The Blue’s

Last week’s vacation to Michigan included the whole family, eight- including two grandkids under one roof, on Glen Lake. No TV or connectivity of any kind which would place everyone on electronics withdrawal despite the presence of two laptops.  The book “Fighter Pilot-Memoirs of Robin Olds” filled the void with beach reading material and I was able to drag pursuade the entire crew to head to Traverse City to endure enjoy an airshow. At least one of us really liked it. A heritage flight with A-10; F-22 and F-4 (flying Phantoms are rare these days), aerobatic demos of F-22, A-10, Pitts and Extra and the Blue Angels  as the finale. Fellow aviator Steve caught it on camera and it looked exactly like this:

The Blue Angel’s announced their new aircrew , rotating new members into the team every year, including new commanding officer  David Koss.

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8 responses to “The Blue’s

  1. Amen, brother. Off to Mullet Lake next Saturday for 3 blissful weeks of no internet. (Hopefully there won’t be any cell signal either, so the boss can’t reach me on the iPhone!).

    That’s a long drive from Southeastern WI.

    Hope y’all had a great time.

    • Well, it ain’t Texas but it’s not nearly as hot.
      Northern MI is one of best in the U.S. Enjoy the time off-it’s worth the drive.

  2. virgil xenophon

    Hard to believe that soon there may be more P-51s in flyable condition than F-4s. Talk about fossilization time for those of us from that era!

    • ‘Twas a beautiful sight . No telling if it was a D or E but was low and loud. According to Gen. Olds, it was still more seat of the pants flying with not perfectly reliable avionics and inertial nav. He compared the “teen” fighters as flying with computers. One massive machine when fully loaded with ordnance to pick a fight with the lighter and lightly armed Mig-17’s and 21’s.

      The numbers are indeed dwindling. While a restoration of a mustang is expensive, the fuel on an F-4 is breathtaking. Not many left at Davis Mothan and only fewer still that are airworthy.

      If you plan on heading to Oshkosh you’ll see all the cold war era favorites in flight: The F-4 and T-2 Buckeye along with an A-4 Skyhawk, Lockheed T-33, British Sea Harrier and even a T-37 Tweet. Aviation’s Disneyland.

  3. virgil xenophon

    I wouldn’t argue with the General even if I disagreed, but I’m in total agreement—there really was a lot of seat-of-the-pants flying compared to today’s digital jets. The F-4 was at the apex of analog flying and a bear to master. It took the avg. new pilot his full 1st 5-yr tour to become truly proficient in the bird–as compared to around 18 mos for the F-16/18.

    And the INS in particular needed to be constantly tweaked. In SEA there was a full-time dedicated Litton tech-rep assigned to every F-4 wing just to help the avionics shop maintain no more than +or- 5nm course deviation. By contrast in USAFE, due to budget cuts when I got there there was only ONE (1) Litton guy for ALL of USAFE. And when he rotated out it was six-months before he was replaced! We had birds in our Wing that the BEST that they could be maintained to was +or- 15nm course deviation! As I think I’ve said before, our electronics was the equivalent of rubbing sticks to make fire compared to today’s digital glass cockpits.

    • By his account, Olds learned to fly the P-80 and the F-4 with very little in the way of fam flights or formal instruction. In fact, his first flight in the Shooting Star was after he talked his way into the cockpit and received instructions on start up procedures from a plane captain before taking the plane on an unauthorized flight. No prior knowedge of systems or stall speeds etc. Certainly, it helped getting seat of the pants training in WWII with a dozen kills.

      The USAF museum at Dayton has a Phantom cockpit you can try out. Lots of steam gages and a dizzying array of switches. Makes the G1000 panel look tame and that has hundreds of switch combinations but at least it’s accurate. An INS that places you +/- 15nm is a not much of a system-better off with dead reckoning.

  4. virgil xenophon

    Speaking of “dead-reckoning” Wilko, did ever tell you the story or did you read my post over at Lex’s about my 1st cousin Lt Gen Talbott back when fresh off his Bendix Air Race win in 1955 as a 32 yr-old O-6 he let me spend the summer with him as a 13 yr old in 56 at Foster AFB, Victoria,Tx (south of Houston-long defunct) where he was Wing CDR? Well, his boss at that time was a 2-Star named Henry Vicellio, the WWII P-38 Wing CO in the Pacific who not only planned the msn but hand-picked the pilots for the Admiral Yamamoto shoot-down.

    When you stop and think about it, it HAS to be one of the greatest feats of combat flying/navigation EVER!. Just think, no radar or navaids, just DR time and dist w. a mag. compass with sketchy charts and mostly several hundred NM over water with no/few land-marks. Arrive 30 sec early and be seen by his escort and be shot down; arrive 30 sec late and Yamamoto would have been safely past and almost on the gnd. One helluva job of Navigating and flying! Talk about seat of the pants!

    • VX: You had mentioned Lt Gen Talbott but not Major General Vicellio. Well, maybe you did but it might be advanced middle age memory syndrome. I can’t blame it on Barbancourt since I’ve never had any.
      *That* is a remarkable story and the first time I’d heard it. Some might call it luck but I choose to believe that meticulous planning and practice had a hand in the outcome. Dead reckoning is becoming something of a lost art, what with all the terrific GPS devices and glass displays. I had a less benign way of looking at it when I learned to fly (reckon correctly or you’ll end up dead). We didn’t have GPS in planes at that time and the nav radios were not accurate enough (I also wasn’t instrument rated at the time). I remember sweating out more than one cross country trip when sectional landmarks didn’t magically appear in the windscreen. No neon lights with arrows that said “turn this way dummy”.

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