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)... 

A Hero Passes

Maj. Thomas Griffin, USAAF (Ret.) passed away this past Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the age of 96.

Major Griffin was the navigator on B-25 #9, during the Doolittle Raid in 1942.  His passing leaves just 4 Doolittle Raiders still with us, out of the 80 men who flew the 16 bombers off the deck of the USS Hornet to attack Japan.

Major Griffin parachuted from his B-25 over China as it ran out of fuel after the bombing raid.  He evaded capture, and returned to action.  He flew bombing missions out of North Africa, before being shot down in 1943.  He then spent the final two years of the war in a German POW camp.

Godspeed, Major ...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dave Menard, RIP

Dave Menard passed away last week. Dave was a world class aviation photographer. Thousands of people who never met him will recognize the name, for he provided so many historical military aircraft images for publication over the years. I never met Dave, but corresponded with him quite a few time back in the '80s. Heck of a nice guy, and a hell of a photographer. The world is a little sadder with his passing ...

David Walter MENARD


MENARD, David Walter died on Feb. 5, 2013, in Dayton Ohio
where he lived since 1977. He was born in Elmhurst Ill on May 5,
1936, moved to Lombard Ill in 1945 where he graduated from
Glenbard High in 1954, followed by a year of study at the U
of Illinois at Navy Pier.  He followed his boy hood dream and
joined the air force in 1955 where he served as a maintainer of
aircraft in Africa, four countries in Europe, Greenland, and five
Asian countries, in addition to six stateside postings. After retiring
as a master sergeant in 1977, he immediately continued his work
on aircraft at the Air Force museum at Wright Patterson AFB in
Dayton, later serving as an historian due to his encyclopedic
knowledge of aviation history. Retiring from that is 1999, he
began following his other passion, care of children by volunteering
at the Dayton children's Hospital, amassing 32,000 hours, the
equivalent of working 16 years at forty hours a week fifty weeks
a year!!! Meanwhile he develop a passion for Irish step dancing,
viewing River Dance over sixty times and supporting several Irish
dance troupes. He lived his life in service to his country....and
children in general. He leaves a brother Mike (Marita) from
Madison Wisc., four nieces and nephews and five grand nephews.
 His other brother Herbert James preceded him in death just
two months ago. A memorial service will be held on Monday,
Feb. 11 at 7 PM at the Taggert auditorium at Dayton's Children's
Hospital, One Children's Plaza 45404, to which donations can
be made in lieu of flowers.

Published in Dayton Daily News from February 7 to February 9, 2013.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Your Tax Dollars At Work, Part II

I caught these two F-16Ds, 9822 and 9823, on a test flight at NAS Ft. Worth on 1/11/13.  Both of them are now wearing US Star and Bar markings, the Egyptian markings that were previously carried have been painted out.

You might think that this change of markings would indicate that our government was rethinking delivery of these state of the art F-16s (plus 18 others) to an Egyptian government that is not exactly a friend.  No ... quite the contrary.  Combat aircraft that are delivered from US manufacturers to foreign governments have US markings applied just before their delivery flights, to avoid political issues arising from the countries that the aircraft stop in for refueling/rest.  In addition, these two were carrying a full load of external tanks, indicating they were running fuel feed checks - again, something done just before delivery.  I would guess that these two will be on their way to Cairo within a few days.  Absolute lunacy ...

These 20 aircraft would make a great addition to our Air Force ... or the Air National Guard.  This is a full squadron's worth of the latest F-16s - superior to any currently flying in US service.  Failing that, they could be diverted to a country that is actually an ally of ours - Israel ... Singapore ... South Korea ... Japan ... Since the American tax payers funded every dollar spent on them, we should be able to do with them what we want.  Instead, the Obama Administration will go ahead and deliver all of them to the Muslim Brotherhood - where they will expand the spear that is pointed across Sinai at our true ally.  Stupid ...

Update - Four of these F-16s departed NAS Ft. Worth on their delivery flights to Cairo before dawn on Jan. 22.

Update II - Internet reports state that the four ship delivery included these two F-16Ds, along with F-16C 9753 and F-16D 9824.