Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Movie Stealth- Not So Stealthy At All!

OK< before I go any further, I want to make one thing perfectly clear- this movie sucked. It violates me. It's horrible. And it took me years to see the entire movie, and even then it was in small, max 15 minute clips. It was that horrible.

First of all, a look at the "stealth" aircraft:

ASW Fake FA37

Gaps, gaps and more gaps. That gap between the engines above might actually amplify radar waves before propigating them arounf the aircraft shell and then out to any receiver. The huge gaps in the swing wing? Yeah, radar reflector. The engine... thing? Opening? No, IR broadcaster there.

And its aerodynamics: The way its wings fold forward to go "hypersonic"? Nope, CoG shifts BACKward when you go through the sonic barrier, even hyhpersonic, so this aircraft would tumble and probably destroy itself in the attempt. That nose? Oh, that nose, would aerodynamically force itself schnozz first into the end of the carrier deck, or the pretty blue waves in front of the carrier. Aerodynamically, this thing is as big as an airfoil flop as are George Lucas' X-Wing fighters. Maybe even worse. X-Wings could at least go ballistic.

The engine shape might look cool, but I see no space for a round engine in that bay whatsoever. I could be wrong, but I do know about the loss of thrust when converting a round column of thrust into a big, flat exhaust like that.

Then there's the attack scenes, where the "FA-37s" drop to within hundreds of feet to deliver rocket-propelled smart bombs. Hey, Hollywood, stealth doesn't matter if the stealth aircraft attacks in daylight, within eyeball range. Ever notice how the LGB footage seems from so far away? Because that's part of being stealthy, being far away when the bombs hit. And yes, the USAF and Navy DO have rocket-propelled LGBs, and they're delivered from even FARTHER away.

And the big solution to bombing the skyscraper with some bad guys underneath it in a bunker turned my brain into an alchemist's delight- all sorts of strange metals were seeping out my ears, nose and mouth. Fly up, then straight down, and make the bomb have a max velocity through the.... I have to stop, it's too ridiculous. And ridiculous here is like saying "cute" compared to what I want to say.

Well, that's the end of the review. In short, this movie has no redeeming qualities. At all. None, it so patently, effortfully, destroys all factuality and true suspense of what a real futuristic aviation movie should be, well, it sucks so bad I had to make words up to avoid a blue streak.

Well, it does have Jessica Biel in a flight suit and a bikini. Watch for those scenes...

But outside of those, screw it. You like it? Wow, please don't respond. But tell your friends to come and check out my blog!

Watch for more movie reviews coming soon! Including" Soar Into the Sun, Red Tails, Top Gun, and more!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Winter Jogger

So back a few years ago when we lived in Wilsonville OR there was this huge snowfall- lasted a few days, and longer than that afterward to get your car out to drive anywhere.

But since my wife and I are both experienced snow drivers, we packed up ourselves and our 3 boys in our big blue MAV (Mormon Assault Vehicle) and went for it. And we did well, of course. Until the jogger incident.
As we came down and around a gentle bend, I saw the stop light was about 50 yards ahead and I began to gently apply my brakes. The temp was right above freezing and there was a layer of wet, shiny ice on the road. As I tapped my brakes I was not only gently slowing the car, I was testing IF I could slow the car. Naturally there was no response at first, then the car began to gradually slow... And that was when I saw him.

A jogger.

Yes, a jogger bolted out from behind a house, across a crosswalk that was buried an inch of snotslick ice, right in front of me, on a collision course with my van's bumper. I knew if I hit the brakes only parts of my van would change speed (not necessarily slowing down, but possible speeding up) and I'd spin into something else, endangering my family at the risk of this stranger who didn't notice the 2.5 ton van heading down above described treacherousslope toward him. So I opted instead to lean on my horn and alert him of what was more his predicament than mine. My wife gasped- she can do that fast 'cuz you know how women are- and as quickly as he appeared, he was on the other side of the van, still running, but flipping us the bird, then pointing at the crosswalk sign, indicating we were obligated to stop for him, and that he had the right of way regardless of the inclement weather conditions or his stupidity.

Well, the point is, all of us were different levels of shocked by it.

"If only," I thought "We had a couple of A-10s over us, I could order  an air strike on this idiot. Come on, it would be awesome! Two A-10s setting up a squirrel cage around this guy, diving in on him and taking turns strafing him into little crunchy bits. And then painting a running stick figure, or maybe a running shoe on the side of the jet.

No, of course we didn't call in the air strike. Why? Because Oregon is F-15 country and I don't believe they know anything about strafing.

But for the record, that's all that stopped me from trying.

Airshows- Who's the Funniest?

Airshows are awesome in so many ways. The jets. And the other jets. Oh, and those jets over there we forgot are here sometimes. Wow.

And if that's not enough, I like to spice them up with little contests. My favorite one? Who's got the coolest, or funniest story.

At this year's Oregon Air Show, we had 5 contenders: F-15 guy, AV-8B guy, A-10 guy, F-18F guys, and T-6 trainer dude

The F-15 guy, "Tupac", kinda acted like an active USAF guy. Tough getting him to... well, talk at all. Hey, I 'm just callin' it like I see it. But he signed my book so that was cool- he was really careful with it, too, when I handed it to him. And now that I have TWO signatures on that pic of F-15A 040 (I got "Pyro" to sign 2 years ago), the personal value of the book has quadrupled. And then he sounded out about how he had many hours in jet 040, but now it was sitting in the boneyards of Davis-Montahn AFB. OoooOOOooohhh... that was cool. But too short, not quite a story, but definitely our first contender.

A-10 guy... Was cool with the facts, and interacted with my 6 yr-old really well. You see, my son said in advance that he wanted to ask an A-10 pilot about the `ole Gator bombs that he saw in a Youtube video. So, he asked the Warthog driver, who leaned over all fatherly-like and answered him in kind. Made my boy's day, but did not count as a cool or funny story. I even pushed him, by asking about all the dents in the `Hog's nose, but he just explained it... a little too tactfully in my opinion.

AV-8B guy...Ok, I'm a closet Harrier fanboi, and I told him this. So we both got all "Cooooool jet, bro," but I got no stories. I even told him about some interview I read about Eagle drivers who got frustrated trying to AIM-9 a Harrier but the wings block the exhaust and all the wiggling and viffing those jets can do... he said he'd been there, but didn't seem to want to go there. Hmmm, felt a little let down, but, hey, bro- cool jet anyway. Dead solid hover to 500 knots- very cool trick. But no story.

The Superbug pilot wasn't even anywhere around. Ppt. No- it was a TWO-seater so Double Ppt.

OK, T-6 Trainer dude, what have you got for me?

So we walked up to T-6 Texan guy, who was doing a recruiting bit with some parents and their son. And their daughter who was in the High School pipeline, too, I think. My 6-year-old wanted to go elsewhere. The plane had no guns, bombs, missiles or anything. But I'm thinking, "Help me T-6 Texan Trainer guy, you're my only hope."

And well, well, well if he didn't come through.

He told me about a great little experience he'd had just a few minutes before I walked up. Evidently, a Mom walked up to him and asked him what base he trained at. He answered. She said, "Oh my son trained there, but he flunked out."

See where this is going?

Trainer dude inadvertently asked, "What's his name?" and suddenly realized that may not have been a smart thing to do, but it was done. The mother said her son's name. He recognized it right away. Because the prospective pilot had nearly gotten them both killed. Well, he didn't say that, but he said he remembered the whole flight, and stated that pilot had made a series of mistakes culminating in one big mistake, bigger than normal, and he took control of the plane and flew them back in a dead quiet cockpit.

But instead he simply replied that there were a lot of candidates and it was difficult to remember them all. Good save.


Minutes later, the father came up. Father was big and upset. He explained he had encouraged his son to aim high and that he could achieve anything he set his mind to, and he wanted a personal explanation about why his first born son had been flunked out of pilot training.

Now, T-6 trainer dude was not a short guy- some inches taller than me, but he was an older, leaner guy and he expressed some concern to me about this upset father's size and demeanor. But he's a professional United States Air Force Instructor Pilot (with 20+ years on the job experience/thousands of hours of stick time) and explained to Dad why his son didn't simply fail the flight, he was flunked out of the entire course.

Dad wasn't any happier when T-6 dude elaborated by saying that his son could not even re-apply again due to the gravity of his error. Father was upset, but moved on like a good citizen after some fuming. And trainer dude made it clear to me that at the moment it was tense, but half an hour later it was actually funny.

And that made him my winner of the Airshow Pilot Funniest Story Contest.

Feel free to comment in the space below!

A Pilot’s Story

(The following entry is not original to me, and you know how I like my own originality, but this was too good to not spread. It came to me via an old friend on the `Webz via e-mail...)

This came from a gent who runs a 2000 acre corn farm up around Barron, WI, about 230 miles NW of Oshkosh, WI. He used to fly F-4Es and F-16s for the Guard and participated in the first Gulf War.
His story:
I went out to plant corn for a bit to finish a field before tomorrow morning and witnessed The Great Battle. A golden eagle - big, with about a six foot wingspan - flew right in front of the tractor. It was being chased by three crows that were continually dive bombing it and pecking at it. The crows do this because the eagles rob their nests when they find them.
At any rate, the eagle banked hard right in one evasive maneuver, and then landed in the field about 100 feet from the tractor. This eagle stood about 3 feet tall. The crows all landed too, and took up positions around the eagle at 120 degrees apart, but kept their distance at about 20 feet from the big bird. The eagle would take a couple steps towards one of the crows and they'd hop backwards and forward to keep their distance. Then the reinforcement showed up.
I happened to spot the eagle's mate hurtling down out of the sky at what appeared to be approximately Mach 1.5. Just before impact the eagle on the ground took flight, (obviously a coordinated tactic; probably pre-briefed) and the three crows which were watching the grounded eagle, also took flight thinking they were going to get in some more pecking on the big bird.
The first crow being targeted by the diving eagle never stood a snowball's chance in hell. There was a mid-air explosion of black feathers and that crow was done. The diving eagle then banked hard left in what had to be a 9G climbing turn, using the energy it had accumulated in the dive, and hit crow #2 less than two seconds later. Another crow dead…
The grounded eagle, which was now airborne and had an altitude advantage on the remaining crow, which was streaking eastward in full burner, made a short dive then banked hard right when the escaping crow tried to evade the hit. It didn't work - crow #3 bit the dust at about 20 feet AGL.
This aerial battle was better than any air show I've been to, including the war birds show at Oshkosh.
The two eagles ripped the crows apart and ate them on the ground, and as I got closer and closer working my way across the field, I passed within 20 feet of one of them as it ate its catch. It stopped and looked at me as I went by and you could see in the look of that bird that it knew who's Boss of the Sky. What a beautiful bird!

I loved it. Not only did they kill their enemy, they ate them. One of the best Fighter Pilot stories I've seen in a long time... There are no noble wars -- Only noble warriors

Feel free to comment in the space below!

What's A Kill?

So it's been widely advetised for decades now: The F-15 Eagle is the only fighter in all of history to have a perfect killing record of over 100:0. That means there have been over 100 confirmed kills by the F-15. Andnone have been "killed" in combat them selves.

Now, as much as I love the F-15 Eagle, I'm forced to constantly say in my mind... "Really?"

I mean, you gotta admit- that's an AMAZING record. And you see it touted all over the net. So what does it really mean? Or in other words, How can we call this statement into doubt through over-analyzation?

Yeah, I saw the spelling quirp. Just move on.

Let's start out with, "Just what is a kill?" This is important because a kill is not the same as a damaged or probable. In WWII, Korea (a.k.a. WWII.5) and Vietnam, jets were seen zooming off into clouds streaming smoke and fire but their impact into the ground was never witnessed or recorded, so they couldn't be officially recorded as "kills"

In the book "Israeli F-15 Units In Combat" as well as in "Eagle Engaged", there are two stories told of IAF F-15s that got hit- bad- and were forced to leave the fight. One got a stitch of 23mm rounds across its wing and the other took an A-to-A missile up its tailpipe. Both of these planes had to get the @#$ out of Dodge and recover at a friendly base so their pilots could live and fight another day. Many other damaged planes and close calls are hinted at.

So, these planes were badly damaged and forced from the fray. They were rendered combat ineffective by direct enemy fire. Isn't that a kill? They couldn't contribute to offensive actions anymore, could they? No, they had to go emergency land. So they left. They were dead. That should count as a kill.

Welll, not so fast. Let's compare this to a gunfight between Smith & Wesson- armed human beings. If someone gets shot, and they limp or get away, but live, they haven't been "killed." They're still alive. They might not come back to fight. They might. But if their heart is still beating, their would-be murderer is not a murderer, just a really big meanie. An evil-doer. A bad guy. Not a killer.

Welll, it just so happens in both these cases of the IAF F-15s, the jets were repaired and returned to service. Within... weeks. The one who took the missile even got another A-to-A kill. Later in the war. Hmm... going back to our S & W metaphor, those planes definitely didn't die. They limped away (quite smartly at that, I might add- what Syrian pilot didn't see a lumbering, smoking F-15 trying to be small as it limped helplessly away from battle?) and came back, full of mischief, even. I'm calling those.... not kills. But they still shoulda gotten medals from their governments for even getting that close enough to an Eagle to give it an explosive suppository, no? I think yes, give those men medals.

OK... but after I dug deeper, I did find a reference to an IAF Eagle that flew out over the Sea trailing smoke and fire. It was claimed it never landed, and that that was the last that particular jet was ever seen again. So, it was killed- pilot ejected over water and the jet sank in the deep blue. Witnesses over the beach said they saw it. They said they saw an Israeli fighter trailing smoke and fire fly out over the sea, eject its crew member then plummet into the water. Oh, and there were stacks and piles of witnesses.

Only one problem: all of Israel's jets are listed and accounted for.

So, no kill.

Record stands.

Good job: USAF, IDF/AF, and McDonnell Douglas designers.


Where to go on the web about military aviation news and info? Pt 2

Oh, boy. I should have really thought this one out before hand.

So, last entry (I should be saying last WEEK's entry) was about the best paper publications to go to for accurate military aviation news and information.

But, to be honest, every time I sat down to type out a new entry, my mind went blank.

No- you don't get it. It went BLANK. And blank is frustrating, especially when you know its supposed to be a weekly gig you're runnin'. But I was so blank I couldn't even find something random to throw up here.

So I finally sat myself down and realized, there really isn't any one site, or collection of sites, even, that I go to.

Now, ok, there are a few sites. Official ANG sites. You know, Official sites. A few forums, and then... I realized... It's not the WHERE on the web I go to0 it's the WHO.

Official web sites, like the 142 FW's site ( are about the people- they talk about what's happening. Celebrating the USAF's 65th Anniversary... Welcoming troops home with a fly over... A group of pilots comes home from training some new NATO country's air force... All cool stuff.

Then there's the forums, like Youtube channels like AirBoydTV. People in the force or always around it. These are the guys who know first hand above the armchair-XBOX360-wannabes who only know the hype and indoctrination of Future Weapons and other glory of war braggerts. Yeah- you know the type- they talk all turn rates but don't know training. What's that saying? "Amateurs talk tactics and strategy; professionals talk logistics and personnel."

But then, ya gotta keep an eye out. Some sites- again, like YouTube, are made of the stuff that makes the World hate Americans. Pocket Generals railing "USA is the GREATEST YOU #%@%%@!!! I have Flight Sim X and I COULD HOP IN AN F-16 AND SHOOT DOWN YOUR ENTIRE AIR FORCE WITH MY EYES CLOSED!!! #%@#$%@#%!!!" And these guys are everywhere.

But some of the most valuable places I've gone to learn about what the military does... has been the military. Not the electronic military- the carbon-based, organic, living, breathing military. Visiting a base. Yeah, you can do that, at times. The 142nd's Young American Day, for example.

Don't feel despaired if there's a long line for the pilots around the F-15 on display... go talk to the missile loaders. They might not have the stick time but sometimes they know more about the plane than the pilots do. And they'll have just as cool stories, too. Crew chiefs who rip on pilots for breaking their jets, and have hilarious stories about that the pilots that, well, the pilots will never tell... the whole bit. And then there's that guy. What's he do? He files the computer reports that confirm everyone's done their computer reports. And you know what? The squadron wouldn't fly without him. So thank him. Be the first on your block to thank them all.

See? Another blog that went somewhere we didn't expect. But that's how it goes, isn't it? Now, go visit the link below and get to know your local Air Guard Family.

What's the Best Military Aviation Magazine? Pt 1

Despite the digital age, I am still hard-core attached to having paper with news in front of me. In college, I couldn't wait for spring break and time after finals, and every other spare time, to go to the library's archive section and get caught up on my military aviation news.

Here are the ones I was addicted to... er... relied on the most for my aviation news.

AFA- The Air Force Association publishes the Air Force Magazine. It is news, albeit pro-force spun, directly from the horse's mouth. Great pictures, great photos, lots of bar graphs. Its the place to find out what the USAF is Officially thinking.

Janes- You've seen their big books in almost every  Tom Clancy movie, did you know they have a weekly magazine? It covers international military news of every kind, and follows military news better than anyone. But, its a smaller publication- no 100 page weekly journals here, so its not that behind the scenes like AFA's Air Force magazine. But its still read by militaries and governments around the World as a sort of newspaper-periodical. Also has great pictures.

AW&ST- Aviation Week and Space Technology. Also known as Aviation "Leak" and Space Technology. This weekly magazine is the most expensive so only some libraries, government and military contractors typically carry it. These guys go neck deep into the technology being developed, by whom, when it'll be ready, and special instructions to opposing forces how to counter it. IMHO, at times it reveals data nigh unto treason. But still, its fun to read for that same reason.

Air International-A bit drier than the above, with fewer/smaller pictures, and more focus on economics and business. But occasionally they dazzle with an in-depth, heavily illustrated article on a specific aircraft or air force. Then, its very, very nice.

Years went by, and more magazines began sprouting up. There have been others that came and went, but here are the ones that
have stuck:

AFM- Air Forces Monthly. These guys are my current favorite. They have the best balance of photography (a lot of it original,

by their own photographers), information, news, and so on. Really, really great. Everything's in heaps. Can't get enough.

Combat Aircraft Monthly
- These guys used to be more like Air International- pretty dry. But then they began occasionally publishing in-depth, heavily illustrated military aviation articles, and their sales soared. Now they're becoming more like AFM, with one likable difference- they interview people a lot more and seem to be the only ones out there that realize that planes are flown as much by people as they are by tech, government and economics. To me, that's refreshing, so if these guys keep this up, they'll become my favorites.

Next week I'll go more into digital and online sources military aviation news.

Veterans' Day

They are the small and skronny, they are the large and stacked. They are the paper pushers and the grenade throwers. They are the killer SEALs and the safety bureaucrats. They are the dock loaders and the muzzle loaders. They are the fighter pilots, and the desk pilots. They are young, middle-aged and old.

But we owe our Freedom to ALL of them. Not one of them ever fought for right without the other making it so.

We are the grateful, and the ungrateful. Which are you this week? Thank a Vet. Thank two Vets. Look `em in the eye, shake their hand. Teach your kids to do it, too- do it right in front of them.

Don't just say it. Make it a Good Veterans Day for the Vets.

I Betcha- Black Programs and How I Bet There Are Squadrons of RAH-66s (or something better) Out There Somewhere

If you haven't seen the pics of the abandoned tail section of a stealthy tail rotor boom from a certain World famous raid in Pakistan, you've been hiding better than Bin Laden was. It was obviously a tail boom from a stealthy troop transport. That nobody knew about. I mean, ANYTHING about. And by ANYTHING I mean NOTHING. Where on earth did it come from?

Back in the 80's there was at least a dis-information campaign about the F-117 stealth fighter. Well, two actually, pre- and post- veil lifting on the mysterious jet. When it was finally seen, and used, everyone pretty much knew SOMETHING about it.
But this stealthy troop transport, was a complete surprise. Wow, it had been kept secret.

Now, I'm not a Republican (This is all I'll ever, ever say about this. Maybe), but I lean their way a little in foreign affairs that involve things going boom across other peoples' borders so things aren't going boom on the inside of MY borders. 

But I gotta hand it to the Democrats... I like the way they arm for and wage war. And here's why:

Democrats and Black Programs:

JFK- John F. Kennedy had this stroke of genius when he took previous small, sort-of funded black ops groups (SEALs, Delta Force, etc.) and just poured money onto them like a 3-year-old pours sugar on cereal. WHOOSH. The forces were expanded, trained and used like never before. But nobody knew any specifics, only years later. Powerful weapon developed and implemented, effectively and secretly.

Carter- I didn't like Carter from day one. Might've been my very Republican Dad ripping on him, but I'd wanted Ford in office (probably bacause I saw him at the F-15 christening back in the 70's). Then Carter cancelled the B-1A bomber. Had it cancelled. Whatever. There we were, middle of the Cold War and our bomber force was cancelled. Wasn't until later we realized why. He was pushing the F-117 and B-2 programs forward. But we didn't know that at the time, did we? Well done, democrat president.

Obama- and now we have Obama. Well, well, well. Did he push the stealth helo? I don't know. But he put a lot of effort into keeping the op and all its associated tech hush hush.

Now, Combat Aircraft Magazine reported lots of funding getting piped into programs as yet unnamed by any defense agency. But I'd bet anything there are squadrons of several different types of military aircraft hidden out there somewhere. Remember the RAH-66 Comanche? The fast, super-smart, stealthy attack/recon helo of the 90's? In the 2003 Iraq invasion, they saw that the Apaches weren't ever engaged by radar-directed weaponry. So they publicly announced that they weren't going to produce them since stealth didn't seem to apply to helos now, only low-tech bullets and RPGs.
And I fell for it- for a long time, too. Though in the back of my mind I had a hunch there was SOMEthing going on in the shadows.

Well, now I am basically convinced. And I think there are a couple seriously black ops squadrons of Stealth Hawks, Comanche and other mission-specialized flying hardware we haven't even heard of yet.

The following is a paraphrase of a hilarious account of air-to-air combat during the Vietnam War from the book Alpha Strike Vietnam by Jeffrey Levinson:

It was the Vietnam War. Two US Navy A-4 Skyhawks were in a dogfight with a Mig. As is often the case, the two pilots became target focused and became oblivious to all else around them. As both Skyhawks manuevered into position, they both hosed off a Sidewinder at the Mig. By their accounts, the lead A-4's heater found the Mig and lit it up. But the trail A-4's missile just disappeared.

Weird point, tho: when the jets landed back on the carrier. Lead Skyhawk was missing an elevator. Oh, it landed fine. It's a Scooter for pete's sake- one of the best, most versatile jets the USN ever did fly. But it was weird, no one could account for the missing missile OR the tail.

Once the debrief was over, another pilot stuck up his hand. He, too had wanted to enter the fray, but being a more senior pilot, and therefore experienced, he decided to stay high and away to avoid the exact kind of thing that he witnessed happen, as he related to everyone's amazement:

He said he saw the trailing 'Hawk fire a heater at the Mig. But the lead A-4 entered the seeker's field of vision at exactly the wrong time and became its target. He didn't panic. There was no time or sense in making a radio call due to the short time of flight involved, he just watched so he could make a proper report afterward.

But just as the trail Skyhawk's Sidewinder was about to impact the lead Skyhawk's tail, the Lead Skyhawk fired HIS missile at the MiG. It zoomed out and away just before the trailer's missile went up his tailpipe, which caused the first missile, from the trailing Skyhawk, to veer off and follow the new, much hotter, brighter plume. But not without first clipping the lead's right horizontal tail and leaving a couple scrapes down the length of the jet as its tip-of-the-fin rolling stabilizers rolled the missile down the its starboard side. It then followed the lead's Sidewinder like it was supposed to, right into the MiG where it exploded as designed, but a single second too late to get there first.

Several pilots called "B.S", but the wriley witness summoned them all to the flight deck. Sure enough, once they all examined the lead's jet, the slice in the stabilizer and the roller marks in the jet's paint substantiated his story. There was a chance for big-time ego bruising fist fight, but nothing happened. Fog of war and all that. Stuff happens. And all was well.

Until the pilot of the trailing jet tried to claim a half kill.

Why I Think the F-35 Will Succeed

The more and more I read about the F-35, the more I htink it's going to be a big, big hit. Here are my reasons why:

1- Its techno-promises are incredible. Even if it only achieves 70-80% of them, it will still be amazing. No, not its stealth, I've discounted that for 40- 60% of scenarios 20+ years from now. Great idea whose time has come and is now going. But its electronics will be incredible- smart jamming EW systems, LPI detecting, RADAR range, data collection, that smart IR system that covers the pilot's view in all directions, built-in heat-seeking missile launch detection, even. That's going to make this one very, very smart and capable aircraft. What did Baron Von Richtofen say? 90% of his victims never saw him? Ain't no sneaking up on this bird- making it more survivable than anything before.

2- Its speed/thrust is amazing. In an Aircraft International story on the JSF the pilot jokes about how, with full military power/dry thrust, his F-35A will quickly pull away from the chase F-16. The Viper pilot needs to go 1-2 stage AB to keep up. No matter how you cook, that's some impressive gas.

Some criticize its big horizontal tails and broad flat belly, but I see extra lift generators. Combined with its speed/thrust- it will be a great dogfighter. Not a good one- a GREAT one. I think they (Lockheed Martin) already know this but aren't talking about it yet as a political/sales/brinkmanship move.

3- Criticize it for its small payload? Say "SDB" 3 times fast. It can carry a boatload of Small Diameter Bombs in its belly, and the JAGM (Joint Air/Ground Missile- basically a Hellfire missile rigged for carriage by fast movers) can be carried in multiples, too. Can't hit big targets far, far away? So what. It's not a Strike Eagle replacement. It's a Viper/ Hornet/ Harrier replacement.

4- And even if I'm wrong, and it's only on par (payload and flight envelope-wise) with the threat aircraft. "Pilots don't make the plane; Pilots make the plane... Better." American training, espirit de corps and ingenuity will make this the best fighter. On paper, the MiG-29 is a better plane than the F-15. Yet no F-15s have fallen to Fulcrums.

5- Every famous jet has had a rough start off the blocks. So has this jet. But deployed, it will kick doors down and put large, careful placed holes in the ground where the enemy once was. The F-16 was initially designed to carry a couple small gas tanks and 4 missiles, and was known for flying its pilots into the ground. It's now carrying almost its weight in ordnance, and is the bomb workhorse for the USAF, as well as being one of the most feared close-in dogfighters in the World. The F-35 will eventually have the same history.

So, I maintain we need this jet. Thousands of them? No. But as a special first-week-of-war tool, yes. Take out S-200 SAMs and the like. Deep penetration against special targets. That stuff.

Let the Silent Eagles do the rest. You know, the high volume/ daylight raid/ risky stuff. Yeah- the F-15SE, the cheaper alternative to the F-35/-22. Built on proven, reliable technology. For cheaper. With longer range and greater payload. Escorted by F-22s. Or, other F-15SEs. But I digress.

Yes, I am coming around to the F-35. It's going to be great. 

Feel free to comment in the space below!

A Really Great Facebook Page

Tell Congress and the SecDef the Marines need the F-35B STOVL Jet Fighter!

If you're a Facebook user, I recommend you go and check out this page. It's got some of the most up-tp-date data and intel on the JSF as it emerges, and often before it appears in Military Aviation Journals. Go check it out!

Horse Before the Cart- How Stealth Was a Bad Idea, But Helped Forward Radar Technology

So the 60's was a great time of invention for military aviation... jet engines, guided missiles, and RADAR. RAdio Direction and Ranging. RADAR. Airborne objects miles and miles away could be detected, designated and have explosive packages sent their way without ever casting a shadow on a human being's retina. It was so good it was a weapon in and of itself. Big, skyscraper-sized antenna farms soon got miniaturized to a few clothes-dryer fences poking out the front of a fighter. A new era of aerial combat was begun.

The antennas became smaller, and basic computers entered the loop. They could now map out the ground and find building-sized targets, or detect groups of fighters 20+ miles away. More advanced computers came along, and from 30 miles away the face of spinning engine fans gave away what kind of plane you were. Electronically-steered arrays of radars came about and now from 50 miles away, it could be seen what kind of payload your jet is carrying. And well, that seemed to be that. Nowhere else for radar to go. I see you a weather system away and whoosh you're dead 30 seconds later. A new technology came along, EW, or Electronic Warfare, where a radar signal could be blocked, blinded or spoofed.

And that worked fine for us. Our adversaries caught on to or stole the tech from us, and began trying to use it against us. So, we just developed new technology- stealth. Area rules, plane angles and radar absorptive materials now wrapped out military airframes and made them hard to useless to detect by the enemy. Even our own, older-but-still-in-service fighters couldn't detect them with what we had boasted as the best radar tech in the World. We chuckled over how frustrated our enemies would be in the next war.

Until, that is, our adversaries figured out stealth with a twist, and U.S. ingenuity had to deal with them. They were current, fast and deadly, and all our current radars had real trouble detecting them down low to the ground, where radars have to fight ground clutter and EM interference to detect, track and launch against.

Now, by stealth aircraft I'm not talking about the latest Russian and Chinese stealth fighters, which aren't even in production yet. I'm talking about stealthy cruise missiles that carried nice, big surprises of unhappiness that could be launched from a hundred miles away by long-range aircraft that, while big and slow, had the navigation down to get just close enough to launch against or coast, turn around, and outrange our fighters as they launched these invisible little bees. At which point the targets aren't the bombers anymore, they're the six or 1/2 dozen or the other stealthy cruise missiles that each of the bombers just launched.

"So, that's okay," some military-minded geeks said, "we can re-design AESA radars and pump up the software behind them with new algorhythms to detect those." And we did. With all the intent being, "We've got to stop these missiles from breaking through." And we did it. With a nice side effect. Now, our radars could not only detect stealth missiles, flying low and fast between trees and laundry fences... they could detect stealth fighters.

Oops. Was I supposed to make that public? Well, yeah, it's out there. But the military knew it before we did, and started slapping those new radars into all our fighters. So now, our 20-30 year old fighters can detect stealth fighters, at long range, and shoot them down, inmultiples, simultaneously.

Which is kinda funny, and I'll tell you why. With all the success we'd accomplished with stealth fighters, our adversaries began designing stealth fighters, too. China and Russia. Pre-production jets flipping around the sky, now, saying, "Ha-ha! We have caught up with America and are now as stealthy as they are! Ha-ha! Fear us!"

Except we don't, because now we can shoot them down like they're flying tennis courts anyway.

Hence, our own technology, can shoot down our own technology, no matter who uses it.

Feel free to comment in the space below!

Book Review: Viper Force- 56th Fighter Wing- To Fly and Fight the F-16 by John Dibbs et al

Why, yes, yes I am an Eagle Bro-fan. But that doesn't mean I've never had a crush on another jet, or that I can't recognize great reading when it's on a book shelf. And let's face it- the F-16 makes great reading.

Viper Force presents itself deceptively under the guise of being an informative read on the 56th FW at Luke AFB, and a first glance seems to confirm that- the back cover has three long paragraphs talking about "numerous personal interviews". But it's not. Well, okay, it's got some actual information in it, in rich, personal commentary from Viper drivers, but most of it's from Viper drivers who graduated there and went on to war, and how the F-16 handled the war. And the stories rock. These are fighter pilots telling war stories the way only fighter pilots can tell them.

But of the almost 200 pages, there are, maybe... 20 such entries. That's right, I said TWENTY ENTRIES OUT OF 200 PAGES. That's Twenty short 2-3 paragraph text insertions about fighter pilot tales. No, it's not a lot. That's 1/10th of the book.

But after I'd gotten over my disappointment, I looked the book over a second time.

And it no longer mattered.

The photography of the F-16 in this book is rich to a point of being almost pornographic. Every block of F-16C is featured from avery angle and distance; cockpit, airbrakes, formation lights, afterburner takeoffs, afterburners at night, afterburners while dropping bombs, ACMI pods, Sniper pods, jamming pods, banking away, popping flares... I mean, it's got it all. And by all I mean EVERYTHING. This closeup shoes the structure-strengthening panels added the to jet's tail. Here's the bolts that hold the right cheek formation light on. Here's a close-up of the tracking number on a TER rack holding 3 Mk-83 bombs.

And there are no blurry stock photos here- every photo is unique to the book and in high, better-than-retinal-resolution sharpness. Well, except for the YF-16 shots, which are classic photos but their quality is still devoid of graininess or blurring.

When I put the book down (after taking it home) I felt like I'd just had an incentive flight in one.

Looking up, this book review may be a little embarrassing on my part, but I'll say it over and over again, this book is a must-have. You can't call yourself a Viper-fanboi
until this book takes up shelf space in your library. You can't call yourself a fighter-pilot nut unless you've at least read it. In other words, get it:

Viper Force at

Photo Blogger as Reporter

So this week I was going through the Flickr account of one PlanePhotoman. Now, I don't know if I've ever met this guy but his photography is AMAZING. He spends a lot of time around PDX just photographing aircraft of every sort as they come and go out of the airport.

Well, part of me thought, "This is nice, I can plant this guy into one of many groups that photographs planes."

But No- this guy does something more. He talks about his pictures- and a surprising number of them are series of really interesting events that probably would have made the news if it weren't occupied with other idiots' insanity. Marine squadron visits of Harriers, legacy Hornets and Prowlers, international flights from Russia and China on enormous cargo jets like AN-224s, and did you know an F-15 got stuck circling PDX some time ago when its landing gear stuck "up"? I may well be referring to this guy's photoblog from time to time just for how awesome it is!

So go on over and take a look at it. You'll love this guy's work:

Meanwhile... 2013

In other news, I have been setting out goals and projects for in 2013. The site will be continuing with what has been working- I'll be creating new merchandise with 3-D and 2-D Aviation art,
funny art, more Dino stuff and so on over the next year. This blog will continue and diversify, while staying on topic. The site's look will change some, but only by getting better. I'm also going to go down another road that I haven't really touched yet, except mildly, but I think will really impress a lot of you, especially you local 142nd FW fans.

Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

Chuck Yeager died last year. And with him, the end of an era.

If you're reading this, you already knew. There was a time when this guy was a household name. He was the war hero, the test pilot, the guy who didn't turn into jello when he broke the sound barrier. He flew amazing mission after amazing mission, broke one record after another.

There are other names. A big one from the USAF/F-15 community was (and still is) Cesar Rodriguez- an Eagle pilot who is one of the handful of modern day fighter jocks to have 3 official kills under their belt. Jeffrey Hwang who shot down 2 MiGs simultaneously. Garry Dean (a favorite of mine) who was the first African-American pilot, squadron commander, and wing commander in the 142nd Fighter Wing. Man, I could go on.

But great as these men are, and so many others like them, no one knows their names anymore. No one knows what they've done. There are no more household names. Well, there's General Schwarzkopf, I think everyone remembers- no, he died, too.

Is it the Fat, American Syndrome? Are we so out of touch with the World that we don't care? Or, have aviation and heroism become blase?

Or, finally, has the "Everybody wins so nobody gets their feelings hurt" teaching forced an abandonment of heroes, excellence and achievement?

It's hard to tell... combination of the above, maybe. But one thing's sure... the upper crust of the United States Military still pushes and strives for excellence. You still must be trained and ready to kill. Top Gun is still the best of the best of the best. And I hope we can all continue to live that spirit, and pass it on to our kids. Because that's what makes America great- opportunity abounding, and taking full advantage of opportunity by striving to be the best. And by being a hero through those efforts.

And I feel great knowing whenever I hear jet fighters ripping the sky up over my head, that those guys are hard workers, focused and dedicated to doing their best- that even their failures excel most others' dreams. That they strive for excellence par none, glory and ... my Freedom.

So, Thank you Chuck Yeager. And Jeff Hwang and Cesar Rodriguez, and Garry Dean, and all you other heroes. Act as humble as you want to. I, along with any other readers of this blog, celebrate and thank you for, your heriosm.

And thank you God, the Mightiest Hero of All. 

Secret Programs Everywhere...

Many years ago, I used to print out interesting articles that I found at the library, or get copies of them out of magazines in my second home, the periodicals section. I still have a small collection of binders fullof articles from those days. Most of it is divided up into the categories of modern jets, stealth jets, land forces and documented combat actions. It used to be my shining jewel of knowledge until I began building up my library of books.

But it still has its place. There are a few things I copied that I can't really find anywhere else now. The fine example below is from an article I saw on the Janes web site. For those of you not that familiar with the name "Janes" in the defence industry: Janes is commonly regerded as the definitive word on military technology. If they say it isn't so, it isn't, and if someone pulls out a Janes article or reference to prove you're wrong- you're wrong.

So anyway, here I typed out the first 1/3 or so of the article. Read and be thrilled.

"USA's secret new missile impacts UK BVRAAM
"Nick Cook JDW Aviation Editor
"Jane's Defence Weekly has learned of the existence of a highly-classified US Air Force (USAF) missile system test-fired secretly and successfully during the 1990-91 Gulf War.
"The weapon is set to have major implications almost 9 years later for the UK's contentious Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) programme. It may also have a significant bearing in the USAF's leading procurement project, the Lockheed Martin F-22 air superiority fighter.
"JDW has learned that the weapon, a ramjet-powered variant of the Raytheon AIM-120 AIM-120 Advanced Meduim Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) was deployed to a USAF F-15 Eagle squadron in the Gulf during Operation 'Desert Storm' and was responsible for shooting down several Iraqi combat aircraft. These 'kills' were subsequently described as successful engagements by other, non-classified missile systems.
"According to US military sources, the weapon was supplied 'in quantity' even though it was officially only a test article..."
The preceding quote is from the site, dated Oct 22, 1999. I had it bookmarked for some time, well a month. After a while ( a month or two) when I went back to find it, the article was gone! I searched their site for it, and nothing! Every now and then, oh, once a year or so, I would go looking for it again. The original article never was seen again. Hmmm...

Reason for posting? I'm throwing it out there to show that hey, there have always been these awesome black projects out there, being used, in productioin, that DON'T make the popular defence circuit. There's always something going on we don't know about. The above article is one example. The stealthy Blackhawk is another example.

Another example? I'd bet the boss' farm that there is at least a company of RAH-66 Comanches out there somewhere. And they're being used. I bet the F-22 has already flown into North Korea and Iran, and shot down some bad guys. I bet the F-35 DOESN'T COST THAT MUCH- but the price of its development and production are just a front for some other black air force project that we'll find out about in 15-25 years or so. ?

But getting back to the above AMRAAM: I did finally recently find the following link that refers to the same story, though its date and content differ slightly, and is not nearly as complete as the original article.

So check that out.

Feel free to comment in the space below!

Book Review: F-15 Eagle Engaged by Steve Davies and Doug Dildy

What we have here, is a library crown jewel. This book is big. And it's heavy. And I consider it the number one go-to book about the F-15 Eagle. There are plenty (even a glut) of other books that show 3-way diagrams, detail photographs, and the same developmental histories and Desert Store stories about the F-15 out there. But this one goes above and beyond them.

The book is written by a team of a long-time proven aviation author, and an F-15 pilot. The rest of the info comes from McDonnell-Douglas, Boeing, the USAF, and F-15 pilots. But it's not one of those let's keep it professional, boys books. The stories ROCK. Everything from Red Flag to Zulu Scrambles to the most detailed accounts of many, many F-15 kills over the USAF's history with the bird. Amazing, awesome book. But not excellent, or perfect.

The book royally snubs the Air National Guard. It kindly mentions them in passing, pausing to talk about the F-15 Superbase MOGAR, but ignores the other ANG squadrons. Florida. Oregon. There were so many tales to tell here. How about the 142nd's Incredible Safety Record (which, I believe at the printing of this book, was untarnished). And what about Chuck Yeager's Anniversary Sound-Barrier Breaking F-15 ride in a 173rd FW Eagle? Written by former and active USAF pilots, maybe, culturally, I should have expected the Guard snub, but there's a little, "Come on, guys." on top of that. And the sinegl 123rd F-15 photograph it does show is a horrible, unflattering pic. There were so many others they could have chosen- and the 173rd's jets with their distinctive diving Bald Eagle is not anywhere in the book.

The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) and the Israeli Air Force (IAF- and yes, I know they recently changed their name I just can't think of it off the top of my head. It's a blog, not a professional paper) were also completely cast aside, with only paragraphs out of the whole book about them. The RSAF, ok, the only thing they've gotten out of the jet, history-wise, is a double kill during the Gulf War. Wait a minute, a double kill? And those of you in the know remember there was a whole other story behind that tale. Why wasn't that included in the book? It would be a great instance of man plus machine makes the difference.

And the IAF? The USAF has only scored 1/3 of the reported 104+ official kills the F-15 has mustered. The Israeli Air Force made the other 2/3. They gave the Eagle its reputation long before a single USAF pilot entered Iraqi airspace. How can you pass that up? And it can also be argued that they're taken their airframes farther ahead technologically than we have with ours, and waaaayyy before we did, too. They should have gotten more of a shake in this book.

Well, those gripes aside, the book is still big. Perhaps if it had been renamed "F-15: USAF Eagles Engaged" or something like that. But with the massive amount of history, data and tales is has, it is still a dominant authority on most things F-15... development, history, pilot views, air combat accounts, and so on. If you've got a big, strong coffee table or a nice big book shelf, get it and put it there. And read it lots.

Book Review: Thud Ridge by Col. (ret) Jack Broughton

This is the second book I ever read as a child, and it's a bragging right.

There are some really good 'I-was-there-history' books. I've classified them into two types- their living room books and bar books. For the latter, you feel like the last couple hours you spent reading the book, you were actually sitting at a bar with the author as he accurately, yet entertainingly regailed you with his tales. The former is when you feel like you spent the last couple hours in the comfort of the author's living room as he calmly told you said tales, his wife occasionally bringing a cup of cocoa or some chips. I'm not going to explain the difference any more than that. If that doesn't convey it, just try again later.

Thud Ridge is the latter. Its a comfortable read, yet you still get enraged at the stupid politics and rules of engagement (ROE) pilots had to deal with as they struggled to fight effectively despite them. You learn about the fragile, pink human beings that climbed into those cockpits and flew those missions- how they felt, how they dealt with it, or how they didn't deal with it. But the bombing scenes, and even the dog-fighting scenes are amazing. Still, it's a story about professionalism, but these men are no gods in zipper suits- they sound like they could be yard workers, oil drillers, anything. They're only as tough as the job demands, and just enough of that to get them home and on with their lives. The ending is real, sudden, and punches the back of your neck through your gut. And it's all real.

Action-packed, detailed, educational, and gritty. And if you don't have this one in your library, go fly a Cessna 150 until you get bored, because this is an amazing book.

Book Review: Tales of the RAF by Don Patterson / Illustrated by Sonny Schug

This is a thoroughly enjoyable series of 6 books obviously intended for juvenile readers. It tells a segment of Battle of Britain history from the perspective of the RAF squadron and some of the airfield's neighbors, including a young boy who is the unit's adopted mascot. I really enjoy its emphasis on men over machine, a point that's not that popular in some aspects. I enjoy how these books, while clearly propaganda pitched, still catch the life and personality of a people fighting to save their way of life from the evils of the Hitler's forces.

The reading is enjoyable, and teaches serious object lessons, but manages to keep a medium-light, enjoyable tone. Each book ends on as warm and fuzzy a note as it can, noting they're still at war and the Evil Hun has still got to be stopped. After all the other War histories I've read I found the dogfight scenes a tad wanting, but that might be intentional on the author's point. Point is, they fought bravely and skillfully, and here are some cool artworks of the dogfight. `Nuff said. The many illustrations are excellently done and give it a true historical, World War II flavor. I'm middle-aged and found each book really hard to put down, although I only have books 1-3 out of the six. I keep looking for the rest because I Can't wait to see what happens next.

No one spoil the ending for me though. I want to find out on my own.

In summary- definitely worth checking out, but if it's not your flavor it might not find a place on your shelf. Unless you're a WWII aficionado looking to introduce your kids to this particular history. Which you probably are. In which case, get it and put them all on his or her shelf.

I don't really see all six of them together for sale in many places, but hunting them and collecting them is another childhood joy you can indulge in with them.

But get your own- these copies are mine.

Feel free to comment in the space below!

Iranian Stealth Jet-Have you seen this?

I don't often link to outside sources, but what is up with this?
Now seriously. Is there even 1 qualified aeronautical engineer in Iran? My response: Of course! There are lots- they're called RUSSIANS. Iran's most important aviation import.
But even for Russian engineering, this is bad. Here's what's wrong with it:
There's no cowling over the cockpit panels. No sane pilot would ever take an aircraft into the air- especially one meant for high performance yanking and banking- with exposed wiring like that. And the reflection it would put on the inside of the canopy bubble would be very distracting.
Speaking of the canopy bubble- it looks like my 12-year-old son cleaned it with his gym clothes. Its filthy.
The paint job looks like it was sprayed on by a house painter. - not any indication of a rough stealthy texture at all, and not even even in some spots.
There's also video out there(liveleak,/youtube) of "it" flying. But its takeoff and landing aren't shown. They say it's to keep the plane secret. But the secret is probably that it's a 20 foot long RC plane.
The intakes are too small, and ill placed. On the Bird of Prey (pic 13 in the series in the link) and the F-22, the surfaces in front of the intakes are there to force air into the intake. On this jet, they're above an air boundary by the chin that looks mor elike it disrupts air flow, and they're pretty small to provide a jet that big, with an internal payload, enough air to feed a high thrust engine.
OK, to be fair, this could just be a mockup of the jet, a proof-of-concept. Though I'm still really iffy about those air inlets. So maybe it is just a (sloppy) concept model of something they're working on (compare the YF-22 to the F-22A). But: They have posted video of it actually flying:
But I'd reached the conclusion that that was a RC plane... aerodynamic tester? Probably. A lot of others have made fun of the RC plane, with the conclusion that it's a farce to bouy up their Nation's morale, and make us shake in their boots when there's actually no threat there at all.
Now, to give Iran credit... this might be legit. The World has been pretty hard on Iran, but they've proven to be REALLY resourceful, even if they did it all by bringing in the Russians to help out. Their 40 year old Tomcats are still flying (some of them), re-outfitted with indigenous (>cough< RUSSIAN >cough<) engines, radar, missiles and other stuff. Everyone said their twin-tailed F-5 was just a prop too, and it's now in squadrons in their air force. And good grief- they're now putting together... allegedly... nuclear artillery rockets.
My conclusion? I think there's enough here to indicate the Iranians are really working on a stealth fighter. I mean, we've (the US) shown off enough of how it's done. China hack-stole a bunch of the F-35 documentation. So the documentation is out there. So Iran chose to vary their design a bunch, unlike China and Russia, whose stealth designs very closely resemble our own. We'll have to see how this unfolds.
My bet? I think they'll develop it and develop it, then drop it because it's too hard and expensive. But they'll do it with a cover statement that their forces are already strong enough, and the enemy is shaking in its boots at their F-5s, F-4s and F-15s (like in 1991 when Saddam Hussein announced to Iraq he'd beaten us and the coalition had retreated). And moreover, someone's going to tell them that most 4th gen fighters have radars that stealth can't hide from anymore, anyway.
I mean, who are they going to use it against? Saudi Arabia? SA has the F-15S with its stealth-detecting AESA RADAR. Maybe Israel? Israel is the World's Master of electronic warfare, and stealth is just a 5-minute challenge to them (You wanna beat their jets can't detect stealth ? You'd lose that one.). Have you read about Iran's air combat against Iraq? It reads like a fist fight between a couple elementary school-age kids on the playground. Sloppy, ineffective, and even funny at times.
Look, Iran is one of the World's oldest nations. They have an enormous pride that's the result of millenia of build up. Persia once ruled the East. And now the known World- much bigger with the Internet and technology- has turned against them. What do we expect them to do? Propagande war of course. Will they eventually fight? Well, it will be more martyrdom than fight, but blood is often the currency of pride. Sparing an effective nuclear strike- an evil that will turn the World against them like a school of Sharks on a solitary Sea Lion- Iran would be beaten by anyone they claim to have cause to go against. The US. Israel. France.
OK, I just threw France in for a giggle. But we need to protect France, too- I have an Uncle buried there.

Check out the next, soon-to-be-posted article when I discuss the morality of nuclear weapons.

Feel free to comment in the space below!

Thoughts On War

I once heard it said that War is the most unnatural state of man- it brings out the best in the worst of us, and the worst in the best of us. I try not to marvel at the freakish attitudes some men and women undertake in the face of the calculated slaughter of one people on another, but it's hard to accept nonetheless. Practiced humility in the face of those who have sacrificed in the name of protecting our way of life must be ingrained into some who weren't otherwise given it in either their DNA, or their upbringing.

Long Time Away

These last couple months were one of the most challenging of all of's 7 year existence, and resulted in my falling way behind in... everything! An ongoing virus attack by somebody or another who seemed determined to shut my site down. Their attacks came on different fronts, and were very aggressive. It took me weeks to figure out what was going on, where they were attacking from, and then after I thought I'd stopped them, they'd attack again a different way. At least I got an education on internet security I won't soon forget.

In the meantime, a lot's been going on. The stupid sequester has ended all enjoyment of Summer air shows. The big Open House down at Klamath Falls I was planning on attending with my family was cancelled. The Oregon Air Show now has ZERO military entries, but they managed to raise the price anyways. Less show, raise the price... sure. Lots of people will show up anyway having paid $20 and getting plenty ticked there's nothing but civvie planes around. At least the Patriots (now the show's main performers) will be putting out agood show, but if it's too hot I might not even go to watch them.

In other news, Bill Sweetman, long time author, editor, writer and contributor to military aviation passed away recently. I actually got a little choked up when I saw the news in Aviation Week & Space Technology. I've been reading his stuff for 3 decades, easy. I have a handful of books from him. I always followed his articles and editorials in AW&ST, and it seems he also contributed to other periodicals. He was one of the few aviation authorities who, when you saw his name on a piece of information, you knew it was technically accurate down to the last bolt or whisp of air. I'm going to miss him.

The Montana Air National Guard was about to get all its jets shipped down to the California's Air National Guard, 144th Fighter Squadron. But the squadron got another reprieve before changing in its 9g turn-n-burners for heavy lifters, and the head of the MTANG says he intends to keep them there. Meanwhile, CANG has already had a couple celebrations over changing their F-16s for F-15s. Hmmm, I'll be watching this one.

On a more personal note, I have made another flight sim leap. I have shelved my LOMAC/FC2 for Strike Fighters 2. Let's face it, you can only take your wingman flying his steed out over the ocean `til his tanks run dry while you fight for your life against 4 Flankers so many times. And oh, yes, I will be posting screenies.

The new art I've been talking about, instead of having one big unveiling, will instead come in clumps and drips. The store has gone neglected while I was fighting the hacker battle, and some will simply have to wait `til next year, because they were air show themed wares. Well, maybe they'll make their way here anyway.

Shhh- It's the Silent Eagle

So. While no one's making an official announcement yet, it appears that Seoul has chosen Boeing's F-15SE as their next gen fighter. This would be good in many ways. It's an improved version of their current, fresh-off-the-line F-15Ks, but with some fairly radicalized stealthing up. It's lighter, still carries an 8 missile or comparable A-G warload. South Korea already has most of the production and maintenance facilities in place, which would need minimal adjustment for the slightly different jet. I think it's a good choice for them, and I'm surprised Japan didn't shooze it as well. Maybe after S. Korea makes the official announcement, Japan will take a step back and reconsider it over the LM F-35.

And if that happens, then maybe the USAF brass will turn and say, "You know, the F-15SE really is a better bird and for the money, too." I know the pilots and airmen feel that way. Look what China and Russia are doing- they're modernizing/upgrading their classic Sukhoi designs, and adding supplementary fleets of stealth fighters. It makes perfect sense!

I hope that South Korea does officially select the F-15SE, and that it has a reverse-cascade effect on national defense purchases across the World. Does everyone really need the $170+ million per copy F-35? We do, but not in such big numbers. F-15SEs and, if Lockheed Martin kicks and screams enough, we could jet get a bunch of F-16Es as well. The Super Falcon as I call it is still a pretty awesome jet, and almost as good as the F-15SE.

Feel free to comment in the space below!

Why There Aren't That Many Picture Books about the F-15 or 104

So I was going through my library the other day. Went through my fighter plane picture books. My big 3 picture/info books are about these three jets: the F-14 Tomcat (Cutting Edge), the F-15 Eagle (F-15: Eagle Engaged), and the F-16 Falcon, or Viper (Viper Force).

I Also have two different editions of "The Great Book of Modern Warplanes", which is beyond the scope of this blog as it is a comprehensive (Seriously) work of over 20 different fighter and bomber aircraft. But it's an awesome book, and I recommend it highly. The first one. Not the second one, which is just the first one with a small section about stealth planes, and virtually no other addition to its other chapters inspite of being decades older and having that much updating to do. No, no, no. Just buy the first one.

But I digress.

First I'll talk about "Cutting Edge", an indulgent Tomcat picture book showing the old bird in all her glory- amazing sunset pics, pulling vapes, chained to the deck, HUD and `pit photos while in flight, all amazing, glorious, beautiful, like-you-are-there shots. And amazingly fun to look at, too, as the pilots and associated Navy personnel discuss why their bird is the best.
My mind wandered to Tomcat crews at air shows, as well. Except for one grumpy sailor, they were typically really open and enthuzed about their craft, and one wonders why anyone sewed front pockets in their flight suits since they can't talk without using their hands, and they're ALWAYS talking. And that's ok, `cuz they're really fun to listen to. For a while. Then, you start to step back, subconsciously at first. Soon it becomes deliberate. They'd try to put an arm around you to keep you in conversational formation. The only way out was to ask them if they looked forward to transitioning to the Super Hornet. Then they'd push you away and turn their back to you, which in fighter body language is the highest insult- worse than flipping you off. But hey, you're free now.

"Viper Force" is the very model of- sorry, Bishop- Aviation Porn. This is the most self-indulgent, beautiful, up-close-and in detail pictorial on any fighter jet anywhere, and a couple F-16 pilots from Luke AFB made it. Goodness gracious these photos are amazing- evening afterburner shots, dropping Mk84s, GBU-12s, HUD pics. And hey- after having it for about 2 months I finally noticed there's actually some text in the book, too. Fighter pilot stories. Former Uygo, Iraq, and so on. And it covers all modern F-16s- Block 30s, Block 40s and Block 50 Vipers. And a few Block 60s, I think. Amazing, and wow, makes you want to join up and fly F-16s for the United States Air Force. Seriously, it's awesome.
And Viper pilots at an air show? If you can get past the college girls crowding them, holy cow they'll talk your ear off. At first you're mezmerized. Then you get a focus, and start relating vague stories in the News that relate to what he's saying and then he says, "Yeah, that was my targeting pod footage they showed on CNN." And then, well, after a while you're praying for more college girls to come around because they won't let you leave. But when they notice that your eyes have glazed over, they forget you're there and start actively looking around for female 20-somethings and you're free.

Then there's "F-15 Eagle Engaged."
Mostly technormation and graphs, history. A lot of great photos, but not like "Cutting Edge" and "Viper Force" picture wise. Great accounts of F-15s in actual air-to-air combat. Lots of them, and they're good. But... informative as it is, it's great, but a tad dry by comparison. And big, very big and heavy- definitely not a bathroom reader. I've reviewed it before in this blog so you can find it below. Oh, trust me, it's still a must-have-definitive-F-15-work. But all that, the main author isn't, nor has he ever been, an F-15 pilot. And his co-author, Doug Dildy, while he was an F-15 pilot and has written other books by himself, they're all about World War II, about ground attack and tanks and other, non-F-15 Eagle titles. And he only contributes more than authors in this book.
And active duty Eagle pilots at air shows? You're a bug to them. They might turn their head to notice you, but they won't respond to you. They won't talk to you. Like those British guards in London that guard the Queen's residence? Yeah, but they've got a fighter pilot slouch, instead (fighter pilot slouch is backwards- they look relaxed but their chest is still puffed out in front. It's weird and hard to describe, you just have to see it to get it). And even college girls get minimal attention when they walk up.
For years, I thought, "Why? Why don't Eagle pilots try to talk to you, to get you psyched up about their amazing trade of air dominance? Why don't they regail me with tales of their air combat experiences?"
It took me years, but it finally occurred to me.
That's "One Hundred and Four." With nothing after or before it.
Because that's how many air combat experiences F-15 pilots worldwide have had where an enemy aircraft went down in flames and junk while the F-15 pilot landed his jet and called his family at home. It's how many times F-15 pilots have called out "Splash the bandit," and turned around lazily to return to their base while their prey fell lazily to the ground in a parachute or less. It's the number of times fools, heroes and the naive of nations deemed the Eagle's enemies have pointed their planes anywhere around an F-15's airspace and dared to wander near the deadliest, most combat proven jet in the World only to have their planes violently deprived of their air worthiness by a hail of missiles, bullets and air-splitting twisting and turning air combat maneuvers that only F-15 Eagles have actually accomplished across more wars and more places around the globe than any one person even knows.
And not one F-15's been lost to the same arena.
So in conclusion, while there may not be any 1 reason there's no such thing as a self indulgent F-15 Eagle picture book, there are, in fact, 104 reasons.

I need a nap now.

142nd Fighter Wing Base Tour- How Awesome It Was!

When I think Summer 2013, I think, "Wow, what a great box of suck." Aviation wise, my Summer had been a bust and was winding down fast. Hectic work schedule. Hackers attacking the site. Military sequester. And that stupid cat. I hate cats. I just do.
So about a month ago I e-mailed the 142nd Fighter Wing's Facebook rep in desperation. Was there any way I could get on base and visit/watch/ANYTHING? Maybe a bored, sequestered fighter pilot looking for something to do? Well, my break down was in good time- the 142nd PAO let me know that the next week was an Open Base tour and I was invited. I put my name on the list, as well as those names of my family, and we were set.
What was I expecting? Would these End-of-Summer Blues o' Mine be quenched, or did another disappointment lay ahead? I set my hopes low:
I expected and hoped to see 2-4 F-15s take off.

I expected to get a cool briefing from 1 or 2 airmen and pilots. Possibly grumpy ones. It's happened.
I hoped I'd find someone not busy enough to stop and take a peek at my 3-D F-15 work (on my Samsung) and get my ears scratched a little.
I was not disappointed.
When we arrived, there were 3 other groups: Miss Oregon and her entourage, and 2 CAP trainee groups. A Lieutenant began telling pilot jokes to warm us up. Then we were lead out back behind the main building...
...where we saw EIGHT F-15s warming up, and FOUR F-16Cs from Luke AFB (well, three -Cs and a single -D) all sittin' pretty. Then the Vipers all began saddling up. It was awesome- all those big engine cans were pointing at us and gradually the roar got louder and louder and the wind harder and harder as more and more of the jets fired up their engines. Then they taxied to the runway. And then, one-by-one, they launched. Words do not describe...

And there was some kid lying down on the tarmac. Asleep. I have photos.
And then the tour began. We went into a hangar and an airman gave us a tour of the F-15. I'd seen some old-style, flat-back gas bags in a corner of the base as we came in (the F-15 force now only flies with pointy-back gas bags). I asked him about them, and he kinda blew me off. I asked a few other Qs, and he kept blowing me off. "Hey man, I'm Fritz of," I wanted to say. But I'm not there, yet. But his part of the tour finally finished and then the engine guys took us on.
They were awesome. When I asked them questions, she was like, "Oh, you read an article about the inferior thrust performance of the P&W F-100-220s to the vanilla P&W F-100s of 1972?" and told me it was bunk, that the new engines not only had about a ton more thrust each, but were digitally controlled so they worked the power curves better which increased performance across the maneuvering envelope. The conversation then turned to a story a Pittsburgh reservist once told me about a marshaller getting sucked into the engine of an A-7 back in the day, and she debunked that pretty quickly (in part, not the entire story). Another guy joined in and the fun meter again was pegged to the right for a while.
I finally got hauled away to look in the cockpit but that guy's first words were, "No pictures." And as I attempted to engage him in lively banter, he subconsciously let me know he didn't like me, or the way I was dressed, or being there at the moment. I asked him questions about the cockpit and he pulled a lot of "That's classified"'s out of somewhere, and my fun meter died. I mean, I've sat in that very same cockpit (same type, same base, same squadron, different tail number) but a pilot was there instead of an airman, and he talked and talked and talked (Guard F-15 pilots are different from active duty F-15 pilots. Guard pilots will offer to take you home, feed you, and then sleep on the couch so you get their bed, they're that ridiculously hospitable. I love `em. But I digress). So, I moved on.
The weapon loaders were next. Fun meter, hello. These guys were reluctant to answer my questions (`cuz I kept asking about stuff I suspected was classified, but went ahead and asked anyway) but still were eager to please. They had some practice AIM-9s, -120s, and some fake PGU-28s for the kiddies to handle. THAT made their day.
Then came the briefing. They walked us back into the main building and sat us all down in their main briefing room. Kick me in the teeth, I totally missed the guy's name and rank, but he was fun.
The pilot gave us a fun, sing-songy overview of an F-15 pilot's repertoire- flight suit, G-pants, HGU-55, JHMCS (which he explained is actually pronounced "Juh-himmix" as close as anyone could get I guess) and NVGs. A few intelligent questions were sounded (no, "Have you ever killed anyone" junk). A couple questions about how they would handle another hijacked air liner. Thanks for that, buddy, I'm sure they see that one as the high point of any civilian puke Q&A.
Someone then asked the pilot about his career and what other planes he'd flown. The good pilot then explained that he's trained at Tyndall for his initial F-15 course, then went to Alaska and flew F-22s for a while. Then he requested reassignment to an F-15 squadron. When his transfer was granted, he was sent to Klamath Falls for his F-15 refresher course. Then he was shipped up here to the 142nd. He said he really liked flying F-15s. When asked why he chose the F-15 over the F-22, he was professional and didn't say a thing about the ongoing issues with the Raptor. He said the Eagle was his first love and a man always wants to go back to his first love. More cool questions were asked, and these cool handouts were handed out about the whole 142nd Wing's Squadrons and components. Afterward I showed him some of my art and he expressed his appreciation and then the line moved on for others to ask him questions as well.
Anyway, on the way out, I saw a big, tall pilot with a bird on his flight suit and saw his name, a name I've heard many times and remembered: Beniewicz. Colonel Mike Beniewicz. "B-9".
Now, Colonel Beniewicz is a bit of a legend. Everyone I've talked from the base seems to have a personal "Grand-dad" like story about him. The man is kind, professional, and in all ways breaks the mold of a professional killer. And when I talked to him I saw why everyone felt that way. His legend preceded him, and he stepped right up.
Anyway, I showed him some of my work and he liked it, and then I asked him about a few stories 've heard over the years, and he just opened up to me and answered my questions. The big guy even gave me his card and told me how to get a hold of him.

I swooned a bit on the way out. I admit. Then the F-15s came back from their exercise. I ran back into the building and watched. Snapped a few photos. Then one of the F-15/Redhawk pilots came walking in. He had this big smirk on his face. I fell in awe. He was another Colonel, and I was dying to ask him how it went, how it went down, etc. Instead, all I could muster was, "So, did you guys have fun?" He barely paused to look at me, smiled even harder, and said, "Ohhhh, yeah." 

I'm still getting over that one.

Feel free to comment in the space below!

War From a Tanker's P.O.V.

We've all wondered with amazement and childhood awe at the awesome job fighter pilots have from an F-15's cockpit. But it just so happens tanker crews get a pretty good view of it, too. Just check out this awesome thread from You won't be disappointed: