Saturday, February 18, 2017

Watch This

As Juvat has said, more than once, "fighter pilot" is as much an attitude as it is a job description. There are many pilots who fly fighters, many of them are also fighter pilots. Those two groups do not match up one for one.

I have a fighter pilot watch. To my knowledge there are only two people on the planet who have these who cannot fly an aircraft. I am one, The WSO's father-in-law, Hornet Dad, is the other. Hornet Dad is, as you might have figured by now, Big Time's father, and a lovely man he is.

So what's the big deal with the watch you might ask, I can go to a store and buy one of those, right? Uh, no. Not unless things have changed since Big Time left the Knighthawks. (Any Hawks out there with knowledge of these things feel free to chime in.)

So back in the day when the mighty ENTERPRISE still sailed the seas and brought death and destruction to the enemies of freedom, Big Time  was a pilot in VFA-136, a part of the Big E's air wing. He was also the procurer of fine time pieces for the squadron. Big Time was, and still is, a big time piece guy. He had a deal with the company who makes these watches. Here's a close up of that watch -

Above the day/date readout is an F/A-18E coming straight at you, underneath are the "Wings of Gold" of a naval aviator. On the left is the squadron patch of VFA-136, the mighty Knighthawks. Each watch has a serial number and mine has my initials on the back. I don't know if the others have initials, perhaps a callsign instead. But The WSO thought it would be cool to put my initials on my watch.

My initials? C.A.G. or as inscribed on my watch: CAG.

Um, okay Sarge, you've got your initials on your watch, so?

According to the pedia of Wiki -
Initially and during WWII, the commander of the air group (known as the "CAG") was the most senior officer of the embarked squadrons and was expected to personally lead all major strike operations, coordinating the attacks of the carrier's fighter, bomber, and torpedo planes in combat. The CAG was a department head of the ship reporting to the carrier's commanding officer.

In 1963 when Carrier Air Groups were retitled Wings, the commander retained the legacy title of "CAG" which continues to this day.

After WWII until 1983, CAGs were typically post-squadron command aviators in the rank of Commander. Though the CAG was in command of the air wing, he functioned as one of the carrier's department heads reporting to the carrier's commanding officer when the wing was embarked. The CAG would typically subsequently promote to Captain and would track to command of a deep draft support vessel followed by command of an aircraft carrier once greater seniority was achieved in the rank of Captain. In 1983, Secretary of the Navy John Lehman elevated the CAG position to the rank of Captain and made the position coequal with the Captain of the aircraft carrier in which the air wing embarked, with both officers reporting directly to the embarked Flag Officer who was Commander of the Carrier Battle Group. During the period of transition when some air wings were still commanded by Commander CAGs and some were commanded by the new Captain CAGs, the new Captain CAGs were referred to as "Super CAG." The term "Super CAG" quickly reverted to the traditional "CAG" once all air wings had made the transition. Later a slightly junior Captain was added as the Deputy CAG (DCAG), with the DCAG assisting the CAG until he/she eventually "fleets up" to the CAG position. This system remains in place today.
I also have a beer mug, from VFA-2, The WSO's old outfit.

I have the ball cap too. Gotta have the ball cap.
When The WSO was ordering the mug, one of her squadron mates asked, "Why are you ordering a mug for CAG?"

"It's for my Dad."

"Your Dad's a CAG?!?"

"Well, yes and no. His initials are 'C' 'A' 'G'"

"Your Dad's a CAG and those are his initials too?!?"

"Uh no. My Dad's a retired Master Sergeant..."


Well, she was talking to a pilot. Takes a little longer to explain.

Guns! Guns! Guns!

Yup, got the Knighthawk ball cap to go with the watch.
I've got my eye on you too Bear!
As a bonus, here's some sweet F-16 gun camera footage. According to the guy who posted this on the Tube o' You -
Various F-16 gun camera circa 1982 from Kunsan Air Base Korea Juvat F-16s from the Wolf Pack. First four clips are from missions flown in Cope Thunder mock air combat exercised out of Clark Air Base, Philippines. Last clip is a "Juvat" doing a high speed low level and dive bomb pass in South Korea. Probably during a Team Spirit exercise.
(The video lead in says "circa 1984." Just to let you know that I was paying attention.)

Yup, our own Juvat's old outfit, the 80th Fighter Squadron. I worked on their Phantoms, Juvat broke flew their Phantoms. This is great stuff if you know what you're seeing and hearing. I do. I'll bet this brings back a lot of memories for some of you guys...

And while flying fighters is exhilarating, the groaning and grunting is from the pilot fighting off the G-forces. The Viper can pull a lot of G.

Oh yeah baby. Fight's on!


  1. So, I take it an FR-117 is the strike/recce version of the Nighthawk? ;)

  2. Very cool. As a collector of watches, tool watches or mil watches have much greater appeal.

    Not unusual for well run squadrons to do a watch run. Fortis is a good piece~!

    I had the opportunity to assist an old VN era PJ sell a 1961 Tudor watch he was issued in 1963. He got big coin - deservedly so....

  3. Knighthawks made one or to deployments with us in Coral Sea BITD. Kinda strange looking at that squadron from a different perspective.

    You've got that airwing commander glare down pretty well too.

    Great post, CAG :)

  4. at abt 4:30 I hear C,R .... Then again at 5:30 CRK. So Clark is CRK.

    Back before the great unpleasantness of 2001, I got to jumpseat a lot. I always asked for headphones, then naviguessed by listening to the NDB's as we went from MEM to points beyond... I miss that. NDB's are kinda fading away now.

  5. Everybody likes to post vids of F-15s in the gunsight. What is not shown is what happened immediately prior to that section of the video. One of the drawbacks to Cope Thunder (BITD) was there was very little "kill removal" ability. The aggressors were decent about it, but the killer had to describe his kill to the GCI controller who had to contact the Red Force GCI who had to identify which one of his guys was dead then transmit that and then 30-45 seconds after the fact that guy SHOULD kill remove. (And vice versa of course). So, the choice her is do I react to the dead bandit that is rolling in on me and leave the strike package vulnerable to the second wave of bandits about to hit them, or do I train as I'd fight, ignore the fireball and parachute behind me and sort, target and kill the next wave of bandits. Personally, I reserved the turning and burning for back home 2 V 2s. Fun, but not as valuable training.
    We would always get razzed with video like this. We'd nod our heads, then play ours and point out their non reaction to the Aim-7 + Aim-9 kill shots (which made the PK about 99%) and ask them how they wanted their fishhead soup prepared tonight.
    I believe the Airspace Instrumentation systems in modern Red Flags etc reduces this quite a bit nowadays.

    1. I remember all the he said-she said pre-TACTS at Fallon. Sometimes the biggest crybabies were allowed to volunteer to be rescued. When TACTS/Strike-U came together it was just the coolest and funnest debrief. A lot of guys who had developed slick talking to an art came down a few pegs when their arguments failed to match the record. I remember a couple of mustache explosions after A-7's had ambushed
      F-14's. Good training. Fun times!

    2. Juvat - Knowing the capabilities of the -15, and her pilots, I was rather surprised at seeing so many on the wrong end of the pipper. I think what you say explains it very well.

    3. Shaun - reminds me of playing Army as a kid. "Got you!" "Na-ah I shot you first." I believe the real Army had the same issue before they started using the MILES gear.

  6. Sheesh, OldAFSarge. First you ignite a furball about pilots. Now it is watches. What mischief will you come up with next?

  7. A lot of fighter pilots seem to like the Rolex submariner, too. Never will forget a chance encounter with Chuck Yeager. He still lives in grass Valley California. I'm driving down Highway 99, which for those who've been there know it's a rather dull highway.

    I'm coming up to a brand-new blue Corvette in the right lane just toodling along at about 60 miles an hour

    As I'm getting closer I'm seeing a vanity plate that says "BELL X1A".

    I'm starting to think as I'm passing that this could only be one guy. Sure enough as I've passed it is Chuck with his left arm up and Rolex submariner. He had nothing to prove and I could say that that was the one time I had passed Chuck Yeager.

    1. Well....That IS something to add to your story repertoire!

    2. Juvat - what's up with the flashing "FUEL" indicator on the HUD in some of the videos? Folks on the koobecaf were asking. Thanks.

    3. Must be an F-16 thing. The Eagle had "bitchin Betty" a female voice who would chime in saying "Fuel LOW!" when the fuel level dropped to a pilot settable level. I suspect that is a similar function. Course if you're looking over your shoulder (as most F-16 drivers would be), it wouldn't be seen. ;-)

      I thought Betty was a good idea well executed. Others thought it a distraction.

    4. Ah, I like "bitchin' Betty" better. Having that "FUEL" flashing on the HUD is distracting.

      I'd rather hear it than see it.


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