By lex, on September 28th, 2007
Date: March, 1991
Place: Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona
It had been a long day. A buddy and I had flown three hops that day in the two-seat Viper, alternating front and back seats. We’d were going through the TOPGUN Adversary Course, the better to qualify us as bandits when we returned home to NAS Key West. Coming to the end of the course, the scars that the TOPGUN IP’s had inflicted at the beginning of the course were beginning to fade. Your humble scribe was starting to once again feel his oats.
“Tower, TOPGUN 41 requests an unrestricted climb on departure.”
“TOPGUN 41, Tower, unrestricted climb approved. Remain below Class A airspace.”
On the runway, 80% throttle – engine looks good. Off brakes, max grunt, here we go. Rotate at 130, weight’s off wheels, bunt the nose a bit. Gear handle up (flaps come with it, don’t settle) level at 50 feet or so, accelerating nicely. Damn. There’s the departure end with 400 knots indicated. What a hot rod.
A smooth 4-g pull to the pure vertical, stand her on her tail like a rocket ship. Look over the shoulder for a section lines – they all run east/west. Quarter roll to align the jet for a westbound recovery passing 10,000 feet. 330 knots in the HUD. Passing 16,000 feet she’s still doing 250, but it’s time to regretfully pull the nose back to the horizon and level off. She’s got plenty left, but we don’t want to break the 18,000 foot Class A airspace restriction. Might be a jetliner up there, those guys can get crabby when you shoot past them in the vertical.
Leveled off exactly at 17,500, thank you very much, for our VFR return to Miramar. Airspeed recovering to cruise. Feeling pretty dern chuffed.
Front seat: (ICS) Wow. That was pretty amazing, wasn’t it?
Back seat: (ICS) Yeah. Amazing.
Back seat: (ICS) By the way, the westbound VFR altitude is sixteen-five, yah?
Front seat: (ICS) D’oh!