From: email@example.com (Ed Rasimus)
Subject: Re: Toughest mission you have ever flown.
Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 14:32:38 GMT
firstname.lastname@example.org (ArtKramr) wrote:
> Besides, I think it is time we started talking about flying.
You asked for it. Here's an excerpt from my as yet unfinished book:
I'd been wading through an academics book trying to figure out what
"solution anticipation" meant in a toss bomb computer radar nuclear
weapons delivery. I didn't have a clue. How could the airplane
possibly know it was going to be somewhere before it got there? It
suddenly occurred to me that it was after five and two very important
things needed to be done. I needed to check the schedule-if I was
lucky I would be going to get my first visual nuclear bomb ride
tomorrow. And, I needed a beer. First things first. The schedule.
I headed down the hall from the flight briefing room I'd been working
in toward the duty desk. My classmate, Karl Richter, was posting the
names, times and working airspace for tomorrow. There it was. No
visual nuclear deliveries for me tomorrow. I was scheduled for a solo.
No chase, no instructor, no nothing. Just me in an airplane cruising
around the Nevada skies. Who wants this kind of boredom?
I headed down the hall for the snackbar depressed with the thought of
waiting several more days before I would start to learn about the real
business of flying fighters. I just got my coffee cup refilled when
Tom Gibbs walked in.
Tom was twelve weeks ahead of me in training. He was in the air-to-air
phase and more than half way through the program. He had been through
radar and nuclear weapons and ground attack and was just getting ready
to start refueling and the tactical employment phase. Clearly, here
was someone who could be sympathetic to my frustration and
"Shit, Tom. I've gotta fly an area solo tomorrow. What a damn waste of
"Huh? You mean you guys are getting those area solo flights? Our class
had them canceled 'cause maintenance couldn't generate enough
airplanes. I didn't have to worry about 'em."
"Yeah. But, you know what I'm talking about. I did everything I wanted
to try in pilot training. I've run a T-38 straight up and straight
down. I've done eight point rolls and double Immelmans and whatever I
could think of. I wanna drop some bombs, I don't need to bore holes.
What would you do if you were me? What would you do with two hours to
burn in a 105?
He looked around for just a second and then answered as though he had
thought the problem through long before I asked. "I'd practice high-G
barrel rolls," he said.
"Sure! That's what I can do. That's a good idea" I said as I started
out the door only to stop before my second step. "Uhhh, Tom, what's a
high-G barrel roll?" Sometimes even the coolest of us has to ask a
"A high-G barrel roll is the neatest thing you can do on defense. Say
you've got this guy behind you about to gun your brains out and you
can't shake him. You just lay a high-G barrel roll on him and he gets
spit out in front. Can't miss. Works every time."
"That sounds pretty neat" I said, "but how do you do it?"
"Well," he started maneuvering with his hands, "you get going about
450 knots and you start the nose up with a little back pressure. As
soon as the nose starts moving, you real smooth bring it into buffet
and full back stick and then at the same time you feed in full rudder
in whatever direction you want to roll. The ol' bird kinda flat-plates
into the wind and when it come back around to upright, you center
everything up and you've lost about 200 knots. All in about three
seconds. There's no way anyone can stay behind you."
"Does it hurt anything?" I had to ask.
"Naahh. Just wait till the drop tanks are empty and go for it."
* * * *
Next morning I was at the ops desk checking weather and working up
some takeoff data. It wasn't much of a problem. The weather was
central Nevada standard, clear and dusty all the way to the horizon.
My airplane was clean except for two 450 gallon wing tanks on the
inboard pylons, so the takeoff wouldn't even use half of Nellis'
runway. I signed the flight release form and did a quick review of the
departure procedure and the radio frequencies for Los Angeles Center.
I scribbled a few memory joggers on my clipboard and then scouted up
my regular instructor, Captain Paul Daniels to get my required
pre-solo briefing. Daniels had been my IP through the first three dual
rides in the two-seat airplane and had chased me through my initial
solo rides. His job was to remind me not to do all the things I knew
not to do, but would probably do anyway because that's the way fighter
Paul got a cup of coffee and headed down the hall looking for an empty
briefing room. He pulled up a chair and took a look at my lineup card
with its frequencies and numbers. Then he looked up, laughed a little
and said, "don't bust your ass." And that ended the briefing.
I got the tail number from the duty officer, one of my classmates,
then picked up my helmet, parachute and g-suit. The airplane was
parked practically at the back door of the squadron building in one of
the nearer rows. The sun was bright, the morning air was surprisingly
cool for September in Las Vegas. It was going to be fun, even if there
weren't any bombs to be dropped. But, there was just a tinge of
loneliness. It was the first time in a long time that I was going out
to an airplane without an instructor or other members of a formation
coming along. Oh well, it wasn't that much different than pilot
training-except for the fact that the airplane was three times the
size and worth fifteen million dollars.
I was lucky. The scheduled airplane was a D model, a single-seater. I
wouldn't have to do a rear cockpit check and tie down. That had always
been a pain in T-38s. Just do the walkaround and up the ladder and
into the seat. I still was always a bit awed by going up that eight
rung, twelve foot ladder to get into a single seat fighter.
Around the cockpit from behind my left hip, across the instrument
panel and down the right console to the rear right of the cockpit
below where the water bottle bracket was mounted on the ejection seat.
Still dependent on the checklist, still having to look around to find
some of the switches and gadgets, still not knowing what the hell they
do. The joke was always, "kick the tires, light the fire, and go" or
"shiny switches 'on', red guarded switches 'off'" but it was taking me
just a bit longer.
Ready to start. Wave at the crew chief. Wait for air to spin up the
engine. There's twelve percent RPM, now hit the start button, then
throttle comes around. Ahh, there's the light off. Engine's coming up
nicely now. There's idle. OK, radios, nav, doppler all on, radar power
on. Ready to check flight controls. Now flaps, speed brake, bomb-bay
doors. What a trip, bomb-bay doors on a fighter. Who would believe it?
All looks good.
"Nellis tower, Cobra two four, taxi one."
"Roger, Cobra two four, taxi two right, the wind zero five zero at
eight, altimeter two nine seven five."
Power up, left out of the chocks, right on the parallel. Nice morning.
The Thunderbirds are in the arming area in their F-100s headed for a
practice session. I pass the parked row of red, white and blue
Thunderbird F-105B aircraft, grounded now after the disastrous
accident in their debut season. Too bad, everyone who saw the show
said the 105s were perfect for the team, big, noisy, powerful and
impressive. But, you couldn't have airplanes blowing up in the middle
of airshows. It was bad for the reputation. I sure hope they've taken
care of the problems. I don't mind dying if I do the screwing up, but
I hate the idea of a spontaneous blow-up.
The 'birds are moving out. I roll into the first slot in the
end-of-runway quick check area. Follow the marshaller's instructions.
Roll forward for a tire check. Hands up, resting on the top of the
canopy in sight of the ground crew chief while his team roams under my
airplane checking for loose panels, hydraulic leaks and other bad
stuff. All clear, he waves me off to the runway.
"Nellis Tower, Cobra two four, number one for two right."
"Two four, cleared for take-off, the wind zero five zero at four.
Change to departure control, monitor Guard."
Lined up on the centerline. Pump up the brakes. Throttle coming
forward. Engine checks good at just over one hundred percent. EPR is
on the index. Hydraulics, all three systems good. Flaps set. Looking
for about a hundred ten knots at two thousand feet. Release the
brakes. Throttle outboard and forward. Bang! God, I love that burner
Check speeds good. Coming up on nose wheel lift off. One eighty five.
Airborne. Gear up. Flaps to cruise. Three hundred. Out of burner.
"Nellis Departure. Cobra two four airborne. Lake One to Tonopah.
Leveling six thousand five hundred."
"Roger Cobra two four. Cleared Tonopah transition. Climb and maintain
flight level two one zero until within the MOA, then cleared surface
to FL 450. Contact Los Angeles Center on entry."
OK. Climbing at 400. Ahhh. Life is good. Leveling at twenty one
thousand. Altimeter's reset. Oxygen's normal. Fuel is fine. Tanks are
feeding. What to do next.
"LA Center, Cobra two four. Flight level two one zero. Squawking two
four. Entering Tonopah."
"Roger Cobra two four. Radar contact. Cleared to operate in Tonopah
from surface to flight level four five zero until eighteen hundred
Zulu. Traffic a flight of two F-4s your left ten at fifteen miles
departing the area below you. Contact Nellis Approach on departing."
Well, here I am. What to do now. Still got fuel in the wing tanks.
Can't do any acro until they burn out. Let's go fast. Burner on. Got
the light. Ease off the stick a bit as she accelerates. A bit nose
heavy now as she gets over point nine Mach. There it is. One point two
Mach and accelerating nicely. Up to one point four and coming up on
the area border. Coming left, out of burner, slowing back below
Still got fuel in the tanks. Maybe turn on the gun sight. Reticle
brilliance up. Ahh, there's the pipper. Cool. Spiral left, down from
thirty five thousand toward the desert. Trucks on the highway. Rolling
in. Eighteen wheeler in the sight. Rat-tat-tat-tat. Too bad about you
fella. Zoom off the pass at four hundred fifty knots back up to twelve
thousand. Tanks empty.
Passing twelve continuing into a big right barrel roll. Nice feeling
airplane. Not as buffety and rattley as the T-38. More like a Cadillac
than a Pinto. Stable. Firm. Nose down. Five hundred knots. Pulling up,
five now six G, over the top inverted, rolling right. Nice Immelman.
Level at twenty six thousand.
Rolling inverted into a simulated dive bomb pass. Forty-five degrees,
wings level. Passing twenty thousand. Sixteen, fifteen, fourteen,
ready pickle, pulling into the recovery. Four, five G. Leveling at
twelve thousand. Fuel looks good. Oxygen fine. Engine good. Got about
another twenty minutes before I have to start back. Maybe it's time
for ol' Gibbs' high G barrel rolls.
What did he say? About four fifty then nose up followed by full rudder
and full aft stick. OK. Let's go for it. Airspeed's good. Smooth nose
up. Coming through about twenty degrees nose high. Stick coming back.
Buffeting. Full rudder. About three G and the nose swinging left.
Heavier buffet now. Through inverted, back upright. Relax controls.
Airspeed's two thirty. Wow. It sure works as advertised.
That one was left. Gotta do one right to stay balanced. Let the nose
down a bit to get some airspeed back. Passing about ten thousand. Back
up to, ahh, three fifty should be enough. Quick roll-over to make sure
I'm not running into someone. Now, nose coming up. Stick back. Rudder
full right. Buffeting, rolling through about ninety degrees.
Sudden snap to straight down vertical. Before I can react the airplane
comes back hard left and pitches up slamming my helmet against the
canopy. Back right and down, but before I can tell where the horizon
is I'm banged against the opposite side of the canopy. Shoulder
wrenched, hand thrown off the stick. Back up again and my feet which
had been floating during the downward gyration are now smashed back
flat on the floor.
Can't read the G-meter as the tape is churning back and forth between
positive and negative. All I know is there is plenty of G to go
around. Master Caution light on. Can't see the warning panel long
enough to read what the lights are saying. Fuel inlet pressure light
is on. AC generator light, too. Stab aug has been blown off line.
Grabbing for controls, but the airplane appears through with its
antics. Nose is about sixty degrees down, airspeed coming up through
two fifty, but damn, I'm low. Feeding in back pressure, keep the nose
coming up. Steady, not too much. Nose wants to wander, but that's
because the stab aug is off. There, that's about level. Thirty-eight
hundred on the altimeter, that's about eight hundred over the ground.
Shit. What was that all about?
Enough of this. Let's just head for home.
* * * * *
Back in the squadron, still not quite sure what happened. Thinking
about what the flight manual says about stalls. The airplane doesn't
spin. At least that's what they say. But if I started fifty knots
slower than I did the first time, then when I was well into the roll,
I would have been about fifty knots below stall speed with full rudder
and full back stick. I guess that's what you would call airplane abuse
or at least what the aero engineers call a departure from controlled
flight. Doesn't matter. It was more than enough to make the day of any
pilot with ten hours in the airplane.
Sitting in the lounge trying to regain my composure. Nels Running, one
of my class mates comes in shaking his head. I've heard the complaint
"Shit, Ras. They've got a spare airplane this afternoon and they're
making me fly a solo. I've done everything I ever wanted to try
already. I want to get to the bomb-droppin'. Hey, didn't you have to
do a solo this morning? What'd you do to keep from being bored stiff?"
"Well, Nels, why don't you practice high G barrel rolls?"
"Yeah, good idea. Uhh, just between you and me, what's a high G barrel
Ed Rasimus *** Peak Computing Magazine
Fighter Pilot (ret) *** (http://peak-computing.com)
*** Ziff-Davis Interactive