Thor’s Hammer

Last week a friend sent a piece to me, “Thor’s Hammer: A Requiem.”  It’s a story about an F-105, ship number 62-4246.

I just love stories like this, even today.  I can sit here, and feel adrenalin releases as I read the descriptions of the walk-around, the engine start, taxi and takeoff.  Although I never flew the “Thud,” I know what it must have been like, after takeoff.  Check the engine instruments, look for Lead, rejoin and pull the seat cushion out of your ass!  Heavyweight, hot temperature at Korat, heading to “Pac 1” (Hanoi) – any surprise here?  Oh well, back to my easy chair now…

Toward the end of the story the author describes the final moments of a fictional flight unto initial at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ (D-M).  “246,” as the author refers to this particular Thud, survived the war, only to end up somewhere on a scrap heap.  He felt a more fitting end to ‘her,’ would have been a final resting place at” the Boneyard,” at D-M.  And, of course, he flies ‘246’ on her final flight…

“Of course, a good solid 4-G pitchout to downwind from a 500 knot initial approach would be in order for the last overhead traffic pattern.  To hell with it, make it 650 knots! In for a penny, in for a pound!  Stay just under the mach so I wouldn’t end up in jail for destroying the place with a sonic boom…”

On 15 July 1988, I had my “fini flight,” in a T-38A, at Randolph Field, TX.  I flew with Lt. Col. Rick Lanier in the backseat, Maj. John (Dobie) Gillis and Sq. Ldr. Bill Hartree in the other aircraft.  I would have loved to have hit initial at 650 knots, but we were out of gas!
If someone hadn’t been behind us, I would have flown at ‘max endurance’ to conserve fuel!  As it was, I shut down with just over 600 pounds of fuel – our minimum.  (About 6 weeks earlier, the ADO (Assistant Director of Operations) had checked my fuel upon landing.  He then collared me at the Auger Inn, the bar, and wanted to know why I landed with 620 pounds of fuel remaining.  I told him that 600 pounds was our minimum fuel for landing, otherwise I would have done another touch-and-go… That pissed him off because there was noting he could do about it.  It’s not paranoia when “they” are really after ya!)

Later in the Thud driver’s story he says, “Approach Control would already be on the phone to the Airdrome Officer, making note of the speed violation to be filed.  Screw ’em.  The plastic colonels who would revel in violating this rogue pilot’s transgression didn’t matter. (Exactly!)  Neither would a violation matter.  Thor’s Hammer’s last traffic pattern would not be one of the post-modern era, but from another day, now far int he past when airplane and pilot were at the top of their game.  Anything less could not be done or would not be acceptable.  To wimp out at this point would result in a well-deserved chorus of, ‘You don’t have a hair on your ass!’ rising from legions of Thud drivers living and dead.”  Man, can I relate!  (More adrenalin, if I could only get this easy chair up to 125 knots or so, I could rotate…).

One other “fini-flight” I flew comes to mind here this morning – that of Captain Gregg Davis’.  I was on Gregg’s wing that morning, on initial.  And we were ‘out of gas.’  I was “really” out of gas.  So when Gregg pitched out, I went with him instead of delaying 4 seconds as we usually did.  I would have like to have waited 4 seconds, but I just didn’t have the gas.  I just “floated” the pitch-out a little wide for spacing.  As Gregg turned final, someone in the tower called and asked me if I knew how close I was to Lead.  From where the tower was on the field, I would have “looked close.”  I responded that there was a fully-qualified T-38 IP at the controls, and that everything would work out.  And wouldn’t ya know, it did work out.  Amazing what an aviator can do when he has to “improvise.”  I’m just glad the “ADO Nazi” wasn’t there that day!

And now it’s time for me to unstrap from my easy chair here this morning, and feed the chickens… crap.

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