In February, the Air Force fired Captain Zoe Kotnik, who had been hyped (some would say over-hyped) as “the first woman to lead one of the flying force’s demonstration teams.” She’d led the team for two weeks.
While no reason was ever given for the move, US Air Force Col Derek “Maestro” O’Malley, who fired her, said in part
We have thousands of Airmen across our Air Force serving our country, and not one of them is perfect. As good people, like Capt. Kotnik make mistakes, I want them to have the opportunity to learn from them without being under public scrutiny, and to continue to be a part of this great service. They’ll be better for the experience, and in turn, we’ll be better as an Air Force.
The unusually long statement, as well as the concept of recovering from a mistake (one so egregious it led to a public removal), attracted particular attention because Col O’Malley is well-known in the Air Force’s F-16 community, and beyond, as the “Gold Bond guy.”
In 2004, then-Captain O’Malley made a spoof comedy video about Gold Bond powder that was, to put it lightly, rather crude. In fact, given today’s “Me Too” mentality, O’Malley would Read more
A US Air Force F-16 pilot who was a member of the Thunderbird demonstration team has died as a result of a crash “during [a] routine training” flight:
“A U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds pilot was killed when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed over the Nevada Test and Training Range today at approximately 10:30 a.m. during a routine aerial demonstration training flight,” the Wednesday statement said.
The pilot was Read more
The Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor recently rolled out a freshly repainted F-16A with the name of retired Air Force Gen Gary “Nordo” North on the cockpit. Gen North — then a LtCol and squadron commander of the 33FS — was flying an F-16 when he shot down a MiG-25 violating the Southern No Fly Zone over Iraq in 1992.
The kill marked the first-ever air-to-air kill by an F-16, and also the first-ever air-to-air kill with an AIM-120 AMRAAM — much to the chagrin of the F-15 Eagles whose sole role was air combat, and who carried the AMRAAM as their exclusive active radar guided missile.
There’s one issue, however. We can forgive Read more
An Iraqi pilot conducting flight training out of Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ, was killed in a crash on Tuesday.
Maj. Noor Faleh Rassan Al-Khazali was killed when he crashed an F-16 he was piloting Tuesday afternoon in Arizona, the Iraqi military said in a statement.
The aircraft was reportedly owned by Read more
The two-seat F-16 on the USAF Thunderbird Aerial Demonstration Team is used for “incentive” flights and flying local celebrities, among other public relations tasks.
That’s one memorable way to end your flight:
June 23, 2017, in Dayton, Ohio. TY GREENLEES / DAYTON DAILY NEWS /AP
Both the pilot and “passenger” (Capt. Erik Read more
A US Air Force Thunderbird crashed while returning to Peterson AFB in Colorado, following their performance over the graduation ceremony of the US Air Force Academy Class of 2016 — at which President Obama had just spoken.
Photos taken by local news crews indicate the F-16 appears to have slid inauspiciously along the ground — not unlike some other legends of aircraft that “crashed” but eventually flew again because they “crashed” so softly.
The F-16 pilot, Major Alex Turner, ejected and appeared to be uninjured. He was apparently not confined to a hospital, as with most other pilots who eject. Rather, he met President Obama at Peterson.
At nearly the same time in Tennessee, a Navy Read more
CrossLink Publishing, 2014
Pulling Gs is a unique take on the application of the fighter pilot perspective to the Christian faith. Author Hugh “Huge” Vest is a retired USAF F-16 pilot who deftly takes stories from his vast experience in the fighter pilot world and relates them to similar experiences, joys, and struggles as a Christian.
In each chapter, Huge tells the tale of a significant fighter pilot event — some factual, some fun, some tragic — and then applies it as an analogy to living life and the Christian faith. Each chapter ends with thought-provoking “debrief” questions that encourage introspection and personal challenge.
For example, he describes the concepts and experiences of the eponymous “pulling Gs,” and then describes how people can assess the G-stresses in their own life. At the end of the chapter, Huge asks the reader to consider the stresses in their lives, their sources, and how they cope with them — and to consider if the Christian’s tools of hope and faith can increase their “g-tolerance.”
Huge’s analogies and his interconnection Read more
A news release from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing spiraled into infamy as it highlighted how a KC-135 Stratotanker crew “saved” an F-16 pilot:
“The lead F-16 came up first and then had a pressure disconnect after about 500 pounds of fuel. We were expecting to offload about 2,500 pounds.”
After the F-16 disconnected a second time, the pilot went through his checklists and told the crew he had a fuel system emergency. Over 80 percent of his total fuel capability was trapped and unusable.
Since the F-16 could take some gas, he stayed with the tanker and flew back to his base along side the tanker, taking gas every 15 minutes or so.
Then he landed. And the tanker went back to his orbit. And life went on.
There are a variety of things that could go wrong to make a fighter experience “trapped fuel” or a similar fuel system malfunction. The standard thing to do when that happens is land — or, if unable to land, find a tanker, and then top-off with the tanker every few minutes on the way home. That’s what they did.
The crew’s squadron commander put an interesting spin on it, though: Read more