GIVE TIL IT HURTS!

“What happens when you land on the wrong aircraft carrier?”

Hilarity ensues.

When there used to be more than one carrier in a task group, if an aircraft landed accidentally on the wrong ship, some fun was had before sending him “home”.

Imagine doing this today.

The flight deck crew would be sent immediately to undergo 100 hours of mandatory sensitivity training, so as to be sure Peter “Wrongway” Peachfuzz’s hurt feeeeeelings were properly assuaged, of course. But none of these all-in-good-fun hijinks would be possible today, sad to say. For one thing, it would require a sense of humor, which is a rara avis indeed in these parlous times.

I purely love what they did to this F2 Banshee.

Strikethrough
Must be Chair Farce—heh

The “Down Bird” Phantom is good too.

Down bird!
Captured by the Bonnie Dick

FYI, it’s an aircraft from USS Constellation, see, that mistakenly set down on the deck of the USS Bonhomme Richard, whose crew-assigned nickname (all USN ships have one, which is voted on by the crew from a list of candidates which have been pre-approved by their CO) is the Bonnie Dick. Lots more rib-tickling photos at the link, going all the way back to an old F4U that got itself declared a “POW” owing to its poor pilot having shit the bed, so to speak, in similarly spectacular fashion.

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Fairchild-Republic A10 Thunderbolt II: the plane that wouldn’t die

The plane the Chair Farce couldn’t kill off, more like (via Ed Driscoll).

A-10 Warthog: The 50 Year Old Plane That Just Won’t Die

Despite being nearly fifty years old, how does the U.S. A-10 Warthog continue to survive various efforts to cancel it each time it’s in budget-cut danger? An airplane that is as ugly as its name, the A-10 can bring the heat to the air-to-ground battle. Its many critics have to admit that this thing is just awesome at close-air-support. Designed as a “tank plinker” during the Cold War, the Warthog showed extreme prowess during Operation Desert Storm while destroying all kinds of Iraqi weapons systems.

How Many Lives Does the Warthog Have?

But the Air Force has wanted to eliminate the A-10 for more than 20 years. It is considered too slow and ponderous after decades in service. And despite its achievements in the air-to-ground fight, opponents believed the money used on upkeep and maintenance could be better spent on more modern aircraft.

Enter the Biden Administration and the U.S. Senate

Then politics entered the picture. First, the Biden Administration said no more Warthogs and proposed to retire dozens of them.

Because of course he did. It’s a US military aircraft that works extremely well, enheartening beleaguered American ground-pounders and striking abject terror into the hearts of America’s enemies every time it comes howling in low on another deadly strafing run with that enormous GAU 8 cannon; for a shitheel like Traitor Joe, what’s to like?



Be sure to watch the whole vid; it’s eight minutes-plus of pure, unadulterated glory, that’s what. Oh, and I DID mention that the GAU 8 Gatling-cannon is enormous, didn’t I? Why yes, I believe I did at that.

Big gun
Big enough for ya?

You aviation buffs will doubtless be aware that the A10 platform was actually designed and built around the GAU 8 Avenger rotary gun, resulting in one of the most successful combinations in military-aviation history. The A10 came into being as the replacement for the venerable Douglas A1 Skyraider, a warbird I was lucky enough to get some stick time in at an airshow years ago:

Flyboy
Co-pilot’s aircraft!
AoA
Cranking the Able Dog hard a-port
Bankage
Note the AoA indicator, at top center

The USAF, despite the A10’s matchless record of battlefield success, doesn’t see CAS as its role, greatly preferring the old-school glamor of aerial dogfighting, strategic bombing, and standoff-range missile engagements instead. Hence its longstanding dislike of the A10, dubbed by its opponents in Iraq as “the Devil’s Cross.” They feared the A10, and were right to do so; its other ordnance aside, the GAU 8’s stout 30mm depleted-uranium rounds ripped many a pinned-down Republican Guardsman into Kibbles ‘N’ Bits over the course of both Iraq conflicts, without its pilots’ ever breaking much of a sweat.

Ahh, but is the A10 durable? Don’t even go there.

Air Force Pilot Landed Damaged A-10 Using Only ‘Cranks and Cables’

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) — Maj. Kim Campbell, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot here, shared her story with Women’s History Month luncheon guests about a mission in which her A-10 was hit by enemy fire over Baghdad.

While deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, then Captain Campbell and her flight lead were flying over downtown Baghdad during a close air support mission April 7, 2003.

“We were originally tasked to target some Iraqi tanks and vehicles in the city that were acting as a command post, but on the way to the target area we received a call from the ground forward air controller or FAC, saying they were taking fire and needed immediate assistance.”

The FAC ultimately turned out to be a member of the captain’s squadron. Once over the target area, they descended below the clouds to positively identify the friendly troops and the enemy’s location.

“We could see the Iraqi troops firing RPGs, or rocket propelled grenades, into our guys,” she said. “It was definitely a high threat situation, but within minutes my flight lead was employing his 30 mm Gatling gun on the enemy location.”

The two-ship formation of A-10s then made several passes over the enemy location, employing 30 mm bullets and high explosive rockets.

“Yes, there was risk involved, but these guys on the ground needed our help,” Major Campbell said. “It’s what any A-10 attack pilot would do in response to a troops-in-contact situation. That’s our job; to bring fire down on the enemy when our Army and Marine brothers and sisters request our assistance.”

After her last rocket pass, the captain was maneuvering off target when she felt and heard a large explosion at the back of the aircraft.

“There was no question in my mind,” she said. “I knew I had been hit by enemy fire.”

Yes, there are pictures, all of which serve to confirm the doughty MAJ Campbell as a true master of understatement. Mind, hers is but one of many stories of ragged, chewed-up, shot-to-hell-and-gone A10s nonetheless bringing their pilots home safely.

It may very well be true that the battle-proven A10 Warthog’s moment in the sun has at last flitted on by, and that it should therefore be mothballed with all the honors and respect it has so richly earned over its storied career. That’s an argument I’ll gladly leave to others to make. Whatever the case may be, the A10’s retirement will stand as a marker of something sad and depressing: one of the last reminders of America’s faded glory, its atrophied military muscle, and its bygone ability to engineer and produce war matériel of unparalleled quality, toughness, and worth.

The A10 Thunderbolt II is quite simply the very best CAS aircraft ever built, by anybody. The F35 Turducken as its replacement? Yeah, right.

Update! Just remembered another personal A10 experience I had all but forgotten about, involving the now-defunct Myrtle Beach AFB.

The Myrtle Beach base used the A-10 Warthog jet, and Pat McCullough of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission said the Air Force considered the jet “limited to a low-threat environment”, while the Army believed it was “a very powerful close-air support asset.” The Air Force chose to phase out the A-10, which led to the base’s closing, but the Army wanted the A-10 to continue flying; the decision to keep the A-10 came after the decision to close had been made.

The base closed 31 March 1993.

Now, when I was a kid we always took our summer vacation down at MYB every year, where the fam would often sit on the beach watching those A10 squadrons practicing attack-weave patterns low and slow out over the water, not terribly far from our ocean-front perches. Being but a callow stripling, I just assumed those Warthogs were lowly training jets, not really worthy of a whole lot in the way of notice. It was not until years later that it finally hit me that what I was witnessing was in fact one of the most badass warplanes ever built, swooping and diving around amongst the seagulls no more than a couple hundred yards away from where I sat.

Ahh, youth.

Hot brass update! Another personal A10 memory, this one from Big Country.

No bullshit, I was actually showered with fucking 30mm brass from a close air support mission in Iraq back in the day. Thank Christ I was wearing a helmet bro…Them fucking brass shells are a fucking heavy motherfucker when they’re falling from the sky.

Heh. Yeah, I imagine so. Just the same, I bet you were glad of ’em at the time, though.

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And YOU are there

Weasel links to a riveting helmet-cam vid shot from the cockpit hot-seat of a bona fide classic: the legendary P47D Thunderbolt Mk II (ie, the prettier, more elegant bubble-canopy version, not the razorback). When, at around 2:50 or so, the pilot turns the engine over and that Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp finally catches and comes rumbling and grumbling to life, I confess I wet myself just a little.


That tandem takeoff roll is pretty damned schweet too, as are the simulated attack runs on some kind of boat or barge in the river. The pilot proceeds from there to really put the Jug through its paces, albeit at relatively low altitudes (many of those who flew them in both the European and Pacific theaters held that the P47 performed best above 30,000 feet, despite its great success in the ground-attack role), and it’s great fun to watch as he does it.

From the looks of the river and the nearby city skyline, I suspect this was filmed at the annual Thunder Over Louisville airshow, which I was fortunate to kinda-sorta attend several times from a hotel room when I was there for the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot. See, the hotel we always stayed at was on the glide path to the airport nearby, which to my boundless delight also happened to be where the various planes staged from, before heading down to the river to do their fly-by passes for the show.

Any red-blooded American male with an ounce of affection for military aviation in his soul is bound to enjoy this video as much as I did myself, I’d imagine; it’s 44 and a half minutes of pure flyboy enjoyment, shot from a perspective that leaves you veritably gasping for breath at times. Mucho, mucho thanks to Weasel for hipping us to this.

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Horror show

A terrible, terrible tragedy at a Warbirds show in Dallas today.

 

The midair occurred when the pilot of a Confederate Air Force (now known as the Commemorative AF, I’m sure for the obvious reason) Bell P63 Kingcobra inadvertently flew into the B17’s airspace, hitting the bomber just behind its port-side wingroot, near as I can make out. Everybody is probably familiar with the B17 Flying Fortress, I expect much less so for the P63, so here ya go.

Two old warbirds
Bell P63 with the justly renowned, and vastly superior, P51 Mustang

The Kingcobra was the successor to the P39 Aerocobra (or Airacobra, as the RAF dubbed it), a pursuit/interceptor aircraft with which its pilots had what you might call a love/hate relationship. Although the P39 was adequately armed and sturdy enough generally, the heavy airframe was hindered in aerial combat by an excruciatingly poor rate of climb and relatively low ceiling. While the P39 saw service in nearly every national air force and all theaters in WW2, the P63 only saw action with the Soviet Air Force, and was rejected by the USAAF, even though it surpassed the capabilities of its near-ubiquitous older brother in every possible way.

Both the P39’s and P63’s original powerplant was the same Allison V-1710 V12 engine that condemned the P51 Mustang to also-ran status in its early career, until it was eventually replaced with the more-powerful, just-plain-better Rolls Royce Merlin, instantly transforming the Mustang into the legendary world-beater it was destined to be.

I’ve attended many Warbirds airshows, which are always wonderful, and know the CAF pilots and ground-crews to be highly-skilled, seasoned devotees of the old WW2-era piston-engine warplanes, meticulous to the nth degree about maintenance and safety. I hate so much to see something like this happen, I truly do. May God receive into His mighty arms the souls of the men who left this mortal coil this awful afternoon, and grant to them eternal peace.

Update! Six dead: five B17 crew, and the P63 pilot. Prayers up, y’all.

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A Biden for all seasons

Heroes aren’t born, they’re made. Or, in the case of the Biden familia, made up.

DISGRACE: Joe Biden Falsely Claims Son Beau ‘Lost His Life in Iraq’

“Disgrace”? Nah, not really. That implies that the Biden marionette has some capacity for feeling shame or embarrassment. Onwards.

Joe Biden has often invoked his late son Beau Biden.

For example, after his botched  withdrawal from Afghanistan he evoked his late son in a shameless effort to avoid criticism of his actions.

“So, when I hear that we could’ve, should’ve continued the so-called low-grade effort in Afghanistan, at low risk to our service members, at low cost, I don’t think enough people understand how much we have asked of the 1 percent of this country who put that uniform on, who are willing to put their lives on the line in defense of our nation,” Biden said last year when he announced the war in Afghanistan was now officially over. “Maybe it’s because my deceased son, Beau, served in Iraq for a full year, before that.”

Biden also alluded to Beau when he spoke to the nation after the terror attack at Kabul airport. “Being the father of an Army major who served for a year in Iraq and, before that, was in Kosovo as a U.S. attorney for the better part of six months in the middle of a war,” Biden said. “When he came home after a year in Iraq, he was diagnosed, like many, many coming home, with an aggressive and lethal cancer of the brain — who we lost.”

It was grossly inappropriate for him to constantly invoke his son who died of brain cancer as though it was the same thing as if he had lost his life while serving our country. But on Wednesday while giving a speech in Colorado, Biden claimed that Beau actually lost his life in Iraq.

Biden’s brain might be Swiss-cheesed, but it’s hard to wrap my head around the idea that he would have forgotten how his own son died. So this naturally begs the question as to whether Biden was confused because of how often he brings up Beau as though he was a war casualty or whether he just thinks it makes him look better to say he was.

And frankly I don’t know which answer is worse.

The truth is even worse than those two options: Biden is using his dead son for his own selfish purposes, climbing up onto the coffin to thump his sunken chest and bray so as to score political points, in the manner of all DemonRats. As for Beau himself, his place in the annals of military history is secure.

Biden claims son Beau was the man responsible for shooting down Richthofen

In a speech to a teeming throng of over half a dozen supporters yesterday, “President” Joe Biden proudly praised his deceased son Beau as the flying ace who successfully ended Rittmeister Manfred Von Richthofen’s record-setting string of more than 80 victories in aerial combat, shooting the Red Baron down over northern France in April 1918.

Okay, I admit I may have made that  last part up. But really, it’s only a matter of time before he does this, and you know it.

Since somebody or other brought up Richthofen just now, I have this great biography of him I got…shit, I don’t even remember how many years ago that was. What I DO remember is that it had some amazing photos of the man, his aircraft, his brothers Lothar and Albrecht, his Flying Circus, and such-like. The one that really gets me is this one:

The Lion in winter
Richthofen suiting up for a wintertime mission

Yep, it’s COLD up there among them clouds all right, aloft in a flimsy, drafty old crate with no cockpit canopy, no heater, and nothing but a small windscreen to huddle behind as a shield from the bone-chilling fury of the elements. Those pioneering WWI combat flyers, coming in on the very heels of Orville and Wilbur’s brief inaugural flight at Kill Devil Hills, were something else again.

Think of it: machine guns mounted on the top wing of their biplanes on a swivel, until a truly reliable synchronization gear came along towards the end of the war; aiming was done exclusively with Mark 1-Mod 0 eyeball, firing with the hand not occupied full-time with the stick. No radar, no HUD, no electric engine-starter motors, no communication with either ground control or the rest of their flight elements.

WWI combat aviators were a valorous, fearless breed for whom a “bombing run” consisted of hurling hand grenades from the cockpit at ground targets (or sometimes, enemy aircraft). These guys make today’s man-bunned, skinny-jeaned, feminized Hipster cock-noshers pleased to misnomer themselves “men” look like the dainty imposters they so truly are.

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The greatest airplane story EVAR

Anybody who has even the slightest tinge of affection for the WW2-era piston-engine classics is going to LOVE this one.

On 26 May 1940, No 19 Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson left RAF Duxford airfield in Spitfire N3200, piloting the aircraft on its first and only mission. Before the Battle of Britain, Duxford’s Spitfires were recruited in the defence of Operation Dynamo.

Dynamo was the emergency evacuation of the British Expeditionary Forces from the French port of Dunkirk by the Royal Navy, and had air cover from all available Royal Air Force aircraft – including Spitfire N3200.

Now, 82 years on, the recovered aircraft stands proudly at IWM Duxford, just a short walk from the very same hangar where the No 19 Squadron’s Spitfires were kept during World War Two. Spitfire N3200 has also been fully restored to flying condition, and is set to take flight once again at Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show on 10 and 11 September 2022.

But what happened to Spitfire N3200 in May 1940, and how did it return to its home at Duxford?

The Brylcreem Boys of No 19 Squadron were tasked with a crucial mission in the renowned Miracle of Dunkirk: flying CAS as close-pressed hordes of British, Belgian, and French footsloggers were plucked from the beach and ferried across the Channel to safety. And then…

After shooting down a Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive-bomber, Stephenson was himself shot down, crash-landing on a beach at Sangatte, near Calais. He was captured, remaining a prisoner for the rest of the war.

While Stephenson spent the war imprisoned, including a stint at the notorious Colditz Castle, Spitfire N3200 sank slowly into the sand.

Which is when events took a REALLY interesting turn.

Over 45 years later in 1986, Spitfire N3200 emerged from the sand on a French beach. Strong currents had revealed the crashed aircraft, and so began the process of excavating the wreck, which although largely intact, not much could be salvaged.

The Spitfire’s pilot, Geoffrey Stephenson, survived the war but was not able to see his aircraft dragged from the beach. He was tragically killed in America in 1954 during a test flight.

In 2000, Dr Thomas Kaplan and Simon Marsh commissioned Historic Flying Limited to restore Spitfire N3200 to its former glory. Only 4 years later, the aircraft returned to the skies.

As you can see, glory is most definitely the mot juste for this war-eagle reborn.

Spitfire!

Beautiful, no? And with such a unique story to tell, too.

(Via WeirdDave)

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Half an hour of 24 karat AWESOME

What could possibly be better than eleven Corsairs? Why, twelve Corsairs, natch.



Further info:

The 2019 Thunder Over Michigan airshow featured the largest gathering of F4U Corsairs in decades. Eleven of these rare World War 2 fighters came together for one weekend. This video is a combination of footage from Saturday (all 11 flew) and Sunday (10 flew) and shows scenes from the ramp, the mass start, the simultaneous wing unfold, a mass run-up, lightning takeoffs, formation flybys, individual passes, taxi back, and shut down.

The airshow benefits the Yankee Air Museum, which is based at Willow Run Airport near Detroit, Michigan.

The mass-startup sequence I especially liked; those grumpy old Double Wasp mills just don’t want to wake up, coughing and farting and belching fire out the exhaust stacks until all 18 cylinders finally light up, smooth out, and settle down to serious business. The 2800 cubic-inch Pratt & Whitney 2W was the most powerful radial engine in existence at the time, putting out an honest 2000 horsepower when it was introduced in 1939, which by 1944 had been bumped up to 2800hp in some of the late-model P47 Jugs running the right go-juice in the tanks. I’ve seen Corsairs make high-speed, low-level passes at air shows before, and can assure y’all that the throaty roar of its mighty engine as the beautiful Bent Wing Bird blasts by you is enough to leave any true aviation buff weak in the knees, grinning like a fool, and all swimmy-headed with pure delight.

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Departures

I’m gonna have to postpone my examination of the TSM piece mentioned below, having unexpectedly run across another one at WRSA that led me to…well, first, we have this obit and remembrance for a legendary Naval aviator:

We wake to the sad news that Snort (Capt Dale Snodgrass, USN-RET, callsign “Snort”—M) died in a crash yesterday. I was honored to interview him in 2000, but it wasn’t our first encounter.

In 1985, I was there in the crowd as a teenager when he awed us all in the Tomcat at the Pratt & Whitney airshow in East Hartford. I have chills this morning thinking of the chills I had then, watching the Tomcat in formation with the other Grumman cats, and I do believe it was a missing man formation.

RIP, Snort. Thank you for taking the phone call from a young writer with no credentials, but who was thrilled beyond words to interview the legend.

I imagine so. Follows, a repost of his 2010 interview with CAPT Snodgrass, which runs below one of the most famed photos of Tomcat derring-do ever captured, which I cannot possibly resist running here.

You can practically hear those jet-jock sized Big Brass Ones all a-clank just looking at that pic. On to the interview.

If you’ve researched information on the F-14, it is pretty likely that the name Dale Snodgrass has appeared somewhere in what you’ve read. “Snort” is virtual legend in the Tomcat community, and with more than 4,800 hours in the F-14, he is the most experienced Tomcat pilot in the world. Over a 26-year career in Naval Aviation, he had moved from being the first student pilot to trap an F-14 on a carrier to commanding the US Navy’s entire fleet of Tomcats as the Commander of Fighter Wing Atlantic. Now retired, Snort is on the airshow circuit, flying a wide range of aircraft, from the F4U and P-51 to the F-86, MiG-15, and MiG-17.

The accolades for Snort’s flying are long and distinguished…twelve operational Fighter Squadron/Wing tours, including command of Fighter Squadron 33 during Desert Storm, the Navy’s “Fighter Pilot of the Year” in 1985, Grumman Aerospace’s “Topcat of the Year” for 1986, a US Navy Tomcat Flight Demonstration Pilot from 1985-1997, and numerous decorations for combat and peacetime flight.

This is all good stuff, well worth reading in full if you’re any kind of military-aviation guy at all. But then we get to the part that stopped me COLD and made my eyes bug out comically.

What was your most tense moment in the 26 years?

From a combat perspective, it was when I had a flameout over Iraq while executing a last ditch surface-to-air missile defense. I was leading a night Fighter Sweep in support of an A-6 strike on a power plant on the north side of Baghdad.

As I said, the story of Snodgrass’ close encounter with an Iraqi SAM, which caused a flameout that in turn brought on a 15k-foot altitude drop, leading to an attempted air-start of the dead engine whilst flying through the middle of a thick triple-A barrage, is all good, gripping stuff for sure. But what slammed me betwixt the orbs was the part I bolded in the last line. Because see, I happen to know a little something myself about that A-6 strike he mentioned. In order to explain it, though, we’re going to need to make a little side-trip here, to another obit from 2015.

Reggie Parks Carpenter, 51, Captain, United States Navy, died from sudden cardiac arrest in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on February 3, 2015. Captain Carpenter, from Cherryville, North Carolina, graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications. He was commissioned an officer in the Navy via the Aviation Officer Candidate School, and received his aviator “Wings of Gold” in 1987. Captain Carpenter, also known as “Regbo” to fellow aviators, bravely served in the defense of the United States for 29 years.

He flew tactical missions in three jet aircraft, in four operational squadrons, and over six aircraft carrier-based deployments, including one as an exchange pilot with the French Navy.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval War College with a Masters in National Security and Strategic Studies, the personal highlight of Captain Carpenter’s career was his tour as commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron EIGHTY THREE (VFA-83), an F/A-18C Hornet squadron at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA. His final tours of duty, which he also enjoyed immensely, were in military diplomacy. He served as Naval Attaché to France, from 2007 to 2011, and to Argentina, from 2012 to 2015.

Captain Carpenter was a highly decorated naval aviator who earned many awards and medals during his career, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. A devoted, loving husband and father, he was also a kind, passionate man with quick wit and boundless zest for life. Captain Carpenter is survived by his wife, Suzanne, and daughters, Avery and Caroline; mother, Barbara Cannon; sister, Kelly Stewart; brother-in-law, Bob Stewart; and many loving friends and colleagues from all over the world.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, 2015, at Vienna Presbyterian Church, 124 Park St. NE, Vienna, VA. Interment with full military honors will take place at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 24, 2015, at Arlington National Cemetery.

You CF Lifers might begin to see where all this is going, I bet. For the shavetails, nuggets, and noobs, this oughta help clear things up.

The CF community suffered a serious loss yesterday, although most of you might not know about it. My “cousin”, Captain Reggie Carpenter, USN, died suddenly in Buenos Aires, where he was serving as naval attache, capping off a distinguished three-decade career as a naval aviator and diplomat.

He wasn’t really my cousin; he was actually my first cousin’s cousin, but his family and mine had been tightly intertwined for our whole lives; our fathers, uncles, and other kinfolk were all close friends from childhood, and the subsequent generations have all retained a sort of extended-family relationship ever since.

Those of you who have been around these parts a good while may remember him as “Regbo,” his flyboy call sign, or simply as “Cuz.” He did a fair bit of writing for the site back in its early years under those handles; he preferred the anonymity of them, for obvious reasons.

Y’all also might remember a post I did years ago from NAS Oceana, where the band had gone to play Reggie’s change of command party at the O-club there. He was taking over Rampager squadron, VFA 83, after having served as XO of the Sunliners. We didn’t get paid for the gig, or at least not in money; we got paid with twenty minutes apiece in the F/A-18 simulators instead. Which just made it one of the most richly remunerative shows I ever did. Hell, just hanging out at the O-club, meeting and hearing the sea stories of these “casual American heroes” as Reg called them, was payment aplenty.

He was a damned fine pilot, flying the A6 Intruder in the first sorties of the first Gulf War, then F14s, then Super Etendards off the Foch for a year as part of the officer-exchange program with the French. He graduated to the Hornet after that, and stayed in ’em for the remainder of his career. He was invited to join the Blue Angels and even toured with them awhile while he considered the offer; he eventually decided against it, and went to the War College instead. Back in his college days he got one of the highest scores ever on the Navy’s Pilot Aptitude test, and just moved on ever upwards from there.

Reg had a heart attack either on his way to or shortly after arriving at work yesterday morning in Buenos Aires (the family is still waiting for details on that); he’d just returned from an African safari with his beloved family. He was due to retire next spring; in fact, the last conversation I had with him was shortly before he left for the Africa trip. He asked if I wanted to attend his retirement party, and I assured him I did. We were talking about maybe having the band play for the festivities, in fact, and I was looking forward to seeing him again. He was 52, which is way too damned young to lose a guy like him. Hard to believe he’s gone so quick. He’ll be missed by all who knew him.

Rest easy, Reg, until we meet on the other side to pick some guitar and talk fighters and politics again. Your whole family was extremely proud of you, as well they might be, and your friends were glad and grateful to know you. Much love to you and your family, brother.

That, of course, is part of the obit I wrote for Reg right here at CF, which includes a photo of him leaning nonchalantly against his own personal F/A-18 that I took at NAS-JAX during a post-gig visit we paid him there once.

So here’s the payoff: that aforementioned A-6 strike over Baghdad on opening night of Desert Storm? Well, guess who else was out there along with Snort Snodgrass? Yep, you got it: none other than one Reggie “Regbo” Carpenter, that’s who.

Reg later sent a somewhat illicit cockpit video home to his (also my) Uncle Gene from that eventful night, along with a letter detailing a harrowing misadventure when his Intruder was struck by lightning (!!!) on the way back to the carrier, knocking out every electronic gee-gaw and instrument save for the gyrocompass. After being asked by the Midway’s comm shack if he wanted to attempt a trap on the carrier deck—sans all instruments and lights, at night, in a storm, no less—Reg opted for what’s known as “the better part of valor” and diverted to the airbase at Riyadh instead, where he landed his damaged aircraft without further trouble.

And that concludes tonight’s amazing tale of serendipitous coinkydink. You really just never know what you’re going to run across out there on the Innarnuts, do ya?

Men like Reg and Snodgrass are a breed apart for sure—capable men, courageous men, dauntless men, men without an ounce of give-up in ’em. Men whose vocabulary assuredly does NOT include discouraging words like “can’t” or “impossible.” As I so often say around here, we need all of such men we can get, and will never have enough of them. RIP, CAPT Snodgrass, and farewell. You too, Reggie.

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Fly Fall from the friendly skies!

Man, I sure am getting a lot of mileage lately from that old ad slogan, ain’t I?

It seems like a really bad idea, yet it’s one United Airlines reportedly just bought into – probably for many millions of dollars (the actual sum hasn’t been disclosed). It will “invest” in the development – italics to emphasize the nonexistence at present – of the ES-19, an electric aircraft that exists on the drawing board only. This hypothetical aircraft is being developed by a Swedish company with the cloying name, Heart Aerospace – which summons images of kumba-ya’ing around the campfire in a collective hug.

But will it fly? 

Not with me in it, it won’t. Not ever, not one single time.

It is claimed that the ES-19 will have a range of about 250 miles – which is just barely enough to make the short hop from DC Dulles to a regional airport such as Roanoke, in SW Virginia. With very little margin to spare. What happens if the plane needs to circle, as because of traffic or weather?

Maybe it would be a good idea to equip this one with parachutes rather than flotation devices.

People who know airplanes raise other pertinent questions, such as the drain on the electric airplane’s batteries during taxiing from the terminal to the runway, which as anyone who flies commercially knows sometimes takes half an hour or more. All the while, the heat or AC must be running, in addition to the lights and all the plane’s electrical systems. Does the advertised 250 mile range factor these considerations in?

The FAA nominally requires redundancies and margins-of-error for commercial aircraft especially. It is why, for instance, commercial aircraft that fly over the ocean must be able to remain in the air if one or more engines cut out.

What if the batteries cut out? 

Which – it bears repeating – it is more likely to because an electric airplane will necessarily be heavier than a jet-powered airplane because of the massive weight of the batteries that will be necessary to drive electric props sufficiently powerful to get it in the air. But the weight of all those batteries will necessarily reduce the amount of time it can remain in the air. 

If it smells of unicorn farts, your nose is working.

Astute commenter Baxter raises a glaringly obvious potential-failure-point issue that leaves one totally mystified as to what the everlasting fuck the Supergenii™ skull-sweating over this fever-dream could possibly be thinking—besides MUH GAIA!!!, that is.

Other things to think about: Batteries suck when it gets cold. Forget an electric car in the winter when it’s 20 degrees F. Planes need to fly high where there is less air friction. Think about a plane (summer or winter, doesn’t matter) at 35,000 feet where it’s 65 degrees below zero F. Plane batteries will obviously need to be heated. Where does that heat come from? The batteries, limiting range even more so.

Obviously, as with the Goobermint-decreed transition from ICE cars to useless, unreliable, and unsafe coal-powered ones, the hidden agenda here is to eventually eliminate flying altogether. Except for the Kommissars, natch. They’ll still carry on as before, just without having to sully themselves with any unpleasant physical proximity to us beastly, smelly serfs in the airport cocktail lounge anymore. The vlasti won’t be replacing their in-flight steak or burger with the new bug-beef they’re foisting off on us proles either, you betcher.

1

Dawn of the Jet Age

Col Bunny gives us a steer to something truly great, for anybody who is as fervent a pursuit/fighter/intercepter aircraft junkie as I am.

A Fighter Pilot’s Airplane

Ooooh, I like where this is going.

On December 18, 1950, an F-86 Sabrejet in its first combat over Korea shot clown a Russian-built MiG-15. The North American jet which, at the time, held the official world speed record of 670.951 miles an hour, was the best air-superiority fighter possessed by the free world during that period.

We can certainly be thankful that we had this machine in our inventory, for we would have fared rather badly trying to fight MiG-15s with F-51s, F-80s, and F-84s.

However, by way of contrast, today’s F-104 Starfighter (this piece is from 1960; more on the Starfighter anon—M) is the only airplane in history that has simultaneously held all three official world’s records—speed, altitude, and rate of climb. We have, in other words, come some distance since the day of the Sabre. I will here attempt to analyze the aircraft concerned from a fighter pilot’s viewpoint.

Much has been written and said in comparing the performance capabilities of the F-86 and the MiG-15. Certainly most fighter pilots felt that the MiG was a higher-performance airplane above 30,000 feet. Only in the latter stages of the Korean War, when we received the F-86F, could we raise this altitude factor to 35,000 feet.

However, this increase in ceiling was offset by the fact that when we did receive the F model, most of our initial contacts with the MiG were above 40,000 feet. To say the least, it was both highly impressive and yet extremely depressing to see a MiG pilot loop his aircraft at 51,000 when we could barely stay in the air at that altitude. I am certainly not trying to downgrade the fighting qualities of the F-86; it had many advantages over the MiG—in fire control, range, diving ability, and ruggedness—all of them vitally important in the business of shooting down airplanes.

It must have; by the admittedly disputed numbers, Saber pilots shot down 200 of them, possibly quite a lot more.

The Sabre was certainly a credit to its designers and manufacturers, but the fact remains, the MiG could outperform the F-86 at any altitude, except in a dive, and was a better fighting machine at the higher altitudes. The answer, of course, to our huge success over the MiG lay in the aggressiveness, discipline, training, and leadership of the USAF fighter pilot. We’ve all heard the phrase “guts will take the place of skill” in fighter combat. This is true. Nevertheless, superior aircraft performance can take the place of both. If you can fly higher and faster than your opponent and want to get the job done badly enough, then you’re going to win.

The original fire-control system of the F-86 was one of our greatest deficiencies. We had a World War II gunsight and World War II guns. Hitting a MiG at angles off of more than fifteen degrees and range of 1,300 feet was nearly impossible with the short firing time available in high-speed jet combat. Our primary advantage was the high rate of fire of the .50-caliber gun, even though the destructive power of our ammunition could not compare, projectile for projectile, with the 37-mm and 23-mm cannon shell of the enemy.

The later acquisition of the radar gunsight in the F-86 was probably the greatest single improvement of the airplane during the Korean War. Expert gunners such as Lt. Col. Vermont Garrison and Maj. Manuel J. Fernandez could hit a MiG at 3,000 feet and high angles off with the radar gunsight, and the shooting problem was also considerably lessened for the more inexperienced pilot.

If I remember correctly, and I may not, the F86-D variant was the first with the big, honking radome in the nose that said gunsight worked in concert with. More on that anon, too.

As in the ease of Spitfires during the Battle of Britain, F86s were fighting against heavy odds in Korea. Approximately 800 MiGs were based in Manchuria and China. The Soviet Union had supplied China with more sweptwing fighters than the United States had even produced. It was common to encounter 150 or more MiG-15s twice a day against no more than thirty-two Sabres. The 4th Fighter Wing, with a World War II record of 1,016½ enemy aircraft destroyed, had fought steadily rising odds, eventually reaching as high as ten to one. When the 51st Fighter Wing converted to the F-86, these odds dropped to seven to one.

I’ve always considered the Saber to be one of the most gorgeous fighters ever made…right up to the D variant, which was butt-ugly because of that radome. No surprise, since both were designed and built by the same company responsible for my eternal favorite, the P51 Mustang: North American. And since this is where the purty pitchers come in and I don’t want to drag down page-load times for those of you who, incomprehensibly and inexcusably, have no interest in these matters, I’ll do y’all the courtesy of tucking the rest below the fold.

Continue reading “Dawn of the Jet Age”

1

It’s a mad, mad, mad, MAD world

Inmates, running the asylum.

We used to have mental hospitals, sanitariums, asylums, for the seriously, and long-term, mentally ill. We locked dangerous people away. But too damned many of those facilities were terrible. Outright abuse of patients, well-intended treatments that were abusive, neglect… you name it, they did it. There was a backlash against them. We still have some comparatively small, specialized in-patient treatment centers, but for the most part, we started “mainstreaming” the mentally ill, the out-right crazed. Give enough drugs to keep them from completely flipping out, and hope they’ll keep filling the prescription and taking the meds.

We didn’t just mainstream crazy people, society mainstreamed insanity. A generation grew up watching crazy people acting out around them without knowing they were crazy. It became acceptable to act that way. And as more people picked it up, it set the example for even more.

That’s why we have people like “crewcut lady” who think sharing their psychotic breaks in videos to the world is a good idea. If they left it at that, fine. But they didn’t.

Our new batch of lunatics applied their crazy and illogic to everything in life. That’s how idjits like David Hogglet can demand that oh-so-mature sixteen year-olds be able to vote on life or death issues, but eighteen year-olds are to immature to be trusted with a firearm.

Not entirely sure whether that’s crazy per se, or just fucking stupid. No matter, I suppose; we all wind up in the same place either way.

That’s how we got Alexandria Occasionally-firing-Cortex’ grand plan to save the planet by strip mining it, and filling the holes with the toxic waste left over from manufacturing all those wind gennies and solar panels. Or her plan to simply print monopoly money to pay for it all, then tax every bit of it back to “prevent inflation.” (Hint: Paying for something, then taking the money back without returning the thing is theft. Paying people to work, then stealing the pay back though taxes is slavery.)

Contra my above statement, I am one hundred percent certain that Toothy McBigTits, however out-of-her-mind she may seem to sensible people, is really just plain old-fashioned stupid. That enough New Yorkers voted for her dumb ass to send her to Congress instead of keeping her in her titty-bar habitat humping the pole, as God intended? THAT’S what’s crazy.

That’s how we got a generation of socialist-indoctrinated schoolkids, who see so much crazy on the street that the crazy in classroom doesn’t faze them a bit.

So yeah; when I wrote about how everyone got too dumbed down to keep up the infrastructure? Remember that they are just dumb, they’re crazy. Enjoy operating appliances — “water-saving” clothes washer and dishwashers that take hours to not clean and use more energy, “water-saving” toilets that require multiple flushes to actually flush — designed by the criminally insane.

Bad enough, sure, but there’s worse.

United Airlines plans to hire and train 5,000 pilots, including some with no flying experience

It appears that the skies are about to get a lot less friendly, to repurpose United’s old ad tagline for use against them.

United Airlines says it will train 5,000 pilots this decade, including taking on applicants with no flying experience, and plans for half of them to be women or people of color.

United will borrow an approach used elsewhere, notably at Germany’s Lufthansa, by taking people at the beginning of their flying careers and training them at its own academy, which it bought last year. United will continue to draw pilots from traditional sources such as the military, however.

Airline officials began accepting applicants for United’s flight academy Tuesday.

The subject of a pilot shortage — it is not universally accepted that one exists — was hotly discussed in the airline industry before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and then receded as airlines around the world grounded planes and reduced their pilot ranks in response to the plunge in air travel.

Now travel is rebounding, although it hasn’t returned to 2019 levels.

Much as I’ve always loved to fly, I can guar-on-TEE I won’t be getting on any commercial flights now that I know that they no longer consider being, y’know, a fully-trained, capable pilot a more essential requirement for strapping on an airliner and calling him, zxher, or itself a bona fide, pro-fessional Bus Driver In The Sky than gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, Wokeness, or any of the myriad other irrelevancies to which our society now grants primacy of place over such oppressive and hateful inequities as aptitude and ability. In the unlikely event I’m forced to fly someplace, it damned sure won’t be on United, their having officially declared a newfound disinterest in recruiting the best, most qualified people for left-seater employment, preferring instead to bump Diversity and PC Feelgoodz right on up to Item One on the job application.

Nice of them to be upfront about their total abandonment of all standards of safety, rationality, and corporate responsibility, I suppose. But after a bonehead move like this, I’d rather crawl on hands and knees over a mile of alcohol-drenched broken glass than Fly United™. Henceforth, if I want to fly my brother and I will drive to one of several local civil-aviation facilities, rent ourselves a 172, Seminole, or something along those lines (or a King Air—YES!!!), and just DIY it, thenksveddymuch. We’ve actually done quite a good bit of that very thing over the years, whether for strictly Point A-to-Point B purposes or just an afternoon’s amusement. If you’ve never traveled on a small private aircraft, you can take my word for it when I say that it’s one heck of a lot more fun than flying commercial anyhoo.

Yes, renting a small plane ain’t exactly cheap, especially the fuel cost. But these days, the airlines ain’t exactly cheap either. Throw in a plethora of indignities and/or abuse at the halfwit whim of handsy, thuggish TSA mouthbreathers; interminable delays, endless lines, long walks, surly counter personnel, layovers, and scheduling cockups; and too much other terminal and concourse unpleasantness to list, before you even board. All of that, to then put your very life—quite literally—in the hands of some diversity-hire horrorshow who can’t even run the preflight checklist without more-competent supervision? Someone hired not because thorough vetting confirmed them as the best person for the job, but because there’s a box on the gooberment’s Mandatory Diversity Form that the airline needed to put an X in?

Yeah, no. Spendy or not, the fly-it-yourself option begins to look like a real bargain in comparison, don’t it?

Update! Diversity is NEVER a strength, in any business or industrial context. But in certain fields where the hazard to life and limb is both real and significant, diversity goes from being merely an expensive but more or less bearable nuisance to a serious threat.

After a hard year of reduced travel from the coronavirus, United Airlines decided it was time to announce a new initiative: “Our flight deck should reflect the diverse group of people on board our planes every day. That’s why we plan for 50% of the 5,000 pilots we train in the next decade to be women or people of color.” This type of corporate mantra is so common these days as to be unremarkable. But this announcement led to a lot of critical comments on social media—the dreaded ratio—about how this initiative has nothing to do with making flying safer.

United’s policies, however, are a rather typical expression of the ideology of diversity, a successor to the earlier, more limited concept of affirmative action.

By the 1990s, diversity itself became an entire industry. There were diversity consultants and chief diversity officers. Everyone in the public and private sector now mouths platitudes in support of diversity. An important factor missing from all the diversity talk was data. One reason, of course, is that certain questions are simply too dangerous to explore. The wrong conclusion can lead to pariah status, as The Bell Curve authors learned.

This is why diversity is especially prominent in soft fields with vague metrics of productivity: higher education, government, journalism, nonprofit management, marketing, and human resources. These fields have diffuse responsibility and limited accountability. Bad work by a mediocre employee cannot easily be measured or found out.

In a sense, diversity is a luxury good. Profitable enterprises can absorb people who are not the best of the best, particularly for jobs where being the best is not an important requirement; other talented and hard-working people can cover the slack. In large organizations, there are also jobs where less skilled people can do relatively little harm, like “community liaison.”

For more tangible fields, like firefighting or police work, the costs of lowering standards are more tangible—sometimes directly causing real headaches—but there is little courage inside or outside organizations to speak frankly about the costs of diversity.

This brings us back to United Airlines. There are certain jobs—heart surgeon, pilot, oil tanker captain—where there is almost no room for error. There is a linear relationship of talent and skill, and those on the customer side, as well as the general public, insist on excellence. Mistakes are immediate and costly.

In response to customer criticism, United insisted there would be no degradation in standards or quality. This seems unlikely. In every other field where diversity becomes the watchword, excellence becomes a secondary priority. After all, excellence is rare. Whatever criteria were used to pick the best people before could simply be applied to all comers, the results listed first to last. Everyone knows this would undermine diverse outcomes. 

Another important reality undermines diversity propaganda. Hiring and promotion are zero-sum games; to advance one group, one must artificially hold back another. For example, United has said it will definitely not hire more than 2,500 white men to be pilots no matter how skilled. These messages have an impact. Even so, we are told “diversity benefits everyone,” and it is “our” strength. 

Surveying the country, it’s hard not to see a more general reduction in quality across the board…not in strength, but fragility. Consider the recent COVID episode. Does this look like a society with a lot of resilience, or one with highly skilled elites and decision-makers? 

One would think the airline business is fundamentally simple: get people from point A to point B quickly, cheaply, comfortably, and, most important of all, safely. Presumably airplanes not falling out of the sky is just as important as who wins the Super Bowl.

But for United, safety has to fly coach. 

Unfortunately for United, there are other options out there. After this self-inflicted debacle, UA can expect those alternatives to be carefully weighed, by a large number of prospective passengers—planeloads of ’em, one might say.

SCIENCE!!!

COME ON, MAN.

Biden Claims Commercial Planes May Soon Go 21,000 MPH — Meaning a New York to LA Trip Would Take 7 Minutes

Uhhhh HUH. God, but I love this soooo much, I really do. Rave on, Gramps.

President Joe Biden claimed Wednesday that commercial aircraft would soon be able to travel at speeds of up to 21,000 miles per hour.

“I tell the kids, the young people that work for me — I told my kids, when I go on college campuses, they’re going to see more change in the next 10 years than we’ve seen in the last 50 years,” Biden said during an address about his proposed infrastructure legislation. “We’re going to talk about commercial aircraft flying at subsonic speeds, supersonic speeds, be able to figuratively, if you may, if we decide to do it, be able to traverse the world in an hour, travel at 21,000 miles an hour.”

Which, in case you didn’t know, is actually quite a bit faster than the ISS, which plods along at a bit under 18,000 mph or thereabouts. Never you mind, Gramps, you go ‘head on.

It was not clear what Biden meant by “figuratively.” The speed he suggested is roughly equivalent to Mach 28, which would make airlines capable of traversing the 2,400 miles between New York and Los Angeles in roughly seven minutes. The fastest commercial airliners presently travel at speeds of about 600 miles per hour, a little less than Mach 1.

Several companies do have plans in the works to increase top speeds to nearly 4,000 miles per hour, or Mach 5. Boeing announced plans to that effect in 2018. Florida-based Aerion announced similar plans last month for a Mach 4+ commercial airliner, which it said would be ready “before the end of the decade.”

Shyeeeaaah, like that’s ever gonna happen. I mean, I’m sure they can build ’em, but everyone who thinks the Safety Nazis will permit any such super-speedster aircraft to fly here without protest please raise your hand. Not to even mention that the sleek, beautiful, now sadly-defunct Concorde, a real pokealong at just over Mach 2, got itself banned from overland flight in the US and several other countries due to complaints about the noise from sonic booms.

It’s a beautiful, beautiful dream you have there, Gropey, it truly is. But if it ever comes true the FUSA won’t have had any part in it, it won’t be because of anything you did, and you won’t deserve an ounce of credit for it.

Not that any of that will stop him from trying to glom it for himself anyway, natch.

Preview of coming attractions

Oh goody, the Chair Force has itself a new platform to use in hunting down MAGA types.

The U.S. Air Force has taken delivery of its first Beechcraft AT-6E Wolverine single-engine turboprop light attack aircraft. The service has said in the past that it could acquire up to three of these aircraft to support a program called the Airborne Extensible Relay Over-Horizon Network, or AEROnet, focused on developing a low-cost communications and data-sharing architecture to help allies and partners work together better during coalition operations.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, announced the arrival of the AT-6E on Feb. 17, 2021. The AT-6E is a variant of the T-6 Texan II trainer from Beechcraft, a division of Textron, configured for light attack and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The Air Force, as well as the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army, already operate unarmed versions of the Texan II.

The most immediately visible difference between the AT-6E, which Beechcraft has marketed in the past as the AT-6B, AT-6C, or simply the AT-6, and standard Texan II trainers are its six underwing pylons. These can accommodate various precision-guided bombs and missiles, as well as rocket and gun pods, among other stores.

It’s actually a good-looking aircraft. I started to embed one of the pics, but there’s no pressing need for that, really. Contra the USAF’s blushful demurral about “help(ing) allies and partners work together better during coalition operations,” it’s a fair bet that at least some Real Americans will be enjoying a close-in view of the new birds soon enough.

Okay, “enjoying” might not be exactly the mot juste here.

(Via Insty)

Blackbird buzz

A great story from start to finish, but do stick with it. As with so many other things in life, the best parts come in at the end.




Quoth WeirdDave: “If you’re going to buzz the tower, why not do it in a Blackbird, that’s what I say.” I couldn’t agree more.

Coooool

For the first time ever, I kinda wish I could be in Mordor on the Potomac.

WASHINGTON – Bad weather has postponed the flyover of dozens of vintage planes over the skies of the D.C. area Friday to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The flyover has been rescheduled for Saturday. More details are expected.

The flyover will incorporate and estimated 60 American, British, and Allied jets in honor of veterans, and to inspire young people.

Some of the historic aircraft expected to participate include the P-40 Warhawk, P-39 Airacobra, P-51 Mustang, P-47 Thunderbolt, F4U Corsair, B-25 Mitchell, B-17 Flying Fortress, B-29 Superfortress, and others.

Leftist “protesters” are also expected to gather on the Mall for a mass die-in, along with some light burning and looting, in protest of the murderous warmongering Amerikkkan fascist colonialist imperialism symbolized by the racist flyover.

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