|(Sources: Olds, Lasalle)|
"I don't know, he seems a little arrogant. Too cocky."
"Uh, he's a fighter pilot, honey."
"But does he need to be so cocky?"
"Well, if he wasn't, he wouldn't be a fighter pilot."
I still don't think that The Missus Herself understands the distinction. I mean, as Juvat is wont to say, there are fighter pilots and there are pilots who fly fighters. They ain't the same. One will grow up to wear stars and attend lofty meetings at the Pentagon. The other refuses to grow up and just wants to get back in the cockpit again.
Occasionally fighter pilots will get the chance to become generals. Witness Robin Olds, he made one star before he retired. In my own, not so humble, opinion, the Air Force would be a much different organization (and a better one) had he gone on to four stars and been the Air Force Chief of Staff. The man was a warrior.
Now I remember a blurb from Colonel John Elting's book Swords Around a Throne concerning the things a new officer had to do upon joining a certain cavalry regiment. Involved a certain number of bottles of an adult beverage, a couple of willing members of the opposite sex, two (I believe, perhaps three) horses, and a cross-country course. The young beau sabreur could perform his tasking in any order and in any combination he chose. However, all of those tasks must be, ahem, taken care of by the young cavalryman within a certain time period (I recall it being 24 hours).
The cross-country course was by no means simple, factor in the adult beverages and the, ahem, exercises to be performed with the willing (and hopefully attractive) jeunes dames, and I imagine that the young man would be pretty exhausted and intoxicated at the end of the course. A rite of passage no longer practiced in these modern (and enlightened) times.
Fighter pilots in my day had their own rituals and customs. No doubt many involved adult beverages. These days? Well, I have met and quaffed a beverage or three with members of two Navy fighter squadrons. When it comes to partying, as Lex once said, there is no slack in fighter attack. The young 'uns defending our nation these days can more than hold their own. Their predecessors, both in the fighter community and in the saddle, would be proud of them.
As Juvat has said, more than once, being a fighter pilot is as much an attitude as it is a specialty code. That being said, I don't really see much difference between Napoleonic light cavalrymen and modern fighter pilots, attitude-wise. Some great tales of the French Napoleonic cavalry can be found here, a great tale of a certain fighter pilot can be found here. Of course, Lex and Ras were no slouches as story tellers either. They were most certainly Sierra Hotel fighter pilots. I'll betcha they would have made fine cavalrymen as well.
Yup, kindred spirits in many ways.
|French 4th Hussars at the Battle of Friedland, 1807 - Edouard Detaille (Source)|
|U.S. Navy Phantoms "Up North" (Source)|