Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career

The Ready For Takeoff podcast will help you transform your aviation passion into an aviation career. Every week we bring you instruction and interviews with top aviators in their field who reveal their flight path to an exciting career in the skies.
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Jul 8, 2019

Lt. Commander Dominique (Nikki) Selby was a Critical Care, Trauma and Enroute Care Nurse for the US Navy. She deployed to various regions to include Haiti, Afghanistan and various countries in the Middle East as an in-flight critical care nurse, ICU, trauma and Fleet Surgical Team nurse operating in austere conditions (Role II and Role III facilities). She is currently a Course Coordinator for the Advanced Trauma Course for Nurses and a Training Site Facilitator for ACLS, and teaches classes to all military and civilian providers for the Naval Medical Center San Diego.
Her current certifications are BLS-I, ACLS-I/TSF, ATCN Instructor and Course Coordinator, PALS-P, TCCC-P and TNCC-P. With 22 years in the Navy and 12 years of experience as an RN, she is certified in Emergency Nursing (CEN) and currently licensed in the states of Nevada and California. 


Jul 4, 2019

There are four types of Hypoxia:
Hypoxia means “reduced oxygen” or “not enough oxygen.”
Although any tissue will die if deprived of oxygen long
enough, the greatest concern regarding hypoxia during
flight is lack of oxygen to the brain, since it is particularly
vulnerable to oxygen deprivation. Any reduction in mental
function while flying can result in life-threatening errors.
Hypoxia can be caused by several factors, including an
insufficient supply of oxygen, inadequate transportation of
oxygen, or the inability of the body tissues to use oxygen.
The forms of hypoxia are based on their causes:
• Hypoxic hypoxia
• Hypemic hypoxia
• Stagnant hypoxia
• Histotoxic hypoxia
Hypoxic Hypoxia
Hypoxic hypoxia is a result of insufficient oxygen available
to the body as a whole. A blocked airway and drowning
are obvious examples of how the lungs can be deprived of
oxygen, but the reduction in partial pressure of oxygen at high
altitude is an appropriate example for pilots. Although the
percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere is constant, its partial
pressure decreases proportionately as atmospheric pressure
decreases. As an aircraft ascends during flight, the percentage
of each gas in the atmosphere remains the same, but there are
fewer molecules available at the pressure required for them
to pass between the membranes in the respiratory system.
This decrease in number of oxygen molecules at sufficient
pressure can lead to hypoxic hypoxia.

Hypemic Hypoxia
Hypemic hypoxia occurs when the blood is not able to take
up and transport a sufficient amount of oxygen to the cells
in the body. Hypemic means “not enough blood.” This type
of hypoxia is a result of oxygen deficiency in the blood,
rather than a lack of inhaled oxygen, and can be caused by
a variety of factors. It may be due to reduced blood volume
(from severe bleeding), or it may result from certain blood
diseases, such as anemia. More often, hypemic hypoxia
occurs because hemoglobin, the actual blood molecule that
transports oxygen, is chemically unable to bind oxygen
molecules. The most common form of hypemic hypoxia is
CO poisoning. This is explained in greater detail later in this
chapter. Hypemic hypoxia can also be caused by the loss
of blood due to blood donation. Blood volume can require
several weeks to return to normal following a donation.
Although the effects of the blood loss are slight at ground
level, there are risks when flying during this time.

Stagnant Hypoxia
Stagnant means “not flowing,” and stagnant hypoxia or
ischemia results when the oxygen-rich blood in the lungs
is not moving, for one reason or another, to the tissues that need it. An arm or leg “going to sleep” because the blood
flow has accidentally been shut off is one form of stagnant
hypoxia. This kind of hypoxia can also result from shock,
the heart failing to pump blood effectively, or a constricted
artery. During flight, stagnant hypoxia can occur with
excessive acceleration of gravity (Gs). Cold temperatures
can also reduce circulation and decrease the blood supplied
to extremities.

Histotoxic Hypoxia
The inability of the cells to effectively use oxygen is defined
as histotoxic hypoxia. “Histo” refers to tissues or cells, and
“toxic” means poisonous. In this case, enough oxygen is being
transported to the cells that need it, but they are unable to make
use of it. This impairment of cellular respiration can be caused
by alcohol and other drugs, such as narcotics and poisons.
Research has shown that drinking one ounce of alcohol can
equate to an additional 2,000 feet of physiological altitude.

Symptoms of Hypoxia
High-altitude flying can place a pilot in danger of becoming
hypoxic. Oxygen starvation causes the brain and other vital
organs to become impaired. The first symptoms of hypoxia
can include euphoria and a carefree feeling. With increased
oxygen starvation, the extremities become less responsive and
flying becomes less coordinated. The symptoms of hypoxia
vary with the individual, but common symptoms include:
• Cyanosis (blue fingernails and lips)
• Headache
• Decreased response to stimuli and increased reaction
• Impaired judgment
• Euphoria
• Visual impairment
• Drowsiness
• Lightheaded or dizzy sensation
• Tingling in fingers and toes
• Numbness
As hypoxia worsens, the field of vision begins to narrow and
instrument interpretation can become difficult. Even with all
these symptoms, the effects of hypoxia can cause a pilot to
have a false sense of security and be deceived into believing
everything is normal.

Treatment of Hypoxia
Treatment for hypoxia includes flying at lower altitudes and/
or using supplemental oxygen. All pilots are susceptible
to the effects of oxygen starvation, regardless of physical
endurance or acclimatization. When flying at high altitudes,
it is paramount that oxygen be used to avoid the effects of
hypoxia. The term “time of useful consciousness” describes
the maximum time the pilot has to make rational, life-saving
decisions and carry them out at a given altitude without
supplemental oxygen. As altitude increases above 10,000
feet, the symptoms of hypoxia increase in severity, and the
time of useful consciousness rapidly decreases. [Figure 17-1]
Since symptoms of hypoxia can be different for each
individual, the ability to recognize hypoxia can be greatly
improved by experiencing and witnessing the effects of it
during an altitude chamber “flight.” The Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) provides this opportunity through
aviation physiology training, which is conducted at the FAA
CAMI in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and at many military
facilities across the United States. For information about the
FAA’s one-day physiological training course with altitude
chamber and vertigo demonstrations, visit the FAA website

Jul 1, 2019

Morri Leland is the Chief Executive Officer of Patriot Mobile.  He assumed the role of CEO in 2017.  

As CEO, Morri is focused on helping conservative consumers and businesses throughout the United States protect and defend their rights and liberty and ensure these freedoms remain for generations to come.

For more than 30 years, Morri has led global teams to excel and exceed growth expectations.  Prior to joining Patriot Mobile, he served as Deputy Vice President for International Business at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Morri was responsible for global sales and marketing for the aerospace, defense and energy sectors that included numerous competitive global pursuits that resulted in significant international growth.  Prior to that Morri served as the Program Director for F-35 / CVF Integration with Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.  As the senior representative for the Joint Strike Fighter program in the United Kingdom (UK), he was responsible for the successful development and management of the program to integrate the F-35 air system into the design and construction of the UK Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF).  

From 1983 to 2003, Morri served on active duty in the United States Navy.  After tours at NASA and as a flight instructor, he accumulated over 5,000 hours in various types of military aircraft.  With significant time in various models of the F/A-18 Hornet, he served multiple combat tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans and commanded a squadron that garnered honors as the top Strike-Fighter squadron in the U.S. Navy.  He also served on a NATO exchange flying tour and in the Pentagon on the staff of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A native of South Carolina, Morri holds a BS in Systems Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master of Science in International Security Affairs from the U.S. Naval War College.

Morri and his wife Sheila reside in Southlake, TX with their two sons.

Jun 27, 2019

From AVweb:
Pull the mixture or condition lever and the propeller comes to a stop. Turn off the switches and what had been saturated with noise and vibration becomes still and quiet. After removing your headset and while sitting in the momentary silence that follows a flight, perhaps you’ll hear the engine ticking as heat dissipates. It’s time to pack up and leave the cockpit: Your work is done, right? No, not quite. To get the full benefit of the experience you just had, to learn from every flight, you need to spend just a few moments debriefing your flight.

Your post-flight debrief doesn’t have to be detailed. Just ask yourself a few questions, and provide honest answers. Your briefing also can be very structured, with a personalized debriefing form and lists of the myriad tasks you performed or planned, plus a scoring mechanism to fairly and objectively judge your performance. The most effective way to debrief, and the most likely system that actually will get used is probably somewhere in between. Regardless of how you debrief, the objective is to review the manner in which you conducted the just-ended flight so you can learn from your actions and be even better next time you fly.

Most pilot and flight instructor texts give a passing nod to the post-flight briefing. Virtually all declare it to be a highly important part of the flight-training process. Most decry the “lecture” method, in which the instructor tells the student what he or she did right and in what areas he or she needs to improve. The consensus is that better results come from asking the student to critique his or her performance, with the discussion guided, but not totally led, by the flight instructor. The biggest obstacles to making this technique work, according to the FAA’s Flight Instructor Handbook, are the student’s lack of experience and objectivity, which result in an inability to properly assess his/her performance; the fatigue state of a student after a lesson, especially in the early stages of pilot training; and an instructor’s lack of familiarity with good debriefing techniques. Another factor is the instructor or student’s unwillingness to spend the time necessary to conduct a useful post-flight debriefing.

I’ve not yet found any FAA guidance on extending the concept of a post-flight briefing to a pilot who is critiquing his or her performance following a day-to-day, non-instructional flight. Yet the vast majority of our flying happens without an instructor by our side, and available to review the flight afterward. Although instructors present us the training needed to earn certificates and ratings, and occasionally provide a refresher in the form of a flight review, an instrument proficiency check (IPC) and other recurrent training, we learn most from our own experiences as pilot-in-command in real-world situations.

Psychologist and flight instructor Dr. Janet Lapp is a proponent of the post-flight self-brief. “What happens during the crucial period of time immediately following a behavior, or set of behaviors, can either reinforce (make stronger), punish (eliminate temporarily), or help extinguish (aid in forgetting) that behavior,” according to her November 2008 article in AOPA’s Flight Training magazine.

“The best time to learn may be in the few moments right after a flight, in an organized and controlled manner,” she wrote. “Actions completed by self, rather than by other, are more meaningful and memorable; memory traces are more indelibly etched; and content is more internalized. We become responsible for what we do…[and] we take more responsibility for our actions.”

Dr. Lapp suggests we commit our debriefings to writing, building a journal of our growing experience. “If we don’t measure it,” she writes, “we can’t change it.” Lapp also says her personal research suggests that a written review makes pilots open up to the process and give self-debriefing the attention it deserves. The “central purpose [of a written review] is to increase self-correction, reflection, and tracking of attitude and behaviors. The goal is to create pilots who reflect on emerging issues immediately after every flight. The students make the entries, specify what they did well and what they could have done better, what they will work on next time, and what knowledge gaps were discovered. These are accompanied by a self-rating system that creates its own system of improvement.”

Dr. Lapp makes her suggested debriefing form available to the public, and invites pilots to adopt it and customize it to their needs. It allows the pilot to identify the major areas of critique, and to answer a few broad questions that identify the overall tenor of the flight. Although Dr. Lapp’s research focused on students receiving instruction (which was, after all, when she was present to introduce the concept of the post-flight debrief and judge the results), she notes in the Flight Training article she created the form originally to reinforce her own need for post-flight debriefings as a certificated and active pilot, and has told me several times her intent is for pilots to use the form as a self-debriefing tool.

Some pilots have suggested reluctance to create a written record of the mistakes they’ve made while flying an airplane. They seem to fear the journal could “fall into the wrong hands” and be used in some way against them in an FAA enforcement action or a liability lawsuit. Sad to say, they may be right. If you choose not to maintain a written record, but you find the act of writing about and scoring your flights indeed does focus your attention on continual improvement, there’s nothing to prevent you from critiquing your performance in writing and then destroying the record when you’re done with it.

If you want to develop an even more detailed type of self-debriefing, you might do what I do as a result of my military experience. Back in the Bad Old Days of the Cold War, I served as a Minuteman nuclear missile launch control officer for the U.S. Air Force. The pressure-cooker environment of potential total nuclear war, 60 feet under the Missouri plains, strangely did much to prepare me for the single-pilot cockpit of an airplane. One thing the “missile business” did for me as a pilot was to teach the debriefing concept of minor, major and critical errors.

Air Force missileers train and are evaluated relentlessly. At least once a month we spent four hours in “the box”—a functional simulator reproducing the hardware and operation of a missile launch control center. No less than once a year we were evaluated in the box (I personally had eight “annual” checks during a four-year tour of duty—go figure). We also were evaluated “in the field”—observed while on actual alert—much like a line check for an airline pilot.

Every evaluation assumed from the beginning that the missile combat crew’s performance was perfect —earning 5.0 points on a five-point scale. Of course, from there, things can go only one direction: downhill. Certain functions, if performed incorrectly, were considered minor errors. These were items that were missed or performed incorrectly, but which did not directly impact the primary mission. Commit a minor error, and you’d have one-tenth of a point lopped off your beginning, perfect score.

A major error might delay getting a missile repaired correctly, allow unauthorized access to a missile site (but no direct access to controls, boosters or warheads), or cause (by action or inaction) one component of the hardware to become inoperative. A major error cost one full point off your final score. In some cases it was possible to recover from a minor or even some major errors, and not be charged the adverse points…if you caught the error in time, and undid what you had done.

A critical error in missiledom cost five points, an automatic failure of the evaluation. Examples of “crits” included attempting to launch missiles when not ordered, launching at a valid order but at the wrong time, or launching to the wrong targets, all of which are highly undesirable events (this was, of course, all in “the box”). In the field, critical error might be tuning a radio or satellite receiver incorrectly (meaning you would not receive emergency messages). Another critical error was to shut down your launch capsule when not called for, thereby degrading your squadron’s ability to launch missiles (usually, when dealing with a simulated fire in your tiny underground command center).

Error points were additive. A major error and two minor errors resulted in a 3.8 score, etc. A crew was deemed qualified if its final score was 2.5 or higher. Crewmembers were awarded highly qualified (HQ) status for a 4.6 or better score (no more than four minor errors, and none of the major ones). You could “crit out” on a combination of major and minor errors. And sometimes an action that would ordinarily only be a minor error (such as setting a clock or tuning a radio) might become “major” if that act led to missing some other task, or it might even be critical if it adversely affected alert status or a simulated launch later on. Great woe fell upon the combat crew that “critted out” and had to go through the entire crew certification procedure to regain their mission-ready status.

What’s this got to do with flying airplanes? Since we’re not talking nuclear Armageddon here, most pilots who “crit out” (i.e., have an accident) do so by letting minor and major errors snowball. Here’s an example from several years ago: I was flying a Beechcraft Bonanza from Wichita to Tullahoma, Tenn. This was my first long trip in the rented Beech, and I was still getting the hang of its Garmin GX60 IFR-qualified GPS. Somewhere over southwestern Missouri, I was assigned a vector around a newly hot MOA, and was told to expect direct to the Walnut Ridge VOR and then the rest of my route as filed. I made the heading change and began fiddling with the GPS.

Still not fully proficient with the interface, I put the Bonanza on autopilot while I loaded the new waypoints. Satisfied, I activated the flight plan…and watched as the Bo’ turned directly toward Walnut Ridge, about five degrees to my left. Minor error! I realized my mistake and returned to my assigned heading. I never penetrated the MOA, and ATC never said a word about it. I was now flying on a “4.9” score. I made a quick note to include the event after I landed, when I’d have time to learn from it. If I’d have accidentally penetrated the MOA, or if ATC had needed to divert traffic to avoid me as a result, it would have been a “major” offense. And if I’d hit something because of my originally “minor” transgression, well….

Some examples of minor errors: missing a radio call; failure to tune backup navcoms; improper setting of altitude alerters; misprogramming or failing to confirm the autopilot’s operating modes; one dot from center on course guidance or glidepath at the missed approach point; etc. A few examples of major errors: Missing a handoff; flying a destabilized approach; deviation from your fuel management schedule; more than 100 feet off altitude; etc. In addition to actual crashes, critical errors include: busting minimums; deviations from an instrument procedure, cleared route or altitude that would result in failure of the IFR Practical Test; failing to brief for the missed approach; failure to follow an obstacle departure procedure; etc. You could list possibilities all day long. It’s easier and more effective to quickly note the transgressions in flight, then rank errors against the minor/major/critical scale after you land.

The trick of flying is to minimize the minor errors and avoid the major offenses, and thereby not “crit out,” or have an accident. We will make mistakes. It’s almost always possible to recover from a minor error in the plane and keep your score in the HQ range. Even if you “pull a major,” as we said in the Air Force, you can fly the rest of the trip in perfect safety if you monitor your position, use your checklists and watch your performance. Put the emotion of making a mistake behind you, and fly the rest of the trip to HQ standards. After you land, review your in-flight notes and score yourself—to become a highly qualified pilot.

Whether you answer a few brief questions or complete a detailed, point-by-point review—in your head, aloud with a fellow pilot or in writing—to fully benefit from the experience of every flight it’s extremely helpful to do a post-flight debriefing. The sooner after you land the better, because more information will be fresh in your head.

Most of us shut down, get out of the airplane, and get on with our busy lives—likely the reason we flew in the first place. Taking a few moments, however, to review the lessons of every flight will help prepare you for the next ones.

Jun 24, 2019

Craig O'Mara didn't start out intending to be a pilot. He was a bird-watcher, and became more interested in flight as he watched the birds, and started flying as a teenager. He soloed as a 16-year old, and received his Private Pilot certificate on his 17th birthday.

In 1979 he joined the Air Force Reserves as a C-9 pilot, flying air ambulance missions all over the United States, as well as overseas. He flew the C-9 for a total of 20 years.

In 1985 he was hired by United Airlines, and served on the DC-10, B737, B757/767, B747 and B787. He was a Line Check Airman on many of these aircraft.

In addition to his United flying, Craig flew as a pilot for NASA in the B747SP. He also flew a variety of warbirds.

Jun 20, 2019

Your preflight briefing will depend on what type of flight you are planning - a training flight briefing will be quite different than an airline brief. But there are some factors that will be common to all flights:

Mission Objective



Aircraft Performance

Aircraft Maintenance Status

Route of Flight


Takeoff Briefing (PF)

Departure/Arrival Airports

Rejected Takeoff


Crew Member Duties/Expectations

Arrival/Approach/Missed Approach


Training Objective/Elements

Jun 17, 2019

Special thanks to Shreenand Sadhale for suggesting this episode!

Cliff Notes version of my career:

Air Force Academy

Undergraduate Pilot Training

O-2A Forward Air Controller, Danang, Vietnam

B-52 copilot, Mather Air Force Base

F-4 Aircraft Commander, Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base

F-4 Aircraft Commander, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa

T-39 Aircraft Commander/Instructor Pilot, Kadeena Air Base, Okinawa

O-2A Instructor Pilot, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida

B727 Flight Operations Instructor/Flight Engineer, Unites Airlines

O-2A Instructor Pilot, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida

T-39/C-21 Instructor Pilot/Evaluator, Yokota Air Base, Japan

B737 First Officer/Training Check Airman, United Airlines

B737/B727 Captain, United Airlines

B727 /B777 Standards Captain, United Airlines

Adjunct Professor, Metropolitan State College of Denver/Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

C680 Flight Instructor/Evaluator, FlightSafety International

B777 Senior Commander, Jet Airways, India

IOSA Audit Team Leader

B787 Instructor Pilot, Boeing

B777 Instructor Pilot, Omni Air International

Lecturer, Metropolitan State University of Denver

Fleet Technical Instructor, United Airlines

Jun 13, 2019

FAR 91.25 refers to the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting Program, and Advisory Circular AC 00-46E Explains the program. AOPA has an excellent article about the program.

The Aviation Safety Reporting System, or ASRS, is the US Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) voluntary confidential reporting system that allows pilots and other aircraft crew members to confidentially report near misses and close calls in the interest of improving air safety. The ASRS collects, analyzes, and responds to voluntarily submitted aviation safety incident reports in order to lessen the likelihood of aviation accidents. The confidential and independent nature of the ASRS is key to its success, since reporters do not have to worry about any possible negative consequences of coming forward with safety problems. The ASRS is run by NASA, a neutral party, since it has no power in enforcement. The success of the system serves as a positive example that is often used as a model by other industries seeking to make improvements in safety.

A notable feature of the ASRS is its confidentiality and immunity policy. Reporters may, but are not required to, submit their name and contact information. If the ASRS staff has questions regarding a report, it can perform a callback and request further information or clarification from the reporter. Once the staff is satisfied with the information received, the report is stripped of identifying information and assigned a report number. The part of the reporting form with contact information is detached and returned to the reporter. ASRS will issue alerts to relevant parties, such as airlines, air traffic controllers, manufacturers or airport authorities, if it feels it is necessary to improve safety. The ASRS also publishes a monthly newsletter highlighting safety issues, and now has an online database of reports that is accessible by the public.

Often, reports are submitted because a rule was accidentally broken. The FAA's immunity policy encourages submission of all safety incidents and observations, especially information that could prevent a major accident. If enforcement action is taken by the FAA against an accidental rule violation that did not result in an accident, a reporter can present their ASRS form as proof that the incident was reported. The FAA views the report as evidence of a "constructive safety attitude" and will not impose a penalty.Immunity can be exercised once every five years, though an unlimited number of reports can be filed.

Due to the self-selected nature of the reports to the ASRS, NASA cautions against statistical use of the data they contain. On the other hand, they do express considerable confidence in the reliability of the reports submitted:

"However, the ASRS can say with certainty that its database provides definitive lower-bound estimates of the frequencies at which various types of aviation safety events actually occur. For example, 34,404 altitude overshoots were reported to the ASRS from January 1988 through December 1994. It can be confidently concluded that at least this number of overshoots occurred during the 1988-94 period--and probably many more. Often, such lower-bound estimates are all that decision makers need to determine that a problem exists and requires attention."[3]

Speaking before a Flight Safety Foundation International Air Safety Seminar in Madrid in November 1966, Bobbie R. Allen, the Director of the Bureau of Safety of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board, referred to the vast body of accumulated aviation safety incident information as a "sleeping giant." Noting that fear of legal liability and of regulatory or disciplinary action had prevented the dissemination of this information, rendering it valueless to those who might use it to combat hazards in the aviation system, Mr. Allen commented:

“In the event that the fear of exposure cannot be overcome by other means, it might be profitable if we explored a system of incident reporting which would assure a substantial flow of vital information to the computer for processing, and at the same time, would provide some method designed to effectively eliminate the personal aspect of the individual occurrences so that the information derived would be helpful to all and harmful to none.”

Several years earlier, in testimony before the U.S. Senate on the legislation proposing the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, the late William A. Patterson, then President of United Airlines, touched on the need to develop accurate safety trend information. "On the positive side," said Mr. Patterson, "you take your statistics - and your records - and your exposures - and you act before the happening!“

These distinguished aviation figures were articulating an objective long-recognized, but which had frustrated all efforts at accomplishment. In the years to come, frequent references to the need for information collection and dissemination would recur.

Enforcement Restrictions. The FAA considers the filing of a report with NASA concerning an incident or occurrence involving a violation of 49 U.S.C. subtitle VII or the 14 CFR to be indicative of a constructive attitude. Such an attitude will tend to prevent future violations. Accordingly, although a finding of violation may be made, neither a civil penalty nor certificate suspension will be imposed if:

  1. The violation was inadvertent and not deliberate;
  2. The violation did not involve a criminal offense, accident, or action under 49 U.S.C. §44709, which discloses a lack of qualification or competency, which is wholly excluded from this policy;
  3. The person has not been found in any prior FAA enforcement action to have committed a violation of 49 U.S.C. subtitle VII, or an regulation promulgated there for a period of 5 years prior to the date of occurrence; and
  4. The person proves that, within 10 days after the violation, or date when the person became aware or should have been aware of the violation, he or she completed and delivered or mailed a written report of the incident or occurrence to NASA.
Jun 10, 2019

Keith Reeves wanted to be a pilot ever since he was a child, living on base at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and hearing the local F-4s and SR-71s taking off.

When the family relocated to Selfridge Air Force Base he got the chance to get close to airplanes. A friend on base took him up for a flight in a General Aviation plane, and he was hooked.

He attended the United States Air Force Academy, and flew with the Academy aero club. Before Undergraduate Pilot Training, he served as an engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, then he attended pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base. Kevin qualified for the T-38 track, then flew B-52's for 5 1/2 years, rising to the position of Instructor Pilot.

While flying B-52s, he bought a Citabria, and kept it for 10 years.

He applied to the B-2 program, and was accepted on his third attempt. He remained on the B-2 for the remainder of his flying career, stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base. In addition to the B-2, Keith was dual-qualified in the T-38.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he flew a 37-hour flight.

Keith now flies as a B737 first officer for a major legacy airline.

Jun 6, 2019

Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II. The operation was launched on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune, commonly known as D-Day). A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving more than 5,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.

The decision to undertake a cross-channel invasion in 1944 was taken at the Trident Conference in Washington in May 1943. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), and General Bernard Montgomery was named as commander of the 21st Army Group, which comprised all the land forces involved in the invasion. The coast of Normandy of northwestern France was chosen as the site of the invasion, with the Americans assigned to land at sectors codenamed Utah and Omaha, the British at Sword and Gold, and the Canadians at Juno. To meet the conditions expected on the Normandy beachhead, special technology was developed, including two artificial ports called Mulberry harbors and an array of specialized tanks nicknamed Hobart's Funnies. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, Operation Bodyguard, using both electronic and visual misinformation. This misled the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. Führer Adolf Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in charge of developing fortifications all along Hitler's proclaimed Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an invasion.

The Allies failed to accomplish their objectives for the first day, but gained a tenuous foothold that they gradually expanded when they captured the port at Cherbourg on 26 June and the city of Caen on 21 July. A failed counterattack by German forces on 8 August left 50,000 soldiers of the 7th Army trapped in the Falaise pocket. The Allies launched a second invasion from the Mediterranean Sea of southern France (code-named Operation Dragoon) on 15 August, and the Liberation of Paris followed on 25 August. German forces retreated east across the Seine on 30 August 1944, marking the close of Operation Overlord.

Invasion stripes were alternating black and white bands painted on the fuselages and wings of Allied aircraft during World War II to reduce the chance that they would be attacked by friendly forces during and after the Normandy Landings. Three white and two black bands were wrapped around the rear of a fuselage just in front of the empennage (tail) and from front to back around the upper and lower wing surfaces.

After a study concluded that the thousands of aircraft involved in the invasion would saturate and break down the IFF system, the marking scheme was approved on May 17, 1944, by Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, commanding the Allied Expeditionary Air Force. A small-scale test exercise was flown over the OVERLORD invasion fleet on June 1, to familiarize the ships' crews with the markings, but for security reasons, orders to paint the stripes were not issued to the troop carrier units until June 3 and to the fighter and bomber units until June 4.

Stripes were applied to fighters, photo-reconnaissance aircraft, troop carriers, twin-engined medium and light bombers, and some special duty aircraft, but were not painted on four-engined heavy bombers of the U.S. Eighth Air Force or RAF Bomber Command, as there was little chance of mistaken identity — few such bombers existed in the Luftwaffe and were already quite familiar to the Allies. The order affected all aircraft of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force, the Air Defense of Great Britain, gliders, and support aircraft such as Coastal Command air-sea rescue aircraft whose duties might entail their overflying Allied anti-aircraft defenses.

One month after D-Day, the stripes were ordered removed from planes' upper surfaces to make them more difficult to spot on the ground at forward bases in France. They were completely removed by the end of 1944 after achieving total air supremacy over France.

The stripes were five alternating black and white stripes. On single-engine aircraft each stripe was to be 18 inches (46 cm) wide, placed 6 inches (15 cm) inboard of the roundels on the wings and 18 inches (46 cm) forward of the leading edge of the tailplane on the fuselage. National markings and serial number were not to be obliterated. On twin-engine aircraft the stripes were 24 inches (61 cm) wide, placed 24 inches (61 cm) outboard of the engine nacelles on the wings, and 18 inches (46 cm) forward of the leading edge of the tailplane around the fuselage. American aircraft using the invasion stripes very commonly had some part of the added "bar" section of their post-1942 roundels overlapping the invasion strips on the wings, however.

In most cases the stripes were painted on by the ground crews; with only a few hours' notice, few of the stripes were "masked". As a result, depending on the abilities of the "erks" (RAF nickname for ground crew), the stripes were often far from neat and tidy.

Plans for the invasion of Normandy went through several preliminary phases throughout 1943, during which the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS) allocated 13½ U.S. troop carrier groups to an undefined airborne assault. The actual size, objectives, and details of the plan were not drawn up until after General Dwight D. Eisenhower became Supreme Allied Commander in January 1944. In mid-February Eisenhower received word from Headquarters U.S. Army Air Forces that the TO&E of the C-47 Skytraingroups would be increased from 52 to 64 aircraft (plus nine spares) by April 1 to meet his requirements. At the same time the commander of the U.S. First Army, Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, won approval of a plan to land two airborne divisions on the Cotentin Peninsula, one to seize the beach causeways and block the eastern half at Carentan from German reinforcements, the other to block the western corridor at La Haye-du-Puits in a second lift. The exposed and perilous nature of the La Haye de Puits mission was assigned to the veteran 82nd Airborne Division ("The All-Americans"), commanded by Major General Matthew Ridgway, while the causeway mission was given to the untested 101st Airborne Division ("The Screaming Eagles"), which received a new commander in March, Brigadier General Maxwell D. Taylor, formerly the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery who had also been temporary assistant division commander (ADC) of the 82nd Airborne Division, replacing Major General William C. Lee, who suffered a heart attack and returned to the United States.

Bradley insisted that 75 per cent of the airborne assault be delivered by gliders for concentration of forces. Because it would be unsupported by naval and corps artillery, Ridgway, commanding the 82nd Airborne Division, also wanted a glider assault to deliver his organic artillery. The use of gliders was planned until April 18, when tests under realistic conditions resulted in excessive accidents and destruction of many gliders. On April 28 the plan was changed; the entire assault force would be inserted by parachute drop at night in one lift, with gliders providing reinforcement during the day.

Jun 3, 2019

Angel Smith started out in the Marines as an enlisted aviation radio repairman and then separated to go to college. Once out, she encountered a Marine recruiter who was trying to sign up women pilots, so she took the flight test and was hooked.

After she received her undergraduate degree (she now has a masters degree and is now finishing up her doctorate) she attended Marine Officer School, then went to pilot training at Pensacola for her first flight at the controls of an airplane.

She went through flight school as a single parent of two young children, and got her first choice of aircraft - the C-130 Hercules. In the C-130, she was stationed at Futenma Air Station in Okinawa. One of her first missions was refueling Navy fighters.

After the flying assignment, Angel served as the aide to three different generals in three years. She became the speechwriter for the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

After that, she returned to flying in the C-130 at Miramar. Angel served for a total of 23 years.

May 30, 2019

The basic needs of the learner must be satisfied before he or
she is ready or capable of learning (see Chapter 1, Human
Behavior). The instructor can do little to motivate the learner
if these needs have not been met. This means the learner must
want to learn the task being presented and must possess the
requisite knowledge and skill. In SBT, the instructor attempts
to make the task as meaningful as possible and to keep it
within the learner’s capabilities.
Students best acquire new knowledge when they see a clear
reason for doing so, often show a strong interest in learning
what they believe they need to know next, and tend to set
aside things for which they see no immediate need. For
example, beginning flight students commonly ignore the
flight instructor’s suggestion to use the trim control. These
students believe the control yoke is an adequate way to
manipulate the aircraft’s control surfaces. Later in training,
when they must divert their attention away from the controls
to other tasks, they realize the importance of trim.
Instructors can take two steps to keep their students in a state
of readiness to learn. First, instructors should communicate a
clear set of learning objectives to the student and relate each new topic to those objectives. Second, instructors should
introduce topics in a logical order and leave students with a
need to learn the next topic. The development and use of a
well-designed curriculum accomplish this goal.
Readiness to learn also involves what is called the “teachable
moment” or a moment of educational opportunity when a
person is particularly responsive to being taught something.
One of the most important skills to develop as an instructor
is the ability to recognize and capitalize on “teachable
moments” in aviation training. An instructor can find or
create teachable moments in flight training activity: pattern
work, air work in the local practice area, cross-country, flight
review, or instrument proficiency check.
Teachable moments present opportunities to convey
information in a way that is relevant, effective, and memorable
to the student. They occur when a learner can clearly see how
specific information or skills can be used in the real world.
For example, while on final approach several deer cross the
runway. Bill capitalizes on this teachable moment to stress the
importance of always being ready to perform a go-around.

All learning involves the formation of connections and
connections are strengthened or weakened according to
the law of effect. Responses to a situation that are followed
by satisfaction are strengthened; responses followed by
discomfort are weakened, either strengthening or weakening
the connection of learning. Thus, learning is strengthened
when accompanied by a pleasant or satisfying feeling, and
weakened when associated with an unpleasant feeling.
Experiences that produce feelings of defeat, frustration,
anger, confusion, or futility are unpleasant for the student.
For example, if Bill teaches landings to Beverly during the
first flight, she is likely to feel inferior and be frustrated,
which weakens the learning connection.
The learner needs to have success in order to have more
success in the future. It is important for the instructor to create
situations designed to promote success. Positive training
experiences are more apt to lead to success and motivate the
learner, while negative training experiences might stimulate
forgetfulness or avoidance. When presented correctly, SBT
provides immediate positive experiences in terms of real
world applications.
To keep learning pleasant and to maintain student motivation,
an instructor should make positive comments about the
student’s progress before discussing areas that need
improving. Flight instructors have an opportunity to do this
during the flight debriefing. For example, Bill praises Beverly on her aircraft control during all phases of flight, but offers
constructive comments on how to better maintain the runway
centerline during landings.

Connections are strengthened with practice and weakened
when practice is discontinued, which reflects the adage “use
it or lose it.” The learner needs to practice what has been
learned in order to understand and remember the learning.
Practice strengthens the learning connection; disuse weakens
it. Exercise is most meaningful and effective when a skill is
learned within the context of a real world application.
Primacy, the state of being first, often creates a strong, almost
unshakable impression and underlies the reason an instructor
must teach correctly the first time and the student must learn
correctly the first time. For example, a maintenance student
learns a faulty riveting technique. Now the instructor must
correct the bad habit and reteach the correct technique.
Relearning is more difficult than initial learning.
Also, if the task is learned in isolation, it is not initially
applied to the overall performance, or if it must be relearned,
the process can be confusing and time consuming. The
first experience should be positive, functional, and lay the
foundation for all that is to follow.
Immediate, exciting, or dramatic learning connected to
a real situation teaches a learner more than a routine or
boring experience. Real world applications (scenarios)
that integrate procedures and tasks the learner is capable
of learning make a vivid impression and he or she is least
likely to forget the experience. For example, using realistic
scenarios has been shown to be effective in the development
of proficiency in flight maneuvers, tasks, and single-pilot
resource management (SRM) skills.
The principle of recency states that things most recently
learned are best remembered. Conversely, the further a
learner is removed in time from a new fact or understanding,
the more difficult it is to remember. For example, it is easy for
a learner to recall a torque value used a few minutes earlier,
but it is more difficult or even impossible to remember an
unfamiliar one used a week earlier.

May 27, 2019

Memorial Day endures as a holiday which most businesses observe because it marks the unofficial beginning of summer. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) advocated returning to the original date, although the significance of the date is tenuous. The VFW stated in 2002:

In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, asking people to stop and remember at 3:00 PM.

On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

The National Memorial Day Concert takes place on the west lawn of the United States Capitol. The concert is broadcast on PBS and NPR. Music is performed, and respect is paid to the men and women who gave their lives for their country.

Across the United States, the central event is attending one of the thousands of parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities. Most of these feature marching bands and an overall military theme with the Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard and Veteran service members participating along with military vehicles from various wars.

During World War II, more airmen died in combat than Marines.

Operation Tidal Wave was an air attack by bombers of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) based in Libya and Southern Italy on nine oil refineries around Ploiești, Romania on 1 August 1943, during World War II. It was a strategic bombing mission and part of the "oil campaign" to deny petroleum-based fuel to the Axis. The mission resulted in "no curtailment of overall product output."

This mission was one of the costliest for the USAAF in the European Theater, with 53 aircraft and 660 air crewmen lost. It was proportionally the most costly major Allied air raid of the war and its date was later referred to as "Black Sunday". Five Medals of Honor and 56 Distinguished Service Crosses along with numerous others awards were awarded to Operation Tidal Wave crew members.

Here is the story of John C. Waldron:

June 4, 1942. The 15 Douglas TBD-1 Devastators of VT-8 launched from Hornet's flight deck in search of the enemy. Before takeoff, LCDR Waldron had a dispute with the Hornet's Commander, Air Group, Stanhope C. Ring, and Hornet CO Marc Mitscher about where the Japanese carriers would be found. Despite having a contact report showing the Japanese southwest of Hornet, Mitscher and Ring ordered the flight to take a course due west, in the hopes of spotting a possible trailing group of carriers. Waldron argued for a course based on the contact report, but was overruled. Once in the air, Waldron attempted to take control of the Hornet strike group by radio. Failing that, he soon split his squadron off and led his unit directly to the Japanese carrier group. Waldron, leading the first carrier planes to approach the Japanese carriers (somewhat after 9:00AM local time, over an hour before the American dive bombers would arrive), was grimly aware of the lack of fighter protection, but true to his plan of attack committed Torpedo 8 to battle. Without fighter escort, underpowered, with limited defensive armament, and forced by the unreliability of their own torpedoes to fly low and slow directly at their targets, the Hornet torpedo planes received the undivided attention of the enemy's combat air patrol of Mitsubishi Zero fighters. All 15 planes were shot down. Of the 30 men who set out that morning, only one—Ensign George H. Gay, Jr., USNR—survived. Their sacrifice, however, had not been in vain. Torpedo 8 had forced the Japanese carriers to maneuver radically, delaying the launching of the planned strike against the American carriers. After further separate attacks by the remaining two torpedo squadrons over the next hour, Japanese fighter cover and air defense coordination had become focused on low-altitude defense. This left the Japanese carriers exposed to the late-arriving SBD Dauntless dive bombers from Yorktown and Enterprise, which attacked from high altitude. The dive bombers fatally damaged three of the four Japanese carriers, changing the course of the battle.

May 23, 2019

The document that specifies the requirements of a Flight Review is AC 61-98B. From 61-98B:

Under § 61.56(c) no person may act as PIC of an aircraft unless within the preceding 24 calendar-months that person has accomplished a satisfactory flight review in an aircraft for which that pilot is appropriately rated. An appropriately-rated instructor or other designated person must conduct the flight review. The purpose of the flight review is to provide for a regular evaluation of pilot skills and aeronautical

Pilots and CFIs should be aware that, under § 61.56(d), there is no requirement for pilots who have completed certain proficiency checks and ratings within the preceding 24 calendar-months to accomplish a separate flight review. These accomplishments include satisfactory completion of pilot proficiency checks conducted by the FAA, an approved pilot check airman, a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE), or a U.S. Armed Force for a pilot certificate, rating, or operating privilege. However, the FAA recommends that pilots consider also accomplishing a review under some of the following circumstances. For example, a pilot with an Airplane Single-Engine Land (ASEL) rating may have recently obtained a glider rating, but may still wish to consider obtaining a flight review in a single-engine airplane if the appropriate 24-month period has nearly expired.

Review of Maneuvers and Procedures:
(1) The maneuvers and procedures covered during the review are those which, in the opinion of the CFI conducting the review, are necessary for the pilot to perform in order to demonstrate that he or she can safely exercise the privileges of his or her pilot certificate.
Accordingly, the CFI should evaluate the pilot’s skills and knowledge to the extent necessary to ensure that he or she can safely operate within regulatory requirements throughout a wide range of conditions. The CFI should always include abnormal and emergency procedures applicable to
the aircraft flown in the flight review.
(2) The CFI may wish to prepare a preliminary plan for the flight review based on an interview or other assessment of the pilot’s qualifications and skills. The CFI should outline a sequence of maneuvers to the pilot taking the review. For example, this may include a cross-country flight to another airport with maneuvers accomplished while en route. It could also include a period of simulated instrument flight time. The CFI should request that the pilot conduct whatever preflight preparation is necessary to complete the planned flight. This preparation should include all items required in part 91, § 91.103, such as checking weather, calculating required runway lengths, calculating Weight and Balance (W&B), completing a flight log, filing a flight plan, and conducting the preflight inspection.
(3) Before beginning the flight portion of the review, the CFI should discuss various operational areas with the pilot. This oral review should include, but not be limited to, areas such as aircraft systems, speeds, performance, meteorological and other hazards (e.g., windshear and wake turbulence), operations in controlled airspace, and abnormal and emergency procedures.
The emphasis during this discussion should be on practical knowledge of recommended procedures and regulatory requirements.
(4) Regardless of the pilot’s experience, the CFI may wish to review at least those maneuvers considered critical to safe flight, such as stalls, slow flight, and takeoffs and landings. Based on his or her in-flight assessment of the pilot’s skills, the CFI may wish to add other maneuvers from the PTS appropriate to the pilot’s grade of certificate. All reviews should include those areas within the PTS identified as “Special Emphasis.” Appendix 5 includes a list of suggested maneuvers. The FAA does not intend this list to be all-inclusive, nor does it limit a CFI’s discretion in selecting other appropriate maneuvers and procedures. To the greatest possible extent, the CFI should organize and sequence the selected maneuvers in a realistic
scenario appropriate to the kind of flying normally done by the pilot.
(5) The role of the CFI during the review is to provide an evaluation. However, the instructor is not limited to this role and may provide specific instruction to an airman on any areas the instructor notes as being weak. This additional instruction does not preclude the pilot’s successful completion of the review as long as the deficiencies are corrected. If the additional instruction does not correct the deficiencies, and/or it becomes apparent to the instructor that additional flights will be necessary, the CFI should discuss the situation with the pilot and proceed accordingly.

May 20, 2019

Gregory Poole is a former Coast Guard flight engineer, based in Southern California. When he was a teenager, he saw a poster of a military helicopter, and that was his inspiration to enlist.

His training was in North Carolina, learning avionics, electrical, mechanical and rescue. He cross-trained in numerous fields.

As an early flight engineer, he performed a rescue at the bottom of a cliff where a car had gone off the road, and he had to conduct the rescue with the rotor blades inches from the face of the cliff. His rescue helicopter was the HH-52, similar to the Sea King helicopter.

As flight engineer, he performed all preflight and post-flight inspections, with special attention to hydraulics. During actual missions, he operated the night spotlight and forward-looking infra-red (FLIR), which was essential in night rescue missions.

Greg also participated in law enforcement missions.

Greg is also an experienced martial artist instructor. He started in Philippines martial arts, then branched in to aikido, tae kwan do, hapkido, jeet kun do and salat. He has developed his own system, and now trains youngsters.

May 16, 2019

In May of last year I was accepted into the Writers Guild Foundation Veterans Writing Project. The program accepts 50 veterans each year (I was turned down the previous year) and holds a 3-day Retreat to launch the year's activities.

We were divided into groups of about 8 veterans and paired with working screen writing professionals to brainstorm our topics and refine our writing process. Then we were mentored throughout the year by more professional writers, with meetings twice each month. those of us who did not live in the Los Angeles area were able to participate via Facebook video and telephone conferences.

I based my script on my Hamfist novel series. I quickly discovered that a screenplay is totally different from a novel, and my script evolved dramatically, mostly due to the feedback of my mentor, Sabrina Almeida. With her help and guidance, my script went from not-ready-for-prime-time to pretty darned good.

And now the yearlong program, for me, is over, and I was invited to "pitch" my script to industry heavyweights. So, two days ago, I went to Los Angeles for the pitch-fest.

Here’s the pitch:

I'm Major George Nolly of the US Air Force

Author of the Hamfist Novel Series, with multiple Best-sellers that have been ranked #1 Fiction in the Vietnam War - History category with over 151,000 units downloaded and paperback sales on Amazon.

I teach Aviation at Metro State University, and I'm a Flight Instructor at United Airlines, where I flew for 26 years after active duty.

I have two masters, and a doctorate in Homeland Security, but before that, I was a cadet at the US Air Force Academy because I wanted to be a pilot, just like my father.

I did two tours in Vietnam with 198 combat missions flying an F-4 fighter jet, and let me tell you, there is nothing in this world that compares to being strapped to two J79 engines pushing 36,000 foot pounds of thrust at Mach 1 while a SAM is closing in on your ass.

It was everything I hoped for and more.

But before I got into my first dogfight, I had to get through my first combat tour.

After pilot training, I went over as a FAC, a Forward Air Controller, in an O-2, which was a tiny, twin-prop Cessna used to fly low to the ground, and spot high-value targets in enemy territory.

It was NOT what I signed up for.

  • And that's where we meet our hero, Hamilton "Hamfist" Hancock, a hotshot pilot with the need for speed, who sabotoges his chance at a fighter assignment by shining his ass on his final flight in pilot training.

He's sent to Vietnam in an O-2, one of the slowest planes in the service, where he meets SPEEDBRAKE, fellow pilot and mentor, who shows him what a FAC really does:

He loiters in the area long enough to direct fighters in for an air strike. The way you do this is at night is by GOING CHRISTMAS TREE, where we would turn on all our exterior lights and light up like a christmas tree to attract enemy ground fire, so that Charlie would reveal himself to our fighters for an air strike.

It's on a close call going Christmas Tree where our hero earns the call sign HAMFIST.


When the Base Commander offers winner's choice of aircraft for the pilot with the highest kill ratio, Hamfist sees a way into an F-4, that is, if he can beat his nemesis, Tank, the squadron Top Dog.

However, Hamfist's relentless pursuit leads him to fly fast and loose. When his flying puts others in jeopardy, he is deemed reckless, and sent on mandatory R&R.

While on R&R in Tokyo, he meets SAMANTHA - SAM, a recent Harvard Law Grad. Samantha has just signed up to join the Air Force as a JAG, and has a thing for fighter pilots. For the first time, Hamfist has dreams of something big in his life, other than flying fast.

That dream is interrupted when Hamfist gets word that his Mentor SPEEDBRAKE is shot down, and Hamfist must return to Vietnam to pack up Speedbrake's things for his family.

On his first mission back, distracted by how he left things with Sam, Hamfist gets shot down over the trail, and injured during his rescue.

After he's patched up, he persuades the doc to clear him to fly, even though the full extent of his injuries are not yet known.

The deadline arrives for the competition, and he has just enough time for one more sortie to secure his lead over TANK.

However, when as he enters the target area, he hears a distress call from a downed F-4. Hamfist forfeits his target to rescue the pilot.

Hamfist returns to base as a hero, however, he loses the competition to Tank, and along with that, his dreams of piloting an F-4.

A medical exam reveals that his injuries were more severe than previously thought, and he also loses his Air Force Flight Clearance.

Hamfist is overcome by the failure in his pursuit to follow in his father's footsteps.

Unable to turn to Sam, for fear that her affections will change, now that he will never be a fighter pilot, he severs his relationship with her while she is still in Officer Training.

Hamfist is given the option to leave the service at the end of his tour with an Honorable Discharge, or remain grounded for the rest of his career.

When word of his heroism reaches the private sector, however, Hamfist is offered a job as a civilian test pilot... in an F-4.

Assigned as the Interim Squadron Intel Officer until a replacement arrives, he witnesses the dedication of the men left behind on base while pilots flew their combat missions.

- The maintenance crews that perform 20 man-hours to every one hour he was in the air.

He sees how each person's contribution to the war effort is critical.

Hamfist understands that the War Effort comes before his personal desires, and extends his tour in Vietnam as a Ground officer.

That's when his replacement Intel Officer arrives on base, and Hamilton walks in to brief... Samantha, freshly graduated from Intel School.


May 13, 2019

Tom Cappelletti wanted to be a pilot ever since he was a child, but his first Air Force assignment was as an engineer. Yom spent three years at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a Test Program Manager before getting an assignment to Undergraduate Pilot Training in the Reserves.

After earning his wings, Tom flew the C-9 aeromedical evacuation aircraft, flying patients and their families to medical facilities all over the united States. He has landed virtually everywhere that has 5000 feet of concrete in the aeromedical evacuation role.

Tom participated in the commissioning of a painting of the C-9 to hang at Scott Air Force Base to commemorate the aircraft.

Tom became an airline pilot with a major carrier, and now flies the B737NG. His routes include Hawaii, Canada, and South America. Like every other pilot at his airline tom is ETOPS (Extended Twin Engine Operations) qualified.

Tom has an eclectic collection of aviation memorabilia, books and prints, and has had many of the items personally signed.

May 9, 2019

From NCBI:

Normalization of deviance is a term first coined by sociologist Diane Vaughan when reviewing the Challenger disaster. Vaughan noted that the root cause of the Challenger disaster was related to the repeated choice of NASA officials to fly the space shuttle despite a dangerous design flaw with the O-rings. Vaughan describes this phenomenon as occurring when people within an organization become so insensitive to deviant practice that it no longer feels wrong. Insensitivity occurs insidiously and sometimes over years because disaster does not happen until other critical factors line up. In clinical practice, failing to do time outs before procedures, shutting off alarms, and breaches of infection control are deviances from evidence-based practice. As in other industries, health care workers do not make these choices intending to set into motion a cascade toward disaster and harm. Deviation occurs because of barriers to using the correct process or drivers such as time, cost, and peer pressure. As in other industries, operators will often adamantly defend their actions as necessary and justified. Although many other high-risk industries have embraced the normalization of deviance concept, it is relatively new to health care. It is urgent that we explore the impact of this concept on patient harm. We can borrow this concept from other industries and also the steps these other high-risk organizations have found to prevent it.

May 6, 2019

From Air Line Pilots Association:

In September 2016, Capt. David Whitson (United) was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a condition in which white blood cells that manage the body’s immune system form abnormally. The then B-787 first officer was treated at the Texas Oncology–Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas, Tex., where he spent an initial 30 days undergoing tests and chemotherapy.

“I had a mutation called FLT3 that put me at high risk for not reaching remission and also in a high-incidence category for relapse even if remission was achieved,” he recalled, adding, “My best shot was to have a bone marrow transplant, also called a stem cell transplant. Without it, I had a 5 percent chance of survival.”

Whitson was released from the hospital for a brief break. During this period, doctors conducted a bone marrow biopsy and discovered that the pilot’s cancer was in remission, a condition necessary to achieve before a bone marrow transplant could be conducted. Whitson and his doctors quickly found a donor.

“It was hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that a complete stranger would be willing to give me bone marrow stem cells and potentially save my life,” he acknowledged. Whitson endured additional rounds of chemotherapy and a full-body radiation scan to ensure his body was ready and on Dec. 21, 2016, received the transplant. Within several days, his new immune system was up and running.

Thirteen days after the transplant, Whitson was released from the hospital. He noted that prior to the transfusion of stem cells his blood type was B+, but today it’s O-. In addition, the DNA in his blood is different from that in his body.

Whitson encourages everyone to donate blood. “I needed more than a dozen blood and platelet transfusions during my treatments,” he said. The United pilot also urges those interested to join the national bone marrow registry at or “There’s a lack of diversity within the registry, and minorities are greatly needed,” he shared.

“Every day is a gift,” Whitson remarked, who credits ALPA’s Aeromedical Office for advising him and helping him jump through the necessary hoops to acquire his special issuance medical certificate and return to the cockpit. He also gave a nod to his medical benefits, noting, “I was on long-term disability for more than two years, and my medical insurance was excellent. Thank you, ALPA!”

May 2, 2019

From the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge:

The stability of the atmosphere depends on its ability to
resist vertical motion. A stable atmosphere makes vertical
movement difficult, and small vertical disturbances dampen
out and disappear. In an unstable atmosphere, small vertical air
movements tend to become larger, resulting in turbulent airflow
and convective activity. Instability can lead to significant
turbulence, extensive vertical clouds, and severe weather.
Rising air expands and cools due to the decrease in air
pressure as altitude increases. The opposite is true of
descending air; as atmospheric pressure increases, the
temperature of descending air increases as it is compressed.
Adiabatic heating and adiabatic cooling are terms used to
describe this temperature change.

The adiabatic process takes place in all upward and
downward moving air. When air rises into an area of lower
pressure, it expands to a larger volume. As the molecules
of air expand, the temperature of the air lowers. As a result,
when a parcel of air rises, pressure decreases, volume
increases, and temperature decreases. When air descends,
the opposite is true. The rate at which temperature decreases
with an increase in altitude is referred to as its lapse rate.
As air ascends through the atmosphere, the average rate of
temperature change is 2 °C (3.5 °F) per 1,000 feet.
Since water vapor is lighter than air, moisture decreases air
density, causing it to rise. Conversely, as moisture decreases,
air becomes denser and tends to sink. Since moist air cools
at a slower rate, it is generally less stable than dry air since
the moist air must rise higher before its temperature cools
to that of the surrounding air. The dry adiabatic lapse rate
(unsaturated air) is 3 °C (5.4 °F) per 1,000 feet. The moist
adiabatic lapse rate varies from 1.1 °C to 2.8 °C (2 °F to
5 °F) per 1,000 feet.
The combination of moisture and temperature determine the
stability of the air and the resulting weather. Cool, dry air
is very stable and resists vertical movement, which leads to
good and generally clear weather. The greatest instability
occurs when the air is moist and warm, as it is in the tropical
regions in the summer. Typically, thunderstorms appear on
a daily basis in these regions due to the instability of the
surrounding air.

As air rises and expands in the atmosphere, the temperature
decreases. There is an atmospheric anomaly that can occur;
however, that changes this typical pattern of atmospheric
behavior. When the temperature of the air rises with altitude, a
temperature inversion exists. Inversion layers are commonly
shallow layers of smooth, stable air close to the ground. The
temperature of the air increases with altitude to a certain
point, which is the top of the inversion. The air at the top
of the layer acts as a lid, keeping weather and pollutants
trapped below. If the relative humidity of the air is high, it
can contribute to the formation of clouds, fog, haze, or smoke
resulting in diminished visibility in the inversion layer.
Surface-based temperature inversions occur on clear, cool
nights when the air close to the ground is cooled by the
lowering temperature of the ground. The air within a few
hundred feet of the surface becomes cooler than the air above
it. Frontal inversions occur when warm air spreads over a
layer of cooler air, or cooler air is forced under a layer of
warmer air.

From AC 006B:

Vertical Motion Effects on an Unsaturated Air Parcel. As a bubble or parcel of air ascends (rises), it moves into an area of lower pressure (pressure decreases with height). As this occurs, the parcel expands. This requires energy, or work, which takes heat away from the parcel, so the air cools as it rises. This is called an adiabatic process. The term adiabatic means that no heat transfer occurs into, or out of, the parcel. Air has low thermal conductivity, so transfer of heat by conduction is negligibly small.

The rate at which the parcel cools as it is lifted is called the lapse rate. The lapse rate of a rising, unsaturated parcel (air with relative humidity less than 100 percent) is approximately 3 °C per 1,000 feet (9.8 °C per kilometer). This is called the dry adiabatic lapse rate. This means for each 1,000-foot increase in elevation, the parcel’s temperature decreases by 3 °C. Concurrently, the dewpoint decreases approximately 0.5 °C per 1,000 feet (1.8 °C per kilometer). The parcel’s temperature-dewpoint spread decreases, while its relative humidity increases. 

This process is reversible if the parcel remains unsaturated and, thus, does not lose any water vapor. A descending (subsiding) air parcel compresses as it moves into an area of higher pressure. The atmosphere surrounding the parcel does work on the parcel, and energy is added to the compressed parcel, which warms it. Thus, the temperature of a descending air parcel increases approximately 3 °C per 1,000 feet (9.8 °C per kilometer). Concurrently, the dewpoint increases approximately 0.5 °C per 1,000 feet (1.8 °C per kilometer). The parcel’s temperature-dewpoint spread increases, while its relative humidity decreases.

The parcel and the surrounding environmental air temperatures are then compared. If the lifted parcel is colder than the surrounding air, it will be denser (heavier) and sink back to its original level. In this case, the parcel is stable because it resists upward displacement. If the lifted parcel is the same temperature as the surrounding air, it will be the same density and remain at the same level. In this case, the parcel is neutrally stable. If the lifted parcel is warmer and, therefore, less dense (lighter) than the surrounding air, it will continue to rise on its own until it reaches the same temperature as its environment. This final case is an example of an unstable parcel. Greater temperature differences result in greater rates of vertical motion.

Apr 29, 2019

Patrick McAlee is a dedicated and highly-skilled, aerobatic pilot who mixes his intense personality with his hardcore passion to produce a unique and entertaining product unlike any other. During his routine, Patrick executes his maneuvers to a choreographed music playlist all while practicing precision, professionalism and safety. Since its first inception, Pat’s dream has led him to fly shows all across the nation. He has logged over 1,000 aerobatic hours and over 10,000 hours in over thirty different aircraft. Before making the transition to airshows, Patrick flew in aerobatic competitions for 5 years; he has been performing shows for the past three. Currently Patrick strives to the best entertainer and performer for past and future generations.

Apr 26, 2019

In this age of flight directors, flight management computers and autopilots, it's easy to get into the mode of letting the automation do all the work. And that's good if it enhances safety.

But it's really important to keep your basic stick-and-rudder skills current, and that includes flying an ILS approach without any of the bells and whistles.

So let's discuss a hand-flown ILS flown WITHOUT a flight director or autopilot.

The key to successfully, easily flying a manual ILS is preparation. First, study the approach chart, so you have a complete understanding of all the facilities involved. Take a look at the distance from the glide slope intercept point and the outer marker (if it's part of the approach) to the runway. Examine the glide slope angle, and note if it is OTHER than the standard 3-degrees.

Now, as close to your ETE as possible, get the destination weather. Ideally, this will be right before you prepare for your approach. Now, take out your E6B computer and calculate your groundspeed and wind correction for the approach. If you can't remember how to do this, listen to episode RFT 146 and PRACTICE with your E6B until you can solve a wind problem in under 30 seconds. The only thing that makes this calculation different from what you do with the E6B for your cross-country planning planning is that you will be using only MAGNETIC winds (from ATIS), rather than winds oriented to true north.

When entering your true airspeed into your E6B, you need to know your true airspeed (TAS), based on your indicated airspeed (IAS). You can use the calculator side of your E6B to determine TAS (RFT 148), but, as a guide, TAS increases 2 percent for every 1000 feet above sea level. So, if you are flying your approach at 120 KIAS at an average elevation of 6000 feet MSL, your TAS is [120 + 120(.02X6)] = 120 + 14 = 134. THAT's the number you use for TAS in your E6B.

Once you have calculated your GS and WCA, calculate your descent rate and heading to keep yourself on the localizer and glide slope. Now that you have your groundspeed, you can calculate your 3-degree descent rate by multiplying HALF your groundspeed times 10. In the example above, our descent rate will be 670 feet per minute (FPM).

All of this, of course is simply a guide to get you into the ballpark for an easy, stabilized approach. But if you start out with these values, you will only need minimal corrections to keep your LOC and GS centered.

The only thing left to do when you get to approach minimums and visually acquire the runway is DON'T CHANGE ANYTHING. If you have a crosswind, the runway will not be DIRECTLY in front of you, it will be offset by your WCA.

Apr 22, 2019

From the Fighter Sweep website: Michael Rutledge is a 30 active duty year veteran with almost 12 years enlisted including a 3-year assignment as a Helicopter Rescue Swimmer, followed by 8 years as a Navy SEAL. While at SEAL Team One, he served as an M-60 gunner, Air Operations Specialist, Advanced Training Instructor and Platoon Leading Petty Officer. In 2002, Mike transferred to the U.S. Army to become a Warrant Officer Aviator. Upon graduation from flight school, he was directly assigned to the "Night Stalkers" of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) where he served for 13 years as an MH-47G pilot. His current assignment is the Commander of the West Point Flight Detachment at the United States Military Academy. Mike is also an accomplished aviation author, consultant, speaker, and airshow pilot specializing in vintage WWII aircraft, as well as spending his summers flying crop dusters in the Midwest.

Apr 18, 2019

The Doolittle Raid, also known as the Tokyo Raid, on Saturday, April 18, 1942, was an air raid by the United States on the Japanese capital Tokyo and other places on the island of Honshu during World War II, the first air operation to strike the Japanese Home Islands. It demonstrated that the Japanese mainland was vulnerable to American air attack, served as retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor, and provided an important boost to American morale. The raid was planned and led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle of the United States Army Air Forces.

Sixteen B-25B Mitchell medium bombers were launched without fighter escort from the U.S. Navy's aircraft carrierUSS Hornet (CV-8) deep in the Western Pacific Ocean, each with a crew of five men. The plan called for them to bomb military targets in Japan, and to continue westward to land in China—landing a medium bomber on Hornet was impossible. The bombing raid killed about 50 people, including civilians, and injured 400. Fifteen aircraft reached China, but all crashed, while the 16th landed at Vladivostok in the Soviet Union. Of the 80 crew members, 77 initially survived the mission. Eight airmen were captured by the Japanese Army in China; three of those were later executed. The B-25 that landed in the Soviet Union was confiscated, with its crew interned for more than a year before being allowed to "escape" via Soviet-occupied Iran. Fourteen complete crews of five, except for one crewman who was killed in action, returned either to the United States, or to American forces.[

After the raid, the Japanese Army conducted a massive sweep through the eastern coastal provinces of China, in an operation now known as the Zhejiang-Jiangxi campaign, searching for the surviving American airmen and inflicting retribution on the Chinese who aided them, in an effort to prevent this part of China from being used again for an attack on Japan.

The raid caused negligible material damage to Japan, but its consequences had major psychological effects. In the United States, it raised morale. In Japan, it raised doubt about the ability of military leaders to defend the home islands, but the bombing and strafing of civilians also steeled the resolve of many to gain retribution and was exploited for propaganda purposes.[ It also contributed to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's decision to attack Midway Island in the Central Pacific—an attack that turned into a decisive strategic defeat of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) by the U.S. Navy in the Battle of Midway. The consequences were most severely felt in China, where Japanese reprisals cost an estimated 250,000 lives.[

Doolittle, who initially believed that the loss of all his aircraft would lead to his court-martial, received the Medal of Honor and was promoted two ranks to brigadier general.

Doolittle and Hornet skipper Captain Marc Mitscher decided to launch the B-25s immediately—10 hours early and 170 nautical miles (310 km; 200 mi) farther from Japan than planned. After re-spotting to allow for engine start and run-ups, Doolittle's aircraft had 467 feet (142 m) of takeoff distance. Although none of the B-25 pilots, including Doolittle, had ever taken off from a carrier before, all 16 aircraft launched safely between 08:20 and 09:19. The B-25s then flew toward Japan, most in groups of two to four aircraft, before flying singly at wave-top level to avoid detection.[

The aircraft began arriving over Japan about noon Tokyo time, six hours after launch, climbed to 1,500 feet (460 m) and bombed 10 military and industrial targets in Tokyo, two in Yokohama, and one each in Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe, and Osaka. Although some B-25s encountered light antiaircraft fire and a few enemy fighters (made up of Ki-45s and prototype Ki-61s, the latter being mistaken for Bf 109s) over Japan, no bomber was shot down. Only the B-25 of 1st Lt. Richard O. Joyce received any battle damage, minor hits from antiaircraft fire. B-25 No. 4, piloted by 1st Lt. Everett W. Holstrom, jettisoned its bombs before reaching its target when it came under attack by fighters after its gun turret malfunctioned.[

The Americans claimed to have shot down three Japanese fighters – one by the gunners of the Whirling Dervish, piloted by 1st Lt. Harold Watson, and two by the gunners of the Hari Kari-er, piloted by 1st Lt. Ross Greening. Many targets were strafed by the bombers' nose gunners. The subterfuge of the simulated gun barrels mounted in the tail cones was described afterwards by Doolittle as effective, in that no airplane was attacked from directly behind.[

Fifteen of the 16 aircraft then proceeded southwest off the southeastern coast of Japan and across the East China Sea toward eastern China. One B-25, piloted by Captain Edward J. York, was extremely low on fuel, and headed instead for the Soviet Union rather than be forced to ditch in the middle of the East China Sea. Several fields in Zhejiang province were supposed to be ready to guide them in using homing beacons, then recover and refuel them for continuing on to Chongqing, the wartime Kuomintang capital. The primary base was at Zhuzhou, toward which all the aircraft navigated, but Halsey never sent the planned signal to alert them, apparently because of a possible threat to the task force.[

The raiders faced several unforeseen challenges during their flight to China: night was approaching, the aircraft were running low on fuel, and the weather was rapidly deteriorating. None would have reached China if not for a tail wind as they came off the target, which increased their ground speed by 25 kn (46 km/h; 29 mph) for seven hours. The crews realized they would probably not be able to reach their intended bases in China, leaving them the option of either bailing out over eastern China or crash-landing along the Chinese coast.[

All 15 aircraft reached the Chinese coast after 13 hours of flight and crash-landed or the crews bailed out. One crewman, 20-year-old Corporal Leland D. Faktor, flight engineer/gunner with 1st Lt. Robert M. Gray, was killed during his bailout attempt over China, the only man in that crew to be lost. Two crews (10 men) were missing. The 16th aircraft, commanded by Capt. Edward York (eighth off—AC #40-2242) flew to the Soviet Union and landed 40 miles (65 km) beyond Vladivostok at Vozdvizhenka, where their B-25 was confiscated and the crew interned.

Although York and his crew were treated well, diplomatic attempts to return them to the United States ultimately failed, as the Soviet Union was not at war with Japan and therefore obligated under international law to intern any combatants found on its soil. Eventually, they were relocated to Ashkhabad, 20 miles (32 km) from the Iranian border, and York managed to "bribe" a smuggler, who helped them cross the border into Iran, which at the time was under British-Soviet occupation. From there, the Americans were able to reach a nearby British consulate on 11 May 1943.[ The smuggling was actually staged by the NKVD, according to declassified Soviet archives, because the Soviet government was unable to repatriate them legally in the face of the neutrality pact with Japan and unwilling to openly flout its treaty obligations with Japan in light of the fact that Vladivostok and the rest of the Soviet Far East were essentially defenseless in the face of any potential Japanese retaliation. Nevertheless, by the time of the American aircrew's "escape" from Soviet internment, Japan's armed forces were clearly on the defensive and drawing down their strength in Manchuria in order to reinforce other fronts. Meanwhile, Soviet forces had gained the strategic initiative in Europe. Even if the Americans' "escape" managed to gain significant attention in Tokyo, it was by then thought extremely unlikely that Japan would respond with any sort of military retaliation.

Doolittle and his crew, after parachuting into China, received assistance from Chinese soldiers and civilians, as well as John Birch, an American missionary in China. As did the others who participated in the mission, Doolittle had to bail out, but he landed in a heap of dung (saving a previously injured ankle from breaking) in a paddy in China near Quzhou. The mission was the longest ever flown in combat by the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber, averaging about 2,250 nautical miles (4,170 km).

The Doolittle Raiders held an annual reunion almost every year from the late 1940s to 2013. The high point of each reunion was a solemn, private ceremony in which the surviving Raiders performed a roll call, then toasted their fellow Raiders who had died during the previous year. Specially engraved silver goblets, one for each of the 80 Raiders, were used for this toast; the goblets of those who had died were inverted. Each Raider's name was engraved on his goblet both right side up and upside down. The Raiders drank a toast using a bottle of cognac that accompanied the goblets to each Raider reunion.[ In 2013, the remaining Raiders decided to hold their last public reunion at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, not far from Eglin Air Force Base, where they trained for the original mission. The bottle and the goblets had been maintained by the United States Air Force Academy on display in Arnold Hall, the cadet social center, until 2006. On 19 April 2006, these memorabilia were transferred to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.[

On 18 April 2013, a final reunion for the surviving Raiders was held at Eglin Air Force Base, with Robert Hite the only survivor unable to attend.[

The "final toast to fallen comrades" by the surviving raiders took place at the NMUSAF on 9 November 2013, preceded by a B-25 flyover, and was attended by Richard Cole, Edward Saylor, and David Thatcher.

Apr 15, 2019

From Communities Digital News:

There are those who take uncertain steps on IED-ridden battlefields, take to contested waterways, and fly unguarded skies as dangerous threats lurk below. Protecting freedom is how over a million active-duty military men and women support their families.

These Brothers in Arms fight and die, for each other, and for those who can’t fight for themselves.

Since the Global War on Terror began on September 11, 2001, America’s warriors have faced evil on a heightened scale and risked life and limb to quell a hate-filled enemy who does not respect human life.

It was the remarkable esprit de corps, the history and its intimacy as an organization that drew Lt. Col. Stephen Mount to the Marine Corps in 1996. Mount, severely wounded in Iraq, 2004, was given command June 30th, 2016, of Wounded Warrior Battalion-West (WWBn-W), located at Camp Pendleton Calif., now in its tenth year of operation.

SAN DIEGO, 2017. Lt. Col. Stephen Mount at Wounded Warrior Battalion-West  Headquarters Complex, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Photo by Jeanne McKinney for CommDigiNews

There, he is committed to the successful recovery of each Marine assigned to his care.

“I try to be the kind of guy who absorbs the blows and then just figures it out,” said Mount. He chooses to not make drastic decisions right away and let things kind of simmer. “Let’s just figure this out together and go forward,” he tells his Marines.

Absorbing the blows of active-duty service prefaced Mount’s first historic experiences as a UH-1N (Huey) pilot with Helicopter Marine Light Attack Squadron (HMLA)-169. His first deployment in 2001, as part of the Aviation Combat Element (ACE) with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), took him to Darwin, training with the Australians.

After the twin towers and the Pentagon were hit and hijacked Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field, the 15th MEU was redirected to the Arabian Sea.

“It was a very anxious and excitable kind of feeling that we were out in the Arabian Sea and the country had been attacked and more than likely we were going to do something about it.”

He was on the flight deck of his ship, watching the first U.S. missile strikes launched in the first round of attacks.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations against Syria while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. U.S. Navy Photo

Mount’s squadron was flown into the Afghanistan desert and had to scrape out a “pseudo desert airstrip”, that Mount said, “[had] some old abandoned buildings they probably used to run drugs out of.”

By end of November 2001, that pseudo desert airstrip had a name: Camp Rhino, the first U.S. Forward Operating Base (FOB) established in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. They went in there with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines under Colonel Brett Bourne.

“It wasn’t a Forward Operating Base in the traditional sense. They dug holes in the sand—that was our perimeter. Then we built ourselves fueling points.”

Mount called flying into the middle of the desert in a foreign country and doing good things “fun times.” The first night he slept by the skid of his aircraft.

“None of our aircraft have any gas. We don’t know what is going to happen. You’re a young man—that’s what you do … it was exciting.”

A sense of finality prevailed. “I can’t get back to the ship until someone lands and gives me more gas,” said Mount.

There was already fighting in the North which had fallen to the Taliban. Gas arrived on C-130’s and U.S. troops followed Hamid Karzai and his boys into Kandahar and then Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, establishing an airfield at Kandahar.

Mount explains, “The big offensive against the Taliban hadn’t started yet; not until we got there and Karzai could have some assurances that America is here to help you.”

A future home for wounded warriors would come into play as the Global War on Terrorism kicked off.

Operation Iraqi Freedom I, the initial invasion of Iraq, saw U.S. and Coalition Forces quickly defeat Suddam Hussein’s Army. Upheaval and more harrowing times ensued. During Operation Iraqi Freedom II, 2004, the U.S. sent troops in to support the newly-established Provisional Iraqi Government, trying to stabilize the country and protect Iraqi citizens, threatened by growing violence and complexity.

The unpreparedness for the number of casualties and pace of operations going forward took a toll on the military healthcare system. For Mount and others deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, there was no centralized operation to care for the numbers of wounded warriors too well to be kept in-patient, but not well enough to go back to their units or deploy.

A charismatic yet disenchanted Shiite Muslim cleric, Muqtada al­ Sadr, spread insurrection around Iraq, in opposition to the new government. His die-hard followers formed heavily-armed militias or al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, who rained bullets and shrapnel on U.S. and Coalition forces.

Al-Sadr’s militia was battered. A conditional truce was made with him for An Najaf and al-Kufa (his home territory) that restricted Coalition forces entry. Al-Sadr used fear and oppression to reinforce control and conducted assassinations, kidnappings, and torture of police and government officials.

The militia would then hide where Coalition forces could not pursue them.

Mount and his flight crew deployed with Colonel Anthony M. Haslam’s 11th MEU and Lt. Col. John L. Mayer’s Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines (1/4) in the summer of ‘04.

The MEU took over the battlespace in and around An Najaf by August, in soaring desert temperatures and volatile instability.

“There was an old holy cemetery [Wadi al-Salam],” said Mount, then a Captain. “They [al-Sadr’s militia] would use the crypts and catacombs to build smuggled weapons and launch attacks out to the Iraqi police forces.”

Mount and his crew couldn’t fly over or attack the holy burial grounds or the Imam Ali Mosque.

“There was a police station in Revolutionary Circle…they would lob mortars and shoot at us [every night]. By the time we’d get to our birds and fly over there, they’d [retreat] back to the cemetery,” said Mount.

The night of August 3rd, enough was enough for MEU commanders. A Quick Reaction Force (QRF) and Combined Anti-Armor-Team (CAAT) were summoned to reinforce the police station. American forces came under attack on the main highway that runs by the cemetery, from where al-Sadr’s militia was positioned. Mount’s aircraft section suppressed the threat, allowing our forces to run through.

Again, they were called out.

“We spun up one Huey and two Cobras,” said Mount, who piloted the lead Huey with Co-pilot Drew Turner, Crew Chief Pat Burgess, and Gunner Lance Corporal Teodro Naranjo. Mount’s section circled, seeking to take out a mortar pit that an ‘observer’ had seen by an old gas station near the cemetery.

He missed seeing it on the first “poke your head out, shoot, and get back,” attempt, but on a second circle, further out, the Huey’s number one engine and Mount got a fiery hit.

“I clenched and reflexed, bringing our nose way up and lost all our air speed,” remembered Mount, crediting Turner for landing the battered helicopter right-side up instead of upside down, which would have killed them.

A rifle round entered Mount’s left temple and went behind the bridge of his nose, in front of an eye through the socket and exited the right temple.

“I remember Pat Burgess…dragging me off the skid behind some bricks – waiting there for the guys – a Corpsman ran up and jabbed with morphine.”

“Captain Andrew Turner, ran into the [nearby medical] clinic and came out with an Iraqi physician. Mount had been holding a compress to his wound while trying to chamber a round in his pistol with his teeth. His crew chief, Staff Sergeant Patrick O. Burgess, finally gave him a needed hand in loading.”

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