Yankin’ and Bankin’

Sometimes you can tell what baseball team a pilot is a fan of by the way he flies.

For example, all the top jet-jocks are Dodgers fans. They fly into a sea of bullets and missiles and avoid ‘em all. Generally Phillies fans like to land with a lot of fuel. On the same topic, a pilot favoring the Colorado Rockies couldn’t land gently to save his life. (Or her life.) Atlanta’s got some Brave aviators and Pittsburgh airdales generally lean towards the Navy as a service choice for some unknown reason.

And the pilot of this A-10 is a big-time Yankee fan, what with all the yankin’ and bankin':

An Idaho Air National Guard A-10, Thunderbolt II, from the 190th Fighter Squadron, Boise, Idaho fires off flares on departure from receiving fuel from a 151st Air Refueling Wing KC-135 during a training mission May 10 over southern Idaho.

Faced with Draconian Budget Cuts, the Air Force Drafts Gisele Bundchen’s Son Into the Flight Program

During times of extreme budgetary crisis, Congress should consider drastic measures to balance our country’s books and to set us on steady economic ground.

In a stunning turn of events, as a way to both smooth fiscal corners and maximize tax-payer benefit, recruitment of young tykes as pilots into the Air Force training pipeline has begun in earnest. The little bubbas are issued flight jackets and then instructed on all the standard Top Gunnery: barrel rolls and whoop-dee-doos, dog-fighting and crawling, pushing 2 Gs and then pulling the cat’s tail. As is usual with all aviators, the wee wobblers are allowed to bring their mommies:

  3rd Lt. Ben Brady, Fighter Pilot, USAF, and mommy, Gisele Bundchen

Ben looks an awful lot like his papa, the Patriot Tom Brady. (Patriot as in the New England football team, not the flag-waving variety. Well, with his son fighting for the red, white, and blue, perhaps Tommy Boy is a patriot of the other stripe too.)

Young 3rd Lieutenant Brady wears both an Apache AH-64 patch and an Army Air Corps (pre-Air Force) P-40 patch. As for the latter, the Warhawk, they were flown by the 23d Fighter Group (which combined with the disbanded Flying Tigers) when the United States worked with China in WWII. It is true, we fought side-by-side the eastern dragon, only to tangle, mere years later, in Korea.

The 23rd is still in operation with another bird: the Warthog, the modern day A-10, to the left.

At Al Udeid Air Base, the Warthogs bristled on the tarmac, like a gang of angry water buffalo, whenever we taxied by in our bus-like EP-3.

The plane has a unseemly look, but it serves a very definite purpose, close air support (CAS.) Query any infantry unit hewed in by enemy fire about the Warthog’s efficacy and they will undoubtably drool as to the Big Ugly’s ability.

There are stories of damaged Warthogs returning to the base, limping home on mere fumes. Air Force Major Kim Campbell once landed with compromised hydraulics, which highly limited her brakes and steering.

Major Kim Campbell, USAF with A-10 Warthog

In an interesting bit of trivia, Major Campbell is the daughter of San Jose’s current mayor, Chuck Reed. Both zoooooomies were cadet wing commanders at the Air Force Academy. The top banana, large and in-charge.

Enough ruminations of the past, we must cast our eyes to the future and discuss the infant piloteers. A rumor, nothing more than a whisper, is that the wittle warfighters will use piddle packs in place of timeouts in the little boy’s room.

You say you don’t know what piddle packs are? Sit back, you are in for a treat. Most of what I know on the venerated piddles I learned from two sources: pilot friends or a retired Master Gunnery Sergeant whom I see periodically at my gym. He works for a company that sells piddle packs, known by their more serious name, UCDs. This is not a joking topic, folks. Pilots have been known to fiddle with their piddles, thereby losing control and ejecting themselves from their plane. At 7,000 feet. In an F-16. Surprise:

A pilot’s piddle pack for you-know- what

Sometime before 1991, a pilot of an F-16 had to ‘use the rest room’ at 28,000 feet somewhere over the Mojave Desert. A piddle pack is a sponge filled plastic pouch, designed especially for this purpose.

The pilot reported that he unfastened his seatbelt and was raising himself up to use the piddle pack when the plane began to swing to the right. He tried to regain control of the aircraft, but could not. He ejected around 7,000 feet.

Okay, enough with equipment issues. Let’s get back into the pilot pipeline with our trainees. Below, big-boy 3rd Lieutenant Brady poses with his mother, some civilian named Gisele Bündchen, during an ejection seat exercise:

Future Ace: Air Force Pilot Ben Brady and mother Gisele Bundchen

Have I mentioned how much money our nation is saving with these pint-sized aces? Beaucoup, beaucoup. Imagine utilizing their finely honed skills for 45 years vice the usual 20-25.

In a mutually beneficial agreement, the young dog-fighter has offered, in lieu of salary (military, flight, hazardous duty pay, etc), to be paid in either matchbox cars, marbles, Pokemon cards, iPhone apps, or flight jacket patches. He’s got quite a collection, don’t you think?