Category Archives: Flying

Letters

By lex, on August 19th, 2006

Got this note from a reader earlier in the week, and thought the crowd might also be curious about the response:

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Flight school update

By lex, on June 16th, 2006

Several months ago, a newly commissioned ensign heading down to Pensacola asked for some flight school advice. Your humble scribe offered up what few scraps and tatters he could dredge up from the deep well of ancient history, but what really added flavor to the stew were the comments from other naval aviators, past and present.

Like a good young officer, attentive to his duty, the ensign writes back now to update us of his progress:

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“High tech gear”

By lex, on April 26th, 2006

Jut-jawed USAF pilot plays cameo role in “Pimp my ride” *

High Tech Gear

A fire crew had to cut open the canopy of a US Air Force Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor fighter with chainsaws on 10 April to free the pilot, who had been trapped inside for 5h.

The Raptor stealth fighter, heralded as the most technologically-advanced fighter in the world, entered service in January after 19 years of development. Each jet costs around $134 million per unit.

The canopy became stuck in the down and locked position and could not be opened manually after the pilot cycled the mechanism several times, following a pre-flight warning that the canopy was unlocked.

Bummer, I guess. But probably less embarrassing than the poor guy who got to star in this movie.

Heh.

(And thanks to alert reader Jason for the tip).

Similar thing happened to the visiting XO of an adversary squadron when I was down in Key West – he and his baggage were stuck in a two-seat TF-16N in the broiling summer sun for a cuppla, before he threatened to blow the lid off. We towed him into the hangar, where – it being in the shade – it was only 90 degrees. A bad day to be them.

We eventually had to cut them out too, but managed to do so through the skin of the jet, reaching a failed lock-down mechanism. Turned out to be much cheaper than blowing the canopy. Even on a jet that only cost $9mil

* 07-13-2018 Links Gone; no replacements found – Ed.

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Guest Blogging

By Lex, on Wed – April 27, 2005

 

From new reader Craig, and with his permission, a tale of the old days.

Not a particularly happy one, but instructive nonetheless. It ain’t all beer and skittles in the fleet – the good guys don’t always win, and not everyone makes it to the finish line. You’ll maybe understand a little better my reluctance to share flat-hatting stories. Not all of them end happily.

But the rest of us have to learn from their mistakes. They bet everything they had, or ever would have, that they were right about what they were about to do. And being wrong, they gave their lives up, because that’s the kind of business it is. There’s places where you don’t get to make mistakes. And sometimes, all too often in fact, people who do so take other folks with them, to the clearing at the end of the path. And in their memory, we owe it to them for the severity of the price they paid to learn their lessons.

To learn them very well.

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Night Flying

By Lex, on Tue – February 15, 2005

 

If you’re going to fly at seven miles a minute, three hundred feet above the ground (or so), in mountainous terrain, at night –

Well. It helps to have technology on your side.

When you first start flight training, most of your missions will be in the day time. As it was pointed out to me by one of my first instrument instructor pilots (IPs), the best artificial horizon in the world is the actual one.

But eventually you “get” to fly at night.

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Inspiration

By lex, on Mon – August 23, 2004

 

Just when you think that the well has run dry, when you’ve told your last sea story, something comes along to remind you:

There is no end to tales of the sea.

Jonboy, an occasional correspondent from the bidness, sent along this tale, which I share with you free of charge! And grateful for the inspiration. It has unlocked a trove of tales that I will parcel out in due time.

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Bush Flying

By Lex, on August 11, 2010

 

I suspect that it’s many a pilot’s dream to fly the Alaskan Bush. The harsh nature of the climate comes with spectacular beauty, and merely navigating from one spot to another carries unique challenges in a region where navaids are rare and communications with air traffic control even rarer. I imagine that it is inspiring, and liberating and exhilarating. I also imagine that it can be more than a little hair raising. I know a guy flew Tomcats and Hornets for 25 years off the carrier who retired to fly the Alaskan Bush. After a year of scaring the hell out himself, he came back to California, and now teaches high school math. The money’s about the same, but the chance of augering in is vastly reduced. Which doesn’t mean that a secret part of me doesn’t want to give it a spin.

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