Sunday, February 12, 2012

It Takes a Real Aviator

When the Viper showed up on the flightline, I said it was too bloody easy to fly. You could pull more G than a body could stand and keep it up forever without losing energy. You didn't need skill, technique, planning or multi-dimensional maneuver. All you needed was to grunt and point the thing.

Now the Raptor is a generation ahead of that! Guys in Raptors simply eat Vipers for lunch without thinking about it. So, what would happen if you put a Raptor guy in a Phantom and sent him off to experience what actual aviating required?

Written by a young F-22 pilot from the Virginia ANG.  He had the honor of flying a Phantom down at Eglin.

I flew your jet a couple days ago (see attached).
  I had a little trouble getting the engines started, so I climbed out and shoveled some more coal in the back; after that she fired right up.  Ground ops were uneventful, although I couldn’t figure out why the cockpit smelled like body odor, Jack Daniels and cigars…and that was BEFORE I got in it!  By the way, what’s with the no slip crap on top of the intakes, it’s like you have permanent icing conditions due to that spray-on rhino truck bed liner on top of the aircraft. It’s no wonder you needed so much coal (I mean thrust) to get airborne.

Take off scared the sh*t out of me…I lit the burners at brick one and 2 miles and 45 minutes later we were ready to rotate. 
 After barely clearing the tree tops, the gear came up and I climbed away at a VERY impressive 2 degrees nose high.  In case you don’t remember, “Trim” is your friend in the F-4 (pretty sure it’s also a good friend on the ground too).  Once I got her up to speed and a moderate altitude, we were ready for the G-Ex.  Two G-turn’s later and I’m sinking like a rock…the F-4’s energy seems to bleed like Holyfield’s ear in the Tyson fight!  After the G-Ex it was time to do a little Advanced Handling Characteristics (AHC)…and by “advanced handling” I mean the same crap the Wright Brothers were doing back in 1903…just trying to keep it airborne.

The jet flies much like my old man’s station wagon used to drive…You turn the wheel (push the stick) a few inches and nothing happens, then all of a sudden the steering kicks in, inertia takes over, and all HELL breaks loose! 
 You’re pretty much along for the ride at that point and only gravity has a real say in your lift vector placement.  “Checking 6” was really quite easy…. because you CAN’T!  Scratch that off the list of “Sh*t I need to do to keep myself alive in combat today”.  Breathing, however, was surprisingly easy in the F-4 when compared to that of the F-22 (thank you Lockheed)…LOX works, who knew!

I think I may have burned my legs a bit from the steam pouring out from behind the gauges. Where are my 6 mini-flat screen TV’s, I’m lost without my HD jet displays (editors note: actually, I’m an analog guy stuck in a digital world too…I really do like the “steam driven” gauges). 
 After the AHC, I decided to take her up high and do a supersonic MACH run, and by “high” I mean “where never lark nor even eagle flew”; but not much higher, a foot or two maybe.  I mean, we weren’t up there high-fiving Jesus like we do in the Raptor, but it was respectable.  It only took me the width of the Gulf of Mexico to get the thing turned around while above the Mach.  After the Mach run we dropped to the deck and did 600 kts at 500’; a ratllin’ and shakin’ we will go…. I though all the rivets were going to pop out.  Reference previous station wagon analogy!  Very quickly we were out of gas and headed home.

As I brought the jet up initial, I couldn’t help but think that the boys who took this thing into combat had to have some pretty big brass you know whats!

My first F-4 landing was a little rough; sub-standard really by Air Force measure… but apparently “best seen to date” according to the Navy guys. 
 Did you know that there’s no such thing as an aerobrake in the F-4?  As soon as the main gear touches down, the nose comes slamming down to the runway with all the force of a meteor hitting the earth….I guess the F-4 aerobrake technique is to dissipate energy via denting the runway.

Despite an apparently “decent” landing, stopping was a whole different problem. 
 I reached down and pulled the handle to deploy the drogue chute…at which point a large solid mass of canvas, 550 cord, metal weights and cables fell out and began bouncing down the runway; chasing me like a lost puppy and FOD’ing out the whole runway. Perfect.  I mashed down on the breaks and I’m pretty sure at this point the jet just started laughing at me.  Why didn’t you warn me that I needed a shuttle landing strip to get this damn thing stopped?

All kidding aside, VERY COOL jet! Must have been a kick to fly back when you were in Vietnam! Just kidding!


juvat said...

Why....Let me at 'em. I'll teach that young whippersnapper a thing or two. Disrespecting my ride like that! Just got to find my dentures and depends. Back in MY day, we used to say that the AIM-9L could make even a 2LT dangerous. Guess the F-22 is even worse.

Murphy's Law said...

Damn, that's just funny, right there. And I thought that personality and character had been bred out of pilots today...Guess not!

Harry said...

How can this have been written by a Virginia ANG F-22 pilot? The National Guard doesn't have F-22s.

FlyingBarrister said...


You may want to google the 192D Fighter Wing and the Hawaii and the 154 Wing Hawaii ANG as references. They both fly the F-22.

I attempted to make a post on that topic yesterday but apparently encountered a computer problem. I don't see how it makes sense to assign the now curtailed F-22 to ANG units if they are reserve. If the are active duty ANG units, it would make more sense.

Ed Rasimus said...

In the interest of full disclosure, I now reveal that I have it on good authority that this commentary was not written by a Raptor pilot at all. Which makes sense because current generation tactical aviation specialists are generally not simultaneously literate and would probably be contractually prohibited from risking their valuable bodies in a Phantom. It is a hoax written by a former F-4 pilot. (NOT ME!)

Dweezil Dwarftosser said...

I don't call someone who spells 'brakes' that way, 'simultaneously literate' - so maybe he really is a 'takeoff/land' button pusher !


Anonymous said...

All that guy really needed was a WSO.

hookdown said...

Ah man what a great book about flying the F105. My A-6AIntruder carried 24 500lb. Bombs and handled like a Mack truck. Thanks for the memories Ed. Russ