Category Archives: Naval Aviation


By lex, on March 12th, 2006

I’m feeling vaguely dyspeptic and out of sorts in this blogging thing, for all that I had a wonderful bike ride this afternoon up the coast. Carmel Valley to Del Mar, and up that miserable hill. Then down again, through Solana Beach, which soon gave way to Cardiff and then finally Encinitas. At Swami’s in Encinitas I turned around and came back the way I’d gone, to the tune of 23-odd miles or so of a very pleasant day.

So to put it all away and just write something, I thought it’d be fun to share a mini-sea story with you.

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The Bridges of Toko-ri

By lex, on December 5th, 2005

I don’t know if you ever saw the movie, but one of its closing lines still holds a place in naval aviation culture: “Where do we get such men?”

Of course, it’s quite often used ironically these days, and followed up by, “and where shall we put them,” but never mind – occasional correspondent B2 sends along the excellent read on the real story behind this Korean War-era strike you’ll find appended below:

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I Fixed the Internet

By lex, on Sat – June 18, 2005

It’s what I do. Well, that and fix the TV remote control.

I think it’s why they keep me around.

We’ve got a wireless home network, courtesy of an Apple Airport base station hooked up to my machine. No wires, no muss, no fuss and everyone gets to share the DSL. Except that every once in a while, for no apparent reason, the base station itself petulantly ships the bed. It crabs out, in other words. Goes tips up.

You get the picture.

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By lex, on June 1st, 2005

I was thinking the other day about how much of the interest in militaria tends to accrue to the gear, rather than the gear-er. For my part, I’ve always thought that it was the people who made the Navy great (and other people, although only occasionally, who can make it miserable). We spend long months far from home in enforced proximity with people whom we might not otherwise choose to associate – surface warfare officers and submariners, for example. But as aviators, especially in the somewhat rarefied air of single-seat strike fighter squadrons, we generally tend to get on pretty famously. You just meet a lot of really great people.

Wacko was one of them.

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Centrifuge Training

By lex, on Mon – April 25, 2005

A sea story. Are you relieved?

When I was an adversary pilot in Key West, Florida, eventually the day came that my buddy and I, who arrived at the squadron about the same time, got to begin F-16N training. That was a moment long looked for, eagerly awaited. We’d been flying the A-4 Skyhawk for just over six months, and while it had been fun, say thankya, it had been something of a step down from the FA-18’s we’d flown in the fleet. We were looking forward to a little “strange,” in the form of F-16 training. Looking forward to flying the “Viper.”

But before we could start flying the “Viper,” we had to go to Warminster, Pennsylvania.

And get a few rides in the centrifuge .

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By lex, Tue – April 5, 2005

I never met a fighter pilot I didn’t want to gun.

BFM – Basic fighter maneuvers. Dogfighting. Mano a mano. One versus one.

Play hard or stay home.

There’s nearly nothing a fighter pilot would rather do, completely sober, than try himself against another fighter pilot in the physical and mental test of skill that is man-to-man air combat. Sure, there’s a great deal of job satisfaction to be had by shacking a weapons cache from 20,000 feet, and seeing secondary explosions – it’s lovely, in fact. But it’s not personal, it’s just business. And yes, the sensation of a near-perfect landing aboard the ship is as close as one can come to le petit mort while fully dressed. But that is a part of what we do. And it is true that in a many vs. many air combat brawl there is to be found the kind of fey, wild joy that was only paralleled perhaps a hundred years or so ago in the clashing collision of cavalry troops, there is the element of chance: You could do everything right, in a big fight, and still get killed. Continue reading


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By lex, on Wed – March 30, 2005

During the fall of last year I had the opportunity (that’s what we call going to sea: an opportunity) to plan and execute three major exercises for three different carrier strike groups. We essentially put all three groups through the same wringer, with only minor modifications from exercise to exercise.

And in retrospect, the fascinating thing was how three nearly identically configured carrier strike groups, facing three nearly identical scenarios, came up with markedly different processes which often led to completely different results.

Which is kind of funny, but not in the “ha-ha” kind of a way: the Navy had invested the same amount in materiel, manpower and training on each group. And yet the same input signal often yielded different outcomes. And while all strike groups were successful, some of them, or their component warfare commanders were much better than others: More lethal, more survivable, and more nimble.

Which begs the question: Why?

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