Ensuring Freedom’s Future

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The US Air Force is continuing to work with police and UK military authorities at the scene of last night’s Pave-Hawk helicopter crash. In a statement Col. Kyle Robinson, 48th Fighter Wing commander said: “The loss of our Liberty Wing brethren is felt deeply across RAF Lakenheath. I can only imagine the hurt and sorrow felt by the family and friends of these Airmen. You are in our hearts and minds. We’re already feeling a great sense of support from across the Air Force and from our UK neighbors as we go through this difficult period. Thank you for keeping our Airmen and their families in your thoughts and prayers.”british-american_flag

Lakenheath, and Mildenhall is a tight-knit community, the tragedy will effect every member within it, both military and civilian. Like so many people from Great Britain my condolences are with the families and comrades of the Airmen killed in the USAF Lakenheath helicopter crash. They have been named as Captain Christopher S. Stover, Captain Sean M. Ruane, Technical Sergeant Dale E. Mathews and Staff Sergeant Afton M. Ponce. Their bravery in training and in action, is a reminder of what is required for the defence of our freedom. Yours Aye.

Heavy Metal providing hard rain…

ac-130u-gunship-hrThe AC-130H ‘Spectre’ Gunship is one of the most versatile, and oldest aircraft to be used in Afghanistan. Its career spans over 40 years, and it has seen plenty of action from Vietnam, through to modern day.      Click both pics to enlargespooky-920-7

ac130The United Sates Air Force is moving forward and looking to bring in its upgraded version once the ‘Spectre’ draw-down is completeAC-130H Spectre Gunship: ‘Heavy Metal,’ The Final Chapter U.S. Airmen assigned to the 16th Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron share their thoughts on this proverbial ‘changing of the guard,’ and reminisce on good times with their own AC-130H affectionately named “Heavy Metal,” as they enjoy their final combat deployment with her.     AC-130 gun camera pouring down hard rain on the bad guys AC130 Heavy MetalAir Force Special Operations Command will begin flight tests later this year on a new gunship that will replace its aging fleet of AC-130s. An ‘MC-130J Commando II’ arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., last month, where it will be converted into a new variant called the ‘AC-130J Ghost-rider.’ The AC-130J will be a combination of the advanced avionics, targeting systems and engines of the MC-130J and the cannons and bombs of legacy AC-130s, which have been in high demand for providing close-air support and armed reconnaissance in Afghanistan. The new gunship will have dual electro-optical infrared sensors and all-weather synthetic aperture radar to help deliver AGM-176 Griffin missiles, small-diameter bombs and blasts from a 30mm cannon.    ‘MC-130J Commando II’bilde“Major enhancements will include extended sensor capabilities, more precise fire control and stand-off precision guided weapons capabilities,” said Capt. Belena Marquez, spokeswoman for Air Force Special Operations Command. It is estimated 2014-2016 will see the draw-down and replacement program complete.

Chapettes and Chaps, that is my act of contrition complete for the ‘alleged’ slur placed against the Chaps of the Air Force, through my post of ‘Fifty Shady Ways of Dress.’ ;-) But what a pleasure reading up on the history of the AC 130 SPECTRE…      Yours Aye.

China kisses B-52 undercarriage…

AIR_B-52_Ordnance_Display_lgTwo unarmed U.S. B-52 bombers on a training mission flew over disputed islands in the East China Sea without informing Beijing, Pentagon officials said Tuesday. The controversial action defies China’s declaration of a new airspace defense zone in the region. The Pentagon said the flight on Monday night did not prompt a response from China, and the White House urged Beijing to resolve its dispute with Japan over the islands diplomatically, without resorting to ‘threats or inflammatory language.’U.S. B-52s flew over China’s newly declared air zone after Beijing vowed to take ‘defensive’ action against unidentified aircraft

China published coordinates for an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone over the weekend and warned it would take ‘defensive emergency measures’ against aircraft that failed to identify themselves properly in the airspace. The zone covers most of that sea and includes the skies over islands at the heart of a territorial dispute with Japan. ’The policy announced by the Chinese over the weekend is unnecessarily inflammatory,’ White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in California, where President Barack Obama is traveling. ’These are the kinds of differences that should not be addressed with threats or inflammatory language, but rather can and should be resolved diplomatically,’ he said. Two U.S. B-52 bombers carried out the flight, part of a long-planned exercise, on Monday night EST, a U.S. military official said.

The lumbering bombers appeared to send a message that the United States was not trying to hide its intentions and showed that China, so far at least, was unable or unwilling to defend the zone. imagesThe B-52s, which have been part of the Air Force fleet for more than half a century, are relatively slow compared with today’s more advanced fighter jets and far easier to spot than stealth aircraft. The dispute flared before a trip to the region by Vice President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to travel to Japan early next week and also has stops in China and South Korea. The White House announced the trip in early November. The East China Sea territorial dispute will figure prominently on Biden’s agenda.

After telling China to ‘kiss my undercarriage’ in an act of total defiance over their self imposed fly zone, you go an blow it by sending across the Vice Bumbling-Buffoon? (Or could it be a double bluff, showing utter contempt by sending him instead of some one of importance)     Yours Aye.

Armistice Day. 11:00 hrs 11th November 2013.

article-2500051-1959049900000578-502_964x414Harold Jellicoe Percival (inset), who helped with the Dam-Busters raid during the Second World War, died last month in a nursing home aged 99. He was laid to rest today, Armistice Day, at exactly 11-am, when Britain fell silent to remember those killed in war. More than 300 people attended the ceremony at the Lytham Park Crematorium in Lancashire, nearly all of whom had never met Mr Percival. Many of those in attendance were dressed in military uniforms. “It’s just staggering,” his nephew, Andre Collyer-Worsell, said after attending the service. “It just shows how great the British public are”.  We WILL remember him: Hundreds of strangers attend Armistice Day funeral of Bomber Command veteran who died alone aged 99 The great majority of strangers took unpaid leave from their place of work to do so, some of whom even travelled from the far-flung corners of the earth. From young children with their parents, to the old and bold, they all showed the true meaning of respect, and decency as they allowed a Veteran to be buried with dignity…poppy-headerFrance6nhalfinchWEBMy faith in humanity was restored from what I witnessed today at 11:00 hrs, as time stood still in my little market town for two minutes. Even more so as the whole country stood and surrendered two minutes, deep in their own thoughts of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that others may live free.   The scene in Lloyd’s of London at 11-am, with thousands of brokers joining in the two-minute silence      (click to enlarge)article-2500051-195893B800000578-173_964x980

 “When you go home, tell them of us and say: For your tomorrow we gave our today.”

Mind boggling technology

article-0-192803F400000578-206_634x608New helmets ‘force RAF top guns to fly blind at 1,000-mph’: A technical fault left RAF pilots unable to see where they were flying the £100 million JSF aircraft. Headgear was meant to give ‘top guns’ all-around vision and awareness. Instead pilots are left disorientated by radar pictures and a mass of multiple images.       Blind green eyed RAF ‘top gun’ article-0-192802AC00000578-79_634x583A state of the art leather flying ‘helmet’ circa 1941, and the amazing story of 23-year-old Pilot Officer Roland “Bud”Wolfe.._53710596_topmont_various_464. RAF officer from 133 “Eagle” Squadron, a unit entirely composed of American volunteers

It is a fact that military technology brings about a plethora of changes to  tactics in warfare. The change in modern-day technology within one decade has been mind-blowing. Pity the poor sods who spend as much time on courses continually upgrading from the old to the new; as they spend in their various roles within Air, Land, and Sea operations.            Yours Aye.

Fast jet Friday/Chopper thrashing Thursday

For a variety of reasons I’ve had one of those weeks where the clock has barely moved its hands, then when its does it leaps forward through a wormhole in space taking me along with it. Working around irregular international hours is not recommended, occasionally I turn in at sunrise, more often not at all, as it is easier to crash in my reclining ‘eeeeasy’ chair (joined eventually by Nipper who squeezes in at the side comfortably). Yesterday having finished at 05:00 hrs, I patrolled the dogs, and then ablutioned ‘as a gentleman should’ after which I performed the ceremony of… ‘Friday morning breakfast’; scrambled eggs, grilled bacon, toasted bread, and a scalding hot pot of tea.

And there lay the error for the weekend. I had unwittingly prepared the ceremony on Thursday morning, my body clock was shot to bits. I had that great ‘Thank God its Friday’ feeling a full day early. For almost eight hours I was living a blissful lie. As the lie continued, so I lived through it, as I attended to the tedious chores required around the house (there is no Mrs. Ex Bootneck to assist, and as yet Nipper & Hannah can’t quite get to grips with the Dyson, or load the washer, etc, etc). Chores complete it was 10:00 hrs, the official hour for a mid-morning ‘stand-easy’.

Settling down with my cup of tea and biscuits I listened to the news in the background, and perused my Pad for the morning mail. The dogs were dozing on their couch-at the time of morning when the sun pops through the large glazed doors to cover them in a golden blanket of rays. The three amigos slowly blinked their eyes as they started to sink, Nipper yawned, Hannah yawned Joss yawned, which triggered my yawn as I stretched my limbs. Out of the blue a ‘weary’ hit me, the ‘eeeeasy’ chair was whispering my name like a siren from the shore calling a ship on to its rocks; the ship heard the call and responded. Off I went to steal a pair of hours in the near horizontal position; just as I started to sink into the abyss I heard the pitter patter of tiny feet, Nipper had followed and jumped up effortlessly to lay across my chest. My late morning snooze was soon to end, rudely.royal-marines-lynx-zd277_pics181-18163

After a long seven day patrol we reached the Lie Up Position close to the Landing Zone, it was still as black as pitch, dawn would start breaking within the hour. The LUP was perfect, it was on a high feature covered in large boulders, thick bush and scattered pine trees. It offered cover from view, as well as winters elements; it would be easy to defend if required. We could also watch and cover the relief patrol as they de-bussed onto the LZ, who in turn would role reverse and watch us en-buss. I loved this part, as it offered a chance few minutes to hurl abusive banter as we passed each other fleetingly. 400px-Slieve_Gullion,_Western_Slope_-_geograph.org.uk_-_255264(Below) LUP on Slieve Gullion’s western slope, looking towards the village of Forkhill, South Armagh  The evolution would have to happen twice to complete the change-over, the Lynx (above pic) could only bring in nine Marines with their heavy bergan’s to effect the switch. 

Eight hours to push on Slieve Gullion before the first flight arrived. After first light broke I stood fifty percent of the patrol down for breakfast. My headset crackled as a metallic voice used my call sign; it was the Op’s room asking for a radio check-as well as asking a question I didn’t want to hear “what is your visibility to my location“? I could see straight across the valleyed landscape, to the little dot ten miles away that was our Security Base in the village of Forkhill (where mail, hot showers, hot food and clean bedding awaited).j-olley-castles-tz-21 I have you clear and visual“? Said I, firmly. Once again the reply was not what I wanted to hear “Buzzard reports his location as being heavily clagged in-with no foreseeable change for the next twenty-four hours; Sun-ray at my location has ordered you to go firm for a further twenty-four“! Such is life in a green beret, another night out under the moon and stars. The message was quickly passed throughout the patrol; each Marine went through their time practiced admin routine, with minimum movement, and no one breaking cover.

My relief stood-to as I settled into a small grassy hollow where I started to doze, my rifle lay across my chest, and with my belly full of boil in the bag breakfast, I was absolutely content with life. In the far distance I thought I could faintly hear chopper blades beating the air, then silence, then another faint beat, followed by silence, then a steady beat that grew louder, and louder; oh bugger… The buzzards were obviously clear and flying!DSC_0119Buzzard flight Op’s had a long history of canceling flight programs due to thick swirling fog, only to reappoint it when it cleared, without informing anyone. I tightened my grip on my rifle ready to call the whole patrol to stand-to-and prepare to move. Nipper growled? What was Nipper doing on this patrol? My rifle wasn’t a rifle? It was Nipper laying across my chest; I had my left hand under his chin with my right hand on the outside of his right hip, which meant my trigger finger was under the small of his belly, which meant there wasn’t a trigger guard, which meant my trigger finger was on ‘his’ trigger; Owahhhh!!! He continued to growl at some thing, and I could definitely hear the beat of of heavy military chopper blades. I looked outside of my office window from the comfort of my recliner, to see two Merlin choppers heading straight for me at tree top level. At two hundred metres they split, port & starboard of my home, the down wash from their rotors (supplied by six powerful Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM 322 turbines) rippled the inch thick pan-tiles on the roof, making them plink and tinkle like the ivories on an old pub piano.DSC_0189 Fortunately for each Merlin and its crew the office windows were closed, as Nipper would have launched himself out and brought at least one of them down… The aerial display went on for at least twenty minutes, contour flying through the valley, one low, one high giving top cover, each time using my place as a marker point for turning.  Grrrrrrrr…!DSC_0195 I was totally confused? Why have the military changed their flying routines, it has always been; Mixture Monday (Fast jets morning, Trainer turbo afternoon) – Trainer turbo Tuesday – Wish list Wednesday (variety of every thing, including C-130K SF Herc’s) – Chopper thrashing Thursday – Fast jet Friday! So why on earth was the military flying its choppers on a Fast jet Friday… The solution was to make a pot of tea (having washed my hands first), then let the dogs out to stretch their legs.

Having once again checked my Pad for mail, I realised my error… It was Thursday! ‘Chopper thrashing Thursday’. Which means we are now reading this on ‘Fast jet Friday’, which also means I have had that great ’Thank God its Friday’ feeling for two days running, as well as performed the ceremony of Friday morning breakfast, again. Even better news; there was no need for the tedious chores, as I cracked them all yesterday.                            Yours Aye.

The fallen. 21st September 2013

A misnomer in one sense, but a tribute none the less, as this year, 2013, the International Day of Peace fell on Saturday, 21st September. To commemorate the day a pair of British artists created a stunning installation of 9,000 silhouettes on a D-Day Landings beach The project, named, ‘The Fallen’ was a tribute to the Allies, civilians, and German forces who lost their lives during the ‘Operation Neptune’ landing on June 6, 1944. The design was the brainchild of British Artists Jamie Wardley, 33, & Andy Moss, 50. Together with a team of hundreds of volunteers the pair travelled to Arromanches beach, Normandy, to create the silhouettes, which were individually drawn into the sand. The shapes were then left to the mercy of the tide which washed away the ‘fallen’ after around four and a half hours.                       article-2429903-18314F7700000578-966_634x475article-2429903-183153EA00000578-818_634x474To understand the true scale of the task ahead of the Allies on the morning of 6th June 1944, you have to visit and put yourself in their place, and walk the various beaches taken by them. Raw courage, and pure determination won the day, at a terrible cost.  Yours Aye.

Bright light & the Tar Heel State

Amazing as it may seem, but in January 1961 over North Carolina ‘one simple, dynamo technology, low-voltage switch; stood between Goldsboro, the United States, and a major catastrophe!’ When the Pentagon almost nuked North Carolina at the height of the Cold War, just three days after JFK’s inauguration. The ‘tar heel state’ had a lucky escape…article-2427835-1821670500000578-115_634x803Not one such incident, but several (as well as those whose information remains ‘off-limits’)!

*May 22nd, 1957: Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico: A cow was killed and residents of Albuquerque terrified when a B-36 aircraft transporting a nuclear bomb from Texas to New Mexico fell through the bomb bay doors from 1,700 feet and detonated, blasting a crater 12 feet deep and 25 feet across. Luckily the nuclear capsule had separated from the bomb and did not explode.

*February 5th, 1958: Savannah River, Georgia: A B-47 carrying a nuclear bomb collided midair with an F-86 jet during a training flight. The device was jettisoned and fell into the river and has never been located.

*March 14th, 1961: Yuba City, California: A crippled B-52 carrying a pair of nuclear bombs suffered a loss of pressure at 10,000 feet. The commander stayed aboard to pilot the plane away from Yuba City in California before ejecting at 4,000 feet. The plane crashed but nothing detonated and the bombs were recovered.

*January 17th, 1966: Palomares, Spain: A B-52 carrying four hydrogen bombs blew up during an airborne refuel. Both planes and seven of the 11 crew members died in the explosion and all of the nuclear devices fell to the ground. Two exploded on impact near to Palomares and contaminated one square mile with plutonium. Another was recovered from a riverbed and the other fell into the Mediterranean Sea. A local fisherman saw the bomb fall and claimed salvage rights of 1 percent of the nuclear weapons $2 billion value. The Air Force settled out of court. Shown below: The casings of two B28 nuclear bombs involved in the Palomares incident on display at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.800px-NAM---Palomares-bombsThe Soviet Union’s ‘mishaps’ far outweighed the rest of the world’s through their tally of ‘near misses’, ‘accidental activations’, as well as ‘storage miscalculations’, of which their audit trail remains ‘off-balance’ to this day.                        Yours Aye.

Wild goose brings down hawk!

Well sort ofarticle-2420692-00A9E83A1000044C-76_306x423A Royal Air Force ‘Hawk T1′ jet taking part in a training exercise crashed after hitting a goose The Jet, carrying an instructor and student pilot, was practicing a forced touchdown when it ran into the path of the unlucky bird. article-2420692-1BCC41FE000005DC-781_634x444

The Hawk overshot the runway and smashed into a barrier, before landing in a safety net. The Goose was cooked, and the Hawk had its feathers ruffled. Both instructor and student pilot were reported as fine, after a double dose of Imodium Plus! ;-)                   Yours Aye.

Clandestine Operations

And the smell of hypocrisy from the European Union. Secret plane stuffed full of cash that saved the euro: When Greece burned and its banks melted, the EU talked tough and threatened to cut it loose… but covertly flooded it with 10billion If this operation happened for Greece, then it almost certainly happened for Cyprus, and the remainder of ‘PIIGS’ (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain). The EU is not fit for purpose…Untitled-3.jpgThe EU pushes openness, fairness and transparency between member states, except they don’t inform the little people who have to stump up the funding through added taxes. Roll on the referendum we have been promised (again) here in the UK. Though I doubt we will need it; the EU’s fraudulent activities combined with gross mismanagement has forced it into a dark slimy corner, with no way out. Had the EU been run as a business, it would have had to have declared itself bankrupt within three years of its conception.images

UPDATE: Greece says it wants ANOTHER £8billion to stay afloat – but won’t accept any more austerity measures A short stop gap to cover Government service pay. They will also require €250 Billion plus, as an additional bail out, which they have no hope of paying back. The European Union is a death star ready to implode. I have been practicing my Irish jig, ready for dancing on its grave…      Yours Aye.

How to Shoot the Arrow

The right art, cried the Master, is purposeless, aimless! The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede. What stands in your way is that you have a much too willful will. You think that what you do not do yourself does not happen.
― Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery

The Air National Guard Plays Risk

Burning in Water

pull a string, a puppet moves …

each man must realize
that it can all disappear very
quickly:
the cat, the woman, the job,
the front tire,
the bed, the walls, the
room; all our necessities
including love,
rest on foundations of sand –
and any given cause,
no matter how unrelated:
the death of a boy in Hong Kong
or a blizzard in Omaha …
can serve as your undoing.
all your chinaware crashing to the
kitchen floor, your girl will enter
and you’ll be standing, drunk,
in the center of it and she’ll ask:
my god, what’s the matter?
and you’ll answer: I don’t know,
I don’t know …”
–Charles Bukowski (Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame)

Climbing like home-sick angels

My usual Friday early morning routine is set in granite. It finds me sat atop the felled tree logs with my tin mug toppers with red-hot tea, observing my two Staffies as they mount a canine clearing patrol around the fields. Nothing can ever fault such a start to the day, no matter what the weather may be. Except this morning was different, a first even, because from behind my rosy position of solace, I could hear a ‘whine’ in the far distance (as I’m not married, and don’t have a wife, I instantly wrote that one off as the possible source)! The pitch grew louder causing me to look over my shoulder; just then two Typhoon FGR4 fighter-bombers flying ultra low level, screamed directly overhead, upon which they hit their after burners and powered into a vertical climb, like two home-sick angels.800px-Eurofighter_typhoon_2

The whine turned into a deafening roar of jet turbine engines, from which their super heated wash created a visible swirling turbulence. The canine clearing patrol appeared at the gallop from the long grass seeking refuge upon me, spilling the contents of my tin mug into the crutch of my rugby shorts. Bloody RAF. Bloody Staffies. Bloody hot tea… I watched the jets ride on until they were black dots, chuckling to myself whilst holding the material of my shorts away from my bare skin. The noise will have at least wound up ‘Mr. Angry’ from the village, which reminded me of a previous evolution…

One early morning last summer I received a caller at the door, it turned out to be the local busy body from the small village nearest to me (an ex-civil servant who I shall refer to as ‘Major Blunder’, due to his dated pompous arrogance, colonial attire, abrupt clipped speech, and walrus moustache).dm A neatly printed form attached to a clipboard was thrust in front of me, with an order (not a polite request) to read & sign the petition; with his finger tapping on the spot next to my address, with ‘name unknown’ next to it. I can also do rude and bad manners when required, which I did, on my doorstep. A full blistering barrage, that brought the devil to attention, and stopped the horses grazing in the adjoining field. Major Blunder left with a flea in each ear… that probably irritated him for the rest of his day. <— Similar version of Major Blunder.

Major Blunder’s petition was an action being passed around the villages within the Parish boundary. It was aimed at stopping the RAF from conducting early morning, and late evening training flights, both by fast jets as well as choppers. When I checked my mail later, I also found a flier full of bureaucratic procedure that only an ex-uncivil servant could have put together, though it did contain details for a planned meeting in the local village hall covering the same issue. Three days later I attended the meeting early, and landed a seat in the front row. All who dwell within a country village worth their salt will attend such a meeting, as it is the done thing and expected, it’s English, it’s traditional. Bah~Humbug to those who decline!

A veritable host of bribes refreshments had been laid on, which someone had taken their time presenting, it also included fresh tea and coffee, with plain digestive, and milk chocolate biscuits! Major Blunder I presume? The great man appeared and called the meeting to order, with a small committee aside him presiding on an elevated platform, looking over the great unwashed below. After much discussion to and fro, the eventual consensus of opinion of the gathering appeared to be that although the noise from the aircraft could be loud when the weather was over cast, it was also bearable. It was obvious from the flight patterns that the sorties also changed quite frequently, switching their aerobatic dogfights from land, to the heavens over the North Sea. I waited until the very end to have my say, and fired one barrel over the heads of the gathered crowd as a safety shot. Not many, if any know of my past, of which I prefer

As I addressed the multitude, I obviously spoke against the petition. Jet-powered aircraft create intense noise from aerodynamics, which is affected greatly by atmospheric pressure and weather conditions, etc, etc. I spoke of the importance of pilot training throughout the military, and how others and I had required the assistance of fast jets as well as choppers throughout my previous life as a Bootneck. In addition I asked them to think of those serving now, who, when in contact with the enemy close up and personal, could end up severely maimed or badly wounded casualties. 115020551_endofyear_367815bTheir chances of survival required skilled pilots flying the blood chariots with medics to extract them. Or they may well require ordnance from fast jets, delivered danger close to their own positions to stave of attacks. I purposely kept the controlled rant short and sweet, which must have hit a raw nerve, as several couples asked for their names to be withdrawn from the petition.

I saved the second barrel for Major Blunder and his rag tag committee, which I blatantly aimed at his outmoded heart, and gently, squeezed the trigger. I asked them not to take my words for granted, and mentioned that I could arrange a visit to HEADLEY COURT, The Defence Medical Rehabilitation service from where they could hear first hand accounts of the bravery of such pilots flying blind in medevac dust off’s, or pilots conducting strafing runs danger close. This from those whose lives had been saved through the same selfless commendable action’s. I waited for a response, which was met by a wall of silence, and ‘eyes to the floor’ embarrassment. Thought not!

At the end of the meeting, I declined the proffered 30 pieces of silver cup of tea and biscuits, as well as the social banter that would normally follow. Shortly after I heard that the whole petition formulated by Major Blunder had crashed and burned. A feeling I knew well, as my tin mug of tea had been quite fresh and hot when it was doused over my lap, through the sheer panic fighting withdrawal action conducted by Hannah & Joss as they made their way back to my position. C’est la guerre…            Yours Aye.

Fighting Fire

In Wisconsin:

Air Force firefighters extinguish burning jet fuel during a training exercise in support of Global Medic 2013 on July 19 at Fort McCoy, Wis.

Air Force firefighters extinguish burning jet fuel during a training exercise in support of Global Medic 2013 on July 19 at Fort McCoy, Wis.

In California:

A C-130 Hercules releases fire retardant over the mountains above Palm Springs, Calif., on July 19. The unit was activated to assist the community with wildfires. The C-130 Hercules is assigned to the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard.

A C-130 Hercules releases fire retardant over the mountains above Palm Springs, Calif., on July 19. The unit was activated to assist the community with wildfires. The C-130 Hercules is assigned to the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard.

Using Your Plane Like a Bullet

It is interesting to read new stories concerning big events, decades after they happened. Here, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney talks about 9/11:

Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.

The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.

Except her own plane. So that was the plan.

Because the surprise attacks were unfolding, in that innocent age, faster than they could arm war planes, Penney and her commanding officer went up to fly their jets straight into a Boeing 757.

“We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft,” Penney recalls of her charge that day. “I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”

For years, Penney, one of the first generation of female combat pilots in the country, gave no interviews about her experiences on Sept. 11.

Brave Americans. . .