Category Archives: Naval Aviation

Signing the logbook

By lex, Posted on December 9, 2006

 

I saw the best pilots of my generation destroyed by
Bacardi, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the Cubi streets at dawn,
looking for the way back-sheep…

So Cubi Point it was, in the Philippines that was, on one or another cruise from here to there and back again in the service of the Greater Good and racking up shipboard arrested landings, just for the bragging rights that were in it. ‘Twas a “working inport,” which meant of course that the blackshoes professional surface warfare officers had to busy themselves about the rust stains adhering to the hull of our warship, herself half-way returned from the uttermost parts of the world, with the signs of the sea showing plain. Well, that and ordnance offloads and re-tiling of the mess decks, a task that seemed an almost monastic devotion aboard certain ships, the one aboard which I had the honor to serve being not least among them.

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The Helo Dunker

 

By Lex, Posted on Tue – February 10, 2004

 

I’ve written before of Navy training – it’s very effective, if not always very fun. But I think it’s safe to say that the Helicopter Dunker, which is a subset of water survival training, and requires refresher training every four years, pegs out both meters: Max effectiveness, max not very fun.

Some of you may remember the film, “Officer and a Gentleman ,” starring Richard Gere, and set in the 1980’s. It caused quite a stir for a while, but having seen it recently, it’s surprising how badly the film has aged over the years. The “poor kid with a bad attitude who survives a trial by fire with the assistance of a tough-love drill instructor and his poor factory girl sex toy who nevertheless loves him for who he is, while tragically losing his best friend to suicide” zeitgeist seemed within a hair’s breadth of being anachronistic when the film debuted, but it’s merely painful to watch now.

Anyhoo.

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Flameout approach

By lex, on December 12, 2006

 

I’ve had the opportunity over the course of my flying life to land with “an” engine shut down, which fact always made me glad that I had been issued two of them to go along with the rest of my FA-18. I did get a few hundred hours of single engine F-16 time down in Key West as an adversary pilot, and several hundred hours in single engine A-4’s there and in training.

You hear things in single engine jets that you’d be able to safely ignore in their multi-engine counterparts. Especially at night. “Night noises,” we’d call them, the bumps and whines of a mechanical contraption seem somehow magnified by the realization that you’re sitting on top of a single-point-of-failure, which is why God created ejection seats I guess.

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Don’t give up the ship

By Lex

On November 16, 2006

 

So said Captain James Lawrence, the mortally wounded CO of the USS Chesapeake as he was being carried below. Our infant Navy had grown a bit impetuous perhaps after USS Constitution under Isaac Hull battered HMS Guerriere to bits and after her next CO, William Bainbridge sent whatever bits of HMS Java hadn’t burnt down to the bottom of the deep blue sea not much later.

Chesapeake was another of the American heavy frigates that had given Britania such a case of the hives during the War of 1812, and under Lawrence met the Royal Navy’s Captain Philip Broke of the HMS Shannon shortly after getting underway with a fresh and unworked crew from Boston harbor in the summer of 1813. Lawrence declined the advantages obtaining to the weather gage – including passing up an opportunity to rake her with a broadside from stern to stem – the better to shorten sail and duke it out with Shannon at close quarters, broadside to broadside. No doubt he thought to make short work of the somewhat smaller British frigate.

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Salty

By Lex

Posted on 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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Hijinks and low humor

By lex

Posted on March 6, 2006

 

What would you do, if, on the night of your rehearsal dinner, with wedding nuptials just around the corner (chronologically speaking) a band of sturdy young men clad all in black and sporting ski masks for to hide their features burst into the Chinese restaurant where you, your betrothed and your several, sundry and assorted friends and family members were dining? And having thus burst in on this charming, almost Rockwellian tableau, the happy band of miscreants and ne’er-do-wells made off with the struggling, squirming, muffled bridegroom? By dint, you know: Of overwhelming physical force?

Taking him, I might add, heavens knows where?

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An apology for aircraft carriers

By Lex

On July 25, 2006

 

Just like the cicadas, every 17 years or so, someone smoking a pipe and wearing a tweed jacket will come out with the bold proposition that maybe it’s time for the US Navy to buy smaller, or fewer, or no aircraft carriers. This year, it was former Carter-era CIA director Stansfield Turner, joined now by US Rep Roscoe Bartlett, R-MD.

Admiral Turner wrote an article in the July issue of the Naval Institute Proceedings, entitled: “Do We Need Carriers?”

Turner argues that other, cheaper ships, equipped with large stocks of computer and satellite-guided missiles, could deliver as much combat power as a carrier without risk to pilots and other airmen.

“All weapons systems have their day and we move on,” Turner said in an interview. He worries that “military people have a tendency to stay with what’s tried, true and proven” without fully studying alternatives, he added.

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