It was one of those late afternoons at No. 2 house where there was nothing to do and I was really bored. 2 house was out by the Bay, action was slow at any given time. Those guys were only to handle downed aircraft in the bay or on the runways. No emergencies at the terminal or the freeways leading up to the airport. That was No. 1 house’s job. Every few hours the backup generator for the airport- a world war II vintage diesel submarine engine mounted in concrete and housed in a curved roof metal building as long as a train car would start up and literally shake everything inside No. 2 house. I was going to be stuck there for another day or so. Wasn’t sure when Dad and I would leave. He never told me when his shift was done.
For some reason I thought it would be fun to grab DP, a golf driver, and a bucket of tennis balls. I’d run him for a while since there was nothing better to do. I set up the bucket of tennis balls and a beat up golf driver out in front of the secondary garage. Mobile 38 was behind me. It was one of the brand new Oshkosh fire fighting rigs with supercharged diesel engines. Dad told me it could go from 0 to 60mph in a few seconds from one of the taxiways, rush down a runway alongside a crippled jet airliner and overtake it even though it was hauling thousands of gallons of water and fire retardant. On previous visits Dad and I had taken it out along the perimeter roads to the end of the runways and watched jumbo jets come in a few dozen feet over the cab of the truck on landing runs while we ate ice cream. Dad pretty much had me convinced we could do whatever we wanted out there, whenever we wanted. It was true. We never got hassled by anyone as long as I was with him.
DP was an old golden retriever. I don’t remember the story of how the firemen found him or who brought him out to No. 2 house. What I do remember about that dog was when they got him he had a crushed back leg. So, they named him DP for ‘Disability Pay’ and they got him to a vet. By the time DP and I crossed paths at No. 2 house he was fixed up and wasn’t running on three legs anymore. DP was the official mascot of No. 2 house. Firemen love having a house dog. That’s a fact.
On this particular late afternoon bored out of my mind I didn’t give much thought to what I was about to do. Bored kid, bored dog, tennis balls and golf club. Seemed like a good time for all. A superior plan. I hauled DP out onto the firehouse driveway, grabbed a ball out of the bucket and dropped it to the ground. DP was ready to go. I swung as hard as I could with that golf club and the ball went flying. It arced up briefly over the roof of the secondary garage housing a couple of firetrucks then bounced off the pavement and lobbed into the weeds. DP tore off after it instantly, found the ball and came back. Rinse and repeat a few dozen times.
Everything was going so well until the yellow hater pickup trucks with a single blinky yellow light on the top of the truck cab showed up in a swarm upon me. Those guys were known as airport security and they were super pissed off when they got out of their trucks. I hit those tennis balls so hard they were lobbing out away from the firehouse. DP kept crossing over a major aircraft taxiway to fetch them and the tower was watching a dog running across that same taxiway. The tower couldn’t figure out what was going on so they called security units to investigate. When those guys showed up I was busted big time. The tower didn’t call off any landing jumbo jet flights but I guess they could have. Having a dog running around loose near runways at an international airport could have been a huge risk. It didn’t occur to me at all…
That’s the second time I got busted by the tower at SFO.