ARMED FORCES: Rider in the Purple Sky

Major Howard Johnson, 38, U.S.A.F., made a casual stop at a cafeteria one morning last week, drank a cup of black coffee, then went on to work at the Lockheed Aircraft Corp. plant in Palmdale, Calif. There, at Air Force Plant 42, ruddy, husky (5 ft. 8 in.. 170 Ibs.) Pilot Johnson squirmed into a pressure suit, picked up his helmet, oxygen mask and parachute, walked out to a dainty, needle-nosed F-104A Starfighter, a silvery sliver of jet aircraft with short (7½ ft.), knife-edged wings. Johnson checked the plane carefully: 5,000 Ibs....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!