By lex, on June 27th, 2010
‘Twas four (!) flights yesterday, for the hours of daylight have become long. The day was hot, the Vargas were airborne. And if we should somehow find our way to the merge, we would not ‘scape a brawl. For now, these hot days, is the flying blood stirring.
Not to mention the profit motive that’s in it, what with all the vacationeers come hither for the Del Mar Fair, the university students to the beaches and the high schoolers all at sixes and sevens with nothing at all to do and too much time to do it in.
The first set were a pair of ’99 grads from the Boat School, now condemned gratified to live as black shoes professional surface warfare officers and eager to taste the forbidden delights of fighter aviation in a 150HP low wing piston aircraft.
From the back seat.
A husband and wife team, they were, both a’finishing up their department head tours aboard differing variants of small boys warships of lesser displacement and on their mutual way to a 1-year individual augment in Bahrain. Which, if you’ve got to go on an IA, is not a bad way to do it considering the relative lack of creature discomfort, the comparative physical safety and the “BYOB” nature of the thing, with one of those “B’s” – the exercise left to the reader – standing in for “bootie”. Between Stuttgart and Kanduhar, Bahrain falls rather more towards the Swabian end of the spectrum than otherwise.
I was strapping hizzoner into the trunk and giving him my more or less standard schspiel about the flight controls: Put the stick forward and the houses get bigger. Pull aft and they get smaller. Keep pulling aft and they start getting bigger again. (On account of the stalling that’s in it.) Which is when I realized: Most of the poor benighted buggers who have the misfortune to fly with me prolly have no more idea about what “aft stick” might mean than helpless goats do about what has become of Ed and Bob.
I felt a moment’s twinge of guilt at my pedagogic ineptitude before thinking, well: At least it wasn’t 30 years ago.
You see, when I was just getting started in naval aviation, there was a distinction between what was found within the cockpit and what was without. Such that we would speak of the “right horizontal console” in the cockpit, but the “starboard wing” outside it. The elder gentlemen of my acquaintance – F-8 and Phantom jocks, for the most part – took the taxonomy so far as to call their wingmen to “break port!” if and as a MiG should find itself within missile range anywhere around their seven to eight o’clock. Which was all well and good among us mariners, but if you should ever blunder into the midst of a USAF brawl and call some poor blue suited heathen to break port – or starboard, for that matter – before soaking a heat seeker up his tailpipe, he’d still be wondering what you were on about during his parachute descent to the Hanoi Hilton.
Being of naval breeding, my guest pilot – professional surface warfare officer though he might be – immediately grasped the significance of hauling aft on the stick, if not necessarily (as it would turn out) the importance of not carrying a good idea too far, for once in flight he demonstrated the deft touch of a blacksmith on the flight controls. So deeply we were exploring the Varga’s accelerated stall characteristics that I feared for my dental fillings, there was that much bone-jarring buffet.
The other three flights were more or less the same, and at the end of the day it was 3.4 hours more in the logbook, the hard way.
Now it’s back to the aerodrome, for I’ve three more flights today, the first of which is to be filmed by Telemundo, which if you don’t know that news outlet then I reckon you haven’t spent enough time in Southern California.
Usually we tell our guest pilots to make a “guns” call on the radio when they’ve arrived at a firing position.
Today I think I will tell him to say, “Gooooooool!”