Category Archives: Fighter Pilot Stories

Rage-Ex

By lex, on December 6th, 2011

Our mission was to attack the imperialist, running-dog, bandits attacking our valiant, progressive forces on our sacred motherland in the name of “democracy”, “liberty”, and “Obamacare.” They were fewer than we, but fierce, while we hard iron in our hearts, for we were permitted to regenerate, having once been killed. They, on the other hand, were single-shot morts, the poor b*stards, and no one promised them that it’d be all beer and skittles in the halls of the (prestigious) Navy Fighter Weapons School. Bring it hard or stay home.

A beautiful day for flying in the Fallon Training Range Complex, winds light and variable at three knots, ceilings and visibility unlimited, the air cold but as clear Waterford crystal.

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Qual Flight

By lex, on September 24th, 2011

So thanks for all the congrats and best wishes, they are truly appreciated.

It’d been a solid three days of looking mournfully at the weather, forecast and sky – a pilot’s ultimate “weather radar”. Listening into the briefs of the qualified guys to try and get a sense of the missions and mindsets. Listen to them grumble about this or that. Smile secretly to yourself, happy to have changed the environment in which such grumbling can occur.

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One Slick Whistle

By lex, on September 13th, 2011

So, your first actual flight in the Kfir is in a slick jet: No external fuel tanks, pods or ordnance, not a whole lot of gas, a great grunching 18+ thousand pounds of static thrust installed. Having done three high-speed taxi tests previously, today was the real deal. Stuff away any concerns you might about never having flown this aircraft before you take her up solo. Take her to the runway, put the spurs to her, see what she’ll do.

She did a lot.

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Whisper: Mach Loop

By Whisper, on May 8th, 2011

I don’t know when I first heard of the Mach Loop, but odds are it was while surfing plane prOn over at Theo Spark’s place.

Let us start this story by saying that the Brits like to fly low.  Here in the States, we define low-level or “VR” routes as a series of points laid-out to avoid obstructions and populated areas.  In the UK, they have “Low Flying Areas”.  LFAs = Brilliant.

Whisper Mach loop

Thurman over Scotland, June 2004.

In 2004 I had the opportunity to participate in a Joint Maritime Course, or JMC, while embarked in Enterprise.  We mostly flew over the north of Scotland, bombed some rock off the coast, and looked for Nessy from overhead her Loch at 500 feet.  We were limited to no lower than 500 feet because some Strike Eagle guys had recently caused an international incident by blowing someone off of a horse.  Thanks zoomies.  Flying along at the nose-bleed altitude of 500′,  it was common to be intercepted by RAF Tornadoes in a low-to-high fashion.  (It is assumed that air-to-air training rules have been briefed when operating in the LFAs.)

In preparation for participating in the upcoming Saxon Warrior exercise, I’ve been brushing-up on the procedures for operating in Her Majesty’s airspace.  Imagine my delight when it was discovered that Low Flying Area 07 is scheduled for use during the exercise.  LFA 07, you see,  is home to the Mach Loop, a world famous low level route.  There is even a group of photography aficionados that have dedicated a website to promoting it.  So why is it called the Mach Loop?  (No Mav, we will not be supersonic.)

The Mach Loop is a set of valleys, situated between Dolgellau (pronounced ‘Dol-geth-lie’) in the north, and Machylleth (pronounced ‘Mah-hunth-leth’) in the south (and from which the Mach Loop gets its name), which are regularly used for low level flight training, with flying as low as 250 feet (76 metres) from the nearest terrain.

Should be a good time.  The citizens of Wales have been warned, but it’s the folks in Portsmouth that seem to need the advance notice.

 

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Whisper: Still Life

By Whisper, on March 6th, 2011

WhisperStillLife1

Aviation photography has been a hobby of mine for over 15 years now. I truly got the bug in 2003 when the photo lab on Enterprise loaned me a Nikon D100 to take for a spin over Afghanistan and later Iraq. Earlier this year, on the occasion of a short form flight physical, my family was kind enough to throw some cash on the fire and upgrade my old Canon 10D to a 60D.  I hope to make you the beneficiary of this gift as well.

I decided to take my new toy up to the flight deck during a rain storm off the Florida coast last month. Hiding in the thirty knot rain shadow behind the nose of an E-2C Hawkeye parked along the foul line, I watched the day Case III recovery. There are a hundred different things to point out in the photo above, at least one of which I did not notice when composing it.

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T.I.A.D. Near mid-air

By lex, on June 5th, 2004

There are few words so immediately blood-chilling in their effect upon tactical aviators, as these: “mid-air.” It is an abbreviation for “mid-air collision,” and conjures up images of once sleek, purposeful and lethal high performance aircraft reduced in a moment to odd pieces of flaming trash, fluttering to earth – instant chaos from order.

Mention that you have recently heard the news of a mid-air and prepare yourself for the customary, almost involuntary response: “Did anyone get out?”

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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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