Pitching back into the fight!

I’m pitching back into the fight for 2019! I took a sabbatical from my site for the last few months, why? In that time three of my children were winged: David now wears my Uncle Bob’s USAF pilot wings flying the KC-135 Stratotanker.

Nostalgic for me, this is a picture from the cockpit of my F-4 Phantom tanking on a KC-135.

Kaitlyn is wearing US Army Aviator wings of a family friend and is a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot.

William (USMC) is wearing my Naval Aviator wings, which were first my Uncle Larry’s and is flying the V-22 Osprey.

I’ve been flying my Nanchang CJ-6A with all of them, even with my oldest son Leland, who wears a Combat Infantry Badge, earned in Iraq with the 10th Mountain Division.

He often reminds us, we are all just support. His new wife Ashley finishes the military set as a member of the USCG. It has been a busy time!

I also went through Captain upgrade training on the B-737 and finished my latest novel, Hemingway’s Suitcase. As the New Year unfolds I will finish the fifth in the Aviator Series, Cold War: Hot. I’m getting a fresh start in 2019 and looking at new publishers. Obviously, it has delayed Hemingway’s Suitcase, but I’m close to moving forward and it is edited awaiting publishing.

Hemingway’s Suitcase is a stand alone novel and a bit of a departure from the Aviator Series: Project 7 Alpha, Vengeance at Midway and Guadalcanal, ENDGAME in the Pacific and CODE NAME: Infamy. All of the Aviator Series is set in WWII. Hemingway’s Suitcase is a psychological thriller that follows Hemingway and a curse, through out his life. An amazing, action packed life! I’m working hard to get it out ASAP, more to follow on it.


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F-4 Phantom Launching an AQM-37D super-sonic target

QF-4N Phantom II launching and AQM-37D. A mainstay mission of VX-30. This was a sub-sonic launch, normally we did super-sonic. I checked my log book when I saw the date, I was sure I was either the shooter or the chase…alas, I was on leave for the shot. But, here is a picture my Squadron-mate LCOL “Otis” Price took with me in the Lead of a similar mission.

The normal profile was to start the run at .9 Mach and 40,000 feet. Once pointed at the shooter (normally an SM-2ER Destroyer) we’d unload to zero-g and go full burner. Punching through the sound barrier quickly, we’d level off at 35,000 feet, the best energy addition altitude for the F-4 Phantom. There, we would let the dog run! At 1.5 Mach, a climb to 50,000 feet was initiated. Just a couple of degrees nose up established a 6,000 feet per minute (plus) climb rate. The VSI needle buried on the gauge, so we didn’t really know what the rate was. At 50K we’d have to throttle back to maintain 1.5 Mach. Controllers would sweeten up the run in and at the launch point we’d pickle the AQM. It flew or tumbled. After launch, a quick turn and look over the canopy rail told the story.

Now, it was time to save ass! Real missiles, with real warheads, were being shot toward us. A full burner break turn, got us into the notch, 90 degrees offset. A super-sonic egress, stage left, was in order now. Of course the fuel gauge, just about this time, normally started banging near empty. Easing out of burner, we’d establish a super-cruse profile by maintaining 1.1 Mach in a slight descent. When we’d hit 40,000 feet, we’d level off and set the bingo profile fuel flow.

I liked to cross the field at 15,000 feet and then split-S into the break. 500+ indicated airspeed was our personal minimum in the break….man it was fun!


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The Grumman J2F Duck!

Nice Takeoff

Nice Takeoff

Posted by Pilots Hub on Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Grumman J2F Duck plays a pivotal roll in VENGEANCE at Midway and Guadalcanal, the second book in my Aviator Series. It is a fantastic aircraft. Its an amphibian (amphib) aircraft, that means it can land on the water or drop the landing gear and land on a runway. However, what makes the Duck different is that it also has a Tail-Hook! Thus the name; like a duck it can land anywhere.


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Sorry but I have to “KillaThrill”, AGAIN!

I first published this nearly a decade ago. Recently it has popped up on the internet again generating arguments on authenticity. Sorry, its still a hoax, fake, not real!

There is a widely circulating youtube video showing an alleged Red Bull air racer shedding a wing and landing the aircraft perfectly sans’ said wing. Looks cool, great camera work and- sorry; totally bogus. I’ll leave aside the subtle stuff like out of place radio traffic and the fact there are no signs of a Red Bull circuit in the back ground or that the alleged pilot interviewed is not on the circuit.

Let’s stick to aerodynamics and of course physics. As I have written in the past “a good pilot must know the laws of aerodynamics; but a good fighter pilot must know how to use physics to defy those laws.” And indeed an Israeli F-15 years ago lost a wing in a mid-air collision, and returned to base for a safe landing. However; the F-15’s fuselage is a lifting body. That means the fuselage is part wing, producing its own lift.

ISSUE #1: The aircraft rolls for no apparent reason; in a red Bull race the object is to get through the maneuvers and course with the lowest elapsed time and no penalties. To do this the pilots keep the aircraft loaded with maximum g to keep the lift vector always down the race course. They would never do an un-loaded roll or ease the g in a vertical move.
ISSUE#2: While it has happened in past accidents it is very unusual for a wing to catastrophically fail while unloaded and at a slow speed; as happened in the video.
ISSUE #3: The aircraft rolls and subsequently spirals the wrong direction; i.e. into the remaining wing. With only one wing producing lift the aircraft would roll opposite the remaining wing not into it. Even if you take into account zero airspeed and torque produced from the engine for initial rotation direction; as it accelerated it would have reversed directions violently.
ISSUE#4: Actually I will buy flying at full throttle, 90 degrees angle of bank. Hanging on the engine and using the rudder as an elevator is believable. However the wings level move just prior to touch down with one wing? Not buying it; also taxi speed within 10 feet, doesn’t seem likely either.

They should have gotten a good Aviation Technical advisor. I’ve fixed stuff like that for movies in the past. Good attempt tho; and it is getting tons of hits. I’ve had it passed to me by three different sources already.

If you’ like to learn more about flying, check out my books in the Aviator Series.


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JFK was a PILOT!

It’s true! Researchers have discovered that President John F. Kennedy was indeed a trained pilot. JFK was one of my boyhood heroes, I should have known he was a pilot too. He trained at my Alma mater, Embry Riddle University, after returning from the Pacific where he rescued his crew of the US Navy patrol boat, PT-109.

JFK was trained on J-3 Cub float planes and solo’d after only 10 days. Had I known, I’d have put him in one of the books of my Aviator Series.


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Tom Wolf, Author Of The Right Stuff, Flies West.

Thomas Wolf, the author of The Right Stuff has flown west at the age of 87. Many aviators were inspired after reading the book, The Right Stuff, to seek out the sky. It also became an Oscar winning feature film, reaching even more future pilots.

Personally, Tom Wolf’s work first inspired me when I was a Midshipman at the University of Missouri. A copy was passed around the unit until it was dog eared. The movie came out when I was flying TA-4Js in flight school, seeing an A-4 Skyhawk trap aboard was my favorite part. Tom Wolf, and family influence led me to Naval Aviation, Flight test, writing the Aviator Series and so much more. There were many other influences (The Blue Max), but The Right Stuff will always stand out.


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Blue Angels, A Different View!

An interesting view from “The Boss’s” lead aircraft. The camera is facing aft so you can see the formation as they maneuver. Watch the background as the video progresses. Read about Naval Aviation and more in the Aviator Series.


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F/A-18 Hornet, Dog Fight Over Iraq

This is a very good video on the engagement of Navy F/A-18s and Mig 21s. It brings in all the players, including the E-2C. For those that have read my books (Aviator Series) and articles (here on this site) you will recognize some of the phraseology.


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Vertical Takeoffs!

Thrust to weight! Whether an F-15 in full burner or a light loaded airliner at full power, it is the thrust to weight ratio that dictates a shit hot vertical takeoff or lumbering the length of the runway clawing into the air. Even a fighter laden with bombs will struggle into the air. But why do commercial airliners have so much excess thrust? Same reason, payload. Also, in the case of airliners safety and economy.

Safety first: every modern (2 engine) airliner is designed to lose an engine on take-off roll (past V-1), at max weight, climb out, clean up and return for a safe landing. Airline pilots are also required to demonstrate this skill every 9 months or annually, depending on the airline. It requires a lot of excess power, even so every take off in a modern aircraft, except in extreme conditions, is de-rated. Some times as little as 85% power. Even at that de-rated power the single engine profile can be achieved. It is nice to have that excess power in your back pocket as well!

Economy: Why so much excess thrust, and how does having more powerful engines equate with economy? A basic principle is, fuel burn equals power, yes the new engines are much more efficient, but simplistically, this concept holds. The reason more power means better economy is altitude. The higher an aircraft goes, the lower the fuel consumption and the easier it is to get to cruise Mach. Thus, faster across the ground for a lower fuel burn. Factor in winds up there that can be 200 plus miles an hour and you can really use altitude to capitalize on economy.

But I have to say; nothing compares to a max burner, pure vertical take-off. Nothing! And that’s why I wrote the Aviator Series. Stand-by as we move into the age of excess thrust!

I feel the need for some vitamin-G, time for some old war-bird flying….


Posted in Airline Safety, Airlines, Aviator book series, Crashes, Military, war bird Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In-flight refueling; fighters and bombers

In-flight refueling is a skill that young aviators have to develop in the modern jet age. Jet engines consume a much larger amount of fuel. To be able to complete their missions, they often need to refuel. Bombers have much larger capacity and with refueling can strike virtually anywhere in the world from the USA.

In the video you will see two types of in-flight refueling: The Navy (NATO) Way and The US Air Force Way. As a former Naval Aviator I’m slanted to the Navy way as the most operationally effective, even though it is obviously harder. The biggest advantage to the Navy drogue and basket is that you can re-fuel a lot more aircraft. While flying missions over Iraq in the mid 90s, we routinely fueled from a French tanker. It had three hoses/baskets, thus three aircraft could in-flight refuel at a time. Granted, when you were the middle man, it was a tad tight and you had to be precise with a fighter a few feet off each wing and a tanker a few feet off your nose. The other way to multiply hoses in the air is through the use of buddy stores.

A buddy store is a hose and reel contained in what looks like a normal drop tank. The fighter/tanker then passes fuel to a striking fighter and either hits a big tanker after passing gas, or traps back on board the ship. A “Yoyo” tanker does just that. The fighter tanker will be first off the carrier, transfer all its fuel to strikers and then be the last to recover on the cycle that is landing. Usually about a 20 minute flight.

As the video shows it ain’t easy! Even if you get in the basket, if your closure rate is too fast…the basket will whip and tear off your probe or snap off the hose. It truly sucks being in a low fuel fighter, awaiting your turn, and watching your wingman “sour” the tanker. And just getting in is only half the battle; as fuel is transferred the center of gravity of the receiving aircraft changes and the weight increases. That can cause PIO (pilot induced oscillation), the results can be quite a ride!

My Aviator Book Series is moving into the jet age. My characters are taking to the skies over war torn Korea, Viet Nam is in outline form as I finish up on COLD WAR, HOT. My readers will soon be in the cockpit re-fueling on a night cycle before “going down town” over Hanoi, strap in with them!


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