Sunday, February 23, 2014

Heroes Pass ...

Commander Robert Heid, age 92, passed away on Feb. 15.  Commander Heid was a 26 year Navy veteran, a Naval Aviator who flew combat missions from the deck of the USS Enterprise during WWII. 

Lt. Colonel James Armstrong, age 90, passed away Jan. 22.  Col. Armstrong was a 23 year Marine, a Naval Aviator who flew Marine PBJ bombers in the South Pacific and China in WWII.  He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and 6 air medals during the conflict.  He again went to war in Korea, flying Corsairs in support of Marines on the ground,  He also volunteered to fly Piper Cubs on spotting and recon missions.  He was awarded another DFC for actions in those Cubs.  After retirement, he served as Texas Instrument's chief pilot.

Bobby Hazelwood, age 81, passed away on Jan. 26.  Hazelwood served in the USAF, piloting Century Series fighters for 10 years. 

Godspeed, gentlemen ...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Long Live Superheats!

Some youtube video I was just made aware of.  Two VF-202 F-14s on the range at Ft. Chafee in 1993.

These two jets were the last two F-14As built, BuNos 162710 and 162711.  They served with the Dallas based reserve squadron from their delivery from Grumman in 1987 until the squadron shut down in 1994.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Very, Very Bad Day ...

Yesterday, Oct. 23, P-51D "Galveston Gal", operated by the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston, went down in shallow water just west of its home base.  The two gentlemen aboard did not survive the crash.

Those of you who follow me know that this airplane and the folks who fly and maintain it are very close to me.  I knew the pilot, a very experienced military and civilian pilot who had been flying the Museum's warbirds for many years.  The passenger was a British citizen who was in the States on vacation.  His wife had purchased the ride for him for their 41st wedding anniversary.

I was in Galveston yesterday, at the museum preparing for this weekend's Wings Over Houston airshow.  The things I saw, heard, and felt will be with me for the rest of my life - much as I wish they weren't. 

Galveston Gal had recently been fully restored, and was meticulously maintained.  I know this for a fact.  I still have dirty rags in my truck, used last weekend at the Alliance airshow to clean 'Gal' for her performance there.  I remember how proud I felt watching her taxi out yesterday, still 'spotless' from my hours of cleaning her skin.

Godspeed, Keith ...

Rest In Peace, John ...

Gal, we're going to miss you ...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Hero Passes ...

Nick Oresko, age 96, passed away from complications following surgery to repair a leg fracture.  He was surrounded at bedside by military and veterans (he had outlived all of his immediate family).  Master Sargent Oresko was the oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Assigned to Charlie Company, 302nd Infantry, 94th Infantry Division, on January 23, 1945 near Tettington Germany, Oreseko singlehandedly attacked and destroyed two enemy machine gun bunkers.  Though seriously wounded in the hip, he eliminated 12 German soldiers, thereby clearing the way for his company to advance with minimum casualties.

Godspeed, Sgt. Oresko ... thank you for your service for our country ...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Invader Crew Comes Home

Air Force Majors James Sizemore and Howard Andre were laid to rest, side by side, at Arlington National Cemetery today.  Their remains were recovered from a hillside in Laos, where they perished over 44 years ago.

Sizemore and Andre were flying B-26K 64-17646 on a 'Barrel Roll' night interdiction mission on the evening of July 8, 1969.  Their target was troop concentrations in central Laos.  During a strafing run, their aircraft was hit by enemy fire, and crashed into a hillside. 

This was the third B-26 lost by the 609th SOS in 1969.  Operating out of Nakhon Phanom AB in Thailand, the Invaders were very effective at attacking targets on the Ho Chi Minh trail at night.

The B-26s were rebuilt A-26s that had been manufactured during World War II.  Fast (for propeller aircraft), heavily armed, and with long loiter capabilities, they were ideal aircraft for the mission, and were widely regarded as the best night interdiction aircraft during the Vietnam conflict, with the exception of the AC-130 Spectre gunships.

30 B-26Ks served in the SEA theatre, with 12 being lost to enemy fire or in operational accidents.  They were retired from combat in November of 1969.

A Hero Passes ...

Pete George, a Dallas native, passed away this past week at the age of 93.  Mr. George was a Marine, serving in China before WWII, and then in the Phillipines when the war started.  Assigned to coastal defense on Corregidor, he fought until he received serious shrapnel wounds in May of 1942.  The day after he was wounded, Corregidor fell, and he began 42 months of hell being a POW of the Japanese.

18 months were spent in a prison hospital and then the Cabanatuan prison camp.  He was then transferred to Yokkaaichi Prison Camp No. 5, where he remained until liberated in August of 1945.

Mr. George was laid to rest at the DFW National Cemetery, with full military honors.

Godspeed, Mr. George ...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Phantom Phever

I was recently hosted by the 82ATS, Det.1, at Holloman AFB, for a day of shooting Phantoms on their ramp.  There were about 30 QF-4Es there, including 8 that carry Heritage paint schemes.  It was like a time warp, seeing all those birds in Vietnam camouflage lined up for my camera.  Outstanding!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Maverick and Goose ... Officially Cooked

The X-47B UCAS demonstrator performed its first arrested landing upon a carrier at sea, the USS George H W Bush.

Navy Secretary Mabus provided a statement to the press about he feels about this event:

"It isn't very often you get a glimpse of the future.  The operational unmanned aircraft soon to be developed have the opportunity to radically change the way presence and combat power are delivered from our aircraft carriers."

Yeah, a glimpse into the future of our military, if Obama and his minions continue to massacre our forces and turn us into a nation defended by robots.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Maverick and Goose ... Where Are You?

The Navy's X-47B UCAS demonstrator recently completed its next phase of flight tests.  The unmanned aircraft was launched from the deck of the USS George H W Bush (CVN-77), and performed a touch and go landing before recovering backs at its shore base.  Next step is a launch and full, arrested, recovery back aboard ship.

Maverick and Goose are going from the Danger Zone to the pile of discarded parts and pieces pretty soon.  How sad.

Photos credit U S Navy

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

US Forces Massacred, Part I

The immediate cuts supposedly caused by the sequestration have been announced by the US Navy and Air Force.  They are devastating. 

In this first part, we'll look at what happens to the US Navy.

Naval Aviation will bear the brunt of the cuts.  The Navy has nine Carrier Air Wings.  These are groups of squadrons that deploy on aircraft carriers.  Four of the nine will be disbanded.  Two more will be dropped into a 'reserve' status, performing only minimal flight training and maintenance.

Here is what will be lost, in order:

Air Wing 2 (USS Ronald Reagan)
VFA-2  (F-18F)
VFA-34 (F-18C)
VFA-137 (F-18E)
VFA-151 (F-18E)
VAW-113 (E-2C)
VAQ-131 (EF-18G)
HSC-12 (MH-60S)
HSM-77 (MH-60R)
VRC-30 Det.2  (C-2A)

Air Wing 7 (USS Eisenhower)
VFA-83 (F-18C)
VFA-103 (F-18F)
VFA-131 (F-18C)
VFA-143 (F-18E)
VAW-121 (E-2C)
VAQ-140 (EA-6B)
HS-5 (SH/HH-60)
VRC-40 Det.3  (C-2A)

Air Wing 9 (USS Stennis)
VFA-146 (F-18E)
VFA-147 (F-18E)
VFA-192 (F-18C)
VMFA-323 (F-18C)
VAW-112 (E-2C)
HSC-8 (MH-60)
HSM-71 (MH-60)

Air Wing 17 (USS-Vinson)
VFA-22 (F-18F)
VFA-81 (F-18E)
VFA-94 (F-18C)
VFA-113 (F-18C)
VAW-116 (E-2C)
VAQ-139 (EF-18G)
HS-15 (MH-60S)
HSM-73 (MH-60R)
VRC-30 Det.  (C-2A)

Here is what will be placed in 'minimal readiness status':

Air Wing 1 (USS Roosevelt)
VFA-11 (F-18F)
VFA-211 (F-18F)
VFA-136 (F-18E)
VMFA-251 (F-18C)
VAW-123 (E-2C)
VAQ-137 (EA-6B)
HS-11 (SH/HH-MH-60)
VRC-40 Det.1  (C-2A)

Air Wing 11 (USS Nimitz)
VFA-154 (F-18F)
VFA-147 (F-18E)
VFA-146 (F-18C)
VMFA-323 (F-18C)
VAW-112 (E-2C)
VAQ-133 (EA-6B)
HSC-6 (MH-60S)
HSM-75 (MH-60R)
VRC-30 Det.5  (C-2A)

The squadrons in these two air wings will fly just enough to maintain safety of flight proficiency.  To return them to combat ready status will take over a year, and cost 3 times more than it would to have kept them fully active in the first place - making it unlikely that either of these wings will ever become fully active again.

An additional unit that was already planned to be cut due to budget cuts that had already been mandated before sequestration is VAW-77.  This Naval Reserve E-2C squadron, operating out of NAS New Orleans, had been the main drug interdiction surveillance force in the Caribbean.  The radar equipped aircraft watched over hundreds of thousands of square miles of the Caribbean, and had been directly responsible for the seizure of $17 billion worth of cocaine and pot that had been destined for the US.  The unit was disbanded in March, and there is no replacement for their capabilities.

All recruitment and training of Naval Aviators, Naval Flight Officers, and aviation related support positions is to be halted.

This is just Naval Aviation.  Although the surface fleet wasn't hit as hard, the cuts there will also be dramatic.  For instance, if you have only 3 Carrier Air Wings, you don't need 9 carriers, do you?  If you don't need 9 carriers, you don't need 9 Carrier Battle Groups.  You don't need 9 sets of support ships.  You don't need 9 sets of crews for all of those ships.  You don't need the home port support infrastructure and man power.  You don't need the civilian contractors and defense company workers who support those ships.  Hundreds of thousands of trained, skilled people are going to lose their jobs. 

The impact on our carrier capability is devastating.  If we only have three Air Wings, then that means we will only have two combat equipped carriers that can be deployed at any given time.  The third carrier/Air Wing will be undergoing maintenance/training/regeneration.  Two carriers to cover the entire world's oceans.  Today, we often deploy two carriers to a single location in the event of brewing trouble.  That will no longer be an option.  Having carriers on station in different parts of the world, ready to respond to threats to the US and our citizens (and our allies) will no longer be possible.

This blow is the worst attack/disaster suffered by the US Navy in its history.  Pearl Harbor is a drop in the bucket compared to these losses.  The drawdown of US forces after WWII, Korea, and Vietnam pale in comparison, even those were massive in their own rights.  To realize that this is all caused by ourselves, caused by political games being played by our supposed Commander-In-Chief, is heartbreaking.  Republicans tried to remove the military parts of the sequestration legislation several times - Obama threatened to veto any such action.  Part of his grand plan in authoring the sequestration in the first place (the idea came from the White House, not Congress) was to cut a huge chunk out of our defense - and then work it around so that he could blame Republicans in the House for it.  The blame game didn't work, but it doesn't matter that much.  While sequestration cuts in all other departments have amounted to a tiny inconvenience, what the Department of Defense has been forced to do is truly devastating. 

Obama has shot to the top of the list of people who have done the most harm to the security of our country.  Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh ... none of them even came close.

These Guys Had A Bad Day

National Air Cargo (civilian) 747 N949CA crashes on takeoff from Baghram AB, Afghanistan.  April 29, 2013.  Speculation is a load shift on takeoff, causing a loss of balance - critical during takeoff.  All 8 on board perished.

I can't imaging the terror these guys felt in those last few seconds when they realized what was going to happen.

Godspeed, gentlemen ...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sequestration Sucks

The USAF has announced that due to the sequestration budget cuts, it is suspending all participation at public events for the rest of the year.

That means no open houses at USAF bases.  No airshows.  No Air Force aircraft will participate in any civilian airshow.  The Thunderbirds season has been cancelled before it even starts.  Heritage Flights - gone.  Flyovers - none.  Aircraft demonstrations - nada. 

No statement yet from the Navy or Marines, but I suspect they will do the same.

So, we can't afford to have airshows.  But, we can afford to spend billions on Obamaphones ...  makes perfect sense in a liberal frame of mind.

Somewhere, our Commie-in-Chief is laughing his ass off (probably on the golf course)...