Monday, March 5, 2018


Well, I'm certainly glad that Sarge has transported himself "Back to the Future", or at least 1985 as he appears to still be internet-less.  I will confess to making several trips to the blog over the weekend and experiencing cold-turkey like symptoms on the lack of post/commentary.  

I guess another Battle of the Bulge installment banged out on a phone was a bit much to expect.  

Speaking of Back to the Future.....we watched the trilogy again recently and I identified with one particular scene.

Growing up I'd always believed I had a "Density".  (So did my parents.  They generally believed I was dense as a concrete wall.  But that's not important to this post.)

I always believed I'd be a fighter pilot in the Air Force.  All I ever wanted to do.  And I was sure I would.  Never a doubt.

Somewhere around 8 o'clock this morning will be the 40th anniversary of my beginning the embrace of my "Density".   The Friday before, I had taken my written's for my Masters, that Saturday I'd loaded all my worldly possessions into my 1974 "Spirit of America" Vega.
Not mine, but except for the windshield this looked like my first car
Dad and Mom had promised that if I'd made the Dean's list my freshman year, they'd help me buy a car.  I did and they did.  They split the cost with me and I paid off that loan the summer between freshman and sophomore year painting houses in Mississippi.  $2000.  
Lotsa reasons to KNOW it's the '70s.  Mom's hairstyle, the fact that I HAVE hair, and the 30 inch waist.  All long gone.

The next loan I took out was my Senior year when I had to replace the engine on it.  $600.

So, where was I?

Oh, yeah.  Worldly possessions in Vega.  It wasn't all that hard.  I didn't have much.

Sunday morning comes and after chatting with the guy upstairs abit, got in the car and headed south.

Took a TAD longer than 5 +25 in 1978 doing the "Double Nickle".  Which was all the Vega could do.

Arrived at the base mid-afternoon, paid my Dollar to the Airman at the front gate and was admitted to the show.  Signed into the BOQ and was told show time was 0800.  Walked next door and joined the Officer's Club, had a beer and dinner and returned to my room.

Not much sleeping that night.  

Woke early, had breakfast and found the Academic building and the room we were supposed to be in.  Shook a few hands, got the schedule for the first day.  Flight Surgeon, Supply Squadron, Book room, and the homework assignment for the first day.

Since I'd been studying hard for my masters over the previous 10 months, the reading and retention wasn't an issue.  The test the following morning was a breeze.  

Some of the other's?  Not so much. A couple fell by the wayside before they got out of Tweets (AKA T-37, the 2000 lb Dog Whistle)

This went on for a couple of weeks, and finally, we were told the following week we'd be going down to the line and would be spending half a day there and half a day at Academics.  We were going to fly!

That afternoon we were issued Flight Suits and flying gear and Helmets!  They told us to wear them so we'd get used to them and find out if there were any "hot spots" that needed to be fixed.  I don't know if either of those statements were truthful, but I sat in front of the mirror for a while with mine on.  

Training continued.  I had my Dollar ride with a Major with a 100 mission patch in Thuds on his flight suit.  
T-37 painted all white like when I flew it.  Student is on the right side of the picture.  You can tell it's a student.  He's looking for his ass with both hands.

We went out to the area and did our area work as briefed.  Had a little gas left over so he asked if I wanted to do anything else. 

I asked if we could do a loop.  He told me what airspeed was needed and how to keep oriented.  We lined up on a straight section of highway, nosed it over, pulled it up and over and on the way down, saw a truck on the highway.  

Might have given a little "rat-a-tat" as he passed under the nose.

The Major gave a chuckle.

Yannow?  Time is weird.  Sometimes things that occurred just a month or so ago seem like ancient history.  Other times, things that happened, Oh, I don't know, 40 years ago, seem to be just a minute or so in the past.  
This was taken at the end of the T-37 phase.  Every student in this picture graduated (There's a few IP in it also).  I've got my arm's crossed in the center of the picture.
So, I'll just accelerate to 88 miles per hour and return to "Good Ole 2018" and whatever "Density" awaits this week.  Have a good Monday everyone.


  1. I grew up on the approach to runway 17, Lubbock Intergalactic Airport. I saw more T37 (Converters: converted fuel to noise) and T38 aircraft than I could count. Those white lovelies spreading the sound of freedom are memories I cherish. Hoeing weeds at the Texas A&M Experiment Station just over the fence from the threshold, not hearing the '38 coming in for a touch and go, then getting blasted by the exhaust.... Man, what a rush. I used to park right near the fence, sit on the hood and watch aircraft pass right over head in the evening....

    You hit what you aim at. You're a great example of that!

    1. Thanks STxAR! I know where you were hoeing weeds. Made a few passes over head in the Mighty Cessna 150 while in ROTC Aviation Fam program.

  2. Great story Juvat. (As you can see I am on the Web and back in the future, so to speak.)

    A buddy of mine in Omaha started his career working on Tweets. He was fond of that wee jet. I seem to recall they had some in Panama that he worked on. But my memory ain't what it used to be and I'm too lazy to look it up. (And the Internet is right there, waiting...)

    1. Thanks. Glad to see you're back up and running. The Tweet was a fun airplane, reliable and forgiving (as long as you had enough altitude).

      Unsolicited advice, I'd EEEAAASSSe back into the Internet usage. Now that you've gone through cold turkey withdrawal, you could easily overdose if you do too much too fast.

      Just sayin'

    2. Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

  3. I enjoyed watching the VNAF A-37's approaches at Cam Ranh Bay. They would come screaming at full grunt on the deck, chandelle up to pattern altitude, and circle to land. Looked like fun.

    1. Yes, flying fast at low level is fun and exciting, sometimes a little too exciting.

  4. Whatta great Flash-Back story!
    (Cute Kid, too...heh!)

  5. "You can tell it's a student. He's looking for his ass with both hands."

    So, the instructors only needed one hand?

    To quote Bob Hope: Thanks for the memories.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

  6. Generally, although there were a few......

  7. Ah, yes, remembering the double nickel.
    Making up for lost time today by driving 80.
    Daylight Saving makes as much sense.
    We could cut down on the number of hours it takes to get somewhere by making hours 90 minutes long.

    1. How about we pick a time halfway between regular and DST and call it quits. Screw the Brits and their Greenwich time, they're a lost country.

    2. Yeah, that started when I started College. My Dad was stationed in Columbus MS which was 915 miles from Dorm to Home. Took for frickin' ever at 55 (OK 60). Junior year he got transferred to Nellis. I thought "Hallelujah, it's closer!" Then I drove it the first time. It was closer. It was 914 miles. And Arizona would position Highway Patrol cars in groups of 3. You'd pass the first one doing 55ish, get over the next hill and accelerate, right into the second. Aggressive deceleration might get you passed him, then up over the next hill the thought "can't be any more for a while." would get you stopped by the third. You may surmise how I know that. Fortunately, the Vega didn't really handle very well much above 60 anyhow, sort of a built in cruise control.

    3. Andrew,
      That's not a bad idea, or just leave it at DST all year round. (I like longer sunshine periods after work, YMMV)

    4. Pick a good time to balance the amount of light in the morning and in the evening year round, then leave it alone.

  8. I seem to have a similar suave nature around women ;-)

    You had a lot of guts requesting to do a loop as a fledgling! I had forgotten about the "Spirit of America" Vega. You want to talk about a shop that was niche oriented here, in town there was a shop dedicated to the Cosworth Vega.

    What I don't understand about GM - at least the old GM - that Vega engine was crap - long stroke aluminum block - no cast iron sleeves - the rings and the cylinder basically went kaput at about 40,000 miles.

    About that time, the German company Mahle perfected a process - called Nikasil- that would make the cylinder wall of an aluminum enginke diamond hard. Amazing thing is that I have an old SL500 - 22 years old - and it usues virtually no oil at 186,000 miles. With an aluminum block.
    To this day the process is used.

    Anyway SOP in those days to fix a Vega engine was to insert cast iron sleeves in the engine. The Vega was one of the reasons millions of people gave up on GM.

    As for me I had a Pinto. Turned down a friend's 1972 Porsche 356B for $1200 and bought a new 1972 hatchback Pinto. Then went into the Army 6 months later.

    T-37, the 2000 lb Dog Whistle - I love it. I worked for Cessna in the early 80s when they were trying to get the contract for the NGT - Next Generation Trainer. Air Force never got it off the ground, so to speak.

    1. 40K was just about right on the money. And yes, the block cracked. I don't know what they did other than charge me $600 to fix it. They said they replaced the engine, but what do I know. Didn't have any problems afterword engine wise. Being T-boned "adjusted" the frame a bit which caused it to vibrate oddly when passing through 55 MPH, hence the poor man's cruise control comment. Got me to and from the base while in UPT so it filled its function.

  9. Ah yes, the old graduation from (insert phase/command here) pictures... Sigh...

    1. The cats knocked the box of pictures off the shelf in the closet. Came across that one as I refilled the box. Once again, Schmedly is functioning as my editor.

  10. To McFly really was your density. Nice one!

    1. I hadn't really thought of it that way, but yes!

  11. Vegas. Had one, spent way too much money keeping it going.

    1. Yeah, I ditched it when I graduated from UPT, sold it to one of the guys in my class who returned as a First Assignment IP and got married. I think I got $100 for it.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...