Team Alpha, Vandy 1

Nose Gunner Pat Marsh and me with Vandy 1, NAS Oceana Air Show, 2015ish.

Vandy 1 is a Czech-built L-39 Albatross jet trainer with a paint job honoring the famous “bunny-tailed” Point Mugu VX-09 jet, also called Vandy 1. Fun jet to fly.  Not a whole lot of thrust coming out of that Ivchenko engine, only about 3,900 lbs, but in a jet that only weighs 10,000 lbs, you can still haul the mail and pull 6 gs.

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Air Strikes on Syria

There was a bit of a discussion on my Facebook page on this tonight. The general consensus was it was needed, even considering the potential negatives about the actions.

My comments centered around the belief that if Secretary of Defense Mattis was supportive of this (and I mean more than simply obeying the orders of his Commander in Chief), he had to have had a pretty good grasp and belief in the intelligence that indeed Syria was behind the gas attack on Douma.  He is a very, very smart man, probably the most respected member of the President’s cabinet – hell, the entire administration – and I cannot believe he could be hoodwinked into going along with something like this for any sort of pure political or other non-strategic reasons.  We’ll hear all that from the left, no doubt – that this is a “wag the dog” scenario, that Trump is bombing Syria to get the news off Comey or Mueller or McCabe or Stormy Daniels or whatever.  Ignore those yappy comments.

As far as if it was needed or not, I believe it was and if chemical weapons use by a rogue, dark regime like Syria goes unpunished in any way,  the US might just as well do away  with half our military and invest in red sharpie markers so we can just keep drawing red lines on paper maps that we have no intention of giving a damn about or doing anything over.

The alternative, I fear, if we do nothing  is to cede that entire part of the world to Russia, Iran and the other dark powers in the region.  Israel would be in a world of hurt, the entire region could end up a Russian backyard.  That isn’t some old world/Soviet expansionism/cold-war thinking, but a practical determination of the power Russia has over Syria and Iran.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and if the US and her allies do nothing here, that vacuum created by our non-action will quickly be filled by Russia.  Funny…the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Champ 416

Another shot from my Dad’s collection taken in the mid 1960s while deployed with Attack Squadron 56 off Vietnam.

VA-56’s nickname was the Champions, and the call sign was Champ. This jet, Champ 416, has the name of LTJG Jim Maslowski assigned to it.  Maslowski later went on to be a Blue Angel from 69-72 and rose to the rank of Rear Admiral.  He deployed for 3 additional Vietnam cruises with VA-113 on board ENTERPRISE and RANGER and spent his XO/CO tour with VA-94, the Mighty Shrikes, flying the A-7 Corsair in 1980-82.  He was the commanding officer of the carrier KITTY HAWK (CV-63) from 91-93 and retired on 1 January 2001 after a stellar career.  Well done, RADM Maslowski!

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Two Down and Locked

A couple  Potomac River osprey shots during its landing sequence. These raptors head south for the winter, preferring warmer climes for those months rather than the miserable cold and rain around here.  Its always a good sign of spring when they are back.  These two shots were from a few years ago down on Neabsco Creek here in Woodbridge.

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Navy War College Grad, 2005

A pretty proud day for both me as well as mom and dad. May of 2005, graduated with the master’s in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Navy War College in Newport, RI.  Mom and Dad were on their way to Nova Scotia at the time so were able to be there.

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Attack Squadron 56, In Port, Subic Bay, PI

After a visit to my mom a few weeks ago, she gave me a couple thousand (I’m sure it is) of my dad’s slides that he took over the years, dating back to the mid 50s.  I’m still sorting through them, and these two popped up from a set he took while on his second deployment to Vietnam in 1966.  He was a lieutenant commander with VA-56, an A-4 Skyhawk squadron assigned to carrier Air Wing 9 on board USS ENTERPRISE.  His jet, Champ 403, was taken while in port Subic Bay, Philippines, while the other photo, Champ 416, was assigned to LTJG Jim Maslowski.

Aside from the amazing quality of these slides after 50+ years, the colorful paint jobs on these jets, while flying off into combat over North Vietnam, was amazing.  The Tomcats I flew in were primarily painted in the low-viz haze gray livery of today, and we weren’t even flying into SAM and triple-a or an IADS (Integrated Air Defense System) network.

More to come as I find them!

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Camelot 100, landing

I’ve been dipping back into both the digital as well as photographic archives here at Casa de Pinch pulling out some F-14 Tomcat pictures for your historical entertainment. Its one of my Happy Places, up to my ears in Adobe Lightroom and Paint Shop Pro, cleaning these up as best I can.

This particular shot has a number of things going for it – the instant the tailhook hits the deck, looking for one of those 110′ wide steel cables that will slow and eventually stop the aircraft in about 400-500 feet – your normal airport runway is usually 8,000 or 10,000 feet long. Our max landing weight, if I remember correctly was about 54,000 lbs and our approach speed was close to 135 knots. So you have a 27-ton aircraft moving along at 155 miles per hour needing to stop in something not much longer than a football field.

The guy on the left is the Fly 3 Petty Officer – he pretty much runs everything on the aft part of the flight deck (Fly 1 is the bow, Fly 2 is the middle part of the flight deck.) The guys to the right are the LSOs, or Landing Signal Officers. They monitor the approach and provide corrective communications, if needed, to the pilot. During daytime operations, however, we always land what we call “ziplip” – no communications whatsoever. Carrier flight operations – one of the most demanding and least-forgiving environments on earth.

VF-14, Camelot 100, landing onboard USS JFK, CV-67, late 80s

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Farewell, Thunderbird

We lost a brother yesterday out in Nevada. A member of the USAF Thunderbird flight demonstration squadron went down and didn’t make it. Details are still forthcoming, but as happens all too often, even the glitz and glamour of being a member of one of the truly elite flight demo teams in the world, it is still a very, very dangerous business.

God speed, Thunderbird.

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New Gig Started

Began the new job yesterday. Lots of waiting around with things (hopefully) going on in the background. I did drop some significant coin for a monthly parking pass in Rosslyn, where the work site is. I was spoiled for a long time at the Navy Yard, with free parking since it’s a military facility – even though you had to drive around for an hour sometimes looking for an open spot.  I often called the Navy Yard “10 lbs of Navy admin crammed into a 5 lb bag.”

Today should see a bit more progress on getting settled in. Desk, office perhaps. Need laptop, email account, all the usual admin things.  Workin’ it.

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Passings

My dad passed away at 83 years old  on Dec 15th of last year.  I said in a post at that time that everyone faces these time in their life, at some point, and this is our time.

For the most part, we are usually spared the experience of losing a loved one, a friend, someone close or even just an acquaintance early in our lives.

As our generation ages, those of us born in the mid to late 50s and 60s, went to high school in the 70s and spent the 80s, 90s and early 2000s in whatever career or life we spent, our parents are reaching those years when many of them will stat to pass away.

My dad.  He was 24 when I was born. I had almost 60 wonderful years under his guidance and love.  My high school bud Laurie’s dad passed in January.  Just heard from another high school classmate, Mark Harrop,  that his dad passed a few days ago.  Yet another HS classmate’s father, retired Navy Captain Robert Caldwell, USNA class of 58,  late last month. Other close friend’s mom or dad have passed as well, over the years, earlier than they should have.

Add to that list those of our family/friends who were taken too soon in life, friends like Karl Bock, Lisa Trapp Jourdan, Chuck Ramey, Steve Stigall, and many more.

Its part of life and perhaps we should be better prepared for it, but most times we’re not.

I’m not really certain what I’m trying to say here other than take the time, now, to make sure those that you love or know or admire or value – make sure they know that. Tell them that.  Show them that.  I was so fortunate with my Dad, I had some pretty big foot surgery last August, with about 2 and a half weeks in Georgetown University Hospital coupled with about 3 months of recovery.  My dad and I got in the habit of talking every day, he in the mountains of western North Carolina, me up here in northern Virginia.  Every phone call ended with a “Love you, talk tomorrow.”  It was good.

Again, for our generation, the time for our parents to leave us is nearing.  Love on ’em.

 

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