UXBRIDGE, MA – June 17, 2016 – IYAAP Blog – Student pilots and instructor pilots were not supposed to be friends. Even though we were all Air Force officers, and some of us were the same rank, we were supposed to keep our distance. But at the FAIP Mafia Party, a different set of rules applied.
The FAIP Mafia was the unofficial name of an anonymous and, officially, non-existent fraternity of young instructor pilots, who kept the flying training squadrons running in spite of the questionable leadership and management skills of the senior officers assigned with such tasks at the base. The Lost Weekend, a trilogy of back-to-back-to-back parties hosted by the FAIP Mafia: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, served to help the entire base blow off the intensifying pressure as our year of flight school drew to a close.
My first FAIP Mafia Party was only the second of its kind. According to the rich tradition of the previous year, the Friday night component of the Lost Weekend was held at the Officer’s Club. My guess was that Friday’s party was actually a diversionary tactic so that when senior officers heard talk about a party, they’d assume that it was the Friday night gathering at the O-Club, where many of the senior officers went on Friday nights. The second and third days of the party moved off base to the remotely located Officer’s Lake, a little swimming hole with a sandy beachfront and a great family-owned restaurant called Proffitt’s Porch at the backside of the lake’s beach area. You could only get there by dirt roads or by parachute. Saturday was the real FAIP Mafia Party.
Like Top Gun, there was beach volleyball, tower fly-bys, loud music, and cold beer. Also like Top Gun, some events took place below the hard-deck…
“After the band finished their first set,” I recapped for my roommates what I thought I remembered seeing, “Hartlaub and Holtzmann sang and acted out the lyrics of ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ with a bunch of crude gestures. Right after they finished, Holtzmann took an Aunt Bunny fall down the steps of the deck, and when I saw him at the bottom, he was on his hands and knees combing through the sand, because he couldn’t find his bridge of false teeth. I bet Hartlaub tried to yank them out of Holtzmann’s mouth at the top of the steps after their ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ song, and in their fight over the teeth, Hartlaub pulled them out and pushed Holtzmann down the steps. Then, Hartlaub must have worn the teeth around the party for the rest of the night while Holtzmann gummed his beer.” At least, that’s how I figure the events had taken place.
The Sunday component of the Lost Weekend was for cleanup and recovery. FAIPs nursed their hangovers by drinking any remaining beer from the keg truck, proudly updating the empty keg tote board taped to the truck as they drank. 57. 58. 59. Just after noon, the local Baptists would begin to show up for a Father’s Day lunch, still in their church clothes. Normally, Sunday at Proffitt’s Porch meant a quiet day by the Officer’s Lake with food and family. But at the FAIP Mafia Party, a different set of rules applied.
For more FAIP Mafia Party foolishness, check out my digital homage to this annual event at http://www.raymondjwright.com/faip-mafia/.