Monthly Archives: April 2017

A bad weather day

By lex, on June 9th, 2004

Sometimes the mission doesn’t make much sense.

Sometimes you do it anyway.

Everyone has a store of sea stories that makes him looks like a hero.

This is not one of those.

Fighter aviation is mercilessly unforgiving of weakness of any sort, personal, professional, or character. The pressure to compete and succeed is remarkable – sometimes it can be fatal.

I loved it.

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Known Ice

By lex, on February 13th, 2009

Military aviators tend to look at commercial airline flying as the “easy” life. The machines are very highly automated with redundant systems, the pay is generally very good (0r used to be), and the bed waiting on the other end comes with room service. You never have to throw yourself at the ground with high explosive ordnance under the wings, people rarely shoot at you and – at least for the Navy guys – the runway doesn’t move. Once you’ve put the jet to bed, your “real work” isn’t waiting for you on the ground. Get the machine safely on deck at your destination and your real work is done.

Sure, there’s a lot of responsibility. A commercial airline pilot “on the line” has the lives of many, many people in his hands. But if he takes good care of the life occupying his own seat – and he’s motivated to, the pilot is the first guy to the scene of most accidents – everyone else should be OK as well.

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Neil Diamond lied!!!

By lex, on October 10th, 2003

It does rain in Southern California…

Rainy commute to the air station this morning. Kind of a tentative rain, like maybe it wasn’t sure this was entirely appropriate. Reduces the fun factor of motorcycle commutes by, oh twelve thousand percent. A bummer, but I made it there, and made it back, so all’s well, etc…

On a dry road, a bike can stop in about half the distance of a car, especially when it has ABS, like my bike does. The stopping force of the dual caliper brakes on two wheels when applied to the drastically reduced weight (as opposed to the standard car, with the usual appointments), sets up a very favorable ratio for dissipating kinetic energy. The reverse principle for thrust (torque) to weight makes it fun to hit the go switch, too.

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Taildragger

By lex, on February 11th, 2009

So, your correspondent got shipped off for to stand behind a marvelous piece of gear that will bring the global information grid to the E-2C Hawkeye. On account of there weren’t any government servants available and a contractor would have to do. In a pinch. Walked into the San Diego Convention Center, saw all the high tech gadgets  on display, saw all the beautiful young things with perfect smiles standing behind them and realized that someone had made a terrible mistake choosing me to represent.

From a purely marketing point of view.

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Connecting The Dots

FallSaigon

Image by © Francoise de Mulder/CORBIS

H/T for ORPO1 for reminding me but it was another April in 1975 when the North Vietnamese invaded the South, violating the 1973 Paris Peace Accords of which they were a signatory.

It would certainly take more than 1 blog post to detail what when wrong in South Vietnam, but certainly at the top of it would be the micromanaging of the bombing in the North by Lyndon Johnson, who bragged that “Those boys can’t hit an outhouse without my permission” . That and the fact that there was no military strategy to winning other than “containing communism”

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The Perils of an Electric Jet

By lex, on February 5th, 2009

I’ve shared the tale of Po’ Lazlorus with you, who – apart from his regrettable tendency to wander in Caesar’s fields – had the misfortune of being unpopular with Dad. Mentioned Point Hadji, where the unchained spirit could spook the occasional passer-by. Spoke briefly about poor, benighted Bones, who was unlucky enough to cancel his IFR low-level route in favor of fashioning his own way through the countryside. And who paid the price.

Neglected, I think, to share the tale of another young man of my acquaintance who was the antithesis of Laz in terms of senior officer appreciation, but who appreciated the finer things in life.

Like raging around at low level through a national park.

Flush was yer man’s call sign, or close enough. Summat of a golden boy for the hinges; tall, handsome, aerodynamically adapted and athletic. Lovely family.

Found himself one day in charge of his very own FA-18, no department heads to fishwife him over his comm discipline or formation flying. Saw a lovely valley between two mountain ranges below him. Forested like, as contrasted to the Panamint and Death Valley deserts, whose only redeeming virtues were the nudist colony at Saline Warm Springs.

Dove right in.

Came back with a grin on his face, happy as a pig in waller. “It’s great,” he cried, “beautiful mountains on both side and this crazy valley in the middle. And the best thing of all? Nobody goes there!”

Which was true, of course, on account of the fact it was a national park. Nobody was supposed to go there.

Turns out certain people did go there. National Park Service rangers. Who took a very dim view of Hornet pilots raging around in blower down below 3000 feet. And who had access to a phone line.

Came a phone call to the wing, which went bouncing about to the local squadrons duty officers, who dutifully reported what aircraft they’d had airborne at or about the time a certain FA-18 pilot had disturbed the feng shui of the Sierra National Park.

The spotlight fell upon yer man Flush, who stoutly denied that any aircraft under his actual command had violated park airspace in the least way. The Operations Officer nodded sagely, and asked the Maintenance Officer to pull the mission data recorder from the jet. As a form of insurance.

The MDR records where the aircraft is in space over three second intervals, as well as countless other things like engine power settings, flight control deflections, exhaust gas temperatures and the like. We used to joke that if you were going to be stupid in a jet, it was best to be stupid over the ocean, for if the MDR survived your ejection/crash it didn’t matter that you were single seat and sticking to your story: The jig would be up when the maintenance folks pulled the data.

Things went badly for Flush after the MDR data proved he’d been telling a story. The bloom had come off the rose, like.

Karma.

Airline pilot now, I believe. Not that, you know: Anything’s wrong with that.

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Different Strokes

By lex, on January 27th, 2009

My two co-workers in the new job were Navy lieutenant commanders, one a retired combat systems officer/mustang, the other a straight-stick helicopter pilot who left the service at the 12-year point. They call me “Lex” at work.

The government servant I work closely with left the Navy as an O-4 as well. He flew H-46s, and calls me Lex as well. The program manager I directly support is an active O-4, who I hope will soon make commander. He calls me Lex.

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