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Crew Dawg

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  1. Valid. I'm not trying to skirt the rules at all, hence the question. BWW's anyone? Herding cats...
  2. Do you have any specifics on how they were done as an AT? It would be great to direct some AT towards it if there is any left over days at the end of the year.
  3. Get the mat out. Exactly what I'm asking. I've heard it happening but can't find any supporting documents to that effect. If the government put more effort into veteran care there wouldn't be a need for charity work but it is what it is and that is another topic. There are a lot of vets that need our help. Several squadrons I've been in have done charity work while on orders - community cleanups, toys for tots etc so there is precedent. I'll still volunteer regardless, but a few more pay days would give a few more days to help someone else out that really needs support.
  4. I volunteer a few hundred hours a year for some non profits that help veterans and wounded veterans. Are there any days we can use towards this purpose? The definition of a PT day is pretty broad but I was looking to see if there is a precedent or if anyone has had success. Cheers
  5. Anyone currently in SOS? Quick question for you. PM works.
  6. Warning for those with triggers, he is sitting in front of five decapitated craniums. A little nuggets up next time please.
  7. Patience.... I need an ending first to the story of all stories....
  8. Yep. Way more. He could have delayed and said "Eject, Eject, Eject" allowing the plane to continue rolling out of control. This delay would have put them nose down, inverted, below 1000' when they exited the jet, or he could pull the handles at less than 90 degrees bank as soon as he realized the jet was out of control. They would be morts if he delayed any longer. The WSO is extremely happy he was ejected from the jet when he was. It is easy to second guess a newspaper article. The story is way better first hand.
  9. I think my PT gear shows more leg than that.
  10. I normally don't pitch into these discussions on BO but I find the Bikini Sting Operation at Vance fascinating. http://www.vance.af....sp?id=123368125 Granted I only did SOS in correspondence, this leadership style is interesting to say the least. Not that long ago when the Air Force spent money on flying.... So there I was flying my Viper 1 foot high and 1 knot under the max speed limit over an NFL stadium full of screaming fans after a full ACM mission, we hustled home, debriefed in the car and found ourselves back at the game before half time. At some point we were escorted into the bowels of the stadium where we took photos with the NFL cheerleaders - them in a two piece, us in uniform, which were then displayed on the jumbotron, saluting the military to thousands of red blooded americans cheering our prowess. That picture hung in the squadron for years. No one that saw that picture ever mentioned it in a bad way, we were in the squadron and certainly approachable about it. Most of us were married with kids. Now there is an off colored empty space where it used to be. Next to the now void space is a large plasma that we spent end of year funds on that usually shows ESPN, often displaying highlights of the same cheerleaders in full HD. I saw those same cheerleaders in the desert during the war, brought in to increase morale. Airmen, and officer alike lined up to have their picture taken with them. PA then took pictures of the airmen having their pictures taken and posted them on the base web page and news letter. I had a picture already with the cheerleaders so I skipped that page of the base paper. There were often musicians that were on that desert base that had lyrics that I didn't agree with - mainly the country singers. I usually just didn't go. I have to do water survival every few years. This has taken place at the pool, the beach, a river and even a water park where the family was invited to spend the day afterwards as a unit cohesion family day. Work and play in the same outing. I was never issued a swim suit by the Air Force so I wear the same board shorts I use to surf. The women wore the same suits they use to surf, the enlisted life support and the officers alike. PA was there and they took pictures of the day, all in our swim suits and put it in the base paper saying how great of a day it was to accomplish the mission and build that camaraderie. My little girl and I went to to the beach a few dozen times this summer. She is 3 and has two bathing suits. A pink one piece with Cinderella on it, and a two piece with Dora. She picked them out at Walmart. I think they only make 5 swimsuits total for kids her age because I saw many other kids wearing the same thing. On babycenter.com you can find discussions on what is appropriate for a child to wear to the beach. Some think children should wear jeans and long sleeves as not to attract predators. I see these children in full clothing at the beach and some of those kids even play with my daughter. I know the views of the parents are different, but I have never been lectured on it. She thought it was hilarious to smash sand castles that I built, so I took videos and pictures and showed them to friends at work when I wasn't busy learning how to kill. I have framed pictures of the same. They all thought it was adorable. What if she was 16? Could I show those same pictures? 18? Does the difference in age make them appropriate or not? Maybe it is worse displaying a minor in a bikini? If someone said something inappropriate about my daughter in the way the sting implies, we would discuss it after they woke up from being knocked out. Or maybe I invited inappropriate remarks for showing the picture in the first place. Possibly we are finding controversy where there really is none. The Vance sting is an interesting experiment. I know the exact day the Air Force lost its mind and it is somewhat related. I'm working on a story for my story thread but it is a little out of order. I think I'll bring it to the top.
  11. The Llama! Say it isn't so. Trust me brother, there are some entertaining stories buried in here. Acquisitions, F-35/F22 program interaction, No Comm Day VFR navigation, Staff, Morale Patches, SARC briefings, maybe a story or two about flying - It has to start somewhere. Disclaimer standard.
  12. Gentlemen, you have been chosen for the unique abilities you have acquired thus far in your careers and will bring to this platform and to air dominance in the 21st century. Our tactics are still evolving as we find out every day what the envelope of this jet truly is. There is combat experience in this room, test pilots, Weapons School graduates and thousands of hours of experience in the Eagle, Mud Hen and Fighting Falcon, and we are going to rely on you to translate that experience and know this jet inside and out. We need you to work to expand our knowledge of what it is capable of in combat. Everything you have heard about Raptor is true. It is the baddest mother effer on this planet, and by moving it across the ocean we move US policy with it. Our mere presence will deter wars, because there is not an enemy pilot on this earth who remotely stands a chance against us in the air. Our own fighters don’t stand a chance against Raptor. You have seen recent reports of 100 to 0 kill to loss ratios in exercises. That is simply because we don’t have any more red air to put against it. If we could put up more jets, we would shoot them down too. Those of you who have fought it, hate it. We kill indiscriminately and at will, often times without anyone knowing we were even there. If you find yourself with an enemy fighter at your 6 o’clock and a mile – he only thinks he has the offensive advantage. You will water his eyes with the bat turn this jet can make, and then you will kill him between his tears. Stealth is real, and over the next several months we will teach you how to use it, how to lurk in the shadows and strike on our schedule. You will do things you never thought possible in a fighter aircraft and make other nations loathe our great American engineering prowess. This is not a gentleman’s course. We expect you to work long days and show up prepared. It is extremely expensive to operate this jet and we do not have the sorties or tax payer dollars to waste if you put in any less than 100%. Your work will be rewarded with sorties that you could have never imagined against numbers only dreamed about. Take what you know already, and file it away. Don’t bury it, but understand we do things differently in Raptor. Your tactics would still work in this jet but they do nothing to take advantage of our speed, supercruise and our stealth. Embrace what we are teaching here, give it an honest shot and you will come to love how we employ this aircraft. Make no mistake, Raptor is a high visibility program. Do not Eff off in my jets, period dot. These birds are still rolling off the line, you will pick them up off the factory floor brand new. There are a handful of pilots in the Airforce today that have flown a brand new jet, our average fighter age is in the 30’s. You are very fortunate to be here. Do not ever forget this. Raptor makes you look good, not the other way around. A little humility will go a long way. They are single seat but imagine me in your cockpit every sortie, and if you even think of shining your ass, think seriously first if you ever want to fly again. There is no room for mistakes, showboating or shenanigans. If there is any doubt as to what you are about to do is a good idea – don’t do it. You are already flying the most expensive jet on the planet, it doesn’t get any cooler by holding it in ground effect during takeoff or doing an impromptu airshow for your buddy on the lake. We taxi on the centerline at 300’ spacing. This is the closest you should get to another jet all day long unless you are down to the gun. And we will train you to use the gun. This is the only warning. Gentlemen, if we go to war tomorrow – make no mistake – you will be the ones knocking the door down. Raptor was not built for Iraq, it was built for the next shooting war with no kidding threats that can do damage to our legacy fighters. You will employ against, and inside these SAM rings, paving the way for the bomb trucks on Day 2. Of the people going through the course right now, someone will have an aerial victory in this jet. A good day may yield you 6. Pay attention and we’ll show you how. Welcome to Raptor.
  13. Details are vague on purpose. A faint scratch of static and then all hell breaks loose. EEEGEEEEGEEGEEGEGEEEEEEEEEGGEEEEEEGEGGGEEEE! A wailing alarm pierces the middle of the night. A blood-curdling, ear drum bleeding screech, resonates like amplified fingernails across an olive drab blackboard rendering my body fully awake while my mind was still dreaming. I rapidly reach across the bed in my pitch black room to smash the alarm clock off my night stand and snooze a little longer. Certainly it is not time to wake up yet. My hand, moving at a lightening fast pace to squelch the shrieking wail of the alarm, is met with a cold cinderblock wall, instantly jamming my two middle fingers on my left hand. One may be broken. My alarm clock is not there, instead a wall. Where am I? I fumble to the other side of the single size bed and knock a lamp onto the floor with a crash. My mind is still in a far off place, on vacation in that small void between sleep and useful consciousness. The light switch. Two fluorescent lights flicker to life above the dull gray commercial carpet, dimly illuminating my cold 8x10 cinderblock room while they warm up. Most prison cells are larger. This is not my home. A cheap Chinese laminated desk lies in the corner with a wobbly black office chair turned backwards to the table and my gear laid neatly over top, everything in place, the same way I have laid it out for years. My flight suit is open, draped gently over the back of the chair. My boots sit on the floor, as if someone in the chair would be wearing them. The laces are loose, the tongues folded down so they can be put on quickly. My watch sits on its side in the center of the desk. I have no idea what time it is, but I know it is time to go. Now. Less than 30 seconds from the time the alarm went off and I am wearing my bag, boots on, and running out the door, the laces untied and tucked into the side. I’ll tie them later when I have time. My mind is still catching up but my body does the motions rote. The exterior doors of the building swing open automatically and I catch the comm on the loudspeaker above. A familiar voice. “This is the command post. Scramble scramble scramble.” It is a full on sprint to the hanger, a football field away. A hundred yard dash where every second counts. It is pitch black outside and a dozen lights are starting to illuminate the jet inside. The hanger doors are rolling up as I run towards them, unveiling a combat loaded F-16 parked neatly in the middle. One of my crew chiefs is next to the ladder, the other is pulling pins from the jet. Good on them for beating me out here. I check my watch and it is not on my wrist. It is still on the table in my room. I glance at my chief’s wrist and he doesn’t have a watch either. It feels late. Or really, really early. I certainly didn’t get enough sleep. My G-suit is laid neatly across the port side drop tank and I pause to don and zip it up. My chief hands me my harness that I buckle around my legs and chest. I am breathing hard, struggling to catch my breath after the sprint. Adrenaline is coursing through my veins as I quickly move up the ladder to the cockpit. Right foot over the seat, left foot off the ladder and the ladder disappears below me with the crew chief rushing to stow it out of the way. I built my nest in the Viper the day before. My helmet is plugged in to the O2 and comm cord, and is draped over the right side canopy rail. The belts are laid neatly off to the side. My kneeboard is on the left panel and my gloves are tucked into the HUD. Master switch on. Helmet on. The radio crackles. “Chief, clear for start?” “Clear to start Sir.” As the General Electric spins over, the canopy starts to come down. I fasten my belts and unpin the ejection seat as the Viper roars to life. Over the years, in their rush, pilots have forgotten to strap in and found themselves pinned against the canopy during a bunt. It would be an awful way to go, ejecting, and watching your seat under the drogue parachute as you fell to earth, realizing you skipped strapping it on. STS. Time is paramount but you absolutely cannot skip any steps. Slow down to go fast. EGI, the embedded GPS/INS was hot cocked the day before during my meticulous preflight and takes very little time to come to life. “Hands clear, clear to arm.” Pins are pulled and my missiles are live. This is real. The epitome of the Fog of War and I am launching directly into the heart of it. The Air Force lately, with live full motion video and developed intel of the entire battlespace, is paralyzed when making a decision without all the facts. Launching off alert is exactly the opposite. Launch first, figure it out on the way and as a last resort, figure it out when you get there. Alert fighters met Payne Stewart’s jet when it failed to check in and found the windows fogged over and the passengers passed out due to an oxygen malfunction. 9/11 is the other extreme and that is usually on the mind during a scramble. I have the jet running and out of the chocks as fast as a NASCAR pit stop. A well oiled machine, I am off to the races. I do my takeoff checks while on the taxi, roll onto the runway and jam the throttle past the stop and into full afterburner. The tower would normally hold all traffic for us but no sane people fly at this time of night and the field is ours. The silent moonlit sky is shattered by the thunder of my burner and all those who live close by are shaken awake by the violence of swift action. The sound of freedom. “Vipers, cleared supersonic.” Eff me. They want us there in a hurry. Not good. I start setting my radar up for the intercept using the HOTAS on the throttle and realize that two of my fingers are in immense pain from smashing into the wall earlier. Suck it up and catch up. My nugget is finally starting to catch up to the actions of my body and play an active role in the flight. I now know where I am but still have no idea where I am going. I am operating on several frequencies, coordinating with local air traffic control, the command post and other agencies to maneuver my jet without conflicting with other aircraft and find out what is going on. Intel starts to come into play and they start to fill us in on the situation. An overseas airliner has missed several check in points on their way to the states and is not answering the calls of ATC. Best case, they are asleep at the wheel. The worst case is what we train for. George W Bush talked about the fighter aircraft role in his book Decision Points. A fighter pilot himself in the F-102, he trained to intercept the Russians and many a Polaroid picture is around the squadron of Vipers flying in close formation with Russian Bears during the cold war. Not today, that would be too easy and a dream come true to protect the mainland from a hoard of enemy fighters set on attacking the Base Exchange. Protect us from an airliner….. a different story. From his book Decision Points on 9/11/2001. President Bush - “We needed to clarify the rules of engagement. I told Dick Chaney that our pilots should contact suspicious planes and try to get them to land peacefully. If that failed, they had my authority to shoot them down. Hijacked planes were weapons of war. Despite the agonizing costs, taking one out could save countless lives on the ground. I had just made my first decision as a wartime commander in chief.” He later goes on to say – “I cannot imagine what it would be like to receive this order.” I can. Fighter pilots that were flying during the chaos of 9/11 have interesting recounts of that day documented in several books. Since then, we have honed our alert facilities, our tactics and procedures and I have thought exactly what it would be like to receive this order. I’ll say this. In my time in the military, I have seen a lot of enemy KIA and I never delayed a second with hesitation. When faced with shooting down an airliner, I would hesitate for exactly one second. To say a prayer for those that may still be alive and unable to fight. And then I would shoot it down. Conscientious objection is not in the alert pilots vocabulary. The fact is this. If a plane is hijacked in the USA, people like Todd Beamer on United Flight 93 will sacrifice their lives to prevent another attack on US soil. If they regain control, at least they would have a chance with me on their wing to talk them down. If they can’t gain control, they know their fate. With that said, while I think of the enemy lain down at my hand only sporadically, I’m positive that downing an airliner would weigh heavily in hindsight. However, the thought of the afterthoughts over a beer with the bros does little to influence the current action as my Viper punches through the sound barrier. Rolling on an intercept, in full afterburner screaming above the mach towards a hijacked passenger airliner with live missiles on board, one can only hope that it is full of Todd Beamer’s yelling “Lets Roll!” and taking back the plane. Any other scenario is gut wrenching. In the string of airliners crossing the ocean, our target is now just minutes away and we still don’t fully know the situation. A few minutes later and a hundred miles out we are called off. The aircraft is back in communication with Air Traffic Control due to an improper frequency given earlier. They were out of range of the previous tower and likely had to fumble through charts buried in their flight cases to find someone to talk to. A false alarm, and we are sent back to home plate. Better to launch and not be needed than to be needed and not launched, but I am extremely happy with the result. Like wearing a parachute or having a shotgun for home defense, I never want to have to use one but will do so if called upon. We touch down just as the sun is rising. I finally know what time it is. 5AM and I’ve been up for hours. There is no chance of going back to sleep and there is work to be done to ready the jets for the next unplanned scramble. I know the crew chiefs breathe a sigh of relief seeing that all the missiles are still on our jets. America is safe for another day. I fold my gloves and put them back on the HUD. My helmet is placed on the right canopy rail, still plugged in. My kneeboard goes back on the left console. I climb out of the jet and lay the seatbelts neatly to the sides then rest my G-suit and harness on the left drop tank. I tie my boots, in case we get called again and take a deep breath to come off the adrenaline rush I have been running on all night. Calm. Sleep safe knowing that we are there. Always on the watch. Always ready. Hopefully never needed, but willing and able if need be. God help us and those who wish to do us harm.
  14. No books yet, that requires work I'm sure. I haven't even gotten to the good stuff - my time as a Special Ops Fighter pilot. That stuff won't be unclass for a long time. Cheers to our fallen bros lately. Him Him. These are starting to get out of order as I finish unfinished stories up. This was a long long time ago. Enjoy. Combat Archer Pickle. Wait. Wait. WTF is wrong with this…. Wooooossshhhhhh. The AIM 9/M screams off the rail of my Viper with a thunderous roar. I wasn’t expecting to actually be able to hear the missile above the growl of my Pratt screeching along at 9/10ths the speed of sound, but off it went in a flurry of hate, drowning out the wind blast on my bubble canopy. Walking into the 53rd WEG, I knew this was going to be an excellent TDY. Parked right at the front door was a shiny new Porsche in the commander’s spot. I detoured slightly from the sidewalk and put a squadron sticker in the middle of the back window. Surely he wouldn’t mind. The Weapons Evaluation Group was established to test the Air to Air and Air to Ground weapons systems of the USAF and Navy. Specifically, WSEP, the Weapons System Evaluation Program, runs Combat Archer out of Tyndall AFB, Florida. This 2 week TDY evaluates the ability of a unit to deploy troops, aircraft and weapons to a forward location and then fire those weapons at aerial targets. It is staffed with some of the smartest 10 pound brains in the service and they evaluate every part of the process, from the way the airmen attach the fins of the missile, to the parameters the pilot fires the missile, the way the jet sends information to it and ultimately how it performs. It is also a way to get the pilot to experience actually firing, so when it happens in combat there is no first time anxiety. I don’t know what psychiatrist came up with that idea, but I’ll buy him a round for it. That is, quite possibly the most brilliant idea ever! It would be better to unload an entire jet on 5 different targets but beggars can’t be choosers. And yes I did say shrink, most fighter pilots are certifiably insane. Just take one out of the cockpit for a few weeks and see how he acts. We started out with extremely in depth technical briefings with experts in each weapon we carry, how they work, how they have improved over the years and limitations we have to using them. Over the years, the missiles, aircraft and operators have continued to improve. They have found things like chafed wires in the jets all the way to bad chips in the missiles. Without testing, this would cause a failure in combat when we needed it the most. It has also led to remarkable advances in missile technology. Early versions of the AIM 9 were susceptible to countermeasures. The first missiles were tail only heat seekers. Infra red Counter Measures, IRCM, in the form of flares were used to decoy the missiles. With testing and the advancement of computer chip technology, Raytheon developed IRCCM, or Infra Red Counter Counter Measures which can differentiate between a flare and the aircraft dispensing them. This is now fielded in the AIM 9 Mike – an all aspect missile that scoffs at flares. At our lunch break, the zap had been removed from the window of the Porsche. No matter, I’ve got a stack and it deserves another. It is one of the many unsung duties of the LPA. The squadron was going to fire several missiles over the next few weeks and when we weren’t shooting, we were flying LFE’s and dissimilar with the Eagle squadron who was also in town. It was an awesome opportunity to see several of my UPT bros who were now flying the light Grey and pick their nuggets about that world. I had several outstanding sorties with the F-15’s from that trip but those are stories for another time. On Tuesday afternoon, my commander pulled me aside in the bar. “LT. Get over here. Have you been putting Zaps on the commanders car?” Enable the standard Lieutenant defense. It kicks in without delay, a staple learned in basic, refined in UPT and honed to a razors edge in the goulags of survival school. Act Surprised. “Whhaaattt?” By this time, my count was 5. Deny. “I have no idea what you are talking about sir.” Deny. “ What car is that?” “It is the Porsche parked by the front door.” Deny. “I haven’t even noticed it sir.” “The Porsche. You haven’t noticed the nicest effing Porsche in the Pan Handle parked in the spot that says Squadron Commander right by the front door of this fine establishment?” Counter accuse. “Maybe it is the other squadron.” “Don’t give me that S. The other squadron is putting our stickers on the CC’s car? Explain that to me LT.” Reaffirm Counter Accusation “I have no idea why they would sir. Sounds like a pretty complicated prank to me.” “Cut it out. It is a Porsche. And make some popcorn.” That is certainly no rationale. Dollar value certainly isn’t a limiting factor to zapping something. Almost every Eagle out there has one of our squadron stickers tucked neatly away and those jets are easily worth a few mil. The key is putting one obvious sticker on the nose and then hiding the other in an inspection panel that rarely gets opened. We have found Zaps on our birds that were put there years earlier, behind an ejection seat or on the motor. Just because it is a Porsche offers no reprieve but since the boss asked, I’ll consider it. The next morning I walked in with our Squadron Commander and the Porsche had another sticker placed by a different pilot. Someone had my back. And my boss saw that there was no winning to be had. The day after that, a minivan was parked in the Commanders spot. With a sticker on the back that stayed for the remainder of the TDY. Long live the LPA. After a few glorious flights with the Eagles, it was finally time for my shoot. The plan was to take a simultaneous shot with another Viper while in formation and evaluate the missile performance. We had an instructor from the WEG who was briefing our flight and several others. We had two drones to share between 8 aircraft. The briefing was different from a standard fighter briefing, in fact after the shoot with the extra gas, we were slated to fly BFM, Basic Fighter Maneuvers or dogfighting. This normally is an hour long brief in itself, but today it was briefed as “Standard. Any Questions?” “No Sir.” “On to the shoot.” What followed was an extremely technical and procedural briefing on how we were going to shoot these missiles. As fun as it would be to go out and wail away whenever we felt like it, it would be a waste of money to do so. The idea with these shoots is to expand, tighten or validate the firing envelope of the missile. They want us to fire it at extremes, towards the edge of what we think the missile can do. The Engineers come up with boundaries of the firing envelope they want to explore and then run test shots with several missiles to see how they perform. This could be a high off boresight shot from a very slow speed to see if the missile can hack the turn, or a look down shot against a maneuvering bandit. Today, we were going to fire in formation at the edge of the known max range to see how the missile hacked it. The brief continued with the exact parameters of the shoot. The speed and angles of our jets, the drone and the chase ship. The formation we would shoot from and the range, offset and aspect they wanted us to fire. They wanted us on the numbers. Not 20 knots fast, or 50 feet low, but on the numbers. This is easier said than done when running an intercept. It would be a front quartering shot from a slightly lower altitude today. Next we covered all the airspace and the contingencies if the primary airspace was blocked by boats. Each morning, one of two specialized DeHavilland E-9A “Widget” Aircraft sweep the range. The Widget is a high wing, twin turboprop with a side looking radar that can sweep the area for surface vessels. Rumor has it that this is one of the best “Old Guy” jobs in the Air Force. Flying in the morning and fishing in the afternoon off the Florida Panhandle. Not for me yet, but I’ll keep it in mind after my inevitable spinal surgery from flying fighters. Since there will be actual metal falling from the sky today, the area has to be clear. I could just imagine a vacation charter with a 900lb tuna on the line being speared and sunk by a Phantom in flames. “Yeah right man, you had a record setting fish on the line and a Vietnam era jet smashed through your boat setting the tuna free.” Fish story of the century. Lastly, we spent a large segment talking about the comm for the flight. There is a very precise litany of things to say during the shoot. This was given to us on a card of exactly what to say and when to say it. Written out. Exactly. Word for word. Exactly what to say. This assures the area is clear and you are cleared to fire. It also cues in the engineers and telemetry guys to make sure the missile is set and that they are watching for the data to pour in. “ “What ever you do and whatever you screw up – just sound good on the radio! There are a lot of people listening.” Walking out to the jet today was different. I had fired the gun and dropped literally tons of bombs but this was a live missile that would not be there when I landed. It was expensive. Very expensive. There were a lot of people watching and it is the kind of thing that you have to answer for if you screw it up. The AIM-9M is a bad ass missile. It is used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and 27 other nations as the go to, short range weapon of choice. Developed in the 1950’s, the Sidewinder is the most successful Air to Air missile on the planet with an estimated 270 kills. That is two hundred and seventy kills. It is lethal, and many an enemy pilot loathed the day it was created. It was so successful initially that they even took the guns off the Phantoms. A disaster at the time, we are now repeating it with several versions of the F-35, but again, I digress. I love the missile, but I will slit your throat if you try to take away my gun. Even on a Viper, I still use it all the time. The heater has 8 fins, four for stability and four for steering. It is capable of right angle corners while at speed under incredible G. This is guided by an Infra Red seeker mounted to a gimbal which sends data to the computer. Preflighting the missile, the seeker droops down, requiring the gyro to spin up and stabilize it. It is cooled by 5000psi of Argon carried in a small bottle internally. The guidance unit is directly behind the seeker and works through black magic and voodoo. All I know is that it is smarter than me. It will take data from the jet’s radar to initially look in the proper direction or I can manually lock it on if my radar is down or being used for something else. Once it leaves the jet, the CPU takes over and all bets are off where it is going to go on it’s own. Behind the guidance unit is a target detector. This will sense when it is close to another aircraft and set the fuse. On many AIM-9’s, this has been obsolete because the missile actually speared the target. In the late 50’s over the Taiwan Straits, a Taiwanese fighter speared a Chinese MiG -17 with an Aim 9 that failed to explode and lodged in it’s fuselage. The MiG and the missile landed safely back home, and in very short order the Rooskies had a nifty missile dubbed the AA-2 Atol. A carbon copy of our sidewinder down to the part numbers, this advanced the communist missile technology by decades. When the target aircraft is within the lethal range of the missile it fires the WDU-17B annular blast fragmentation warhead. This nasty device is made up of spirally wound spring steel encasing 8 pounds of PBXN-3 high explosives and will shred flesh and aluminum and set fuel on fire. Poor souls to be on the receiving end, should have been born American. Today this warhead is replaced by a telemetry package that beams data from the missile back to antenna along the Florida coast broadcasting exactly what the missile is thinking and what it is doing. If the target passes within the lethal radius of the missile, it is as good as a kill and considered as such. This 9 foot long, 188 pound, harbinger of death is propelled by a reduced smoke Mk36 solid propellant rocket capable of hurling this missile several times the speed of sound. Outstanding. Just before we launch, they launch the drone. While they have full scale F-4’s, today we are going after one of the littler fellas. The purpose built BQM-34 Firebee Sub Scale Aerial Target. This is good. I don’t think I would have the heart to shoot at an F-4 – unless it wears the flag of some of our, ¿Cómo se dice, “old friends” who are still flying it. In that case, paint five of them on my jet and I’ll use the fallen pieces as spares to keep ours flying. The Phantom is my favorite plane on the planet and the first jet I ever saw at an airshow at 5 years old. I remember that day like it was yesterday and I attribute my military career entirely to that encounter with those two smoky General Electric J79’s spewing fire and noise over the Florida pan handle. I would eventually get a ride in one but that also, is a story for another time. As sad as it would be to down an F-4, they are soon to be replaced with F-16’s. This is borderline criminal and certainly against the Geneva Convention. Can’t we put the old girls in Arizona to retire like all the other great fighters? Even though unmanned, I know the Viper Drones will still wax the floor with the Eagles that try to shoot them down, sticking them in lag with the operator a hundred miles away snickering at the joystick and computer monitor in front of him. Eventually it will happen though. An Eagle will paint a Viper on the fuselage and Viper pilots across the world will sip a bottle of Weed and toss a nickel in the grass in mourning. Him Him. The Firebee is a little bad ass as well. There are many stories of pilots trying to shoot them down, bleeding off too much energy entering the turn circle and getting stuck looking out the side of the canopy with no firing solution. Worse, there are stories of the little orange BQM actually making angles on them. Only F-15’s of course. When we do manage to shoot them down, the wing owns a couple of ships to fish them out of the ocean, patch them up and send them out again. The “Tyndall Navy.” Now there’s a retirement job. Once airborne, things start to happen fast. The BQM doesn’t have a ton of gas, so we have to move quickly. It could not be a nicer day. Clear blue skies with a patch of cirrus clouds up high to highlight the contrast. A clear blue ocean below with virtually no waves. A great day to go shooting. I triple check the procedures on the lineup card on my knee. Even though I do these arming procedures every time I train, this time it is for real so I check them again. Our lead chase ship starts his litany over the radio to start the drone on it’s run. Turn in, Fights on! Radar Contact. “Viper 3 targeted Bullseye 269/25, 17000 feet.” Our two ship starts to run the intercept from 25 miles out. Aspect starts to break. Looks good. The key is timing the aspect break to arrive at our parameters at the correct distance. We are right on cue. The chase ship gives the clearance to arm the missiles. Arm Hot. I double check the missile is cooled. Good to go. I’m really going to shoot this thing. Adrenaline starts to flow and time slows down. “Chase, Viper Three.” “Go Three.” “Viper three has a problem with the missile” Damn. I look off my right wing at Viper Three. He is abeam me at about 3000 feet and I can see he is nugget down in the cockpit looking at his displays. I look left at the chase ship and he is now looking through me at number three. There is nothing these guys haven’t seen so hopefully he can talk him through it. 15 miles to the drone. We better solve this soon. “Go with your problem.” “I’m not sure. It. It…” “What faults are you showing?” “None. No Faults, I’ve got no symbology for the missile.” Looking through the HUD, there should be a ton of data provided to the pilot. The main thing is a diamond of where the seeker is looking. This diamond, when slaved to the Radar should be squarely over the target. His is missing. Mine is spot on. 10 miles to the drone. “3, download and upload your missile. Quickly.” The Viper reset. Not good. For some reason, every now and then there is a glitch in the Viper matrix and downloading and then uploading fixes the problem 90% of the time 60% of the time. 7 miles. I should have started my comm litany a while ago but they are working the problem. There is no room to interrupt. “2, hold your shot unless 3 starts working.” “2.” Eff. “3, what luck?” “3, no luck.” “Viper flight off dry, switches safe.” “2.” “3.” We are going to have one more shot at this if the drones don’t get shot down first. There are two drones out here and 6 other aircraft shooting at them with all different shots. We enter the bullpen again and try to sort 3’s problem. Orbiting about 20 miles away from the flight, one of the drones is splashed. We learned later that it was an enormous fireball with the missile puncturing the tank. Good on him, bad for us. Somewhere around 20 minutes elapse and I can’t stand it. All geared up, ready to go, and waiting. Tim Tebow on the Jets. So much talent…. I still digress. The good news is that three sorts his missile so we are both good to go. I know he is stoked. Back in the lineup we go. Turn in, fights on! Again. Radar Contact. “Viper 3 targeted Bullseye 273/27, 17000 feet.” Our two ship again starts to run the intercept. Aspect starts to break. Looks like this is going to work out great. “Vipers, Arm Hot.” “2” “3” My missile is cooled and called up as my primary weapon. It has a low growl. Normal for this range. “Hey Buddy, I’m just looking around right now.” the missile is telling me. If it could speak sentences, I imagine it sounds like Towelie from South Park for some reason. “Don’t shoot just yet, patience buddy.” The great thing about the heater is the way it talks to you. It has several different tones to let you know exactly how it is doing. From a low growl to a full on howl, I can tell how good of a solution the missile has just by listening. As we get closer, the missile starts to perk up and the growl gets meaner and louder. “Chase, 3 has the same problem.” You are kidding me! It was working a few minutes ago! “Copy 3. Let’s go through the same procedure we just did and get it working again.” My missile is starting to sound good. It has a good heat signature now and a solid growling tone. We are closing at 1.7 times the speed of sound. Lead and 3 begin to troubleshoot over the radio again but it is not looking good. I’m looking out the left and right side of my jet at each of their jets and say a silent prayer that the good Lord will let us both rain hate on this little Firebee drone. That and the standard Fighter Pilot prayer – Lord, Don’t let me F this up. For another solid minute the radio is packed with communications between the two, back and forth with troubleshooting. This is the time we should be running the standard comm litany on my kneeboard card. “What does the Fault page say?” “The Fault page is clear?” “Any MFL’s?” “3, Negative.” “And still no symbology? “Negative.” My missile is loud now. I uncage the seeker head and it stays firmly planted on the Firebee with no radar assistance. It will easily guide itself now. “Radar Lock?” “Afirm. Target, 272 for 7 miles.” His radar is locked but there is no missile symbol in the HUD. Not good. My missile is screaming. It is locked on and absolutely screaming in my headset above all the other comm. “Did you download and upload?” “Afirm, no change.” “Try a boresight.” This is where you target the missile without the radar cue. “Unable.” “Did you try…..” Woosssshhhhhhhh. Like a freight train, the sidewinder screams off my jet. My skinny wingman doing the Lord’s work. I hit the exact parameters and let it rip. Like a bottle rocket, it corkscrews off the jet violently until it picks up speed and stabilizes, then it makes a hard right turn a few thousand feet in front of 3’s jet to get some cutoff on the drone. I’m glad our formation was good. Awesome. That is freaking awesome. This shot completely took the IP of the chase ship by surprise. In the history of missile shoots, there is probably no one who has screwed up the comm that badly. I hadn’t said a word in 10 minutes. “Fox Fox!” He screams on the radio. This cues all the engineers back on the ground that a missile is in the air. There should have been a half dozen calls prior to this, leading up to a triumphant “Fox 2” when the missile left my jet. We were cleared on the range, cleared to arm and cleared to shoot so it wasn’t unsafe but it was non standard and we live by standards. It has never been done that way before and it probably will never again. I watch the missile make jagged, high G turns as the drone maneuvers and eventually I lose sight. At some point it runs out of steam and falls to the ocean below. To this point, the coolest thing I have seen in the Viper. 3 unfortunately had to bring his missile back home that day. The taxi of shame. The ground crews, Ammo, and everyone else are stoked to see ordinance expended. Bringing a missile home means that something went wrong. It was eventually traced to some corrosion or something on a cannon plug. Bummer, but that is exactly why we do this and that data and the fix will be incorporated fleet wide if it becomes a trend. In the debrief, nearly every pilot from every squadron gets together with beer and popcorn in the afternoon in a theater to watch the shots. The engineers gather all the data and show exactly what the missile is doing and recreate the flight on a slideshow that puts my powerpoint skills to shame. They pair that up with the Heads Up Display tape so you can hear the comm and see the shot from the jet. We watched several shots and cheered the great success of the missile. And then we got to mine. So there it was, for all to see. Massive troubleshooting, and out of nowhere, my missile firing off in the middle of it. “What ever you screw up, just sound good on the Radio. Isn’t that right LT?” Not today. The audience laughed their faces off at my expense. And rightfully so. It was an outstanding shoot and an even better TDY, and somewhere at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico is a spent AIM-9 with a squadron sticker proudly attached to the side. Chive on.
  15. Not my video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTR-J3iBCYs <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/lTR-J3iBCYs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> My story. “Knock it off! Knock it off! I’m out of control!” “Viper 1 Knock it off, you’re at 10,000 feet.” What just happened? My 26,000 pound F-16 is flopping around like a Giant Oak leaf in an Autumn tornado. Both sides of the cockpit are instantly glowing with a Christmas tree of warning lights now illuminated. The heads up display flashes off and on with snippets of info here and there when the computers gain some semblance of situational awareness – 000 on the airspeed. I haven't seen that before. The only time that is good is back in the chalks. I wonder if this jet will ever be there again? I am 90 miles off the coast in the dead of winter with ocean temperatures somewhere in the low 40’s. 10 seconds ago I was having the time of my life on a defensive 3k with the boss. My goal was simple – live. His was also simple – kill. I started out in a position of disadvantage, a scripted setup that left me with a late pickup of a bandit 3000 feet away at my 7:00. “Next set will be a defensive 3k for number 2.” “2.” “1’s ready.” “2’s ready.” “Fights on!” I’m craning my neck over the left rail of the Martin Baker Ejection seat to see the entire left side of the canopy filled with another F-16. I am looking at the top front of his Viper but he is quickly pulling lead to unleash with the gun. The massive intake of the General Electric is beginning to show light and I know if I don’t move now, another second will pepper my jet with a hail of twenty millimeter from the cannon over his left shoulder. 6000 rounds a minute will make quick work of the aluminum and computers I call my office. Jink now! I slam the stick back and over with as much G as she’ll give me to dodge the bullets in flight. The only un-guided weapon on the F-16, he is duck hunting with a 6-barreled Gatling Gun. A smart duck simply needs to get out of the way and try to remain unpredictable for any follow up shots. The Viper is one of the most maneuverable jets in the air and in the phone booth it is lethal in a knife fight. My second goal is to stuff his shot, spit him out front and turn my disadvantaged starting point into an exercise in offense. I snaproll the jet off axis with my eyes firmly fixated on his plane throughout the maneuver – lose sight lose the fight. With the best visibility of any jet on the planet there is no excuse to not watch his every move. He is quickly on to my rouse and seeing my jet plant in the air in front of him, he has no choice but to pull off high to preserve his range. He probably could keep aiming for one more attempt but with the speed I just lost during the jink, if he misses he will definitely end up neutral or worse in a defensive crouch. I see his nose pull off to the right and that is my chance to stuff him even more. I continue the roll and pull max G right at him. Suddenly the plane snaps 120 degrees and I am beak to beak. Neutral. A fantastic position to be in, for only seconds earlier I was faced with certain death and instantly I have negated his advantage. I’ve never seen it happen that quick, usually these things result in a quick kill, at best you may be able to fend him off for a while but ultimately he should win with his advantageous starting position. How did this just happen? Write that down and use it again – I just mastered Defensive BFM! I could see the surprise in his jet across the circle as he violently maneuvered his jet out of plane. I was about to be able to employ weapons, I simply needed to pull him into the HUD and shoot. Easy. Pull. Awww, come on girl, just give me a little more so I can wrap this up. The F-16 was the first all-electric jet. It’s inherent instability yielded fantastic maneuverability but needed computers to reign it all in. HAL decided how much Angle of Attack to give you, how much thrust to give you, how much G and the onset rate. He would even decide what controls to give when you wanted to roll. Sometimes he would give you some rudder, sometimes some aileron. He always trimmed for 1 G and even put the flaps up and down depending on your speed. This made the Viper the easiest plane on the planet to fly. Any 152 pilot could easily take off and land if you showed them where the gear handle was. The problem was that every so often, the pilot became a voting member. The jet was designed to avoid you flying outside of the envelope. It wont let you stall and it will limit your G’s to 9 to avoid the 12-15 it is easily capable of. With that vote, every now and then you want a little bit more and under very certain circumstances, it is possible to “Assault” and override these limiters. The jet usually lets you know, the nose will stop tracking where you want it to go and you simply let go of the stick to give Hal back the reigns. Unfortunately today I went way past that point and when I wanted more, Hal let me have it. The jet instantly went out of control to the point the computers had no idea what was going on. I became offensive simply due to a maneuver the jet was not capable of doing – a tumble that instantly swapped ends. There would be no offensive advantage for me today. I was falling out of control and I was falling fast. A crowbar wouldn’t have had a straighter path to the ground. I was now living the infamous “Top Gun flat spin” that killed Goose. The jet was absolutely flat with zero airspeed and a stable triangular pattern with the nose tracking gently up and right and down and left. The wings and tail were alive with the computer trying frantically to regain control but it was futile with the bad information it was receiving from the AOA and Airspeed indicators. It was too far gone to reel it back on its on. The Vertical speed was pegged at better than minus 6000 feet per minute and I was at 10 thousand feet above the ocean. At 6000’ it was time to get out of the jet. “Caution Caution!” Bitching Betty is having a conniption. OUT OF CONTROL RECOVERY I’ve written these words and other emergency procedures before flying for years. I’ve done countless recoveries in the sim. Rote. A3.1.9. OUT-OF-CONTROL RECOVERY: A3.1.9.1. Controls - Release A3.1.9.2. Throttle - (GE) Idle, (PW) MIL if in AB. Well, that didn’t work. I look like a rodeo cowboy with my arms now flailing around while this wild Bronco shows no sense of taming. Good thing I let go of the controls. It is amazing how time dilation sets in. Everything begins to slow down and my mind starts to wander. That water looks cold. I wonder if the parachute rigger was on his game the day he packed the chute? How long can I live in this poopy suit if my raft doesn’t inflate? This is going to hurt my back. That sucks. How long will it take the Coast Guard to get out here? Can they even make it this far? Maybe I should have been a Helo pilot. I am going to owe a lot of booze to those guys when they pick me up. How many guys are on that helo anyways? Can they share a bottle? Cheap ass, buy them each a nice 25 year old Scotch, it is the least you can do. Is TIB really a good show, I’ve never actually seen them. What did they say in water survival about sharks? There is a fishing kit in case I’m out here for a few days. How big of a fish can I catch with a number 2 hook? That will keep my mind occupied. Fishing. At least I have that going for me. As the jet fell lifelessly towards the cold, wet abyss below, I resolved to fish after I turned my F-16 back to the tax payers. I could just imagine the look on the rescue guy’s face as I ask him to hold the fishstick I just caught while he hoists me up to safety. I was determined to have it stuffed and mounted above the mantle as a reminder to never go out of control again. “8000 feet.” My flight lead is doing circles around me and calling out my altitudes. I’m screwed. I do the math of the time he took to call the last two altitudes and even with time dilation I am screaming downhill in a hurry. I can’t believe I am going to punch. I can feel my heart beat faster and my breathing picks up a notch. Adrenaline is coursing through my veins. I’ve put civilian planes intentionally out of control thousands of times flying aerobatics. End over end Lomcevaks, gyroscopic inverted accelerated flat spins – I was very comfortable when out of control. My heart doesn’t pick up a single beat per minute when my civilian plane tumbles or tail slides. Apply the procedure, fly away and do it again. Fun. This was different. I didn’t put my jet here on purpose. Since the jet was designed to be inherently unstable, it is very comfortable when it is out of control with no computer aid. I however, am not. “Warning Warning!” Thanks Betty. Why don’t you bitch at Hal to get us out of this mess. She went from Caution to Warning. That can’t be good. What does the Dash-1 say? “Warning - May result in serious injury or death” or something like that. A3.1.9.5. If Still Out-Of-Control: A3.1.9.6. MPO Switch - OVRD and Hold A3.1.9.7. Stick - Cycle in Phase MPO switch. Manual Pitch Override. HAL is FUBAR and it is time for me to take over and show this jet who’s boss. Because I know better than a 30 million dollar computer and the army of 100 pound rocket surgeon brains who programmed it. The idea is to cycle the stick at the same time the jet is oscillating. As the jet noses down, I apply full down. When the nose rises, I pull the stick to the aft stop. The MPO switch overrides the limits on deflection and gives a few more degrees to the horizontal stab movement. In theory, the extra uumph should get me out of this pickle. Full up. Full Down. Full Up. Full down. The nose of the jet is still keeping pace. A metronome, rocking up and down with no sign of recovery. Boy that water looks cold. About 2 hours until sunset. I hope I don’t spend the night out here. It is supposed to be below freezing. My dog is going to go hungry. Do I need SOS in residence when I completed correspondence? Come on old girl, give me some love. Up. Down. Any minute now Viper 1 is going to call out 6000’. I’m over the ocean, I don’t have to worry about hitting any mountains. Maybe I’ll stay with it a little longer. 2k is our controlled ejection altitude, how does 4000’ sound. What is up with that new UPT patch? Will I ever fly again if I put a good jet in the drink? Is the jet good? Maybe something is wrong with one of the controls. I’m breathing heavy now. The jet is not recovering. This is not like the sim. This is not like the sim at all. Up Dowwwwnnnn. The nose slowed this time on the down stroke. It paused for just a second. An RCH of hope. It had not done that yet. Hold it. Hold it down. Come on old girl. Stay down. Get some airspeed. Nose towards the ground. Gravity is good now. Fly out of this mess. I’ve got my entire weight forcing the stick to the forward stop. Probably 200# of crazy strength gluing the stick down. Stay there and lets go get a beer together. Back Up. Like it came unglued and rocketed back skyward. Son of a motherless goat! YGTBSM. So close. Come on man. Give me a break. 6000 feet is written in blood. Going lower is foolish. Get that out of your mind right now. At 6k you will punch no matter how close you think you are to recovery. Too many guys have tried to recover unrecoverable jets and left their families to pick up the pieces. When you hit the mins, plant your head back against the headrest, put both hands on the ejection handle and cowboy up. Deal with the consequences later and live to tell the tale on Baseops.net to a bunch of guys who think telling stories on Baseops.net is foolish. I can’t win. There is a story of a Navy trainer where they were in an intentional spin and couldn’t recover. Both pilots bailed out, the plane recovered and went on to fly over several states unmanned until it ran out of gas and crashed. That would be my luck. Either way, I’m out on the next cycle. Balls. Up. Down. Down. Down…. The nose is hanging up again on the down oscillation. Come on. Work with me here. Airspeed. 60knots. 70. 80. Aah. Down. Altitude 7400 feet. Stay there honey. You stay right there. 90 knots. 110. Come on sweet heart. Show me some love. 150. 6900’ I'm flying. *sigh* “Viper 2 recovered.” “Copy Viper 2. Come left 90 degrees and put home plate on the nose. 1’s in for the BD check.” I’ve still got gas for another set and lead wants to go home. Wuss. Maybe next time. Epilogue I was out of control for around 30 seconds. A life time. When you talk to bros who have punched, they remember everything. The click of the handle firing the motor. The smell of the rocket. The canopy separating and the aircraft falling below as they shoot upwards and away. That 30 seconds was an eternity. I had a million more thoughts that I didn’t put to paper about my family and good times in life. I’ve had some close calls, but I really didn’t think this jet was coming home. You think a lot about the seat during that time. It turns out that because of the parallax, Viper 1 had called his altitude on that initial radio call. I was really at 13000’ when he called 10,000. The next call that I heard as 8k was really 11k. He had put his jet truly level with mine as he flew around me and corrected himself on the altitude. 11k to me was impossible as I was descending, so my mind heard 8,000’ and that put me on the timeline to get out of the jet. The next call, I had committed to punch. In the confusion, and looking at the tapes, I did have a good altitude readout but since I heard it verbally I had tuned it out. I made an effort in the sim afterwards to really watch the altimeter during practice events. Lastly, watching leads tapes, he squeezed the gun trigger right after I went out of control and I defeated the shot. To all those who have joked about jinking with the MPO, although I don’t recommend it, going out of control is effective.
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