Category Archives: Naval Aviation

Helldiver Up

By lex, on August 21st, 2010

A US Navy Curtis Helldiver that has been at the bottom of Sandy Eggo’s Otay Reservoir since 1945 has been salvaged, and the son of the pilot manning the aircraft when it when down was on hand to see the old girl out:

With a crowd of hundreds on shore, many applauding the sight, the SB2C-4 World War II Helldiver, which crashed into Lower Otay on May 28, 1945, finally was lifted from its muddy grave. Hundreds of people had gathered at the lake all week as the long and tedious process of raising the plane took longer than expected and involved more equipment. The plane was known as “The Beast” because pilots struggled to control it, and it was a monster to retrieve from Otay’s mud…

“Oh man, look at that big old engine and tail; now there’s a plane that hasn’t been in the air in 65 years,” said Richard Frazar, whose father, E.D. Frazar, of Richmond, Tx., was forced to ditch the Helldiver into Lower Otay when the engine on the plane failed. He and Army Sgt. Joseph Metz of Youngstown, Ohio, survived the crash, swam to shore and hitchhiked back to their base at Ream Field in the South Bay. Both have since passed away, but some members of their family enjoyed the day of remembrance that came with the sight of the men’s plane.

A pair of FA-18′s buzzed the lake as the aiprlane was pulled ashore, and had your humble scribe been aware, an American Champion Citabria might well have joined them.

On hand and speaking in the video was the Naval Aviation’ Museum’s CAPT Bob Rasmussen, who was commanding officer at Naval Aviation Schools Command back when your host was an ensign.


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T.I.A.D. Near mid-air

By lex, on June 5th, 2004

There are few words so immediately blood-chilling in their effect upon tactical aviators, as these: “mid-air.” It is an abbreviation for “mid-air collision,” and conjures up images of once sleek, purposeful and lethal high performance aircraft reduced in a moment to odd pieces of flaming trash, fluttering to earth – instant chaos from order.

Mention that you have recently heard the news of a mid-air and prepare yourself for the customary, almost involuntary response: “Did anyone get out?”

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On the wire

By lex, on April 11th, 2007

The four-ship typically comes in level at release altitude. For a 45 degree dive bombing pattern that’d be around 5000′ above ground level (AGL). Aligned with the attack heading, the lead will push it up to the planned release airspeed – typically around 450 knots calibrated airspeed – and the savvier wingmen will ensure that their jets are trimmed out in yaw as they attain release speed: Even modern jets get “bent,” and what is trimmed for level flight at 300 knots won’t always work at 450, while uncorrected yaw is a source of bombing inaccuracy. Once over the target, dash one will call, “Lead’s breaking,” on the aux radio, followed by his wingmen every four seconds or so thereafter, 2, 3, 4.

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You Can’t Judge

By lex, on August 15th, 2009

Three flights today with the Barnstormers. The first with a couple of young men from Southwest England, sponsored by their parents while (whilst?) on holidays. My man was 12 years old, his brother a couple of years older. Mum and dad looked on with a pride generously admixtured with apprehension. This was a lovely gift for the young men. Would they ever come back, at all?

My guest pilot won two bouts out of three, because his staff pilot doesn’t care much for getting gunned. Mum and dad were pleased as punch to see them in the break after we came back. Off you go, after we’d landed. We done our paid work and brought the boys back safe and sound. The ‘rents clapped us on the shoulders, like. And went on their merry. I told chief pilot Bronco Chuck that it wasn’t a surprise, not really. Europeans aren’t much given to doling out gratuities.

They give at the office, and how.

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By lex, on August 6th, 2009


Non-approved usage.

Carrier Quals from Beeville, Texas, the story goes. A little bit of land left.

The student allegedly climbed “up” the F-9F advanced training jet before realizing that it was going to be hard getting past the still running engine exhaust. Had to climb back down again to shut her down again.


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Flanker Ops

By lex, on August 1st, 2009

And now, for something entirely different.

First impressions: An interesting video*, in that “not-quite-right” kind of way. I guess it’s what you get used to. The only thing wronger than that strange transition at the opener – did Russian archers really show that much thigh in battle? – was the flight deck crewman taxiing the Su-33 around without a float coat or cranial.

Pretty impressive pitch pulse capability with the canards. I have to wonder at all that slow speed maneuvering with the speed brake out. I’d be more impressed by the deck run capability and jump ramp if I didn’t know that the Flanker pilot has to download fuel and ordnance to make it happen. I guess you can get more fuel once airborne – the probe should be on the right side, by the way – but it’s harder to onload weapons once the wheels have left the deck.

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The Embark

By lex, on June 1st, 2009

I’ve already told you how the bloggers twittered their last tweets prior to getting the outbound COD brief. The young lieutenant from VRC-30 told them that the landing aboard ship would be “fairly violent,” but not nearly as bad as the cat shot the next day. That, he said, would be “more dynamic.”

A raised hand: “Define: Dynamic.”

Oh. You’ll see.

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