Monday, January 16, 2017

Just lines on a map.

This past summer, the Parish I belong to got a new Priest.  Over the past few years, we've been cycling through Priests right out of the Seminary.  They come to our Parish for a year, maybe 18 months, to get a bit of experience at being a "real world" Priest and then get transferred to a Parish of their own.


Seems to work pretty well.  We get a taste of "New Priest Enthusiasm" which is tempered with a bit of experienced Church Council and Pastor reality checking.

The new guys go on to their Parish but frequently come back for a visit.  Even Priests need a bit of time off, and we live in a very nice tourist town.  So, we get to see our "newbies" after they've been out on their own a bit.  Growth always seems to be evident, which is good.

In any case.....

Our new Parochial Vicar, which is the second Priest's official title, arrived last summer.  Unlike some of the others, he's not right out of the seminary.  Indeed, I'd say he's in his mid to late 30s, so he's been a priest for a bit.

Goes by Father Kris.

He's from Poland. Which means his given and surnames have lots of "Y's" and other unusual consonants with few vowels.  He speaks English with a Polish accent.

I speak English with a Texan accent and Polish not at all, so who am I to criticize?

I kind of like the fact that he has an accent.  I, actually, have to listen to the sermon and interpret what he's saying to understand what he's trying to convey.  I don't have to do that with our Pastor, an immigrant from Ireland long ago. By interpreting,  I find myself better understanding what Fr. Kris's underlying message is, and I like that.  (If I'm going to sit through a sermon, I want to learn something from it.  Lord knows over the last 8 years there have been enough sermons given by someone who, on Friday, will hopefully shut up. Very little value added was included with those sermons. /rant)

However, from the very first, I felt a kind of kinship with Father Kris.  Didn't know why, but felt like we had a bond.  Nothing I could put a finger on, just something about him that I liked (beyond Masses that ended on time and good Sermons).

Well hang on!  The roller coaster has stopped going clackety clack and we're starting the ride because I finally found out what the commonality was.

So, there I was *...

A brand new Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.  I've been assigned to Laughlin AFB, just outside of Del Rio Texas, for a few months.  I've had my first solo in the Mighty T-37, AKA "the Tweet".  That may not have been it's official name, but the Vark wasn't the F-111's either.  It was known as the Tweet because of it's head splittingly high pitched squeal when the engines were running.  Nobody ever went out on the Tweet ramp without ear protection more than once.
Tweet over Lake Amistad.  The lake has both a US side and a Mexican side.

But I digress...

As I said, I've had my first solo.  That sortie was an Air Force tradition.  My IP and I went out to the Jet for a pattern only ride, practicing landings (yes, the pedantic out there will say we practiced takeoffs also, but the purpose of the ride was to successfully return the aircraft to the ground and taxpayers in a reusable condition).  Solo was not necessarily the only outcome of the mission, but assuming the IP was willing to risk his wings on the student's ability to land, at some point, he'd direct a full stop, taxi to the approach end of the runway where he'd disembark and direct you to take off and perform two touch and go's followed by a full stop.

Assuming success on your part, you were met in the chocks by the rest of your class and stripped of your flying equipment and unceremoniously dumped in a large stock tank filled with stagnant water.

A badge of honor!

I've had that ride, and now it's a few days later.  I've got another solo scheduled, except this time, I'm going to one of the practice areas and work on my aerobatic skills.  By myself!

I'm excited!  All by myself, in a jet aircraft.  Loops, Immelmans, Barrel Rolls, Aileron Rolls and maybe a Split S or two.  No spins, though, I still want to avoid them.
Oval is the portion of the Military Operating Area (MOA) I was assigned.  Dark Line is the Rio Grande

It's a beautiful day, winds aloft are out of the South East, and the western edge of the practice area has a low cloud layer with the top about 3500'.  No problem,  the base is clear and a million, which is also my minimums (I've got just enough Instrument experience to fly in clouds all the way to the crash site).

But...The weather isn't a problem.  I'm out there doing my acro, tending to spend a lot of time in loops, using a long stretch of straight Texas highway to make sure I'm flying a straight Loop, Immelman or Split S.  Of course, if there was a truck on that highway as I passed through the vertical on the way back down....There might have been a ratta-tat-tat sound on the intercom.  Life was good.

Unfortunately, gas was finite and eventually, I've got to return to base.

Now, normal Visual Flight Rules RTB procedures dictated following the River (AKA the Rio Grande) offset to the east until the Base was in sight, then entering the traffic pattern.  However, that low cloud deck precluded seeing the river.  No problem, I had a good TACAN lock (a radio directional beacon) and I figured I'd just offset the heading arrow slightly to the right (east) of my nose.  The Base was reporting clear and a million still, so finding it visually would be no problem.

I'm headed home, keeping an eye out for other Tweets that were also recovering.  I figure I must be in front of them as I don't have visual.

I'm now down to about 5000' as I finally pass the edge of the cloud deck.  I see the base off to the east in the distance.  I drive over to the visual entry point for the pattern, make the appropriate radio calls, come down initial, pitch out and land.

I stuck the landing, yes I did!

Feeling pretty good about myself, I check in with the Supervisor of Flying (a Field Grade Officer who handled the actual flying operation for the squadron.  Solo students were required to check in and out with him so he knew how much exposure his career had at any given moment).  This one happened to be the guy I'd flown my first Spin Sortie with.  He asks how the sortie went.  I told him I thought it went well.  He asked if there had been any issues he needed to know about.  I said "No Sir."

He said, "Good, we had a report from RAPCON that one of our aircraft, squawking your transponder code seemed to have wandered over into Mexican Airspace."

"Uh-Oh!" I think.

He then looked at me with a baleful stare and followed up with "I said there was no way that any of our IPs would let someone wander across the border, so they might want to check their Radar calibration."

"Uhhh.  Yes Sir, I think I'm gonna go and review my recovery procedures a little."

"Good Idea"

So...You're undoubtedly wondering how this roller coaster ride about a Tweet sortie relates to a new Parochial Vicar.

Well, seems he has a YouTube Channel where his handle is ParaVicar.

What do I have in common with Father Kris?  We're both members of the Brotherhood of Mexican Airspace Violators.  Flight starts at 1:30.  I may be looking into a new hobby.


  1. I like it, the BMAV. Paragliding looks pretty awesome. How loud is that fan you strap on your back I wonder, how is it powered? I need to do some research.

    As to church services, I am a huge fan (yuge) of "done on time." The learning bit is nice, if I learn something, that's cool, but I'd rather have a sermon which inspires me. I seldom get that and lately "done on time" is wishful thinking.

    I really need to do that religious post. I have some thoughts.

    1. One of the other YouTube videos actually has the sound of the motor on it. Depending on how much he'd edited sound, it didn't seem too bad. One of the other aspects of that particular video was he had a Rock song in Polish as background music. That was INTERESTING. The only words I understood were Yippie Yi Yo, Ki Yay. So it might have been taken from the Polish version of Die Hard.

      Yeah, I'm also a big fan of inspirational sermons. Not a real big fan of lectures. I'm well aware of my shortfalls, don't need to be continually Religious or, especially, Political leaders.

  2. *So, there I was...
    ...gonna post a comment, when my tablet balked.
    By the time my laptop booted up the thought was lost.
    I do remember it had something to do with visiting priests with foreign [sic] accents.

    1. I hate when that happens....especially when it happens more and more often.

  3. Here in Cleveland, Ohio we have been getting several African priests freshly ordained. They are enthusiastic, but the accent takes some time to get used to. We also have several priests from the Philippines. They come for two or three years to perfect their English, and then return home, or become missionaries. Again the accent takes some getting used to, but their zeal is so refreshing! And, they all love to sing!

    1. Spent a lot of time in the PI. Always enjoyed their version of English. While in Hawaii, Little Juvat went to a school(3rd Grade) that was taught by Nuns from the PI. He enjoyed the school, however, spelling tests were especially hard for him. Seems that the way the word sounded when pronounced with a Texas accent caused that word to be unrecognizable when pronounced with a Filipino accent.

  4. Except for praying for a stroke of good luck, my story of primary flt sch in TX has little to do with religion. But it does cover solo flt to new Stage II stage field and really poor navigation. Ranger, TX is a long way from where I wanted to be and should have been, on a Friday, when my IP had to cancel the only date he ever had while in TX to come find a budding Alemaster. Carrying "The Big Boys Book of Real Helicopters" around until the next classmate screwed up really wasn't that bad! regards, Alemaster

    1. Yes, the military had many outstanding ways of reinforcing lessons learned. Many of them I never made more than once, mostly because the once used up an inordinate amount of luck.

  5. Thanks Juvat for another interesting foray into your AF memories. The picture of the T 37 brought back "Fond" memories of my little trip to the scenic location of Bien Hoa and my hobby of loading weapons on AT 37s (Dragonflys). I thank Uncle Sugar for the free trip to exotic locals while affiliated with that tour group.

  6. When I was just a wee little Badger, I had a Tootsietoy T-37. Mine was a civilian one! It was actually rather a pretty little plane, white, with yellow and black stripes. I am thinking that if the noise level is as reported from more than one source, that Tootsietoy got the paint scheme wrong!

  7. Crazy Polish Priest indeed. Sign me up! For the flying thing, not the priest part.

  8. Looks like fun! Maybe I'll get one for checking cows. Yeah, checking cows.

    Speaking of Mexican airspace, I should perhaps spin a few Yuma tales at some point...


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