Tag: Flying

Close Call…

 

Navy T-2C Buckeyes in Formation

I had been a flight instructor with the “Flying Frogs” at the Meridian, Mississippi Naval Air Station for about a year. My students were flying their first jet trainer, the twin-jet T-2C Buckeye. The year had passed quickly. During the first half, I became engaged and my fiancée was still living in Michigan so I flew a lot of hours and qualified to teach the more advanced phases like flying formation and out-of-control flight (i.e. “spins”) recovery. Then we married and she joined me in Mississippi, working as a nurse on the Afternoon shift at the local hospital. I enjoyed being home most nights.

Today was my student’s first formation flight. This flight’s two goals were to teach him how to rendezvous efficiently and safely, and then how to fly in close formation on the other aircraft’s wing. Each of the two jets had a student and instructor and we would alternate as the Lead aircraft, the target of the rendezvous. These flights didn’t normally entail aerobatics but today I’d find myself unexpectedly performing a barrel roll to avoid a mid-air when things went badly wrong during a rendezvous.

‘You Can’t Land Here!’

 

Douglas C-54 Skymaster.

Captain John “Jack” Rayca couldn’t believe his ears. The war in Europe was nearly over. He’d been flying various multi-engine planes throughout the war including the twin-engine C-46 Commando, the twin C-47 Skytrain, and now later in the war, the big C-54 Douglas Skymaster with its four Pratt & Whitney R-2000-9 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder radial engines that put out 1,100 hp each. The Skymasters were long haulers and heavy lifters for their day, able to go 4,000 miles with 28,000 lbs. of payload. Their maximum takeoff weight was an impressive 36.5 tons.

Captain Rayca and his crew flew new replacement bombers and cargo to Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and even India. On their return trips to the states they often carried wounded servicemen. Today was one of those flights. He and his crew had a load of wounded and war weary pilots and yet the Army Major in charge of the airport’s military operations had just said “…you can’t land here”.

2 V 2: A-7 Corsairs vs. F-106 Delta Darts

 

The first part of the title “2 V 2” is shorthand for an air-to-air engagement (air combat maneuvering) involving two aircraft against two other (presumably enemy) aircraft.  But a pilot or aviation enthusiast familiar with the iconic F‑106 Delta Dart might be puzzled by the rest of the title.  The Corsair II is a capable but unspectacular plow horse in comparison to the Delta Dart, one of the fastest fighter-interceptors ever built! Who in their right mind would conduct air-to-air training involving such grossly mismatched aircraft?

Fun facts: The supersonic F‑106 was introduced in 1956 to foil Soviet Strategic Bomber attacks. It could fly 1,500 mph. (Mach 2.3) and cruise supersonically for 500 miles! By the late ’80s, they were mostly flown by Air National Guard squadrons. They had air-to-air radar and missiles designed to knock down an inbound Soviet Bear bomber outside of visual range. Their main vulnerability was poor rearward visibility for the pilot, and a slower roll at low speed than the Corsair.

The A-7E Corsair II was introduced in 1967. It was a subsonic light bomber with better technology than its contemporaries including an inertial navigation system and weapons control computer plus a HUD (heads-up-display). Its specialty was accurate (in the right hands) urban removal and breaking things. The under-powered Corsair usually carried one Sidewinder missile for self-defense. Air-to-air “dogfighting” was its weakest capability. Even its M61 Vulcan six‑barrel Gatling gun was optimized for air-to-ground strafing rather than against aircraft. It did have slightly better rearward visibility than the F-106 due to the shape of the canopy. (This would become important later in the day…) So it was an exciting surprise when our squadron Operations officer found an Air National Guard (ANG) unit willing to train with us.

When Flying and Railroading Were New

 

GLDIII posted Orville Wright’s 1905 description of the sensations of flying. This reminded me of Fanny Kemble’s description of her first train ride, in 1830. First, here’s Orville:

When you know, after the first few minutes, that the whole mechanism is working perfectly, the sensation is so keenly delightful as to be almost beyond description. Nobody who has not experienced it for himself can realize it. It is a realization of a dream so many persons have had of floating in the air. More than anything else the sensation is one of perfect peace, mingled with the excitement that strains every nerve to the utmost, if you can conceive of such a combination.

Member Post

 

If God intended Man to Fly, He would have given him Wings – Anonymous To date, no human has been born with a set of wings that renders him capable of taking to the air for even the briefest of duration. Yet for thousands of years this has been a near universal dream. To soar, […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Member Post

 

Today at Toad Hall it has been super windy. My son was able to get a kite up into the air, no mean feat considering our very tree covered property. While the kite was flying, it attracted the attention of an eagle which flew over to check out the competition. In spite of his mother […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Member Post

 

As I was saying… When airlines began charging a fee to check-in a single piece of luggage, I was downright naive: “Now my bag is more likely to arrive with me!” I thought. I assumed the fee wasn’t for placing my bag on just any plane but on my plane. It was bad enough in […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

Airport Security vs. Being Admitted into Prison: A Comparison

 

Passing through airport security seems more and more like being admitted into prison. First they confiscate two things: anything remotely sharp and… your belt. Then you’re standing in line with a bunch of barefoot people holding up their pants up with one hand and their sole possessions in the other. The travelers who passed through security hours earlier are looking on and chanting “Fresh fish! Fresh fish!”

Upon reflection, that last part doesn’t sound plausible enough to deem reliable memory. But you get the idea.

Member Post

 

Writing the first draft of this post from my 6th airplane seat of the week, and with full knowledge that the new week holds the possibility of six more. There should be absolutely no complaints on my end. This is the life that I’ve chosen and therefore the life that I deserve. As much as […]

Join Ricochet!

This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.