One of the great things about being a ferry pilot is having the opportunity to fly many different types of aircraft. Below is a photo of the first jet I ever got to fly, the Phenom 100. I was Marcio’s co-pilot on this trip but seeing I more air to air and formation flying experience I was at the controls during most of the first day’s filming in Australia with the camera ship. I would say having someone give me the keys to a 4 million dollar jet and telling me to “Just show off and have fun.” was a pretty good day. My job doesn’t always suck.
I love reading about the SR-71. One of my favorite anecdotes is this:
One day, high above Arizona, we were monitoring the radio traffic of all the mortal airplanes below us. First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. ‘Ninety knots,’ ATC replied. A twin Bonanza soon made the same request. ‘One-twenty on the ground,’ was the reply. To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio with a ground speed check. I knew exactly what he was doing. Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley know what real speed was ‘Dusty 52, we show you at 620 on the ground,’ ATC responded. The situation was too ripe. I heard the click of Walter’s mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walter startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace. In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, ‘ Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground.’ We did not hear another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast.
Read SR-71 pilot Maj. Brian Shul’s account of flying the “Blackbird”. You’ll enjoy it.
By lex, on August 19th, 2007
I think it’s safe to say that while it’s not true that every night bombing hop ends up as a fiasco, it’s also true that a disproportionate number of fiascoes seem to occur during night bombing evolutions. There is something about hurling yourself at the ground at a 45 degree dive angle at 500 knots while chasing HUD symbology towards a successful release on a poorly lit target in the absence of any visual reference cues while the altimeter unwinds like a yo-yo in the presence of mountainous terrain that tends to capture a man’s attention pretty comprehensively. Sometimes? Between attack runs?
It can be hard to pull your head out of the merely personal and rebuild the “big picture.”
My first night bombing hop in the Hornet occurred when I was a junior officer going through training in the Fleet Replacement Squadron many years ago, back as the earth was cooling and dinosaurs roamed the lands. Our instructor pilot and flight lead for the event was a former F-14 jock whose call sign was “Legion.”
Actually, no. But it might as well have been.
You see, back when the Hornet was brand new and the writing was not yet on the wall we got two sorts of instructors from the Tomcat community: Hard charging guys who wanted a chance to be on the leading edge of a new program and people whom the F-14 bubbas didn’t mind losing to the “other” team. Some of the latter guys had “personality issues” and others were merely slackers. Legion fell in the second category, a essentially capable guy whose destiny it was not to be named a superior flight lead. We are not all of us called to greatness.
Our mission was a four-ship “heavy” ordnance mission against the Bravo 17 live impact area in Fallon, Nevada. If we three students were mildly (or otherwise) surprised to discover that we’d be dropping live ordnance for the first time – and that at night – we didn’t show it. I mean, these instructors were pros, right? They knew what they were doing. And anyway, questioning their authority when it came to physical safety was considered borderline wanking.
They took points off for wanking.