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  • The "call sign" for B-52s airborne on missions one place or another during the Vietnam War era. Every hour the following broadcast litany would be heard by all pilots on the HF (high frequency or Ham-type radio) air traffic control station. "Sky King, Sky King, this is Fuchu, this is Fuchu; do not answer, do not answer; break, break..." followed by a long list of phonetic and alpha-numberic alphabet terms. This was a code, matched by the B-52 pilots in their cockpits, to various classified codebooks for the purposes of giving mission status instructions or coordinates for targets or for rendezvous with KC-135 fuel tankers for aerial refueling. The message was usually repeated in its entirety at least once...usually just when you were planning to give your own required position report or interrupting some important communication you were having with your own headquarters. Fuchu Control was located in Japan, but there were stations everywhere (e.g., "Gander" located in Greenland, "Lajes" located in the mid-atlantic, "Hickam" located in Hawaii, etc.), and depending on atmospheric conditions you could hear them clear as a bell, though they be ten thousand miles away. They all had to make scheduled "sky king" broadcasts, so the frequencies were pretty loaded up with these messages. If you weren't a B-52 or KC-135 crew they were just aggravating clutter, making your own communications more difficult. The "do not answer, do not answer" confirmed the formulaic, fungible nature of the message.

    February 28, 2007