Sunday, August 6, 2017

Magical Mystery Tour...

Yes, my human is lazy...
And this affects me how?
Sasha (the feline in the opening photo) is my chief-of-staff, or perhaps I am hers. The organization chart is rather unclear on that. I do know that of the humans in the family I serve as the titular head of the household. I am allowed out on the balcony to wave at the adoring masses...

Look it's our neighbor out on the front stoop again. Who the Hell is he waving at?

I dunno, chap is stark raving mad if you ask me...

Um, yeah. Anyhoo. After a few days of "Holy crap, that's a lot of comments." I kinda throttled back and had a very light post (though photograph heavy) for Saturday. Again, as it is summer, AND we have a lot of new folks reading the blog, I wanted to go back in time again.

What another bloody rerun?

Um, yes, sorry but I am having a very serious attack of lazy today. But hey, it's a tale of my trip out to Lemoore four years ago...

Seriously, four years ago, has it been that long?

Sorry about these continual "asides" in italics, I'm trying to be clever. Don't know if it's working or not. Anyhoo, today's Sunday Rerun actually consists of two posts from two days back in August of 2013. My first trip to the Officers Club at NAS Lemoore and my first flight in the F/A-18E flight simulator. Good times.

If you hate the reruns, let me know. I'm not saying I'll stop but you never know. (Traffic on the weekends is pretty light around here in the summer anyway but I don't wish to annoy the regulars.)

Another rerun?
I'm out...
That's Anya, Sasha's sister, she is easily bored. I'm rather hoping you're not...

Me and the VFA-94 Board at the O-Club
For Those Who Didn't Know, Lex Commanded VFA-94.
Had a great day, not really counting the furniture shopping. Long story short, kids are buying a house, they (well actually The WSO and The Missus Herself) are shopping for furniture. So, we've spent an hour or twelve doing that. Not a problem, me and Little Bit have terrorized a few furniture stores in Fresno. We're having fun while the others debate the relative merits of one sofa versus another. Big Time has a "get out of jail free card" he's had to work the past few days.

Anyhoo. There was a patching today at the Lemoore O-Club, FNGs coming out of VFA-122 heading to their first operational squadron. Loads of fun, lots of insulting commentary regarding the FNGs and lots of adult beverages.

At any rate, this is the first chance I've had to actually be onboard NAS Lemoore. Got to have a couple of Guinness in one of Lex's old haunts and got to hang out with some of America's finest.

After finishing Guinness Number Two, I noticed a newbie, call sign Tight Pants (a guy by the way) carrying a pitcher of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale...

This Stuff
So this guy became my new best friend. A fine gentleman, a true representative of American manhood. He kept me well supplied. A good time was had by all.

Though one thing distressed me greatly. There are backwoods swamps in Louisiana with clearer water than the pool at the O-Club. Seems that "due to sequestration" they can't afford to put the pool in service. Nice. I think we should make Congress come out and swim at the Lemoore O-Club.


Anyhoo (once again), it was a good day. A real good day.

Tomorrow should also be awesome. I have sim time from 1045 to 1145.

Sim time you ask, what's that?

Yours truly gets to plant his not insubstantial derrière in an F/A-18 flight simulator. On the base. Same thing the pilots and WSOs train on. That's going to be sweet!

Big Time is an awesome son-in-law...

The Sun Sets on Another Fine Old AF Sarge Day
(Sometimes it's good to be me!)

Et la seconde et dernière partie -

Okay, that's not the view from a Rhino as you approach "the boat", but it gives you a pretty good idea what I was seeing in the simulator today. Well, kind of...

I was always a bit high. To my credit I didn't do a ramp strike.

So I had that going for me.

Got to the sim building on time (which can be a minor miracle when you have to get a three year old ready at the same time!) I settled into "the jet" right around 1045 local. After adjusting the rudder pedals and the seat, we were ready to go. Son-in-law Big Time was my instructor and he's a good one. Tells you what to do and why you do it a particular way.

After an unfortunate, "What the Hell was that?" incident, (Big Time hit a button, all I saw was the "red screen o' Death" then we reset) we were ready for take-off. Out of NAS Miramar of all places!

F9F-6P of VC-61 over NAS Miramar
(Back in the day)
When Big Time said we were ready to go, the throttles went forward, past the detent and into 'burner. As he put it, "Guess you know about that part..." As he started to speak again I had already eased in a bit of right rudder to correct a rather disturbing "Hey look, I'm heading off the left side of the runway" problem.

In moments we were "airborne", simulated of course.

This sim was rather placid, no movement to give you a feel for flying, but rather nice displays and sound. We seemed to be flying around the time of nautical twilight. Either that or someone needed to crank up the brightness and contrast. Heh.

I was at 20K in no time flat so we played around for a while. Did a loop, which was alright until I did the old "look straight up and back to acquire the horizon" thing only to note that the all-around displays weren't quite 360-degrees. Directly overhead, nothing. So I looked right, reacquired the horizon and pulled out comfortably with beaucoup altitude to spare. I hadn't tied the low altitude record yet!

Next I wanted to build up some smash. I suppose I could have put the nose down to gain airspeed but where's the fun in that? Past the detent and into 'burner I went (after all we're in the sim, who cares about fuel conservation?)

When I got her going pretty good, I pulled back to military power, rolled left and pulled the stick back hard into a pretty sweet high-G turn. Big Time showed me the read-out, I think I got it up to 5-Gs. But as you couldn't really feel it, it wasn't that much fun. So I figured I would do some more maneuvering to see if I could at least not look like an idiot while "flying".

Did a rather nice Immelmann (again, the lack of a full 360 display was a bit disconcerting), then from there went into a Split-S. (Yes, I did check the altitude first!) While enjoying the sight of the displays reacting to my maneuvering I kind of lost my situational awareness. Next thing I know "Bitching Big Time" is muttering in my ear, "Pull up, pull up". Oh yes, boys and girls, the Old AF Sarge was rapidly approaching tying the low altitude record but through judicious back pressure on the stick (as in trying to touch my spine with the joystick) I managed to level off at a rather uncomfortable 100 feet.

By the way, the simulator displays are rather 3-D. 50 feet lower and I do believe I would've plowed into a ridge. At least it looked like a ridge as it passed rather rapidly under the jet.

So, let's find the boat and try and land this beast.

After some fooling around (and a reset to give me a bit more fuel, remember I went into 'burner more than was probably prudent early in the flight) there was this disturbance on the ocean's surface.

"That's the wake?"

"Yup, of course we're pretty far out yet. It'll get bigger."

Well, technically yes, it does get bigger. But OH MY GOD I HAVE TO LAND WHERE?

Yes, big ocean, small boat. Relatively speaking.

First approach wasn't too bad. Of course, the old timers would no doubt argue that the jet practically lands itself. You can set Automatic Throttle Control (ATC) which will manage your airspeed pretty nicely. Unless you jerk the controls around a bit much. Then the onboard computers decide, "Well, the meatware seems to want to do things his way, alright, YOUR JET!"

Yup, ATC will shut off if your control inputs are, shall we say, a bit rough. Ditto the autopilot. Kind of sucks when you're slamming the jet around trying to stay on path and on glideslope. Gently does it cowboy, gently!

Rhino Heads Up Display (HUD)
So I'm coming in pretty good, just a tad high. Big Time says "chop the power" (or words to that effect), I pull the throttles all the way back. I'm on the deck.

Um, shouldn't I be stopping now? Laughing maniacally, I push the throttles into 'burner and start yelping "bolter, bolter, bolter". Time to try again.

"So Big Time, what happened there?"

"Well, you came down a little hard, so I'm guessing you managed to bounce your 'hook over all four of the wires."

"Well. That sucks."

"Hey, it happens."

"To you?"

"Of course not."

So we went around again. For two more touch and goes. And one low pass over the boat when I realized I had pulled back on the stick instead of pushing forward like my nice IP told me to.

"What was that?"

"Uh, I wanted to wave at the Admiral?"


So our sim time was up. I never did trap, but I didn't damage the carrier in any way. No sailors were harmed.

I also was amazed at just how much seawater those General Electric F414 engines can suck down and still function.

(While I never hit the boat, we did go swimming a couple of times.)

As we departed the sim, the operator guy who controls everything said, "You need a little work on your landings." Yes, we all had a good laugh at that. Nice of him to say "a little", rather than, "Hey, you suck at this!"

All in all, three things today -

1) It's not easy landing on an aircraft carrier,
2) Big Time is a superb instructor,

3) Aircraft carriers only look big when you're not trying to land on them.

Today was:


Oh. Yeah!!!

I hope you enjoyed that blast from the past.

I did, then and now. (I'm a goofball, I like rereading my old posts. Some of 'em anyway...)

Oh, the post title. Again, me trying to be clever...


  1. Good post. I'll BET that sim was fun. Visual sims were just starting to come into being when the flying portion of my career ended, so I never really got to fly one. The test simulator I flew at Luke was too primative to count. (Just to add my two cents to the rerun ;-) )

    1. And THAT was a great post (especially the photo of us in the sim). Heh.

    2. Good one, twofer blasts from the past. :)

      You might enjoy this...

    3. Nice. I can see myself spending time there!

  2. Reruns are good and this one was enjoyable. I got to fly the sim at Tyndall a few times and loved it. Landing on a regular base is a challenge, I can't imagine trying to land on a postage stamp!

  3. Such AWESOME times you've had!!

    Nice B & W Kitty, too!

  4. I'm perfectly happy knowing tbere are those who are willing to risk it all landing on bird farms.
    I had ample opportunity to watch plenty of approaches from the "plane guard."

    1. AFAIK they don't have a destroyer on plane guard these days, they use a helo.

  5. A great rerun Sarge. It's good to have quality stuff to dust off and show to the new customers.

    Is that a Lego Boomer I see in image two?

    1. Thanks Shaun!

      And yes it is, The WSO and I put that together a few years back.

      Lots of fun, lots of bonding going on.

    2. How much? I know that the Lego P-3 was almost as much as the Lockheed one.

    3. It was over ten years ago, I honestly don't remember the price other than it wasn't cheap.

  6. Thanks for the post/s. Either I haven't been hanging out ( oops, sorry ) as long as I thought or my old and decrepit mind has not retained the memory of these posts. Your overlords are indeed very fine looking members of the ruling class. For my dos centavos, reruns are perfectly fine; especially as I don't remember if I've read them before or not.

    Not to brag/whine, I've also been aboard NAS Lemoore, as my son ( no handle that I am aware of ) was confined/stationed there. ( He's a Marine, doncha know. ) Not an aviator, an ordie. I may have also been aboard NAS Miramar, but... ( see above ).

    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Ah you've been to Lemoore. Recently? They have a very nice aircrew memorial, not on the base but hard alongside.

      Ordies are good. It's not a fighter without the stuff that goes boom!

    2. Just confirmed with my son, it was in 2011 when we visited him in Lemoore. Time did not permit a visit to the aircrew memorial.


    3. Paul, the Memorial was completed in 2014, so you couldn't have visited.

      I have a post somewhere, I'll find it.

    4. That make me feel better. But I don't think that the time we had would have permitted giving it the attention it deserves.


    5. There's never enough time...

  7. Cats indeed. All your bed are mine. Ours is a female named Zoey, who was about 2.5 years old when she wandered into our back yard, starving and much the worse for wear, so we took her in. She is a calico, which are the red-heads and thinkers of the cat world. Yeah, we adopted a teenage, redhead, female, feline. If she liked you, she really liked you, and if not, she was a fur covered skill saw. That was eight years ago and she has mellowed into a real sweetheart.

    +1 for Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The company was started in a garage in Chico, CA by Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi. I used to shoot local bullseye pistol matches on a team with Paul. (Yes, Kalifornia. There was a time when you could do that there. Just one of the reasons we now live in Texas.)

    1. The sisters turn 14 this week, Sasha can be a terror, Anya is invariably a lady.

      I do like the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

  8. One of the few times I've seen you without "The Hat" Sarge. It has to be a hoot to fly a mil sim. Sierra Nevada has a brewery near Asheville, NC with quite a reputation- it is on my list to visit next time I am in that area.

    1. Now that you mention it, I remember the need to remove my cover as I didn't want to be buying a round for everybody in the bar. But yes, 'tis a rare sight indeed.

      Sierra Nevada is very tasty, that brewery in NC looks to be worth a visit!

  9. The picture of your cat shocked me in that she looks exactly like the cat my son serves. Sierra Nevada has a great selection of quality beers. My favorites now are Torpedo and a lager names Summerfest. If you can ever find some Hoptimum, give it a try.
    We used to drop by Lemoore during our night instrument phase for a couple of approaches, then off to Fort Irwin for fun on the range in the dark. Nice working with those guys, we always had great rapport.

    1. I tried Sierra Nevada's Port, it was only "okay." But I will be trying the ones you suggest at some point.

      We actually have two cats, though they look nearly identical.

  10. Never had the chance to do a flight sim, but did get to "jump" in the free fall simulator, aka wind tunnel, while in Language School at Ft Bragg. Once of my classmates convinced me to play hooky one afternoon. Got the chance to watch the Golden Knights practice before I had my turn. Best E Ticket Ride Ever. Plus the SFC got some "face" with his buddies at the tunnel, what with bringing in a Navy LCDR for everyone to make fun of :)

    Snake eaters couldn't quite get me talked into taking the accelerated freefall course, however....


    1. The free fall sim would be cool. Actually jumping? Not on my list of things to try. But if the airplane broke and I had access to a 'chute, watch me jump!

  11. Excellent post, if only for the view out that S-3 Viking windscreen.

    1. I seem to recall you liked it the first time too.

      I knew it was the view from the War Hoover, at least this time I did.



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