Monthly Archives: May 2017

Sunday Flying

By lex, on September 28th, 2009

I have told my sometime employers of an aversion to flying on Sunday, maintaining as I do certain anachronistic delicacies on the article of keeping the Sabbath. Yet we had three flights this weekend, and all of them on a Sunday, those that pay having a majority vote in the flight schedule. These flights are but toyish things to me, but they put the bread on my employers’ table so – keeping in mind the parable of the donkey in the neighbor’s well – flying we went.

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On the wire

By lex, on April 11th, 2007

The four-ship typically comes in level at release altitude. For a 45 degree dive bombing pattern that’d be around 5000′ above ground level (AGL). Aligned with the attack heading, the lead will push it up to the planned release airspeed – typically around 450 knots calibrated airspeed – and the savvier wingmen will ensure that their jets are trimmed out in yaw as they attain release speed: Even modern jets get “bent,” and what is trimmed for level flight at 300 knots won’t always work at 450, while uncorrected yaw is a source of bombing inaccuracy. Once over the target, dash one will call, “Lead’s breaking,” on the aux radio, followed by his wingmen every four seconds or so thereafter, 2, 3, 4.

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Escape Plan

By lex, on September 25th, 2009

Had lunch today with an old bud who works for one of the major defense contractors here in Sandy Eggo. Catch up a bit, see what’s shaking and baking. That sort of thing.

We’d flown together during one of my refresher tours at the FA-18 training squadron. He’d been senior to me, on his way to his XO/CO tour, while I was en route to Japan for a department head tour. We had one of those “memorable” flights together, a night bombing hop in the Chocolate Mountains near El Centro. Led by a first tour instructor pilot, a young Marine captain if I recollect, with three more senior officers on his wing. It’s only a matter of 20 miles or so from the airfield at NAF El Centro to the bombing range, which can make for a hasty, agitated mission. You barely have time to get dash four aboard before dash one is breaking up into the circular bombing pattern. Six laps around the pattern for the bomb deliveries, and then it’s rejoin time again overhead the target and head back towards the field.

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Lest We Forget

By lex, on September 18th, 2009


For many years I was stationed at NAS Lemoore, California. The base took its hits back during the Vietnam War, a fact to which the little brass plaques on the chapel entry bore mute testimony. Some folks came back. Some were left behind.

None of them were forgotten.

My son and I ended up one day at a little park in town. He was only ten or so, and stepped on a granite marker laid flat on the grass on the southwest side of the park. A dignified lady of a certain age, neatly dressed with her gray hair pulled back in a pony tail spoke to him, not at all unkindly.

“Watch where you step, son. That marker lies there for all those who no longer stand among us.”

I never learned her story. I didn’t have to.

It must have been hard, I think, to have been left behind like that.

For her. For him.

All the way around.

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A Memorial Day Message From Lex

Previously posted, but bears repeating.

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By lex, on September 3rd, 2009

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. — Leonardo Da Vinci

I was walking across a footbridge from one cube farm to another yesterday with a co-worker and I couldn’t help but notice the towering cumulus clouds billowing over the Cuyamaca mountains east of the county. Hovering like jovial gods in the thermals that gave them birth. Bright faced, but changeable. Concealing an inner darkness that reveals not their truth. Waiting only for an updraft to hurl them through the freezing level and turn their smiling faces to wrathful frowns. Placid valleys and echoing canyons in the skies between them like hallways. Athwart them the hall bullies, edging in. Uncommitted.

Was a time, I remarked to her, when I could put the blowers in, climb up in the vertical and touch their faces. Rolling over on my back over the top all but whooping with delight. Gather speed down the back side to try it again. Play pretend atop a $40 million fighter that the cloud is a mountain and how low can you go?

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Woefully Ignorant

By lex, on September 3rd, 2009

Glenn Greewald (et al.) may or may not be an exceptional constitutional lawyer – I’m ill equipped to judge – but he really ought to steer clear of military history. The leading sentence to his most recent jeremiad ** really says it all:

There was a time, not all that long ago, when the U.S. pretended that it viewed war only as a “last resort,” something to be used only when absolutely necessary to defend the country against imminent threats.

I’m trying to imagine what era Greenwald is thinking of: Our revolution was a war of choice, with one-third of the country in arms against tyranny, one-third supporting the ancien regime, and the remainder more or less on the sidelines as interested observers.

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Turning and Turning in the Widening Gyre

By lex, on August 29th, 2009

Found myself regularly checking the oil temps on the moto, on account of the furnace-like blasts coming up. It’s a good bike, but it is air cooled. Temps were in limits though. Just a hot day for two wheels. A hot day down at the aerodrome too. We’ve four wee circular vents in our greenhouse canopies and when the sun is beating down they’re nothing like enough.


We had an empty back seat for the first go ’round, and there’s a retired USAF type that works with me looking to get back into the flying gig for pay. Flew F-16s, lots of previous civil time, a commercial rating and a recent Biennial Flight Review. He went along for the ride and demonstrated that some things – formation flying, to name just one – stick with you.

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Agitprop II

By lex, on August 26th, 2009

I was half-listening to NPR on the way in to work this morning, and of course the main topic of discussion was the late senator from Massachusetts. The senator fought many fights in his time, and one of them was against a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning.

Now, as inspiring as I find our national ensign, the history, land and people it represents, and as personally repugnant as I find its desecration, I happen to agree that the Constitution is too precious a document to be trifled with on merely symbolic grounds. And I accept without endorsing the notion that such displays are a form of constitutionally protected speech.

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In the Mail

By lex, on August 23rd, 2009

If you grew up with a martial mindset in the late 70s and early 80s, it was impossible not to be aware of the magazine “Soldier of Fortune.” A quick perusal of the subject matter revealed a fixation on military weapons and tactics at the unit level, and opportunities to be had the world over – there was always trouble brewing somewhere. That was during the Cold War of course, when wars were fought by proxy. If anything, things got more chaotic after the Berlin Wall came down.

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