Category Archives: Naval Aviation

A Cold War story

By lex, on October 2nd, 2007

Pictures of Arleigh Burkes refueling Russian Federation destroyers brings back memories that even in the bad old days, we still managed to have some fun. I’ve written before about the Bear Box and Gate Guard missions but may have failed to share a story I heard about that occurred during one ship’s transit through.

This particular ship was to start her transit of the box on Christmas Day, which was – in honor of the holiday – scheduled to be a day of relative rest. Holiday routine and a no-fly day to give the flight deck a day off. Since they were entering the Box and didn’t want to be caught flat-footed by long range bombers, they had changed course slightly, stood up alert 5 and 15 fighters and raised the EMCON status to increase the circle of uncertainty – they’d never be found!


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Unrestricted climb

By lex, on September 28th, 2007

Date: March, 1991

Place: Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona

Ride: TF-16N

It had been a long day. A buddy and I had flown three hops that day in the two-seat Viper, alternating front and back seats. We’d were going through the TOPGUN Adversary Course, the better to qualify us as bandits when we returned home to NAS Key West. Coming to the end of the course, the scars that the TOPGUN IP’s had inflicted at the beginning of the course were beginning to fade. Your humble scribe was starting to once again feel his oats.

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Understanding the culture

By lex, on April 3rd, 2007

In the beginning was the jacket, and the jacket was precious on account of the “been there, done that” patches, but it got left behind.


And the Training Officer found the aforementioned bit of flight gear laying adrift, and like any good Training Officer he made things right. And that’s when the unassailable court of squadron opinion was benched:

The evidence –

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This better be good

By lex, on March 5th, 2007

Totally geeky BSG *  spoiler below the fold, combined with some potentially trenchant observations on human nature as it applies to the ineluctable frailties of those flying high performance tactical aircraft. Maybe.

Don’t read on if you’re the type to get the vapors when an otherwise responsible adult draws Life Lessons from a science fiction serial. Or don’t want to know what happened on Sunday’s episode because you haven’t gotten around to it yet.

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Ringside seat

By lex, on October 14th, 2006

The first day of our assessment yesterday and there wasn’t much for your humble scribe to do, straightaway,  the experts had fanned out, and were doing that expert thing. I was left to my own devices.

I went up to the flag bridge, one level below the pilot house to get a workout in. As a space whose tactical importance is much diminished by the video-screen nature of modern naval combat, it functions now as a cardio gym for senior officers. It’s on the O-9 level, or 10 steep-pitched ladders up from where I have parked my slops, so it would be something of a workout just getting there, except that the ship’s XO has been so kind as to lend me a key to the captain’s elevator. We are feeling rather chuffed at our importance, these days.

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By Lex, October 13, 2006

It was a long flight out to the ship, three hours strapped down in a COD, facing backwards. It was worth it all though, because I’m back at sea again and loving it, frankly. It isn’t just the gentle lift and roll of a warship in the open ocean, nor is it the familiar sights and smells: the fighters in tension on the cat, screaming to be released; the all-pervading flight deck smell of grease and JP; the ringing of the ship’s bells as the watch is relieved; the always-different faces that somehow seem as familiar as those of your own family – people you’ve never met but instantly know; the way that the sky and sea frolic in the distance, the way both of them seem to tease you, always running on before, always just out of reach no matter how fast you chase after them. Those things are good and precious and there is deep, abiding magic in them, but there is more.

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Fight center

By lex, on August 20th, 2006

In the good old days of flying bogies at the Conch Republic, it was routine for the bandits, flying F-16’s, F-5’s‚ and A-4’s to run the fighters “out of gas”. They had to CAP at tactical airspeeds, and for the most part we didn’t. We’d run our presentations, fight, kill and die like good bandits, and then head back to our own CAP to wait for the next hack. The fighters on the other hand, were required to pretty much rage around in full grunt from the commit to the knock-it-off, since speed is life and unlike bandits, fighters aren’t supposed to die.

So after two or three runs, maybe four if we were up against Tomcats, the fighters would bingo back to the field, leaving us with whatever we had left to do whatever we might desire.

Which generally speaking, was fight some more.

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