheese sandwiches and steaks if we had them.

  12. Classic solution to ordering in a Japanese restaurant was to drag the waiter outside and point to what you wanted. Did that a lot in Hiroshima in 76 until I learned enough language to order.

    Also, most locals thought I was a Marine from Iwakuni but their attitude changed when they learned I was an engineer at Mitsubishi. Later they thought I was one of the American players on the Hiroshima Carps baseball team.

  13. Old P-3 IFT/RO here. Ate many a meal as described above, some good, some just edible. Our Ordnanceman was pretty good at it and enjoyed doing it so we ate pretty well.

    I can remember landing at Misawa in a C-121 with the snow above the wingtips.