Traveling at the speed of sound has it’s advantages. There’s no waiting in line. Traffic is minimal. You are seldom passed. You’re never late. You always get a window seat.
It has some disadvantages as well. You can’t open that window. Potty breaks are at a premium. It’s kinda hard to get a good scenery picture. Without a blur, anyway. Drive ups at Mickey Dee’s are impossible…But you can’t open the window anyway, remember?
Scootin’ along at forty thousand feet in an F-22 Raptor is the most incredible feeling in the world. Or above it. And it’s stealth, so no one knows you’re there. You skip off currents and split the clouds. Pull G’s beyond what you should, knowing the jet can straighten itself out. It’s the most intelligent machine above fifty dollars at Wal-mart. Well on sale at any rate.
The epitome of having a good time is when you are being chased by a couple of f-15 Strike Eagles during the Red Flag out of Vegas (that‘s a war game). Zipping in and around the strats and jumping out from behind a giant cumulous on their tail. Going vertical through a mushroomed nimbus just cresting the blue sky before a stall. Dropping out of nowhere with the Vulcan on full auto, vaporizing your enemy. It’s really hard to compare to anything else in the world.
But then, there’s nothing quite like a supersonic high. Just watching that ticker go by until that magic number, 1,129 feet per second slips into view. Looking to double it, you find yourself going so fast you’re out of range of the guys you’re supposed to be shootin’ at. So, hanging on to everything that you are, you slow to a logical speed, hang an alpha turn that should be impossible and engage the STOVL (Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing), bringing the dino to a hover in a cloud formation at a sparse hundred knots an hour. Waiting…Your stealth so they fly right by you and the RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) keeps you out of the way. Just in time before the engines start to fry.
Afterburners kicked into full thrust. WVR (Within Visual Range) is crisp and clear in a matter of seconds. You lock onto the those nasty Strikers and, “Boom, boom boys. We got you.” You blare over the radio.
The Eagles slow and look at you as you slide in between them, laughing. “Who’s “we”?” One of them asks.
Oh boy, another rookie. “WE! Pratt, Whitney and me you rookie!” You laugh out loud over the net. “Red Flag will never be the same!
“C’mon boys, I’m buying!” You power up the engines slipping a few hundred feet ahead and do a long exaggerated split “S,” finding yourself a mile below the two Eagles traveling the other direction. Soon, they follow. The happiest man on Earth.
“Oops. What was that?”
“What was what?” The rookie asks.
“Ummm…Something just snapped. I’m losing altitude. Thrusters off line.” You try to restart the engines. No use. In a few seconds, the rate of descent will be so fast, you won’t be able to reach the ejection release. Diagnostics are off line. Reset the ignition sequence and, despite the lack of room, raise a foot and kick it for luck. This time the ignition restarts, the thrusters fire and the descent turns into a forward drop as you level it out a sparse five thousand feet above the desert. A short look up, a simple “Thank you.” The happiest man alive!
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