Bao's weblog


Meandering thoughts of a Bay Area college student… be prepared for some bipolar vocabulary

Holy-crap-this-flight-mission-was-so-epic-I have-to-write-it-down-while-it’s-still-fresh-in-my-mind!!!!

That was me… ten hours ago. Haha, it was obviously a complete fail on my part as a blogger, but I’m making up for it aren’t I?

I split this into four chapters because this was fucking looong. I suggest you don’t read it; please heed this warning. Haha, this post was purely for my pleasure and I’d be seriously worried about you if you read it through and enjoyed it.

Chapter 1

Murphy’s Law: Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. At the worst possible moment.

Here was a mission I flew on where everything went wrong from beginning to end. (Foreshadowing here =P) It started two minutes before take off. It seemed like a routine mission. Bomb the already damaged enemy airbase. Take their runways out of commission. Also take care of their ammunition depot. I’m leading Fury flight, a group of four F-16Cs. Escorting us are four German Tornadoes (Hopper flight). Their job was to go in front of us and make sure none of us got shot down by other planes.

But there was a screw up in the order and Fury flight ended up taking off first, and five minutes ahead of Hopper Flight. If we waited for Hopper flight, it might have thrown the NATO operation off-sync. This flight was supposed to work in conjunction with about a hundred of other American and European aircraft. And as I taxied onto the runway, it felt like something was awry… shit. I realized that the ground personnel must have made a mistake on their ordnance paperwork (or it was probably me), as I’m missing two short range air to air missiles.

The AIM-9X’s I ordered were extremely deadly and could shoot down planes that were too close for my medium range AIM-120C’s to take care of. And I have none of those.

So already two vital things went wrong. And this is before I even got into the air! We were somewhat in trouble if the Europeans didn’t catch up in time. But it should be okay. It SHOULD. Let me tell you a little bit more about our mission.

Our flight plan would have us cross the Adriatic Sea.

Chapter 2

We took off somewhere in-between Pescara and Bari and were to insert into Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Between the two were 120 miles worth of water, and the Germans had that much time to get in front of us and play shield. We didn’t expect enemy aircraft to fly over the Adriatic. Don’t ask me why; I just didn’t. So it came as a nasty surprise when a formation of four AMX’s showed up on my radar. All heading towards Fury flight. The Germans were about 30 miles behind.

Panavia Tornado


So about 50 miles off the Dubrovnik, we engaged. My target was locked and I fired, thinking “We’re all gonna die.” So just for reassurance, I targeted another plane my wingman was engaging and shot a missile at it as well. And would you know it, the sky in front of me suddenly was full of smoke and flames as the AMX’s disintegrated. I sighed in relief.

That’s when some MiG-29’s showed up and decided to try and ruin our day. These Russian built air superiority aircraft easily outclassed our F-16. And there were eight of them. It would mean we’d have to abort, or enter into a fight where we were both outclassed and outnumbered, or to push on, taking evasive maneuvers the entire way, and risk running out of fuel before making it back. Then the radio crackled.

“Hopper 11, Sentry, engage MiG-29s, bearing 049 degrees, 30 miles.”

MiG-29 (Yes, you really do spell it as MiG, not mig or MIG)

That was a forward air command aircraft sending our escorts into the fray. Wait, so did this mean that the Europeans were finally in range!?

“This is Hopper 11, willco.” (Willco means “will comply.) Hopper 13. Engage MiG-29 bearing 049 degrees, 28 miles. You are shooter. ” That was all I remembered, because I was THAT thankful. A flurry of radio exchanges between the German Tornadoes occurred, and I counted 8 missiles launched from our saviors. Then it was chaos. The two flights nearly collided. I lost track of what happened.

Chapter 3

Because I had other things to worry about. We reached enemy territory. Anti-air defenses popped up all over my screen. If they detected radar emissions from my plane, it would be bad news. So I opted for us to all turn off our radars and basically fly in blind. We were flying at 30,000 feet, too high for flak to reach us, and also high enough so a wall of fog made it hard to see us from the ground.  However, we were vulnerable to surface to air missiles. We reached steerpoint 4, the designated spot on the map for us to prepare for our bombing run.

These bombs we carried were called BLU-107s, French bombs specially designed to make craters. These were for making cement surfaces very rocky and bumpy, like, oh say, a long smooth runway. When dropped, a parachute will open on the back of the bomb, causing the bomb to lose all horizontal speed and point vertical. When the bomb is stable, the parachute will detach and a rocket will fire, causing the bomb to suddenly fall dead vertical, push into the concrete, then explode.  Each plane carried six BLUs, totaling up to 24 anti-runway bombs. I programmed my plane to drop all 6, one at a time. This is referred to as a ripple.

If you think about it, dropping all six one at a time while flying will cause them to explode in a line.

O—O—O—O—O—O —->

So if you flew above and along the runway doing this, it would be epic! So I wanted the bombs to cover 800 feet, and I wanted all six to drop (you have a choice of how many), and I punched it all into the flight computer. While flying over 400 mph I might add.

I really should’ve been paying attention to radio chatter. Because when I came to…

“She’s breaking up!” “What was that!?” “Oh shoot!” “She’s dead.” “Foxtrot Uniform…” (F.U., or fucked up) “Oh my God oh my God no!”

Those were the voices of Hopper flight. I wanted to send Fury 13 and Fury 14 to help them, but…

“Fury 13, going in hot.” Shit, they were already on their bombing run. So maybe I should help? But right then and there, red lights flashed and a discordant warning tone filled the cockpit. Surface to air missile launched! At me. FUCK. I looked below.

But the clouds! The fucking floor of clouds! I couldn’t see my killer because it was still underneath and by the time I saw it, it would be too late. Ah, the epitome of a double edged sword.

Fuck it.

Chapter 4

I dived. Full power, afterburners on. My jammer switched on, and my plane pumped out strips of foil to try and fool the radar guided SAM. It must’ve worked because the alarm stopped. For like, four seconds. Than it switched on again. Second SAM, inbound! I steepened my dive and entered the floor of clouds at 6000 feet, which, to me, was hella scary because I only had a rough idea of where the ground was. The alarm stopped again. The clouds ended at 4000 feet and I flew level. And there was the base! I didn’t realize it until the mission statistics showed up, but this was where my wingman was shot down. What I did see, however, were three missile trails that extended past the clouds. Two for me and one for my dead wingman I suppose.

“Fury 13, bombs away! 4. Bombs away!”

Wait, what the fuck? I was flying towards the right place. But the runway was perpendicular to me! Son of a bitch! I have to line up with the runway for my plan to work. I finally aligned my runway and began to fly straight and level. That’s the risky part of the plan; you’re a predictable target. But it had to be done if you wanted to drop the bombs in a line.

Pilots that flew during the Gulf War had the highest death rate if they were bombing an airfield, probably because of this.

I lined up with a nice and clean runway and pushed the throttle. Just as I was about a quarter of a mile away, I saw explosions erupt from the bombs that Fury 13 and 14 dropped. One runway down pwned. :] Then the base came to life.  I counted four missiles fly up towards the clouds. And a lot of tracer fire, much more than intel suggested. Then the tracers began to aim at me!

Now, a single tracer bullet can do a lot to an F-16. It could pass through a wing. Not a big deal. It could puncture one of two of the 370 gal. tanks of aviation fuel that I’m lugging along with me. Definitely a big deal. It could hit a sensitive part of the aircraft and do weird things with the electrical systems. Not good over enemy territory.

The tracers seemed to engulf my fighter. And I’m still flying level as the runway approached. If I began to dodge, my bombs would’ve missed the runway. All I could do was go in full power and get this damn thing over with. I reached the threshold, and the bombs released. All of them. It was sexy. As soon as the sixth BLU released, it was a quick left turn climb for me and dropping even more bundles of chaff to discourage the SAMs.

Then bitching Betty came on. “Chaff out.”

WHAT!? I was out of the decoys. So I flew low to mask my plane with the hills nearby, still dodging and weaving through heavy fire. My heart stopped racing by the time I reached the Adrian Sea.

In the end,

Fury 11: OK.

Fury 12: KIA

Fury 13: OK.

Fury 14: OK


Hopper 11: OK

Hopper 12: OK

Hopper 13: KIA

Hopper 14: MIA

Mission successful.

F-16C, the plane I flew.

Came home without a scratch 😉


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