Monday, May 1, 2017

Your way or...the Navy way!

As I was working in my wood shop earlier, I was pondering what the subject of this post should be.  I had used my one free, Sarge Allowed, semi-annual Rant last week.  So, six more months of sunshine, campers!  

It wasn't time yet for another Medal of Honor post, that will be coming soon as the end of the school year approacheth and that's when the fecal matter usually impacts the spinning air mover.

Formation school was in town this weekend, but it looked like it was only T-6/SNJs (ONLY, juvat?  Like you wouldn't trade parts of your anatomy to own a T-6?)  I did get this photo as the passed over Rancho Juvat.
The structure on the left is my woodshop.  They were close enough that their radial engine noise was louder than my table saw.  They're tormenting me, I say!

Finally I haven't been to a museum in a while, so I've got nothing on that front.

Which leaves what Tuna refers to as "Juvat regularly regales us of flight ops as an Eagle driver."

What can I say?  I talk with my hands and have a big watch!  Realizing that I had told a lot of stories, most of which details can be taken as gospel.  (Really! No kidding!  It's all true, I was there!)

I had to find one I hadn't told here yet.  Then it hit me,  I've alluded to this story a few times, but never actually "regaled" it.

So....There I was *

A newly winged pilot, I've been granted a chance at attaining the only thing I've ever wanted to do in my 24 years of living, fly fighters in the Air Force.  I've made it through Lead-in Fighter Training with only a slight hiccup.  (IPs should not tell a student to "Go get 'em, Tiger!" as the student releases brakes as #4 in a formation with a rejoin out of traffic, unless he looks forward to writing the comment "On rejoin out of traffic, Lt Juvat showed his burner cans to the flight lead inverted as he passed in front of the formation".  Just sayin'.  Besides, it was extra flying time to make up that pinked ride.)

Anyhoo,  I graduated from LIFT and continued westward to lovely "it's a DRY heat" Phoenix AZ for F-4 RTU arriving there in June.  We have a bit of ground school to learn the systems of the mighty F-4C and several simulator rides to make sure we understand those systems as well as the emergency procedures required to safely return the aircraft to the able hands of Sarge's maintenance brethren if something were to go wrong.
Sarge?  We've got a code 2 flyable on aisle 2!

The F-4C was a complex aircraft and was built before a lot of thought was put in about cockpit management.  There wasn't really a standardized cockpit configuration.  Many switches would be in one place on one tail number and in another place entirely of a different one.  

This lead to many switch errors when we got to the air to ground portion of the syllabus.

But we're not there yet.

Finally after weeks of studying the Dash-1 (available here if you're having trouble sleeping), simulating horrifyingly complex emergencies which usually resulted in a simulated ejection, numerous tests and many adult recreational beverages consumed while consulting with several known names mentioned favorably in the annals of the Red River Fighter Pilots Association in the Squadron bar informal debrief area, we are ready to commit aviation in the F-4.

RTU was divided into a few sections, to include ones that concentrated on Air to Air and Air to Ground, but the first section was dedicated to see if Lt Juvat could actually take an F-4 off the ground, fly it around the airspace in Arizona, stay out of Mexico (not a given), then return to his home airfield and land the jet successfully.  I would get 5 rides to gain that skill set as well as demonstrate that I could fly instruments in that aircraft.  At the completion of those rides, I would get a check ride, which if I flunked  would mean B-52s for me.  "Ready to start # 8, Captain!"

I did not want to flunk that ride.

As an aside, I quickly found out that flying instrument approaches in the F-4 at Luke AFB in July from the front seat was monumentally easier than doing so from the back seat of a T-38 with a canvas bag blocking your view outside.  

It's Monday morning, and the alarm goes off about 0300, I've got a 0400 briefing for my first ride which will take-off right at daybreak, about 0600.  

It's summer in Phoenix.  The F-4's air conditioner begins functioning at 20,000'.  We want our missions to be over with before the combination of the Outside Air Temperature and the refractive properties of the canopy achieve a temperature that melts our flying helmets.

It really doesn't matter though,  I haven't slept much.  I'm going to fly an actual fighter!  One that's been in a war!  That's actually camouflaged.  

I'm excited.

We've briefed, stepped to the jet, preflighted, started (without any emergency indications, something that NEVER happens in the sim), taxied out, gone through the arming area and now been cleared for takeoff.

Run the engines up to 85% (any more and the airplane will start moving forward.  The brakes will keep the tires from rolling, so... that's a bad thing).  Everything looks normal.  Brakes off, throttles through the AB detent.  Nozzles swing indicating two good burner lights,  and we're off.

Except, my brain is several hundred feet behind the airplane!

The nose rotates, we're airborne and the IP is calling "Gear, put up the Gear!" 

Oh, yeah! Don't want to overspeed the gear doors.

Now, the IP is yelling "Burners".  Oh, yeah, Sun City, don't want to wake up the senior citizens who have the Wing King's office number memorized.

We're successfully airborne and headed to our airspace.  It's a beautiful day in Arizona and I'm flying a fighter!  

We enter the airspace, which was somewhere near Sedona, and start our area work.  That consists primarily of advanced handling, meaning High Angle of Attack stuff.  

The F-4C would mistreat a pilot who did not handle High AOA maneuvering adroitly.  It was considered "Poor Form" to return to base without a drag chute because you needed to deploy that device to recover from an out of control situation.

It was even poorer form to eject from an aircraft because you put it out of control and didn't have the altitude to recover it.  

Neither situation arose on this flight, or thankfully on any other flight in my career.

Now, it's time to come back in and land.

We come down initial, pitch out and I configure the aircraft.  The IP will demo the first one, which is a fete in and of itself from the back seat.  We come around and aim at the approach end.  The IP holds the stick as we settle in and just before touchdown, I feel him add a couple of rpms to the engine.  We go around and as I take the aircraft, I ask him why he does that.  

He replies that "it adds a little bit more cushion to the landing, making it smoother."


I come around, configure, settle in on final aimed at the touchdown zone, and as I'm about to touchdown, add a bit of power.  

"Nice Landing, juvat!" I hear from the back. "Do it again!"

Which I do.

Full stop, deploy drag chute, Dearm, shut down, and debrief, my inaugural ride as a fighter pilot is complete.

We debrief in significant detail, and finally I'm dismissed.  I check tomorrow's schedule and note that I'm flying with a different IP.

The next day, everything proceeds as it had the day before.  On takeoff, I was only slightly behind the aircraft and nobody at Sun City needed to call the Wing King about me.  The area work was fine and we RTB on schedule.  

I come down initial, no back seat demo this time, and pitch out, configure and am settling in on final.  I cross over the overrun and start the technique I'd learned the day before on how to "smooth out " the landing of the F-4.

As I add power and start the flare, I hear a yell from the IP, "Go 'round, Go 'round, Burners!"

Throttles slam into burner.  Gears up, flaps up.  I'm thinking was there something I didn't see on the runway?

The IP says "I've got the jet." and shakes the stick.  "You've got the jet" and take my hand off the controls.  

"What the F**K where you trying to do?  Kill us?"

"No Sir"

"Let me show you how to land the F-4!"

I configure it for him (Gear and flap controls were not available in the back seat, nor were Afterburners).

He begins his final turn and as I can tell, we're significantly steeper than we were the day before.  

He's got an aimpoint in the touchdown zone and we're diving on it like a peregrine falcon going for one of Sarge's rabbits.

The jet's at the point where I'd start the flare, but he's doing nothing.

He just freezes the controls and doesn't do anything with the power.

There's, what to me anyway, a massive impact as we hit the runway.  The throttles advance and as we get airborne, I'm checking everything for damage indications.

He shakes the stick and says "You've got the aircraft.  THAT's how you land the F-4!"


I come around and while on downwind tie my squadron scarf around my head and yell "Banzai!" as I begin the final turn.

Put the aimpoint at the end of the runway and drive the aircraft into the runway.

"Excellent landing.  Make the next one a full stop!"

Back in the debrief, we discuss the ride and when dismissed, I check the schedule, I've got another sortie again in the morning.  

It's with the IP I had my first sortie with.

Back in the traffic pattern, I'm beginning my final turn (Yes, Aaron, my scarf was tied around my head) and am beginning my kamikaze attack on the runway, when I hear a VERY concerned voice in the back seat say.

"Please, for the love of god, go around.  Burners!"

I comply.  He demonstrates the next landing and includes the RPM boost "to smooth" the landing.

The lightbulb clicks.

As I come around to land, I ask him whether my second IP happened to be a Navy exchange pilot.

"Why, yes.  Why do you ask?"

A few days later, I'm scheduled for the Qual Check.  I ask the squadron scheduler what service the Check Pilot is in.

He responds "Air Force, why?"

"No reason, I just want to smoothly pass the ride."

*SJC- If you haven't been to the acronym page, this particular acronym means Standard Juvat Commentary meaning everything stated in this story is the honest to goodness truth and should be taken as hard fact, even if the story begins with So....There I was.


  1. I like the title. It brought back some fond memories of a job I had working in a service station when I was in my late teens. The owner would quite frequently berate me when I didn't do a job to his complete satisfaction. His standard phrase was, "We don't do things around here my way or your way. We do them the Navy way." It used to really irritate me at the moment that it was happening, but upon later reflection he was always correct. This strict attention to detail is what made his business one of the premier service stations in the area. I learned much from him that I used all through life and doing things the "Navy Way" was probably the best thing that he ever taught me. I would have to say that out of the many bosses that I've had through the decades, he was the all time greatest. Fair winds and following seas, John..........................

    1. Thanks. The US Military does do a good job in training and procedures. Many of which would stand some of the current generation in good stead to learn. I'll leave it at that.

  2. Man, that poor F-4C has seen better days. They didn't remove the radome they just tore it off. No canopies, what a mess.

    We used to watch the Navy Phantoms land at Kadena and compare to our own guys, yeah, the Navy wants to land NOW, RIGHT NOW, PUT IT ON THE BLEEDING RUNWAY, RIGHT EFFING NOW!!!

    Yes, our guys were a bit more sedate, as in God gave us this nice long runway, let's use it to it's full extent.

    Excellent story Juvat.

    1. Thanks,
      Thought you'd get a chuckle out of that picture!
      Some of us even, occasionally, use a bit more than the runway's full extent.

  3. That guy sounds like an a$$. While landing styles might be different, the USAF style is hardly worthy of being considered as you trying to kill yourself and the IP. Do that to an F-15 or 16 and you'll probably have to down the jet!

    1. I don't recall much about him after this series of events, so I couldn't comment on that. I've never flown an F-16 so don't know about that either. The Eagle though.....Those lovely, huge wings generate so much lift that I don't think even that guy could have "Navy" landed it. Most of the time the only way you knew you were actually on the ground was when the airspeed started decreasing because of the aerodynamic drag. Damn I love that jet!

  4. Great story. I wonder what the landing procedure would have been with a Marine Corps IP.

    When I was stationed on Forrestal part of the reenlistment package was a launch and recovery in a Phantom. That would have been awesome.

    1. I don't know. There were a couple of Marines who had transferred commissions to the Air Force assigned with me at Holloman. One had been an F-4 guy before (as had I), the other was A-6. The A-6 guy had a bit of difficulty during the Air to Air phase of IP checkout, but that was understandable. The F-4 guy had no more or less trouble than anybody else. As to landing, landing the AT-38 even like an Air Force F-4 would probably have class 26'd the aircraft.

  5. I'm surprised no one has posted this.

    An old Navy adage, "Flare to land, squat to pee..."

    Great tale BTW, love to hear more.

    1. Thanks.
      Old AF adage*, "Takeoff and Landing should not be the apex of your heart rate during a mission"

      * Attributed to juvat at 1043 CDT 1 May 2017 Now, THAT's OLD!

  6. I'm sure some of you have done this too, but on a number of occasions I've asked commercial pilots as I've deplaned, "You were Navy, weren't you?"

    1. That's funny, Dave. However, I'm not sure I'd ask that question these days. I'm not sure the airlines have reached their quota on beating up passengers yet. That having been said, I'll keep it in my kit bag for possible use.

  7. Flying into Fallon one time in a C-9, we let down through the clag and were the first to discover the presence of un-forecast severe icing. Arrival on the numbers was firm enough to dump the 12 guys in web seats on the deck and instantly deice the jet. Navy reserve crew; I suspect the landing would have been the same in an Air Force jet.

    Also reminds me a bit of suturing lacerations under the supervision of Navy physicians, each of whom had a different idea of the "best" way to do the job. I learned to ask, "Do you want me to leave the suture ends too long or too short?"

    Another fun post Juvat, started my Monday off with a smile.

    1. Yeah, Ice destroys lift very efficiently and can happen at any altitude. You're lucky it was only a firm landing.

      I got the too long for suture ends, wouldn't too short mean they weren't able to be tied?

    2. They all start off too long, after tying you trim them back. I liked to leave 'em about 3mm, but apparently there's a school of thought that microscopic suture ends win a secret decoder ring or something.

    3. One more gem of knowledge to cram into my little brain. Should this be a question Sarge should ask his surgeon when he goes in for his next pre-op consult?

    4. Rest assured, if necessary, I will ask.

    5. He should probably ask if the staples are made in the US or China.

    6. Or not, sometimes it's best not to know.

    7. They use some kind of crazy glue nowdays. Amazing

    8. I've learned, in woodworking, it's best not to touch your nose after using CA glue. Apropos of nothing whatsoever.

    9. I loved the OR scene in the movie M.A.S.H. where the surgeon asks "Is this guy and officer or enlisted?" A voice responds "enlisted, use the big stitches."

    10. I don't remember that scene. Looks like I know what's playing this evening at the Juvat Family Cinemaplex.

  8. Replies
    1. Sorry, Skip, it just reminds me of this Night Court Sequence

    2. Somehow, my youtube feed recently started showing links to Night Court episodes. It has become very difficult to resist their call.

  9. e expression I remember is:
    There's the right way, the wrong way, the Navy way, ans the way the Chief wa ts it done."

    Once the wrong way was avoided, safety was a relative concern.

    1. It's ok, Skip, Sarge pays by the number of comments each post gets. I appreciate the help, Mrs. Juvat needs new shoes.

    2. I learned your expression was true when I finally got a Senior Master Sergeant (E-8) assigned to me when I was a wing scheduler at Holloman. Things smoothed out VERY fast at that point.

  10. Very excellent post and the comments are up to standard too.

    So juvat, when you get your T-6/SNJ, are you going to turn it into a racer for Reno? I used to help out with a SNJ which was raced at Reno and did the air show circuit in California some years ago. Much fun.

    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Thanks Paul.

      If/When I get one, I think It's going to be for leisurely flights around the states to stop in on various acquaintances I haven't met face to face yet and offer them a ride. Racing is a younger man's sport. However....BFM? Well... Fight's on, Fight's on!

  11. "Mrs. Juvat needs new shoes."


  12. 'Nuther cool one Juvat, thanks, regards, Alemaster

  13. Replies
    1. Correct gender specified. Good on ya, mate!

  14. OK, I have to jump in here before I forget which arm my watch is on. When I checked out in the Phantom (Oct-Dec 1965, Davis-Monthan AFB) we too had fun landing. The majority of my class had been flying the Deuce for years so we were accustomed to landing an aircraft with finesse, gently, beautifully, smoothly - squeakily! My instructor (a screamer BTW) had about thirty hours more than I did in the bird, so neither of us really knew what to do with the thing. Eventually i did it this way. Initial at 300K. Pitch out, set the power at 86% on each side. Nose up trim. Gear, continue the deceleration, flaps. I can't remember the fpm descent speed but it was probably rapidimente. HAH! But here is the secret! (Prospective Phantom Drivers may take notes here.) At the square root of the chord of the wing in altitude, the aircraft enters a slight ground effect. The nose will pitch slightly forward. A TINY increase in back pressure on the stick will stick the aircraft beautifully. DO NOT TOUCH THE THROTTLES UNTILL THE LANDING IS ASSURED!
    There you go.
    I have another story about my days IPing. Perhaps another time.

    1. OK, I can't remember which came first, flaps or gear. Yikes!

    2. Thanks for the link to the Dash-1 (should there be a dash there?) Anyway section eight (no really, this is the funniest part, is all about "landing" {Section 8 is a category of discharge from the United States military, used for a service member judged mentally unfit for service. It also came to mean any service member given such a discharge or behaving as if deserving such a discharge, as in the expression, "he's a Section 8".}). There are only four pages there under this heading which proves that even the boys in St. Louis didn't know how to do it.

    3. I am so embarrassed I've got to stop! I remember now, you clicked the flaps switch all the way down and they came out when they wanted to. Right? Anyone, anyone?

    4. I don't recall which came first flaps or gear either. Muscle memory tells me I put the gear down first as the gear switch was forward of the throttle well within reach whereas the flap switch was outboard of the throttles and required a little more hand movement to reach, but you are right that the flaps went down when you were below (according to the dash-1, I looked having killed those brain cells) 220 +/- 5 decelerating and went up at 237 +/-7 accelerating.

  15. Outstanding tale as usual. The constant fun (and very familiar experience) of different instructors having very different ideas as to how you should do things certainly strikes a chord.

    1. Yes, I would say your level of expertise in experiencing the varying techniques of flying an aircraft is well above those of most student pilots. You do realize that you're rapidly approaching the hours requirement for your commercial license, right? ;-)

    2. Yep. I hear if I can pull off an Immelmann and a Split-S in an Archer, they will throw the commercial rating in for free along with the Private Pilot test. This option is in the FAA regulations part 61 section WTF.

    3. Hence the need for the hachimaki.


    4. The immelman is comparatively easy, even in an Archer. The split-S however, might be a bit, shall we say abruptly ending?

    5. Or a Squadron Scarf if you're so inclined.


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