Category Archives: Lexicans

Target Fixation

By lex, on January 30th, 2012

In strike aviation, especially in the old days, before smart weapons made the task of identifying and destroying hard targets easier, a principal risk to the striker was a phenomenon known as “target fixation.” This typically involved a low altitude attack which took advantage of direct and indirect terrain masking to approach a target, followed by a pop up to identify the target and a shallow dive to employ upon it.

There would be a desperate few moments when the striker was on his back in a hostile environment, seeking the target and growingly aware of his exposure to a variety of threats – one of the problems of being within gun range is that the enemy is too – and then a sense of exultation as the target is acquired and the weapons run begins. That was where target fixation could creep in: A striker might press the run too close, and place himself within the frag pattern of his own ordnance, or worse, hit the target with his own airplane (typically a little long).

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One of those strange weekends

By lex, on February 26th, 2006

February 27th, 2006.

You know about the retirement on Friday, so: All caught up there. What I haven’t shared (because I’ve been, you know: Saving it) is the story of the other things that went on.

First a little trip backwards in time. On Wednesday I was desired and required to be up in the Front Office, for to speak with the actual Chief of Staff on a Matter of Some Import. While waiting to see himself (Himself not being in town at the moment) a female chief petty officer approached me hesitantly:

“You’re a pilot sir?”

“Why yes. Yes I am, actually,” I replied. Thinking that, you know: The wings on my khakis were a dead give-away, for anyone as had eyes to see.

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By lex, on July 17th, 2011

Closure at last for the family of one  Texan’s native sons, too long missing in action after struck by ground fire in Laos:

“He’s finally home,” Sanders, of La Porte, said of her beloved uncle. “Our family is back together. We’re complete.”

Egan, who was born and grew up in Houston, was shot down April 19, 1966, while bombing targets in Laos. The crash site was eventually located, but his whereabouts remained a mystery. A DNA sample Sanders provided about 10 years ago was a near-perfect match for bone fragments a farmer in Laos turned over to U.S. officials in late 2009.

“I’ve been waiting for them to find him all these years,” said Anne Egan, cradling his urn. A burial for the Navy pilot is scheduled for Saturday.

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29 Years

By lex, on May 26th, 2011

It was 29 years ago today that the sh!t hit the fleet: The USNA Class of 1982 tossed their hats in the air and exchanged a thin gold strip on their shoulder boards for a single fat one (the Marines pinned on a butterbar). As I have mentioned before, that was a very happy ending to an arduous four years. Perhaps it was only me, but when those hats came clattering back down on our upturned heads again, I had a premonition that life going forward would be a different kind of hard.

Those were leaner years, as I was painfully reminded from page 105 of the current issue of Shipmate magazine, the Boat School’s alumni rag.

29 Years

That was a good day.

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Helo Solo

By lex, on May 20th, 2011

SNO sends this pic of his first fling-wing solo.Which is apparently performed with another student in the left seat, and never mind the “watch this!” factor. And which seat is also apparently the copilot’s seat in a helicopter. Because of Physics, or some such. Or torque.

Perhaps both, in some mystical combination.

Helo Solo

It’s a wee, bitty thing, that TH-57. I think I just sprouted (another) gray hair. Which I’ve precious few of the other kind remaining, so thanks boy-o.

And congrats.

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Ironies Abound

By lex, on May 2nd, 2011

I’m pretty sure that the DEVGRU bubbas sent to capture or kill Osama bin Laden didn’t mind skipping past option one, and moving directly to option two. Trying a captured OBL would have been, 1) better than he deserved and, 2) intensely problematical. Pre-trial confinement anywhere but at Guantanamo would have been a security nightmare for the site chosen, and GTMO isn’t taking in any new customers. So maybe it’s a little ironic that a president who came to office promising more of that good old rule of law unleashed the hounds of direct action, not that I take objection.

But today we learn that the intel which led to OBL’s death was generated by the same “enhanced interrogation techniques” that the President Obama eliminated:

Current and former U.S. officials say that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, provided the nom de guerre of one of bin Laden’s most trusted aides. The CIA got similar information from Mohammed’s successor, Abu Faraj al-Libi. Both were subjected to harsh interrogation tactics inside CIA prisons in Poland and Romania.

The news is sure to reignite debate over whether the now-closed interrogation and detention program was successful. Former president George W. Bush authorized the CIA to use the harshest interrogation tactics in U.S. history. President Barack Obama closed the prison system.

Hat’s off to President Obama for pulling the trigger on the assault. Hat’s off to President Bush for doing what had to be done to start the kill chain.

OBL dying a natural death in his sheltered compound was never an acceptable alternative.

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By lex, on September 3rd, 2009

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. — Leonardo Da Vinci

I was walking across a footbridge from one cube farm to another yesterday with a co-worker and I couldn’t help but notice the towering cumulus clouds billowing over the Cuyamaca mountains east of the county. Hovering like jovial gods in the thermals that gave them birth. Bright faced, but changeable. Concealing an inner darkness that reveals not their truth. Waiting only for an updraft to hurl them through the freezing level and turn their smiling faces to wrathful frowns. Placid valleys and echoing canyons in the skies between them like hallways. Athwart them the hall bullies, edging in. Uncommitted.

Was a time, I remarked to her, when I could put the blowers in, climb up in the vertical and touch their faces. Rolling over on my back over the top all but whooping with delight. Gather speed down the back side to try it again. Play pretend atop a $40 million fighter that the cloud is a mountain and how low can you go?

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