Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Weeds Gunning the A-10s

I thought of this on my way home the other night and I laughed out loud…even though it has been 11 years.

While deployed in Aviano, Italy protecting the Some Time Fly Zone, my pilot was Weeds. Weeds was one of the top two or three pilots I had ever flown with, and every hop was a joy…professional, but a blast all the time. Weeds had been a TopGun grad, and he went on to become a Blue Angel. Great stick…nuff said.

Aside from Some Time Fly Zone patrol, we occasionally got to train against some of the other A/C deployed in the area…Mirages, Tornados, and A-10s to name a few.

Weeds and I drew a 2 v 2 against a couple of A-10s. We would plan on three 40 mile setups, to close engagements. No Fox Ones (long-range AIM-7 or Rammer shots) counted. So, we would work to get tactical advantage at the merge. Advantage Hornets with our radars.

It was good practice for the A-10s to try to survive the merge, and it was good for us to try to remain offensive at the merge on such a tight turning A/C. It would be interesting to see what the hop brought.

The long sets went quick, and we were only slightly offensive on the first pass, but in five seconds we were saddled up on our A-10, and Weeds says “I’m skipping heater and going to guns.” Pretty tough move considering the turning radius for an A-10. I was keeping an eye on the other fight, when I hear over the ICS, “Trigger down, bllllllrt, bllllllrt, blllllrt, bllllrt, Guns kill, hog in a right hand turn, 11 thousand.” That was followed shortly by a “knock it off.” Weeds was making the audible sound that is only replicated by clothespinning a playing card to the spokes of a bike. He was “blllllllrting” over the ICS while the tape was rolling. I was busting a gut.

As we went to set up the next engagement, I asked Weeds if he was sure about the kill. He said “no sweat, I was all over him like a hobo on a hot dog.” I was a little surprised, because in a gunfight the g’s are usually greater than 4, and the airplane is rocking all over as the pilot tries to keep the pipper (Constantly Computing Impact Point (CCIP) symbology on the HUD) on the bogey…particularly a highly maneuverable one. If we had crossed 3 g’s I would have been surprised. But Weeds was backing the kill.

The next two set-ups were pretty much the same…

“Trigger down, bllllllrt, blllllrt, blllllllrt, blllllrt, bllllrt, guns kill, hog left hand turn 13 thousand, knock it off.” “Trigger down, bllllrt, bllllrt, blrrrt, blllrt, blllrt, guns kill, hog 8 thousand right hand turn, knock it off.” Each time very little “g”, and the audible “blllllrting.” Each time I questioned the veracity of the kill. Each time Weeds assured me he had 3 seconds of “pipper on,” or tracking time, to qualify as a guns kill.

We terminated the hop, head back to Aviano. The debrief was taking place in our spaces. We debriefed our portion and awaited for the A-10 crews to arrive. We viewed the tapes. Weed indeed had three valid kills…way more than valid. He was extremely smooth with the A/C and easily had 5 –7 seconds of “pipper on” time in each kill, despite the A-10 moving like a snake on a fire…amazing. The tape also played the “bllllllrting.” Each time Weeds had the trigger down he would audible-ize his imitation gun sound. We were in stitches.

The A-10s finally showed up. Weeds took his tape out of the machine and put it away. Weeds was debriefing the first engagement, and he got to the point where we were about the kill the A-10, and he says “here is where Hornet One gets a guns kill on the A-10 nose low in a right hand 11 thousand.” …and he turned away from his kneeboard card, ready to move on to the second engagement. He was interrupted by the A-10 pilot of the gunned ship…

“I’d like to see the tape.”

“It was a valid kill, we reviewed it before you got here.”

“I still want to see the tape.”

“You don’t really want to see the tape.”

“I still want to see the tape to validate the kill.”

Weeds says “OK, but the kill is valid.” Weeds put in the tape, cues it up just before he put the hammer down, and turns the volume down, then hits "play".

It was impressive, steady as can be, he gunned the beeeejeeezus, out of this hog driver. Really no need to go any further…

“I’d like to hear the audio.”

Weeds tried his best to dissuade him, but the hog driver insisted. So Weeds re-cued the tape, turned up the volume. And the A-10 drivers got introduced to the Weeds show. They were not happy at the first “bllllllrt,” and they got no happier by the end of the tape, as Weeds made them watch and listen to every kill. I had tears coming down my cheeks I was laughing so hard…the A-10 drivers had steam coming out of their ears…Weeds just put the pens down and let the tape do the talking.

Here’s to Weeds…his smooth guns kills and his hilarious “blllllrt.”


Mixed Humor said...

Great story MM, it almost sounds like a snip from a movie scene.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Weeds gunned an A-10?!? Apparently Hornet drivers impress themselves quite

Gunning an A-10 is like dynamite's not much sport and anyone can do it.

Waddya gonna tell us next, that Weeds slammed a C-130 or Fox II'd an airliner?


Major Mike said...

Todo...maybe you missed a couple of key he was much smoother at it than nearly every other pilot I have flown with...that is a big number so you'll have to stop counting with your fingers. Secondly, his casual audiblization of the guns sound, then playing it back in the debrief was THE point...not simply gunning an over-matched A-10. He wasn't celebrating it, and neither was I, but I could see where it might be a big deal in your life. C'mon, read the piece and get the point.

Anonymous said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing it!

thebronze said...

Shit-Hot Major, great story!

Semper Fi!

(Former 3/1 Marine)

Sean from DocintheBox said...

hah hah hah, poor guys. Sounds like something out of Top Gun.

Anonymous said...


Yes, I got the point...I know a lot of dead guys like Weeds. What you hear as casual inter-flight comedy constitutes complacency to me...

"BRRRT, BRRRRT" is the sound effects generated by a bored aviator...I've reviewed enough class A mishap tapes to know it could have sounded like this...

"Brrrt, Brrrt","Brr-oh shit!"

That's why the A-10 driver got pissed....not 'cause he got gunned, but 'cause he got gunned by a dangerous knucklehead.

You're either a pro 100 percent of the time or you're a dangerous knuckle head.

Your call.


Synova said...

Gosh, Todo. Who pissed in your Weaties?

Great story, Major Mike. I've only been forced to sit through a viewing of a gun camera once and this sounds like it was a whole lot more interesting, even if what I watched was live fire. "There are Viet Cong in those trees." "Now there are fewer trees." Um, yeah. I'll take your word for it General. ;-)

Weeds didn't sound complacent to me, he sounded like he was in the zone. Probably dreams "blllllrt" "bllllrt" in his sleep.

Major Mike said...

I guess ToDo has a humor low light. I have reviewed enough class A accidents to know that 90% are not occuring under briefed/executed portions of the flight...such as in this case. Most occur during unbriefed or unstructured portions of the with extra gas...most of the remainder occur when the pilot/crew are overwhelmed by their situation...i.e. controlled flight into terrain. If a pilot can't gun an A-10 and blrrrt at the same time...he probably wouldn't have been able to fly aboard the aircraft all naval aviators do, and few AF types have ever done. Maybe it is just a higher level of skill, or a capability not normally seen in the AF. Lighten up...geez.

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