By lex, on October 14th, 2011
So, another DCA hop for your “nugget” host and his seasoned flight lead, a man of some 52 summers and 3000+ hours in the F-15 Ego, not to mention a gret deal of seniority in the company, hizzoner being the chief pilot. Which, he’s a good man for a’ that.
But good man or no, he’s out of the fight when the landing gear doors won’t close, as indeed they didn’t. So it was off to the range by my lonesome, for to carry the crimson flag of the Peoples’ Republic of Trashcanistan, first against a four-ship of Marine FA-18s, and later against a four-ship of Strike Eagles. Which the latter were on my team in the first bout, and half of the former on me team agin them in the second.
The Strike Egos pushed out first in their blocks and I trailed them by a suitable distance. They died bravely, leaving me to face four Marine Hornets with their blood up. I did the best I could, died bravely and reset from 20,000 feet down to the turf for to check their off target radar mechanics. Sound, in the event, for notwithstanding my smoking along in the weeds, yet did they find me and put postage paid. You can feel pasted in the sky at 25,000 feet and 400 knots, and have your hair on fire down low at the same speed, proximity to the ground being a grand incentive to keep your head on a swivel and the terrain in mind. You’d be proud of these kids, were you to watch them laboriously prepare, professionally brief, and tactically execute their gameplans. “Gen Why?” my a$$, gentlemen to a man – except for the ladies, one of which is a tall and lithe blonde with a polite smile, a respectful tone and the eyes of a killer – stone-hearted to a soul when the fight is on, all of them. God bless them and keep them.
The Strike Egos went from Red to Blue, and my presentation beflummoxed them, for we spent any length of time groveling in the middle of the area, myself down in the low block, the USAF up high. For I didn’t have the Q to go and get them, and they didn’t have the situational awareness to come and get me, until finally they did. Headed back to the field, landed gracefully, and offered my jet up to my flight lead for the second go before it was asked of me. Charity being no virtue when it is coerced, and easier on the both of us.
I’d like to put into words you understand, make you feel it like I do. The wild freedom of flight, bound tautly by discipline. The kick of the afterburner as it stages fully, 18,000 pounds of thrust pressing you back into your seat. The satisfaction of being tally four at the merge, the muted – but still real – satisfaction of knowing that your adversaries (the good guys) have got you suitcased. The Kfir rolls at 300 degrees per second, and I sip of this with real pleasure. It doesn’t much like going slow, but revels in speed. Sharing the same passions, I indulge her, and she me. It’s no Hornet, and I am no longer 30. But I’m home, for now at least. And you know what that feels like, all of you.
Then! Off to the base exchange, for to get the flavor of it. Mountain Home is remote, and the conditions austere, but the Air Force always had a way of doing what they could in terms of quality of life. It looks like luxury to a sailor man, happy no longer to be on a ship what with airplanes slamming into his roof every 45 seconds or so throughout the flying day, and kneeknockers, exposed cabling and junction boxes everywhere, looking to catch you unawares. The BX was a treat in itself, selling as it did any number of exceptionally fine hunting rifles and handguns, for the self-protection rights that are in them.
You’re not in Sandy Eggo anymore, pilgrim.
I took the rental and headed back to the hotel for to do some laundry, for though it has only been three days, yet did your host pack light, for the baggage capacity of the Kfir is nothing to write home about. On the way I passed a “pawn shop” that was really just a gun store, and quite a nice one. I was still in my flight suit, and most of the hangers on were retired Air Force, and so we had to talk about airplanes and guns, as gun owning airplane enthusiasts will. There was a high capacity AR-15 chambered in 6.8mm with an extendable stock and foregrip that could be walked out the door for the trivial sum of $899 if you were an Idaho resident, and were able to part with $899 you otherwise hadn’t accounted for. Just the thing for when the zombies come, as they must eventually, truth being stranger than fiction and we’ve had no end of fictional zombies. Looking, I do believe, as though they had just decamped from Wall Street in high squalor.
But hush. My passions get away with me.
Stopped by an in-town pawn shop, thinking that their goods might favorably compare. But it was just a pawn shop of the more familiar sort, full of treasures that someone had given away when all other exigencies, options and dreams had been broken or trampled down in the dust. A silver chain with a crucifix pendant, wedding rings, guitars and power tools, once beloved of crafstmen. A well-broken saddle. I exchanged no pleasantries with the proprietors, nor they with me. We were none of us proud to be there, and I was the only volunteer. I left the way I came in, feeling a little low.
Fingers crossed for flight lead’s jet tomorrow, and sufficient to the day, etc.