Category Archives: Whisper

Whisper: Open Thread

By Whisper, on March 7th, 2012

When Lex “left the keys in it” for me to be a guest blogger here about a year ago, we didn’t discuss what to do in this occasion.  I am at a loss.  I did feel the need to provide one place for your tributes and condolences to collect.  So here it is.

Whisper Open Thread

As Lex would say, talk amongst yourselves.

Very Respectfully,


From The Editor: Lex referred to his readers – The Lexicans – on more than one occasion as “some of the best friends I’ve never met”.

I wonder if he ever knew how many of those were out there.

From his San Diego neighbor who knew Carroll LeFon but did not know the identity of Neptunus Lex, to a serviceman in Afghanistan to a young Frenchman,  many came to show their grief from around the world. They were grandmothers, truck drivers, active duty military, retired military, retired policemen, a friend of 20 years, even the Secretary of the Navy

They are here, in a .pdf file that will download. 

There is at least 1 on that list who didn’t know Lex in life but became a friend after reading some posts the next day,  realizing what a good man he was. 

We had all lost a good friend.

My thanks to advokaat and ColoComment for helping me with the .pdf file.

Bill Brandt

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A Personal Note from Secretary Ray Mabus

By Whisper, on March 8th, 2012

I mourn the passing of a great naval aviator, a professional analyst of all things naval, and a soulful and compelling writer of poetry and prose – Ray Mabus, SecNav. 

cross-posted at Naval Institute blog

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Whisper: Missing the Boat

By Whisper, on July 26th, 2011

The little one, that is.  The L-class – The Aphib.

whisper Missing The Boat

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Whisper: Barber Shop Issues

By Whisper, on August 19th, 2011

We are nearing the half-way point of our scheduled seven-month deployment, and have been on-station on the North Arabian Sea flying combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom for over a month now.  A routine has developed.  For aficionados of Bill Murray films, this routine is commonly referred to as “Groundhog’s Day”.  It is a seemingly endless cycle of days that, try as you may to change it, goes-on with or without you.  Days of the week are no longer marked with a name, but are instead referenced in realtion to when your favorite meal will be served again.  For some it is Steak Night, for others it is the weekly brunch (which is done particularly well on this here warship).

For the most part, the routine sustains you.  A rhythm develops that helps pass the time.  However, in the case of an annoying or unprofessional shipmate, a routine of lackadaisical performance can drive a man insane.  Yesterday, one man reached his breaking point:

From: [redacted]
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2011 8:03
To: [redacted]
Cc: [redacted]
Subject: Barber Shop Issues

 LTjg [redacted],
I believe that your barber shop requires additional supervision. I have ignored issues in the past (i.e. loud obnoxious rap music, general horseplay, ect), but this latest occurrence is ridiculous.

Yesterday, I made an appointment for a 1400 hair cut. Due to my busy day, I showed up 20 minutes early to see if there was an open seat. When I arrived, your barber was sound asleep on the bench with head phones on. I attempted to wake “[redacted]” up (not sure of rank/rate). He did not wake up so I left and came back 15 minutes later. He was still asleep.

Instead of attempting to wake him up, I decided to sit in the barber chair until he awoke. After about 20 minutes, he finally awoke and said “whut kinda cut you want?” I told him what I wanted and he proceeded to put his head phones back on and cut my hair. The only other thing he asked me was “you want be edged”? I was not sure what that meant, so I said no.

I run a department of 130 sailors and chiefs who work long hours on the flight deck. I do not allow them to sleep during duty hours. I am not aware of your division’s policies on sleeping, so I apologize if I am imposing unrealistic expectations.

Upon telling this story to my fellow Air Wing officers, this exact issue has happened several times and seems to be the norm.

The only good part of this story is that surprisingly, I got a decent haircut.


All is well that ends well?  Hat’s off to you, shipmate.

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Whisper: Happy Birthday America

By Whisper, on July 4th, 2011

The Fourth of July is obviously a day of stirring patriotism.  I was raised to associate the 4th with going out in the boat and having a beach picnic then watching some fireworks.  In the later years a cold adult beverage of course became a staple.

So this year I found myself out on a boat – surrounded by sand – and flying a jet loaded with fireworks!  Just missing the friends, family, and would kill for an adult beverage…

Today it was two hops in the Arabian Gulf, a day Case III recovery, and in a tanker for the last event – and I got to share it with some of the greatest Americans you will ever meet!

The LSOs were in rare form.

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Whisper: Mach Loop

By Whisper, on May 8th, 2011

I don’t know when I first heard of the Mach Loop, but odds are it was while surfing plane prOn over at Theo Spark’s place.

Let us start this story by saying that the Brits like to fly low.  Here in the States, we define low-level or “VR” routes as a series of points laid-out to avoid obstructions and populated areas.  In the UK, they have “Low Flying Areas”.  LFAs = Brilliant.

Whisper Mach loop

Thurman over Scotland, June 2004.

In 2004 I had the opportunity to participate in a Joint Maritime Course, or JMC, while embarked in Enterprise.  We mostly flew over the north of Scotland, bombed some rock off the coast, and looked for Nessy from overhead her Loch at 500 feet.  We were limited to no lower than 500 feet because some Strike Eagle guys had recently caused an international incident by blowing someone off of a horse.  Thanks zoomies.  Flying along at the nose-bleed altitude of 500′,  it was common to be intercepted by RAF Tornadoes in a low-to-high fashion.  (It is assumed that air-to-air training rules have been briefed when operating in the LFAs.)

In preparation for participating in the upcoming Saxon Warrior exercise, I’ve been brushing-up on the procedures for operating in Her Majesty’s airspace.  Imagine my delight when it was discovered that Low Flying Area 07 is scheduled for use during the exercise.  LFA 07, you see,  is home to the Mach Loop, a world famous low level route.  There is even a group of photography aficionados that have dedicated a website to promoting it.  So why is it called the Mach Loop?  (No Mav, we will not be supersonic.)

The Mach Loop is a set of valleys, situated between Dolgellau (pronounced ‘Dol-geth-lie’) in the north, and Machylleth (pronounced ‘Mah-hunth-leth’) in the south (and from which the Mach Loop gets its name), which are regularly used for low level flight training, with flying as low as 250 feet (76 metres) from the nearest terrain.

Should be a good time.  The citizens of Wales have been warned, but it’s the folks in Portsmouth that seem to need the advance notice.


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Whisper: The Allure of Animism

By Whisper, on April 27th, 2011

Though not an animist, when it comes to Bald Eagles I am prone to empathy.

The Bald Eagle embodies so many things that I love: family, freedom, flying, and America.  It almost feels as if it is your patriotic duty to love these animals.  Here in Hampton Roads, we have enjoyed a nest-eye view of a mating pair that call the Norfolk Botanical Gardens their home.

Whisper The Allure of Animism

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Whisper: Fairly Compensated

By Whisper, on April 23rd, 2011

A week ago, Mark Thompson posted a fairly myopic essay on the TIME website demonstrating (if anything) that he is not familiar with the concept of the United States being a maritime nation.  To him, I would recommend a book written by a very smart man about the importance of a sovereign contemplating coastal geography in the course of national development.  Most of us in the naval service consider it to be somewhat of a primer.  Just because a near-peer competitor has developed a weapon that could potentially threaten our capital ships is no reason to mothball the fleet.

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Whisper: Only in the Hermit Kingdom

By Whisper, on April 19th, 2011

Whisper Only in the Hermit Kingdom

Adding to the novelty value of the DPRK, their second runway in a mountain is apparently nearing completion. While this seems very cool and tactical to the casual observer, and this fighter pilot, for one, would love to launch (at least once) out of a mountain James Bond style, there really is no good reason for doing this.  As a matter of strike planning, it actually simplifies the problem.  Instead of using multiple PGMs to destroy dozens of hardened aircraft shelters, revetments, and ramp space – you really only need two: one for each end of the tunnel.  A partial collapse will suffice.

Assuming a potential adversary allows you to retain the use of your troglodyte aerodrome, there are a few other things to consider:

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Whisper: Self Escort Strike

By Whisper, on March 7th, 2011


Twenty years ago this past January, LCDR Mark Fox and LT Nick Mongillo validated the concept.

In one of the strangest juxtapositions of pop culture and my chosen profession, Mr. Charlie Sheen displays an uncanny grasp of the concept:

I’m an F-18, bro, and I will destroy you in the air and I will deploy my ordnance to the ground.

There is no doubt that this man is making an energy rate deck transition on his way to a rocks kill. While such tabloid chaff is not the normal purview of this enlightened establishment, Mr. Sheen has on several occasions recently referenced the F-18, TOPGUN, and strafing – which would, at a minimum, seat him in the target audience.

A good friend and fellow F-18 driver finds flaw in Sheen’s anthropomorphic reference: “if [he] were truly a jet, [he] would have been a Tomcat… an extraordinarily expensive, often broken piece of equipment requiring thousands of manhours of attention… to even function… but once airborne, MAN! what a freakin’ show!”

I, for one, can’t wait to find out that some Naval Aviators partied this guy into the ground.  Welcome to awesome.


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