Category Archives: Naval Aviation

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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Tailhooks

By lex, on August 6th, 2009

Tailhooks

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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The Wing

By lex, on June 1st, 2009

Carrier Air Wing 11, now ably led by CAPT Brett “Pops” Batchelder – I think I may have flown an instructional hop with him once when he was a lieutenant junior grade in flight school – was my last air wing as a squadron commanding officer, but it took me a while to recognize them: Of the seven permanently assigned squadrons, only HS-6 and VAQ-139 remained intact since 2001. There’s been a lot of churn.

The wing now consists of two Rhino squadrons, VFA-14 and VFA-41, with the former flying the single seat (baby!) FA-18E, and the latter the two-seat Foxtrot. The “legacy” Hornet squadrons were VFA-97 from Lemoore flying Lot XII Charlies, and VFA-86 from the east coast flying (I believe) Lot XV aircraft (at least they had the IFF interrogator blades on the nose).

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Survivor’s Guilt

By lex, on May 21st, 2009

I think it was two days ago last year that I hung my khakis up, turned the lights out and walked out into the world. There are a number of things you miss – a great number – and a few you don’t. I don’t miss getting the 0200 phone call notifying me that a plane had gone missing. I don’t miss the series of phone calls to follow, some professional, some deeply personal.

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Thrice frightened

By lex, on June 5th, 2008

I was deeply engrossed in work this afternoon when Son Number One surreptitiously penetrated my vital area unobserved. I started when he spoke, and he smiled, asking if he’d frightened me.

I don’t frighten, I replied, with serene equanimity. Although occasionally I might startle.

But that’s not entirely true.

I’d label it perhaps more apprehension than fear, but my very first fifteen minutes in command of an FA-18 squadron was a very uncomfortable time. The outgoing CO had arranged for an air demo after the ceremony, flown by a legacy squadron pilot whom I didn’t know. Guy that was now instructing at the replacement squadron across the street. In one of my airplanes. The plan had been set in ink when he was in charge, but it would be executed under my command and if the whole thing went south it would have been me wearing it around my neck for the next 15 months.

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