There are some things I did while flying the ’38 that were almost “not quite legal;” I don’t know why? Perhaps because I could? ‘Busting across Seguin’ one day was one of them…
I was going somewhere the other day – that’s why I was in the car – when “Up Around the Bend,” by CCR came on. Hard not to add a few more knots to your cruise speed when a song like that comes on. It just tends to get my blood boiling! Then I began thinking about flying – imagine that. It wasn’t long before a ride I was on once, Nick’s Fini Flight, came to mind. Gawd, what fun!
Nick was a British exchange officer, and was about to complete his tour. A ‘Fini Flight’ is a guy’s last flight in the jet. For Nick’s Fini Flight, we scheduled a 2-ship, with 4 IPs (instructor pilots).
The usual protocol on a ride like this was to depart to the area, fly as much ‘extended trail’ as possible, then come home for a couple patterns before landing. And that’s pretty much what we did with Nick, only with a ‘twist.’
The flight lead for this mission was a former F-15 guy; a good guy and great “stick.” He called over to our auxiliary airfield, Seguin, to see who was on duty. Then he asked if his assistant was a “good guy.” Receiving assurance he was, the RSU (Runway Supervisory Unit) controller was briefed on our plan. He was told we would be doing a 2-ship low approach, with a subsequent departure to the area… kinda.
We checked in at the 9-mile point as usual, and told to report 4-miles, with the gear. I was on the wing for the approach, with Nick. At 4 miles, Lead called, “Reno XX, gear down, low approach.”
“Cleared low approach,” came the reply. Sweet!
Next, up came the throttles, followed by the gear and flaps, and down we went. We leveled off around 100 feet or so and ‘faded’ over toward the RSU. It doesn’t take long to cover 4 miles when you’re accelerating through 300, then 350, then 400, then 450 knots! I have no idea how fast we were going when we passed by the RSU – the RSU between us – but it was fast! And, we were in burner!
At the end of the airfield, Lead pulled up to approximately 45 degrees nose high – and up we went, line abreast! The airfield just fell away from us! Gawd, was that fun! And, it is just as much run recalling it here this evening! I got to do what ‘shoeclerks’ and ‘occupiers’ can only dream of… and they paid us for it!
We soon leveled off and it was out into the area, and extended trail… The remainder of the flight was rather uneventful when compared to the initial part.
After we landed, and were well “into the beer,” the RSU controller came up to us. “That was just Shit Hot,” he exclaimed! He then went on to tell us that we scared the hell out of his assistant. The assistant’s primary job in the RSU is clearing the departure end of the runway. The poor kid never saw us coming! Two jets, in full AB, passing 25 – 50 feet on either side of the RSU, at 100 feet or so above the ground, had to have rung his bell!
Again why did we do it? I think now, after 24 years of reflection, ‘because we could!’