FEATURES: Military Aviation

BY: Phil Rowe
You probably don't believe that bubble busters come in all ranks, from basic recruits to even colonels. That's right. They really do, though I guess I've never heard of a General doing it And yes, for those of you uninitiated in the fine art of bubble busting, there are a few peculiar requirements which must be met.

Firstly, a bubble buster has to be someone who is young at heart and not afraid of looking silly. That's why it's easier for younger troops than for officers to participate in bubble busting. Officers, after all, think that a certain decorum is necessary at all times. Yet some have been observed doing it. Heck, even your author has done it. And of course you have to have the bubbles to bust. They can only be found in special places and only at one time of year. They only appear on large expanses of the flightline ramp area, and only on very hot days. Some are smaller than a walnut, but the good ones can grown to the ripe old size of a tennis ball.

Most of the good bubbles that I've found were in Texas, out on the flight line on hot sunny days in June. But California has some good ones too, especially at Edwards AFB in the Mojave desert. Experts tell me that they also get some good ones at Nellis AFB in Nevada, though I can't personally attest to that report.

You have to have sharp eyes to see bubbles which must be busted. As you walk across the broad expanses of the ramp or flightline, pay special attention to the cracks between the concrete slabs. Those are the expansion joints and usually the best places to find suitable bubbles. Once in a while you find bubbles in the cracks where the concrete has been repaired. The stuff of which these bubble are made is tar, the blacker and gooier the better. The fine art of bubble busting is best performed with heavy boots, though street shoes have been known to work. Never use tennis shoes or your bare feet. That gets too messy.

When you spot a nicely sized bubble rising up above the pavement, it's almost an irresistible attraction. You hope that your buddies, strolling across the ramp with you, haven't spotted it first. And when you get within a pace of that brightly shining, air-filled tar bubble ... you pounce and stomp upon it with a sudden gusto. The resounding burst of the gooey black bubble is like a gunshot, heard far across the flightline. You have announced to the world that you are an accomplished bubble buster. And eagerly you scan the ramp ahead for the next one. On a good day you may get to bust a dozen or more. Great fun.

You can see how it would be difficult for an officer, especially a colonel, to maintain his dignity whilst overcome with the uncontrollable urge to be a bubble buster. It's even been reported that an airline pilot once busted a bubble. Nawww - that can't be true.

about the author:
Philip A. Rowe, Jr. - USAF Retired
Colonel Rowe flew on several interesting aircraft during his time in service including the B-52, RF-4C, and the enchanting B-58 Hustler. His own website contains reams of interesting flying stories.

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