Author Archives: Bill Brandt

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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The Box Office

By lex, on August 20th, 2009

Got this through the email pipe.


While the C-5 was turning over its engines, a female crewman gave the G.I.s on board the usual information regarding seat belts, emergency exits, etc. Finally, she said, “Now sit back and enjoy your trip while your captain, Judith Campbell, and crew take you safely to Afghanistan.”

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You Can’t Judge

By lex, on August 15th, 2009

Three flights today with the Barnstormers. The first with a couple of young men from Southwest England, sponsored by their parents while (whilst?) on holidays. My man was 12 years old, his brother a couple of years older. Mum and dad looked on with a pride generously admixtured with apprehension. This was a lovely gift for the young men. Would they ever come back, at all?

My guest pilot won two bouts out of three, because his staff pilot doesn’t care much for getting gunned. Mum and dad were pleased as punch to see them in the break after we came back. Off you go, after we’d landed. We done our paid work and brought the boys back safe and sound. The ‘rents clapped us on the shoulders, like. And went on their merry. I told chief pilot Bronco Chuck that it wasn’t a surprise, not really. Europeans aren’t much given to doling out gratuities.

They give at the office, and how.

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The Gutless Cutlass

By lex, on August 9th, 2009

When I was going through my initial FRS CQ in the FA-18 – the first time we, as fledgling naval aviators would land aboard ship at night – the landing signal officers were careful to explain to us that we might, or might not see combat but that we would of a certainty see the back end of the ship. It was a LCDR Lyons, if I recall correctly, who spoke with an easy economy of words sprinkled with stout, Anglo Saxon derivatives. “Goon this up,” he said encouragingly, “and you could no-sh!t die.”

He had our attention.

Off to one side of the LSO classroom was a picture that also caught my attention. It was a snapshot of an F7U Cutlass pilot having a very bad day.


Although I was at that time a mere novice, it appeared to me certain that 1) the plane would be a write-off, 2) the pilot would most likely buy it as would, 3) the sailors there in the port catwalk but that, 4) the LSO, having chosen an unconventional escape route across the flight deck, might just get away with it.

The classroom picture served a dual role, I think. It reminded the aviators both novice and veteran of the stakes in the game. But that was, until today, all that I knew about it.

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By lex, on August 6th, 2009


Non-approved usage.

Carrier Quals from Beeville, Texas, the story goes. A little bit of land left.

The student allegedly climbed “up” the F-9F advanced training jet before realizing that it was going to be hard getting past the still running engine exhaust. Had to climb back down again to shut her down again.


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Flanker Ops

By lex, on August 1st, 2009

And now, for something entirely different.

First impressions: An interesting video*, in that “not-quite-right” kind of way. I guess it’s what you get used to. The only thing wronger than that strange transition at the opener – did Russian archers really show that much thigh in battle? – was the flight deck crewman taxiing the Su-33 around without a float coat or cranial.

Pretty impressive pitch pulse capability with the canards. I have to wonder at all that slow speed maneuvering with the speed brake out. I’d be more impressed by the deck run capability and jump ramp if I didn’t know that the Flanker pilot has to download fuel and ordnance to make it happen. I guess you can get more fuel once airborne – the probe should be on the right side, by the way – but it’s harder to onload weapons once the wheels have left the deck.

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