Had a fantastic time yesterday flying with Sean “Flopper” Cushing and the Warrior Aviation team in an Arlington National Cemetery missing-man tribute to USAF Majors James Sizemore and Howard Andre.
These are some of the early semi-keeper photos from the flight today. There wasn’t too much action-wise – we took off, held for 45 minutes (the usual drilling holes in the sky), delayed 10 minutes, then 20, then back to 15, finally pushing after a 13 minute slide in our target time. Time on Top was great (with the new time), the missing man pull was *awesome* (4-g pull is da Bomb! when you haven’t had anything but 1-g for years and you used to live on a sustained 6 and a half). Rejoin went well, another 4-g break turn. Land, debrief, thank everyone. Families show up for a after-action reception, shake hands, tell them what a distinct honor it was to be part of this. Great day!
Talk amongst us is that we may be seeing more of these civilian-led flight honors. I understand – well, I *try* to understand – why the services cannot (or will not) provide these aerial honors to our passed heroes, but the bottom line is the services fly pretty much every day and some sort of arrangement should be able to be made to schedule a training hop that could include an Arlington or other cemetery flyover to honor these men and women. It really isn’t that difficult. In any event, the Warrior Aviation Team and others will stand by for any more of these tributes if called upon.
For me, to get back into a tactical jet – albeit a Czech-built trainer – was absolutely incredible. 21 years after my last Tomcat hop (a delivery of a new F-14D from Calverton, Long Island to Miramar) the old “never say never again” adage is proven true. Thanks to my buddy Pat Marsh and his Warrior Aviation buds (Pat owns Vandy 1, the black L-39 with the bunny on the tail – a tribute to the history and heritage of the VX-4/VX-9 Black Bunny jet).