Sunday, December 17, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Moffin the War Hero
Here's an entry from Moffin's best day ever on the boat:
As for my day last week, it was simply incredible. The CO and I launched off for the third event of the day for a CSG Defensive Counter Air mission on a 1.5 hour cycle. Essentially, we knew the Russians were waiting for us and we were out there to intercept and escort any unknown aircraft near the strike group.
My jet was loaded with two Sidewinders and one AMRAAM (sweet). We joined on the tanker overhead the ship, the CO got his gas and went to our holding station. The tanker broke and I went to the station without my mission gas. I would most likely be flying a max conserve profile ("On Ladder") on the jet for the entire flight. That's not too much fun, since it's pretty slow and boring.
Alas! As soon as I leave the tanker and check in with our ship controller, we get told to intercept two aircraft 60 miles away at 6000 feet. Awesome, now I can use all the speed the jet has and the ship will owe me the gas later! So, not joined up with the skipper, we prosecute two independent intercepts of the two contacts. The skipper's about 10 miles ahead of me, so he gets there first and joins on the second of two planes in a single file formation. As I near, I can see the skipper joined on the two aircraft, Russian IL-38 Mays.
"You gotta be kidding me! and Oh, crap!" goes through my head as I goon away a good intercept by zooming over the top 90 degrees out and do a 450 knot left, descending 270 to eventually join on the leader at 200 knots. Once I join up, I get out the camera and snap a couple of pictures, then snuggle up a little bit to see what's going on.
The plane is incredibly simple. It's grey and has no distinctive markings anywhere on the fuselage, except for the red star and a two digit tail number. It has some antennas sticking out and the unmistakable radar dome underneath the nose. Moving alongside to see the cockpit, I could clearly see a fellow in a fuselage window taking pictures and waving to me. The pilots up front were doing the same and various crew members would walk into the cockpit to check me out. I wave back. The leader starts to descend to 2000' and starts doing some turns, looking for "Mom." It doesn't take them long, as we point straight at the carrier and descend to 300'.
Our mission now is to make sure that a U.S. aircraft is in any pictures that they take of the ship. That means I get to fly fairly close and block their view of the boat a little, so the Russians can't publish photos of them taking unescorted pictures of an aircraft carrier. First, we fly across the bow of a DDG, then make a slow circle to fly down the starboard side of the Kitty Hawk from stem to stern. Yeah!!
Our replacement shows up and we're directed to "Texaco", overhead the ship. Good, since I'm now 1500 pounds (or 20 minutes) behind my fuel ladder. Not good. If this tanker goes sour or there's something wrong with the jet and I can't get gas, then I can't make my recovery time at the ship. The deck will be spotted for the next launch, so that means I couldn't land early if I wanted to. There are planes in the landing area that have to launch off of the waist cats. Diverting into a Houston Intercontinental sized Japanese airport is going to be the only option if I can't get gas.
I keep my mouth shut to the skipper since he never asks me what my fuel state is. Hitting the tanker just a little bit nervous, I plug in as smooth as can be and suck down almost 3000 pounds. Off the tanker, I'm only a little bit above the fuel ladder now and probably would have to get gas a third time if we were directed to escort anyone else.
We, however, proceed to our station and wait for our relief to show up. When they do, we head to the ship, spin overhead once and commence for the overhead break. Coming around the corner behind the ship at 500 knots, the skipper snaps it off at the stern of the ship for the "Shit Hot Break" OK pass to the three wire. I come in 60 seconds later for an average FAIR pass to the three wire. I can't complain, I deserved it.
The most exhilarating flight in all of Naval Aviation that day; hands down. No one else that day got to do what the CO and I did. The Russians left after their first pass and our replacements didn't do much. It just doesn't get much better than that. Wait a minute. . . It's Friday. . . Pizza night!!! Tomorrow's Saturday. . . we pull into port!!!!!!!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!Moffin out.