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I was in Atlantic City over the past few days. We took our L-39 Vandy 1 jet up there for an acro display and to show our wounded-warrior-transition-to-aviation-career non-profit organization. I did the announcing for our flight display so didn't get any pictures of our event. The Thunderbirds did fly, though, and put on a pretty spiffy show (as they would be expected to do) Here are a few pics from the afternoon. Thunderbird Opposing Solo jets 5 and 6 perform their crossover maneuver at the Atlantic City Airshow, 13 Aug, 2014. The USAF Thunderbird diamond formation enters into the flight demo arena, Atlantic City Airshow, 13 Aug 2014. Thunderbird 3, slot aircraft, is reflected in the bottom of Thunderbird 1, Atlantic City Airshow, 13 Aug 2014. Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2014 at BlackFive
A member of the Harry S Truman V-2 department, catapult crew, does an inspection of the waist catapult while a cruiser meanders off to port. TRUMAN Carrier Strike Group Ten COMPTUEX, June, 2009. The catapults were visually inspected before every launch, looking for loose bolts, FOD in the cat track or any other anomaly. Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2014 at BlackFive
We're just under 2 weeks away from our Arlington National Cemetery Missing Man Flyover for USMC 1st Lt Bruce Guetzloe. Things are shaping up but we still need help with fuel and operational contributions. Links are below the fold! The line up will be Jim Tobul in his F4U Corsair, the type aircraft Lt Guetzloe flew in the south Pacific (off the USS Franklin) and in Korea. On either wing will be 2 P-51 Mustangs owned/flown by Andrew McKenna and Scott Yoke. Following will be 4 L-39 jets, with Sean "Flopper" Cushing flying lead, Scott "Buster" Clyburn on the left wing, Geoff "Hak" Hickman flying the pull jet at #3 and Art "Kaos" Nall on the right wing. Here's a little bit of what it was like last September while waiting to be cleared for the fly-over: Arlington Nat’l Cemetery Fly Over for MAJs Sizemore and Andre The Turn In. We’d been in holding for probably 20 minutes or so near the NOTTINGHAM (OTT) VORTAC (a VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) beacon and a tactical air navigation system (TACAN) ) in southern Maryland, along the Patuxent River near the town of Nottingham. Andrews AFB was a bit to our north and the President was supposed to be heading out on AF1 at some point that morning. That had me/us worried that we may end up being an airborne scrub if he was delayed and the Secret Service wanted a sterilized air environment for his helo transit from the White House to Andrews. Flopper (my pilot) had made it known to the other L-29 aircraft during the brief that he had 53 fewer gallons of gas than they did because of the no tip-tank mod his aircraft had, so we had a bit more of a pucker factor than the other aircraft had in terms of holding time. Tooling around in our holding pattern, 10 mile legs, inbound to the OTT VORTAC, we heard our controller slide our Time on Top (TOT) target from noon to 10 past to 20 past the hour, making the whole evolution a bit dicey in my mind. Not being too familiar with the L-39 fuel system, with its litres of fuel or whatever former communist fuel display system that jet had only added to the entertainment. Finally though, we received the signal to “Push”, and all the aircraft, at their different holding altitudes, edged their noses to the northwest and began their inbound transit. It was going to work out fine after all. Please consider contributing to our next Arlington Fly Over at IndieGoGo or at the Warrior Aviation home page at: Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2014 at BlackFive
Rear Admiral and later Senator Jeremiah Denton has passed away. As one of the senior prisoners of war during the Vietnam conflict, shot down in his A-6 Intruder attack aircraft. RADM Denton displayed what could be called the absolute pinnacle of character, integrity and honor during his days of captivity and later as a Senator from Alabama. I met RADM Denton many years ago, in the summer of 1974, as he was the guest speaker at the Change of Command at Fighter Squadron 43 when my dad turned over command to RADM Denton's Hanoi Hilton prison mate CDR Ned Shuman, the first returned POW to assume Navy command. This picture shows RADM Denton as he arrived for the ceremony. A true American, without question, this bit from his obituary at says it well: Denton in the Senate strongly supported then-President Ronald Reagan and Reagan’s buildup of weapons such as the MX missile and development of a space-based ‘‘Star Wars’’ anti-missile shield. But Denton in an interview in November 2005 said he likely would be best remembered for two events, one when he was a prisoner of war in 1965-1973 and one that happened just after his release from North Vietnam in February 1973. Denton, who served more than three decades in the Navy and retired in 1977 as a rear admiral, was shot down in July 1965 while flying an A-6 Intruder attack plane on a bombing mission about 75 miles south of Hanoi. Denton, a Navy commander when he was shot down, endured years of torture and solitary confinement while imprisoned in or near Hanoi. He often tried to organize resistance by his fellow POWs as one of the senior captured U.S. officers. During a TV interview arranged by the North Vietnamese in May 1966, Denton blinked his eyes in Morse code, repeatedly spelling the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E. A native of Mobile, AL, Senator Denton served his state and his nation as a senator from 1981 to 1987, and was Alabama’s first Republican senator since Reconstruction, a true testament to his love of country ( As we always say to Naval Aviators as they head out on that final deployment, "Fair Winds and Following Seas" means a downwind recovery. We wish you a good 20 knots of wind down the angle and the carrier with a bone in her teeth. Godspeed, Admiral. Thank you for all you did, from a very, very grateful nation. Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2014 at BlackFive
As they did in September of last year, the Warrior Flight Team will help provide flyover honors at Arlington National Cemetery for USMC 1st Lt Bruce Guetzloe, a WW2 Corsair aviator who passed away in August of last year. To help defray the cost of these essential missions to honor our departed heroes, if anyone would like to contribute to the expenses of these flights, head over to the Warrior Flight Team page where you can donate. Thanks! News Release: Flyover of Arlington National Cemetery to Honor WWII/Korea Marine Fighter Pilot to be performed by Private Group after DOD Declines. Private group to fill-in at their own expense to honor USMC 1st LT. Bruce A. Guetzloe at Arlington Burial on April 22, 2014 Washington, DC February 25, 2014: A pending flyover of military aircraft flown by private citizens will occur over Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA on April 22, 2014 at approximately 1:00 pm in honor of the interment of United States Marine fighter pilot, Bruce A. Guetzloe, 1st Lt, who died in August, 2013. Warrior Flight Team along with their affiliate Warrior Aviation, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships in aviation related fields to wounded serviceman from Iraq and Afghanistan wars, has committed to perform the flyover at their own expense after the proper waivers, flight plans, and clearances have been obtained from the Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service and Federal Aviation Administration. The flyover, if approved by the TSA, DHS, FAA and appropriate authorities itself will consist of four tactical jet aircraft, 2 P-51 Mustangs and one historical F4U Corsair identical to the war bird aircraft that Lt. Guetzloe flew in the Pacific Theatre during WWII and later in Korea. All participating aircraft and their respective pilots (all veterans themselves) will be donated by their owners. Lt. Guetzloe, originally from Minneapolis, MN, saw action in the Pacific primarily aboard the USS Franklin (CV 13) during WWII. Guetzloe flew a F4U Vaught Corsair with VMF 452 “SkyRaiders” during his service on the Franklin until March of 1945 when the Franklin was severely damaged by a Japanese bomber with a direct hit on the magazine which resulted in a catastrophic loss of life. The Franklin, nicknamed “The Ship That Wouldn’t Die” was the flagship of the American Invasion fleet at the time. Guetzloe was medically discharged after being diagnosed with polio during the Korean War. “The family is deeply honored to have these distinguished veterans honor my dad with this flyover. It is a tribute to their resolve and the dedication and honor of the men and women of the United States armed forces that has made this salute possible. They have our thanks and the thanks of a grateful nation for their continued service to the United States of America,” stated Doug Guetzloe, eldest son of Lt. Guetzloe. Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2014 at BlackFive
The Sizemore/Andre Missing Man Formation Flyby by Warrior Aviation and assorted other folks went off pretty much without a hitch yesterday. A B-25 (from the Delaware Aviation Museum) led the fly by. Next came the A-26 "The Spirit of North Carolina", based out of Wilmington, NC with a pair of P-51s on its wings. Finishing up was a 4-ship of L-39s with a missing man pull (I was in that jet - tres cool!). Aside from a few timing glitches and a delay of the time-on-top time of about 13 minutes, from all accounts it went off very well. It was a gratifying and distinct honor to be able to participate in these honors for Majors Sizemore and Andre. Theur family have closure after 44 years and they can rest at night knowing their country honored and respected their loved one. Holding over southern Maryland. Overhead Pentagon - the big brown patch at center right WAS where the old Navy Annex stood. Its supposed to become more Arlington space, I believe. A-26 Invader and 2 P-51s pass over. Thansk for your support everyone! Talk amongst us was that we'll probably see more of these civvie-led honors for our servicemen. I'll keep you up on anything I hear. Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2013 at BlackFive
Preparations are pretty much finalized for the Warrior Aviation Fly-over in honor of USAF Majors James E Sizemore and Howard V Andre at Arlington Cemetery tomorrow at noon. My ejection-seat checkout for the L-39 is at 0800 or so. Full Brief at 0900. Walk at 1030, takeoff at 1100. We'll be holding at Nottingham VORTAC (southwest from Andrews). Push time around 1155, Time on Top Arlington 1202. The B-25 will lead the first formation with the P-51 and P-47 on the wings. The A-26 will fly by solo in trail, which is the aircraft the Majors were flying. To follow are the L-39s with a missing man pull. Another L-39 will be offset to the west as a photo aircraft. A-26A TA-646, the Invader aircraft that Major Sizemore and Major Andre were flying that day. Major James Elmo Sizemore, USAF Major Howard V Andre, USAF If you are in the DC area tomorrow, weather is supposed to be fantastic, so stop and see if you can see the aluminum sky. We'll be coming in from south of Reagan National, up the Potomac, over the Pentagon. An ideal place to watch would be the Air Force memorial, just to the west of the Pentagon. Salute to Majors Sizemore and Andre...welcome home, sirs. We've missed you! To read more about this honor, go back to this post from a few weeks ago. If anyone would still like to contribute to the fuel fund, just hit the link shown. Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2013 at BlackFive
**UPDATED** On July 8 1969, Major James E Sizemore and his navigator Major Howard V Andre were flying an A-26 Invaderas part of the 609th Special Operations Squadron in support of Special Forces working in Laos. They were shot down on a night mission and have been MIA for 43 years. Their aircraft and remains were found this year and Major Sizemore is now returning home to be buried by his family at Arlington National Cemetery. You could say Major Sizemore has some pretty stalwart military aviation DNA in his body. His brother is RDAM Gene Sizemore USN (ret) (over 7,000 flight hours and more than 1,000 arrested landings in over a dozen navy aircraft from 1948 through his retirement in 1982) and nephew is RDAM Bill Sizemore USN (ret), (over 6,000 flight hours and mor ethan 1,000 arrested landings in fighters and strike-fighters, and just happened to be my boss at the CAOC in al Udeid in 2003). Here's where things get interesting. Although Major Sizemore died in combat and has earned the right of a missing man formation, sequester cuts have forced the Air Force to be unable to provide fly-over services. His son, James Sizemore, has arranged for flight of civilian aircraft, including an A-26 to fill the space in the sky where our military honors should have been. The Warrior Flight Team of Warrior Aviation got to work and have arranged for a 8-ship fly over and the their Vandy 1 jet will be leading the missing man. All flight crew participating in the missing-man fly-over are USN,USMC and USAF Veterans themselves. However, this comes at a cost. They are asking for donations to help cover the cost of $20,000 in fuel. Paypal donations can be made on the Scroll to the bottom and click the paypal button. On the confirmation page ADD SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS TO THE SELLER and indicate the funds are for the Warrior Flight Team flyover. The A-26 Invader that will accompany the flyover is privately owned by George Lancaster with no affiliation to them) Let's see if we can step up and help out the Warrior Aviation/A-26 Legacy team give a spectacular fly-by. Right now, 8 aircraft are in the mix for this honor. If you are in or around DC/Arlington at noon on 23 Sept, keep your ears and eyes open for both the roar of radial and turbofan jet engines. Warrior Aviation can be found here. Good bunch, them boys...and girls! Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2013 at BlackFive
Attention Mr and Mrs America and All Ships at Sea! If you are in or near or on or about the Fort Campbell, KY area tomorrow, Friday 22 Feb, make sure you make your way down to the Dale Wayrynen Community Recreation Center on base for a free concert by the band Madison Rising! If you have heard them, you'll be there. If you HAVEN'T heard them yet, you *really* need to be there! Check out their music at Come on by and be ready to rock! Go get 'em. Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2013 at BlackFive
Talk about a match made in heaven! The patriotic band Madison Rising is headed up to Newburgh, NY this weekend to visit Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. and the other guys and gals at Orange County Choppers, home of American Chopper. They are there to support a special tribute to Military Working Dogs. They'll play a couple of concerts, no doubt including their incredible version of the Star Spangled Banner. I had the great fortune to meet them a few weeks ago as they were passing thru the DC area back to their home stomping grounds in Philly and NYC and they are just a fantastic group of guys. If you can get up to Newburgh (about 70 miles due north of NYC on the Hudson), do so and support this incredible band and this wonderful cause. Keep rockin', guys. Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2012 at BlackFive
Tomorrow, June 14, is Flag Day here in the United States, commemorating the adoption of the stars and stripes as our national flag, which happened 235 years ago on this day in 1777. Madison Rising, a cool and totally unique new band we've recently been turned onto is out there with this ...stirring? emotional? scintillating? goosebump inducing? beautiful? awesome? spectacular? all the above? rendition of our national anthem. From their website: Madison Rising promotes the principles of liberty, independence, smaller government and personal responsibility. Lead singer Dave Bray, in an interview with Guitar International, had this to say about their music: “Madison Rising gives people a new way to think about things – whether it be the right to bear arms, the sacrifices made by soldiers of America or just motivating yourself to create a better future,” explains Bray. “That way is through intelligently written music. Great music. Cool music. Fun music. Music with meaning.” ...faster, please!!! Dave, Chris, Alex, Sam and Steve...thanks for your music, your love of this country and what you do for the military and their families. Keep 'em rocking! Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2012 at BlackFive
During my Truman duty a couple of years ago I saw, walking across the flight deck, laden and bedecked with aircraft tie-down chains, the smallest, most petite, most pint-sized plane captain I have ever seen. AT3 Pham, an Aviation Electronics Technician assigned to one of the Hornet squadrons in CAG 3, carried her load admirably and, from what I could see, performed just as ably as the other brown shirts on the flight deck. We passed each other in the passageway one evening, and I had to ask her how tall she was. I can’t remember exactly, but it was something shy of 5 feet. She was a pleasure and a treat to talk with – I thanked her for her service and told her she was doing a helluva job as I imagined the hurdles (literally, in some ways) she had to go through to succeed in this flight deck Naval Aviation world despite her less-than-Amazonish stature. She is obviously a tremendous asset to the Navy and our country and is proof, once again, that our strength is in the people who serve. Thanks for your service, AT3! And all the rest of you all on the flight deck! Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2012 at BlackFive
From the archives! I took this Thanksgiving morning last November. James Bradley's Flags of our Fathers, the beautifully written 2006 account of Bradley's father John, a Navy hospital corpsman assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, of the 5th Marine Division and the battle for Iwo Jima, the historic flag raising on Mount Suribachi and the lives, fortunes and deaths of the flag raisers, has a great account of the building and dedication of this memorial over in Rosslyn, VA. Good stuff. Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2012 at BlackFive
My dad, through our talks, told me his dad, my grandfather, was not accepted into service back in WW2 even though he would have been in his late 20s. He was a manager with the telephone company and deemed a critical asset to national communications (that phrase is probably more "neo" than "paleo", but it gets the point across). He always regretted that, my grandfather, I think, but such was the case.
Toggle Commented Mar 13, 2012 on Veterans History Day at BlackFive
1 reply
If you happen to live in or around the southern Maryland region and would like to get some of your military history/experiences down for the record, check this out. The Veterans History Project (VHP) of the Library of Congress is an oral history program that collects and preserves the first‐hand interviews of America's wartime veterans. Details are on the poster, but the link to the Library of Congress for more information is here I'm working on my own oral/written history with my dad, getting his experiences of 250 missions over North Vietnam in an A-4 Skyhawk documented, as well as some of the other more hair-raising escapades he had in 25 years of his naval aviation career. Do not let those experiences die...they'll be lost forever. Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2012 at BlackFive
Probably one of the biggest slices of US Navy history gets ready to head off on her last cruise on Sunday from Norfolk. The heritage this ship has is unparalleled. My dad flew his second Vietnam deployment on board her in 1966-67 with VA-56, having made his previous cruise 10 months before on the USS Ticonderoga, a WW2-era carrier with the 27-C modifications to give her an angled deck. I can't really think of a bigger change in flight deck environments going from a WW2 flat top to the space-aged first nuclear-powered carrier. World's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, 'the Big E' makes final voyage Have a safe cruise, Big E! See you when you return home. Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2012 at BlackFive
Facebook buddy Andy Niemyer added the words to a photo of mine that had me thinking of Lex’s last flight, off to where good men go when they are called home, sometimes far too early. I don’t mean to get too teary and maudlin about this, but losing a friend like this, in this way, is tough….so very tough. This captures that feeling exactly. Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2012 at BlackFive
The Facebook post, by good friend and fellow milblogger Will Dossel, caught my eye: Breaking: Pilot dies in Israeli F-21 Kfir plane crash in Fallon. Will’s comment of “More than a little concerned about this one…” echoed my immediate thoughts. We all….the Facebook family, Navy family, aviation family, milblogger family, know of only one pilot flying Israeli Kfirs as a civilian contractor pilot up in Fallon – retired Navy Captain and former squadron commander Carroll “Lex” LeFon. The group watching for updates grew till there were almost two dozen friends, associates, everyone, hanging on whatever news could be gleaned. Will then passed some backchannel info he received from a friend there at Fallon, in the high desert of northwest Nevada, who saw the crash – yes, it likely was Lex. Conditions, as best as I can gather, were not ideal – snowy, foggy, squirrely winds, in a single-engined rocketship of a fighter jet, the F-21 Kfir, about as fast an aircraft of that type and size can be – the only sonic boom I ever heard while airborne, inside a Tomcat, was when we took a Kfir close aboard in a head-on pass. Details will emerge as time passes, but the heartbreak – the absolute heartbreak – of losing not only a friend and fellow naval aviator and milblogger, a beloved husband, father and son, a true patriot and hero to this nation, will never pass. These words, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, are key: When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return Lex had retired, hung up his flight helmet and g-suit, having accomplished everything in life a man could possibly ask for. But, that itch to fly stayed with him. He became qualified to fly the Isareli F-21 Kfir in an aggressor role against TOP GUN students at the naval air station in Nevada. Dangerous? Who cares? It was a job that got him away from that soul-sucking environment of a cubicle farm, and a job he absolutely loved. The end of one of his last posts at his blog, Neptunus Lex underscored this as he talked about what it was like landing a screaming F-21 on a relatively short runway – and the drogue chute designed to help slow you down, did not deploy: It’s funny how quickly you can go from “comfort zone” to “wrestling snakes” in this business. But even snake wrestling beats life in the cube, for me at least. In measured doses. “Even snake wrestling beats life in the cube…” Living live at its absolute maximum. You gotta love it! I met Lex only once, at the 2007 Milbloggers Conference here in DC. We had exchanged a number of comments on each others blog. He had linked to my Instapinch post about the return of the last F-14 airwing, shedding crocodile tears as he lampooned all the teary Tomcat fans (he, of course, was an A-7/F-18 pilot, single-seat to the max) – and I instantly received a couple hundred additional hits. He was good. Still, even with the cross-aeronautical platform bias and good-natured derogatory single-seat-vs-two-seat ephitets hurled in each others direction, we got together at the reception, and did some hand-flying as aviators are wont to do: I don’t really know how to truly and sufficiently honor a man like Lex…a friend, fellow naval aviator, an absolute master with the written word. Head over to his blog and just start reading. You will come away a better person in mind, spirit and soul. RIP and safe travels, Lex. Prayers and hugs and tears go out to your family. “Fair winds and following seas”, the traditional Navy farewell, to a carrier aviator like you means a downwind recovery. I wish you 30 knots of wind, down the angle, and the carrier with a bone in her teeth and itching to launch some aircraft. Take care, my friend. You will be…are…missed, and will always be remembered. We’ll always save you a seat in the Dirty Shirt. As Subsunk passes, comments are closed. Head over to Neptunus Lex and leave your thoughts/comments/wishes there. Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2012 at BlackFive
On 18 Feb 2012 at night in the Horn of Africa, AFSOC and the USAF SOF community lost 4 warriors. A U-28, a modified Pilatus PC-12, is a single-engine turboprop used by the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The aircraft crashed while returning to its temporary assignment at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti from a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Camp Lemonnier is a major staging area for AFRICOM operations in the theatre. During a briefing held on Feb 21, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said "There is absolutely no indication of any kind of enemy involvement in the downing of the plane." Those of us who have strapped a piece of our country's aeronautical hardware to our backsides know that sometimes this is the price we pay when we write that blank check to our nation. Lost in the crash were: • Captain Ryan P. Hall of Colorado Springs, CO. (7 deployments and 1300 U28 combat flight hours) • Captain Nicholas F. Whitlock of Newman, GA. (5 deployments) • Lt. Justin J. Wilkens of Bend, OR. (3 deployments) • Senior Airman Julian S. Scholten of Upper Marlboro, MD. (3 deployments) God speed, gents. Prayers go out to their families and loved ones. You will not be forgotten. Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2012 at BlackFive
Won't say I'm the "AWOL Pinch" checkin' in...due to the First Law of Self Survival, "Never pony up to a negative unless there's an easy way you can turn it into a positive". Just wanted to stop by and wish all the Blackfive friends, associates and readers a memorable and honor-filled Veteran's Day. Thank you one and all...its always was an honor working for you, in every capacity. USS Wisconsin seen from USS Intrepid during TRANSLANT of Operation STRIKEBACK, Sept 1957...wooden flight decks, iron men, jet aircraft, and cold water. Thanks to you all! Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2011 at BlackFive
Captain Diley was the father of a high school classmate of mine, a former commanding officer of 2 nuclear powered submarines (USS Nathanael Greene (SSBN-636) and USS James Madison (SSBN-627) ), a co-worker of my Dad's in the mid 1970's while assigned to CINCUSNAVEUR in London and now rests at Arlington. As is always the case, it was an honor to be at the service for Capt Diley. God speed, sir and thank you for your service. These always leave your throat all lumped up, knowing this is where a father or a mom or a husband or a wife or whomever will finally be laid to rest. No different here. Watching the care and professionalism that goes into these final tributes by the particular military service, in this case Navy, is humbling as well. Thanks to the Old Guard and to the US Navy Ceremonial Guard for your dedication and honor. Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2011 at BlackFive
In the color-coordinated world of an aircraft carrier flight deck, those wearing the purple shirts are those guys and gals that take care of the fuel-related aspects of the carrier. Called the Grapes, these folks make sure the aircraft get the fuel they need or in some cases get de-fueled so an aircraft can go down below into the hangar bay. Every once in a while a jet might end up at an USAF base before coming back to the ship and may have a belly full of the fuel the AF uses - JP-4, vice the fuel the Navy uses, JP-5. JP-4 has a lower flash-point (the temperature where it can vaporize to form an ignitable mixture in air) than JP-5, which is why the Navy does not use JP-4 on the ship (You want to avoid the possibility of your ship catching fire at all cost. The alternative? How long can you tread water?) Any aircraft that lands with JP-4 on board needs to be de-fueled to get that evil USAF gas out. The Air Department's fuels folks, the V-4 Division, takes care of this. Here's a good article from on what the USS Abraham Lincoln's V-4 Division does. Here, two Grapes are discussing some aspect of fueling one of the USS Harry S Truman Hornets. I was up on the starboard side of the ship, a tad forward, looking back toward the island. The aircraft are parked "TOW", or "tail over water" to help maximize the parking/positioning of aircraft on the relatively small four and a half acres of flight deck. On board USS Harry S Truman, summer, JTFEX, 2009 Update: I am *really* dating myself here. Had an correction from a reader: The Air Force hasn’t used JP4 since 1996. It was replaced by JP8 which is very similar to JP5. The lower flash point of JP4 was one of the reasons for the change fifteen years ago. I left active duty in 94 and I should have been asking more questions about the state of play with fuel when I was on Truman for my last reserve duty. Hat tip for the correction to MSgt Evans! Appreciate it! File my original JP-4 comment in the "Used To Be" category. Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2011 at BlackFive
EMALS, for you lubbers of land, stands for Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System. It is a new way of hurling aircraft off an aircraft carrier into the sky. For the last 50 years or so we have used steam to run the catapults, generated by the ship’s boilers or nuclear reactors, accumulated in a big container, kept at 520 degrees and 520 psi, then released at the proper moment to push a 4,000 lb set of 2 interlocking pistons down a 302 foot trough, dragging a 64,000 lb aircraft from a standstill to 135 mph in about 2 and a half seconds. Problem has always been is that steam is very corrosive and is incredibly manpower-intensive. The challenge then becomes there was never a better way to do this – until now. Utilizing the technology that gives us the kick-ass rides at a theme park as well as the Navy's new rail gun, big ol’ honkin’ big magnets, instead of steam, are being used to accelerate the catapult shuttle. This is obviously new technology, and using it to launch 30-ton aircraft from a ship at sea with the 99.9999% success rate necessary for this business is a tad more complex than sending a roller-coaster up and down a fixed set of steel rails. As far as that aforementioned 99.9999% success rate goes, it is best explained by the quote from George Dibiase, Director of the Support Equipment and Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment at Lakehurst: “We strive to achieve a reliability factor of 99.9999% for our catapults and arresting gear…At 99%, a system will lose over a 1,000 aircraft a year,” added DiBiase, “while at 99.99%, 14 would be lost. Obviously, anything less than the 99.9999%, is unacceptable.” The next time you look at a complex engineering system, think about the requirement to be 99.9999% successful. This EMALS is still a problem, though. Last I heard it was still overweight and getting all those piece-parts that you can put together on a field like Lakehurst into an aircraft carrier is not the easiest thing in the world. This video looks a lot like the traditional catapult hardware, but rest assured, it is indeed magnets accelerating that F-18. You can tell by the complete and utter absence of any wisp of steam anywhere: Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2010 at BlackFive
Snapped this pic early one morning (as in 0545, if I remember correctly) while down in Virginia Beach a few years ago. An unknown FFG (fast frigate, guided missile), Oliver Hazard Perry class, out for some overnight/early morning meandering around in a lazy kind of way. We still have a bunch of these ships in our inventory. As of 2008, 30 of these platforms are still in US Navy service - as well as a bunch others around the world. Read up on that/them here. Famous (or infamous) Perry class hulls? USS Stark and USS Samual B Roberts, the former a victim of 2 Iraqi Exocet missiles, the latter hitting an Iranian mine, both during the Tanker Wars period of the late 80s. Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2010 at BlackFive
Rest in Peace, Tony Curtis. Not only a Hollywood icon, a former WW 2 Navy sailor. Tony Curtis passed away today at age 85. He was always a good one, enjoyable to watch in those movies back in the late 50s like “Some Like It Hot“, as the Great Leslie in “The Great Race” and, of course “Operation Petticoat”, the yarn of the US Navy submarine USS Sea Tiger and its mad cap adventures in the opening days of WW2 – highlighted by its ending up being painted pink.. In addition to being a pretty good actor (Academy Award nomination in 1958 for The Defiant Ones), Curtis was also a Navy man, serving aboard USS Proteus, a submarine tender, during WW2 and watched the surrender of Japan from his ship about a mile away. Rest your oar, sailor. Thanks for your service and all that you did to make us smile. Some photos of the submarine used in Operation Petticoat, USS Balao, are over on my Instapinch blog. The sail of the Balao is now on display on the Washington Navy Yard - painted in Navy gray, unfortunately. Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2010 at BlackFive