Wings Of Silver

It’s official, Number One Son Connor is the US Army’s newest UH-60 Blackhawk crew chief! After being gone for seven months (except for a short Christmas break) Connor finally arrived back home with a shiny pair of silver aircraft crew member wings on his chest. To say that I’m proud of my son would be the understatement of the century.

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For the uninitiated and ill informed, which includes almost everyone I would guess, to become a US Army helicopter crew chief one must first attend the four month helicopter repairer school (not repairman you sexest) and learn everything there is to know about how to fix and maintain the UH-60 Black Hawk. The Army’s policy of making the crew chiefs helicopter mechanics first before letting them ride around in the back being all in charge and stuff makes a lot of sense. Because seeing that the Black Hawk in a, you know, “military” helicopter and people (AKA bad guys) have a tendency to sometimes shoot at all things military it’s probably a good thing that the guy riding in the back knows how to fix things if they get broke. Of course Connor’s training is just getting started. When he reports to his unit they will begin teaching him everything a crew chief needs to know about helicopter operations. Such things as:  Aerial gunnery (shooting at stuff)   Sling loading (carrying stuff)  Observation (looking for stuff)   Hoist operation (rescuing stuff)  and a thousand other things (dealing with stuff).

And if I wasn’t proud enough Connor somehow managed to come out of school first in his class, earning him the title of Distinguished Honor Graduate, which made him incredibly happy, but that meant that he was the one selected to stand in front of the entire graduating class and guests and recite something called ‘The conscience of the aviation maintainer” which didn’t.

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And, as I’ve mentioned before, I also earned a silver pair of wings back when the I was young and dinosaurs still roamed the earth.

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Of course we didn’t have the big bad Black Hawk back then. No, we flew a real man’s helicopter, the Huey! Don’t get me wrong, the Black Hawk is an amazing piece of equipment, but nothing beats the Huey for shear badassery.

 

 

And once again, for your listening pleasure, “The Huey Song”

Don’t let the naked lady scare you off, it’s safe for all ages.

Dad, Please Stop

Like most fathers I enjoy torturing my children with corny jokes. Especially in front of their friends. Classics like “Why don’t crabs give to charity? Their shellfish!  Ha  ha. Yes, I would literally have my kids begging me to stop. So imagine my joy when I discovered private messaging in Facebook. Now there is nowhere in the world they can hide from me! As you know my son Connor is currently in Fort Eustis VA, attending the US ARMY’s Black Hawk mechanics/crew chief school so of course being a former Huey Crew chief myself I had to come up with some helicopter maintenance humor. It’s harder than you think (that’s what she said) but I finally came up with something, found a Rick Grimes joke generator online and sent it to him yesterday.

connor nut

OK, it’s not that funny, maybe not even a joke, but I thought it was funny and that’s all that matters.

By the way the Jesus nut is the large nut that holds the main rotor system onto the mast.

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If it comes off………well,that’s bad.

PFC McCauley

Yesterday’s theme was all about Super Girl and her adventures in the big city. Today I’ll bring you all up to speed on what Number One Son, who is actually number two child, but the first and oldest son, only son, so why bother numbering him? I’ll just call him Connor, because that’s his name. Anyhoo, I told you all about his great summer of skydiving and how he was having so much fun jumping out of airplanes and hanging out with all his friends. But all good things must come to an end, especially when you’ve promised Uncle Sam a bit of your time. So in mid September Cathy an I drove our little boy down to the airport and put him on a plane so mean men in funny hats could make a man out of him. But apparently I’d already done a pretty good job of that myself because Connor blew the doors off basic training! He told me in his first few letters home that he was disappointed that the training wasn’t harder than it was. He’d grown up listening to his old man talk about how tough it was back when he went through basic training in 1979 and was looking forward to a similar challenge.  You know, marching in waist deep snow to the obstacle course, up hill, both ways. About how the drill sergeants were still allowed to hit you back then and that we ran in brand new (stiff) black leather combat boots, not the fancy cross trainers they use today. It was also one of the hottest summers on record in good old Fort Lenard Wood Mo. Nope, Connor was disappointed at how easy it was. That was until the weather changed and weeks of cold rain produced a 1000 year flood and state of emergency smack dab over his training base in Fort Jackson South Carolina, maybe you heard about that in the news. Be careful what you wish for. Besides training in the cold rain every day the other thing that bothered Connor a lot was the double standard there was when it came to the females. While the Drill Sergeants were still quick to yell and scream at the men in Connor’s platoon they almost never raised their voices at the females and gave them special treatment constantly. The best example was when the trainees were first issued their weapons. In a rare form of common sense the Army started issuing each soldier a magazine for their rifle loaded with two blank cartridges in order to teach them how to handle a loaded weapon. Freaking brilliant if you ask me. The Drill Sergeants then warned the trainees that if anyone had a ND (negligent discharge, or oops) their would be hell to pay. They promised that the offender would receive an article 15 (mini-court marshal) $700 fine, loss in rank if they had any, and most likely have to start basic training all over again. You know, wrath of God kind of stuff. They had been hearing these warnings for weeks before ever being issued the blanks so they were all terrified of screwing up. And rightly so because having an ND is a good way to kill someone. So of course it wasn’t 20 minutes after receiving the blanks when, BANG! Everyone froze, one of the females had shot off a blank. Oh shit! She was going to get it now. Only she didn’t. Just one Drill Sergeant went over to the offending female and all he did was to ask her if she was OK and to tell her to be more careful. Connor and his buddies were beside themselves. All those threats were BS. Then a male trainee did the same thing, only this time the reaction was slightly different. 5 Drill Sergeants descended on the poor guy and screamed at him until he cried. He was given an article 15, $700 fine and instead of having to re start basic he was given 20 hours of extra duty. But don’t worry, the female trainee was OK.

Despite the hardships Connor continued to shine. He consistently placed in the top 5% in PT. Qualified “expert” in rifle and grenade, and shot high score in the company, we’re not going to count the guy who cheated by grabbing an extra 10 rounds. During his company’s field training exercise (camping) Connor’s fighting position (fox hole) was selected by the company commander as a almost perfect example and a reward he was allowed to man his fighting position for 8 hours in the rain, along with everyone else, and was told to keep a sharp eye out for enemy infiltrators. While standing in ankle deep cold water for hours Connor observed someone low crawling towards the lie 300 meters out. Connor could see it was his Drill Sergeant trying to sneak up on his platoon and called out “HALT, WHO GOES THERE?” The Drill Sergeant froze and then after pounding the ground in anger jump up, fire a few blanks at the platoon line and run off back into the woods. A few minutes later he came storming back to the platoon super pissed off and demanding to know just who the fuck had seen him? When Connor raised his hand the Sergeant screamed “God damn it McCauley! It took me two hours of low crawling to get that close! how the hell did you see me?” “Never try to sneak up on a deer hunter Drill sergeant!” Connor yelled back. He was made squad leader and then acting platoon Sergeant and was also on of only 4 troops in his company to be promoted for merit and outstanding performance. I think we’ve got a soldier on our hands.

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Graduation day with the companies marching out of out of the smoke. Pretty cool

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Ready to take on the world.

The Case For The Warthog

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As most of you know I’ve always been a big fan of the A-10 Warthaog.  It is far and away the best ground attack/ CAS platform the US or any air force has ever deployed. Period, end of story.  I could go on and on about how much better suited the A-10 is for the close air support (CAS) role than the F-35 is but this article dose a much better job than I could.

It can do what other aircraft can’t. While in Iraq the U.S. Air Force is sending A-10 Warthogs on successful sortie after successful sortie against the Islamic State, back here at home, Air Force brass are renewing their efforts to scrap the legendary plane. In fact, the Air Force, thwarted in last year’s efforts to scrap the A-10, is deliberately underutilizing it in the campaign against the Islamic State. The military waited until three months into the bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria to deploy the A-10 and has deployed only a small percentage of the available planes. Showing the growing frustration over the failed efforts to scrap the A-10, Air Force Major General James Post, in a recent closed-session address to Air Force officers, stated that “anyone who is passing information to Congress about A-10 capabilities is committing treason.” Never mind supporting and defending the Constitution or having the best tools for the job — active-duty personnel apparently have a duty not to release information on the A-10’s effectiveness or its purposeful underutilization by the Air Force. The A-10 has also been smeared by the Air Force as being the most dangerous to friendly troops, when in fact it has the lowest rate of friendly-fire incidents of any combat fighter or bomber. The Air Force is eager to replace the A-10 with the F-35, yet the latter is vastly inferior at providing supporting firepower for troops who are closely engaged with enemy forces. This close air support (CAS) as provided by the A-10 has proven invaluable on the battlefield. Retired Air Force chief master sergeant Russell B. Carpenter, who has been involved with or the lead controller on over 900 close-air-support sorties in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, put it this way: “I have worked with F-16s, B-1B bombers, F-15s, F-111s, F/A-18s, etc., and no other [close-air-support] plane comes even close to the A-10.” In other words, substituting F-16s and F-15s for the A-10 in Iraq is putting questionable procurement priorities above the importance of our present mission. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, the A-10, affectionately known as the “Warthog” or just plain old “Hog,” has handily bested all other U.S. aircraft in destroying artillery, tanks, and other vehicles while supporting infantry engaged in combat-at “danger close” ranges. At the same time, it’s also the least expensive combat plane in the U.S. arsenal to operate and buy. With $2.85 billion in recent upgrades, including better wings and a complete upgrade of avionics, sensors, targeting systems, and communications, the A-10C is no longer an “aging platform.” In fact, the A-10C is the most technologically sophisticated close-air-support plane on the battlefield and will be so for decades to come.

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Drop And Give Me Twenty!

As I mentioned before Number One Son has done me proud by joining the Minnesota Army National Guard to become a UH-60 Blackhawk crew chief and eventually a pilot.  But before he get to wander around the wild blue yonder, wait, that’s the Air Force, he has to make it through Army basic training.  Now I have no doubt that NOS will be able to handle the rigors of basic, mostly because he’s my son and I raised him right, but also because it seems that the PC powers that be have made basic too easy and essentially turning it into a 9 week summer camp.  At least that’s what I’ll be saying whenever NOS tries to tell me how hard basic was. “Back in my day we had to march uphill, both ways, through knee deep snow, in the dark, all day,  just to get yelled at” Actually I loved basic training.  I was 17 at the time, in great shape, soccer, track, skiing, so the physical training part wasn’t a problem, but by far the hardest part was not laughing at the drill Sargents.  No I don’t mean laughing “AT” the drill sargents, I mean trying not laugh while they yelled, screamed and made fun of us poor trainees.  Because if they caught you laughing or even smiling while standing at attention you were in deep shit.  And let me tell keeping a straight face while those guys did their thing was HARD!  Oh my God those drill Sargents were funny.  It was like standing at attention in the front row of a stand up comedian competition.  And if they caught you smiling they jumper on you like Joe Pesci in Good Fellas.   “I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown? Do I amuse you?” Ya, that smile disappeared pretty damn fast, especially when you found yourself beating your face from the front leaning rest position.  I don’t remember too many of the comments, it was 1979 after all, but one of the best was when a drill Sargent walked up to a group of idle trainees, pointed at the ground and screamed, “What the hell is all that dirt doing in my hole?!” hilarity ensued.  Not the best story in the world but that’s what the internet is for.

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French-Canadian Mr. Fluffy, by Gadarn

One of the first days in basic a guy in my platoon was standing at attention while having his room inspected by the instructor.

It didn’t matter how nice his room was because there was a large piece of fuzz/fluff on his shirt that immediately drew the sergeant’s attention.

Imagine a female, French-Canadian, sergeant with this accent.

“Recruit Bloggins! What is that on your shirt?! Is that a fluffy!?”

“Yes sergeant!”

“Why is there a fluffy on your shirt, Bloggins!?”

“I must have missed it, sergeant!”

“Missed it? It is so huge, how did you miss such a big fluffy!?”

She picks it off of him. “Hold out your hand.”

He holds out his hand and she places it in his palm.

“This is Mr. Fluffy. Find a home for him, like a pill bottle or something. From now on, whenever I want to see Mr. Fluffy you must bring him to me.”

And so, for the rest of basic, every time the sergeant found a piece of fuzz she would yell out, “MR. FLUFFY!” and Bloggins would have to march over to her and present Mr. Fluffy and she would formally hand him the new piece of fuzz to add to Mr. Fluffy. There was hell to pay if he didn’t have Mr. Fluffy with him at all times.

Sweeping sunshine, by BenSavageGardenState

There was a time when we made a private sweep all the sunshine off the sidewalks. It took the poor guy all day.

“You’re a ghost now, you can’t talk,” by CrashnCashen

Marine Corps boot camp, one kid on firewatch failed to notice the drill instructor coming on deck (which means you immediately salute and report your post), so the DI ran up to the rifle rack, smacked it, and yelled “BAM! You’re dead.” He tried to respond, but was cut off by the DI: “You’re a ghost now, you can’t talk. Go act like a ghost.”

Then the kid had to wander around the squad-bay for the rest of his two-hour firewatch acting like a ghost, and he took that responsibility with a stride. Plenty of ridiculous “oooOOOOOoOOOOo i’m a ghooOOooost” noises and f—ing with people’s racks. We were all laughing our asses off for the next hour till our senior drill instructor got pissed.

Replacing the oxygen he stole from everyone else, by Tain01

A service member was a total f—up, to put it gently. Couldn’t be on time, couldn’t show up dressed to standards, constantly forgot professional courtesies, so on. When he was on his last straw, his squad leader pulled him aside and more or less started yelling, then stopped himself.

“No. You know what? I’m done yelling at you. It doesn’t work. Stay right here; don’t go anywhere.” He stormed off into the company building. The phrase, “stay right here, don’t go anywhere” is typically the precursor to something horrible happening when said in anger. The squad leader eventually emerged carrying a small-ish potted tree, which he handed to the service member.

“You will keep this tree alive. You will carry this with you wherever you go in uniform. You will take it to PT, you will take it to chow, you will take it to work. If anyone asks you why you’re carrying this f—ing tree around, you will tell them, ‘It’s to replace the oxygen I stole from everyone else.’ “

Probably the funniest punishment I’ve ever seen, and we’ll never see it again (because you’re not allowed to do that).

Oscar the Grouch reports the time, by Sgt_Slate

Marine Boot camp.

We had a guy that somehow got his watch through the indoc (They take all your crap when you first get there). Well, the Drill Instructors found out he had it when they saw him wearing it one day, so they put him in the squad bay trashcan and put the lid on it. Every time they walked by and kicked it he’d pop out with his watch and yell, “SIR THE TIME ON DECK IS ZERO-NINE-FORTY-FIVE!” and then go back into his can like the freakin’ grouch from Sesame Street.

It was really, really hard not to laugh at that.

The Eagle Scout, by V_E_R_S_E

A recruit in Marine corps boot camp thought he was special because he was an eagle scout. The Drill Instructor picked up on this and during Physical Training took him into the woods and made him build a nest. Then he had to squat over it in order to keep his eggs warm.

The basic training omelette, by lgmeister

Week 1 in Army Basic Training we had a soldier ask for an omelette in chow line (which was not allowed because there was absolutely no time to make custom omelettes for every single basic training soldier). The cooks started making the omelette when a drill sergeant asked what the hell was going on. The basic training soldier replied “go around, drill sergeant, I’m waitin’ on an omelette”. Needless to say, this was the wrong thing to say and do week one in basic training. Our platoon motto was henceforth “go around, drill sergeant, I’m waitin’ on an omelette” and the basic training soldier was henceforth named PVT Omelette.

Full-Body waiver? You can still smile, by XApparition

Saw a guy on a full-body waiver for exercises. The instructor gave him 1,000 smiley-frownies… (smile, then frown is 1). The hardest/easiest exercise ever.

Edit: for those who don’t know, a full-body waiver is something to the degree of: Cannot lift objects, no walking for more than 200 meters in one setting, no strenuous activities, etc. Basically making all normal physical activities out of the question.

The “suicidal” private caught messing with a girl in basic, by epochellipse

I was in a gender-mixed company in basic. The third floor of the barracks was split with females on one half and males on the other. Males were not allowed in the female half and vice-versa. My platoon was out back practicing throwing grenade bodies and a window on the female side of the third floor opened and a male snuck out of the window onto the ledge. It was immediately obvious to everyone, including our drill sergeant, that he had been in there messing around with a female and another drill sergeant must have come down the hall, forcing him to get out on to the ledge so he wouldn’t get caught. Our drill sergeant looked at the guy for a minute and then yelled really sarcastically, “don’t do it private, you have lots to live for.” Then they put him on suicide watch, and made him hand over his belts and tie and shoelaces and everything that he could hang himself with, and made him drag his newly bare mattress out into the hallway next to the fire guard desk and sleep out there every night until we graduated four weeks later. And they made his battle buddy sleep on the floor next to him for the first week.

“Beat your face,” by NotAnnoyingPerson

My brother told me that when he was in basic, a Drill Sergeant yelled at this guy to “beat his face”, meaning to do push-ups. Said guy had no clue it meant that, and promptly punched himself in the face, really, really hard, and fell to the ground. The Drill Sergeant had to walk that one off and my brother said you could hear him laughing hysterically as he walked behind a building. Not totally relevant, but I figured I’d share.

Would you like fries with that? by gagauz

Navy Basic Training. All of us are doing pushups. When the instructor says “down”, everyone counts. When the instructor says “up”, one guy in particular (the screw-up) is told to shout, “WOULD YOU LIKE FRIES WITH THAT?!” The instructor told him to get used to it cause that’s what he’s gonna be saying for the rest of his life.

Inst: Down!

Us: One!

Inst: Up!

Guy: WOULD YOU LIKE FRIES WITH THAT?!

Inst: Down!

Us: Two!

Inst: Up!

Guy: WOULD YOU LIKE FRIES WITH THAT?!

There was a pool of tears from laughter on the floor below me.

Dance partner, by Shiny-And-New

I saw a guy be forced to slow dance with a mop for one hour straight.

How Good Is/Was The Mig 29?

I know I know, I’ve been pretty damn lazy on the posting front for the last few months and for that I apologize.  I do have a few stories in my back pocket that I will be putting out in the next few days but until then enjoy this great write up by an Air Force aggressor pilot who got lucky enough to be assigned to Germany to get checked out in the Mig-29.  It’s a long but great read.

How To Win A Dogfight: Stories From A Pilot Who Flew F-16s And MiGs

 

How To Win In A Dogfight: Stories From A Pilot Who Flew F-16s And MiGs

Speaking of Passing The Tourch

In the spring of 1979 a skinny red headed 17 yr old raised his right hand and solemnly swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; That was, what? 36 years ago? Holy crap.  It seems like just yesterday I was standing there reciting the oath and wondering just what I was getting myself into.  Turns out it was best decision of my life.  fast forward to December 2014 and there was my  son, number one son, taking the same oath and joining my same unit.  Full circle, I couldn’t be prouder.

Connor joined my old Minnesota National Guard and got a Black Hawk Crew Chief slot.  His plan is to go to basic right after graduating high school this spring, come back and start college, possibly playing football but he’s not sure he wants to risk getting hurt, then attend the 15 week Black Hawk school next winter.  As soon as he gets back to his unit he will start boarding for a flight school slot.  Connor will have his private pilot’s license by then, if not his helicopter rating, and I’ve been assured that unless he does something really stupid between now and then he is almost assured a slot in flight school.  After graduating college he plans to join the active duty Army and transition from Black Hawks to flying the Apache.  I’m not really sure how difficult it is to get into the Apache but if anyone can do it Connor can.  Once he fulfills his commitment to the Army he plans to join the Coast Guard as a helicopter pilot or get a job as a medivac pilot.  These are some pretty big and detailed plans for an 18year old and I’m sure a lot can and will change between now and then but at least he has a goal, which is a whole hell of a lot more than I had at his age.  Until he attends basic training he will spend his weekend drills in a holding unit with other un-trained soldiers learning how to stand at attention, tie his boots, wear a hat, and not call enlisted men sir, “We’re not in the Marines, Private!” They supposedly will conduct some actual training but if I know the Army, and I do, I’m sure there will be a lot of wasted time.

When Connor came back from his first drill weekend he told us that he’s loved every minute of it, I was pretty sure he would but it was still a relief.  His only complaint was when he was informed that if a Sergent was making fun of him all he had to do was tell him to stop and he would have to………seriously.   What the hell.  Connor was disgusted with the emphasis the Army was putting on diversity and anti-bullying.  ” I suppose if the enemy is shooting at you and hurting your feelings you can just ask them to stop and will have to” Connor said.  He’d grown up listening to me and my old Army buddies at deer hunting camp telling (mostly true) stories about how tough basic training and epically the drill instructors were.  When I went to basic they were still allowed to hit us, in the snow, uphill, both ways.  Connor was actually looking forward seeing if he was a tough as his old man but it sounds like they’ve turned basic into some kind of summer camp.  Although having to sit through 10 different lectures on sexual harassment is its own kind of hell so maybe it’s a wash.

Zulu Cobra — the Bell AH-1Z Viper

Leave it to the marines to get the most from hand me downs and a tiny budget.  Having the Cobra and Huey share components saves them a ton of money.  Money they can use to buy air to air missiles baby!

Servicing the AH-1Z Viper aboard the USS Makin Island (LHD 8)— U.S. Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 2nd Class Alan Gragg

Servicing the AH-1Z Viper’s hingeless and bearingless rigid rotor system aboard the USS Makin Island (LHD 8) — U.S. Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 2nd Class Alan Gragg

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has evolved their Bell AH-1W SuperCobra (highly capable twin engine Cobra) significantly into the Z-variant with the new designation AH-1Z Viper. Similarly with their advancement of the Huey to the Bell UH-1Y Venom the Vipers are more than an improvement as they have a four rotor blade system, as opposed to the previous twin rotor blade, of previous models — as well as much more power. The USMC has also greatly simplified aviation logistics with regard to Vipers and Venoms since they share tail booms, engines (2 x GE T700-GE-401C turboshaft at 1800 shp/1340kW), drivetrains as well as avionics — there is commonality greater than 80% which should also keep costs in check as well as easing logistic duties. The four blade rotor system no longer has hinges or bearings (only 25% of the number of original parts hence 75% less things to fail) which revolutionizes the helicopter’s performance envelope. The Viper’s wing stubs are longer and have added wingtip stations for mounting air-to-air missiles as well as Longbow radar. The Marines have an extremely potent hunter aircraft in the Viper with a combat radius of 125 miles, a cruise speed of 184 mph and a weapons load of a chin turret 20mm rotary cannon and six pylons which can mount a mix of Hydra 70 or APKWS II rockets in 7 or 19 shot pods, up to 16 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles in 4-round pods as well as wingtip mounted AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.

As an infantry support, anti-armor attack and anti-helicopter aircraft the Viper is formidable and can be also used to counter jet attack air aircraft in the proper circumstances such as in canyon country where the helicopter can use terrain masking to await in ambush.

USMC AH-1Z Viper departing the flight deck of the USS New Orleans (LPD 18) — U.S. Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 3rd Class Dominique Pineiro

USMC AH-1Z Viper departing the flight deck of the USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and note the wingtip mounted missile.

It Would Have Been bloody

Revealed: How the Soviets Planned To Go To War with America’s Navy

I joined the Army in 1979 and back then we were fully expecting to go to war with the Soviet Bear.  We knew that we had better equipment, men, and training but they had more of everything, except aircraft carriers, and as so often been said “quantity has a quality all its own” The Soviet Army planned to overwhelm the US and NATO forces in Germany with swarms of armor regardless of the cost.  It looks like the Soviet navy had the same idea.

…a young second lieutenant…fresh from the air college, asked the senior navigator of the regiment, an old major: “Sir, tell me why we have a detailed flight plan to the target over the vast ocean, but only a rough dot-and-dash line across Hokkaido Island on way back?”

“Son,” answered the major calmly, “if your crew manages to get the plane back out of the sky over the carrier by any means, on half a wing broken by a Phoenix (ed. note: the name of a missile carried by the US Navy’s F-14 fighters) and a screaming prayer, no matter whether it’s somewhere over Hokkaido or directly through the moon, it’ll be the greatest possible thing in your entire life!”