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The Fastest Guys in Town
Discussions run-amok, innane banter it all goes here
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Vince
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Joined: May 25, 2005
Posts: 13172
Location: Brisbane AUSTRALIA

PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2015 3:04 am    Post subject: The Fastest Guys in Town Reply with quote

This has been around for a while, and I have seen it before, but it is such a good yarn that I thought, why not post it here to be enjoyed by others, especially our ex military peoples.

This is an older story (obviously, since the SR-71 isn’t in official use anymore), but still a good one.

The following passage is from a now out of print book called Sled Driver by Brian Shul (you can still get a used copy on Amazon for around $700).

Here’s the ultimate aviation troll:

There were a lot of things we couldn’t do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane. Intense, maybe. Even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment.

It occurred when Walt and I were flying our final training sortie. We needed 100 hours in the jet to complete our training and attain Mission Ready status. Somewhere over Colorado we had passed the century mark. We had made the turn in Arizona and the jet was performing flawlessly. My gauges were wired in the front seat and we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, not only because we would soon be flying real missions but because we had gained a great deal of confidence in the plane in the past ten months. Ripping across the barren deserts 80,000 feet below us, I could already see the coast of California from the Arizona border. I was, finally, after many humbling months of simulators and study, ahead of the jet.

I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Walter in the back seat. There he was, with no really good view of the incredible sights before us, tasked with monitoring four different radios. This was good practice for him for when we began flying real missions, when a priority transmission from headquarters could be vital. It had been difficult, too, for me to relinquish control of the radios, as during my entire flying career I had controlled my own transmissions. But it was part of the division of duties in this plane and I had adjusted to it. I still insisted on talking on the radio while we were on the ground, however. Walt was so good at many things, but he couldn’t match my expertise at sounding smooth on the radios, a skill that had been honed sharply with years in fighter squadrons where the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading. He understood that and allowed me that luxury.

Just to get a sense of what Walt had to contend with, I pulled the radio toggle switches and monitored the frequencies along with him. The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center, far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace.

We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot asked Center for a readout of his ground speed. Center replied: “November Charlie 175, I’m showing you at ninety knots on the ground.” Smile

Now the thing to understand about Center controllers, was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna, or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same, calm, deep, professional, tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the ” Houston Center voice.” I have always felt that after years of seeing documentaries on this country’s space program and listening to the calm and distinct voice of the Houston controllers, that all other controllers since then wanted to sound like that, and that they basically did. And it didn’t matter what sector of the country we would be flying in, it always seemed like the same guy was talking. Over the years that tone of voice had become somewhat of a comforting sound to pilots everywhere. Conversely, over the years, pilots always wanted to ensure that, when transmitting, they sounded like Chuck Yeager, or at least like John Wayne. Better to die than sound bad on the radios.

Just moments after the Cessna’s inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his ground speed. “I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed.” Very Happy Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren. Then out of the blue, a navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up on frequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios. “Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check”. Before Center could reply, I’m thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million-dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a readout? Then I got it, ol’ Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He’s the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet. And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion: “Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground.” Surprised

And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought, it must be done – in mere seconds we’ll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now. I thought about all of our Sim training and how important it was that we developed well as a crew and knew that to jump in on the radios now would destroy the integrity of all that we had worked toward becoming. I was torn.

Somewhere, 13 miles above Arizona, there was a pilot screaming inside his space helmet. Then, I heard it. The click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke: “Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?” There was no hesitation, and the replay came as if was an everyday request. “Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground.” Shocked Very Happy Very Happy

I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his most fighter-pilot-like voice: “Ah, Center, much thanks, we’re showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money.” Cool Cool Cool

For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the Houston Center voice, when L.A.came back with, “Roger that Aspen, Your equipment is probably more accurate than ours. You boys have a good one.” Laughing Laughing Laughing


It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest, the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on freq were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day’s work. We never heard another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast.

For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out there.

h/t Jalopnik

_________________
Cheers, Vince Cheers

Illegitimi non carborundum
(Never let the bastards grind you down)

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

"Nulla Si Fa Senza Volonta."
(Without Commitment, Nothing Gets Done)
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Pumpkinslinger
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Joined: Sep 22, 2007
Posts: 4411
Location: NC foothills

PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2015 6:41 pm    Post subject: Re: The Fastest Guys in Town Reply with quote

I've seen that one before but LOVE hearing it again!

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Mike

"I ain't no better than anyone else, and there ain't no one better than me!" Ma Kettle

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Elvis
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Joined: Jul 27, 2008
Posts: 7047
Location: south island New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2015 10:44 pm    Post subject: Re: The Fastest Guys in Town Reply with quote

awesome...that sure would make a fella feel grand. thanks for sharing that.

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Them who eats the most duck eats the most feathers!
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dhc4ever
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Joined: May 26, 2011
Posts: 2263
Location: Ipswich, Queensland Australia

PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2015 11:23 pm    Post subject: Re: The Fastest Guys in Town Reply with quote

Yep an oldie but a goodie.
Heres a few more;

Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death ... I Shall Fear No Evil. For I am at 80,000 Feet and Climbing!
(Sign over the entrance to the old SR-71 operating base
Kadena, Japan).


You've never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3.
(Paul F. Crickmore -test pilot)

The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire.

Blue water Navy truism: There are more planes in the ocean than submarines in the sky.
(From an old carrier sailor)

If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it's probably a helicopter -- and therefore, unsafe.

When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane you always have enough power left to get you to the scene of the crash.


Without ammunition, the USAF would be just another expensive flying club.


What is the similarity between air traffic controllers and pilots? If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; If ATC screws up ... the pilot dies.


Never trade luck for skill.


The three most common expressions (or famous last words) in aviation are: "Why is it doing that?", "Where are we?" and "Oh S--t!!!!"


Weather forecasts are horoscopes with numbers.

Progress in airline flying: Now a flight attendant can get a pilot pregnant.

Airspeed, altitude and brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete the flight.

A smooth landing is mostly luck; two in a row is all luck; three in a row is prevarication.

I remember when sex was safe and flying was dangerous.

Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we never left anyone up there!

Flashlights are tubular metal containers kept in a flight bag for the purpose of storing dead batteries!

Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of under-standing or doing anything about it.

When a flight is proceeding incredibly well, something was forgotten.

Just remember, if you crash because of weather, your funeral will be held on a sunny day.

Advice given to RAF pilots during WWII: When a prang (crash) seems inevitable, endeavor to strike the softest, cheapest object in the vicinity as slow and gently as possible.

The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; ...it can just barely kill you.
(Attributed to Max Stanley, Northrop test pilot)


The Altitude above you, the runway behind you, and the fuel not in the plane are totally worthless!!!
(Sonny Kellum, Flight Instructor)


A pilot's job is very simple.... there are 3 lights on an aircraft, red on left wing tip, green on right wing tip, white on the tail..... Your job, as a pilot is to keep the plane between these 3 lights!!!!
(Sonny Kellum, Flight Instructor)



A pilot who doesn't have any fear probably isn't flying his plane to its maximum.
(Jon McBride, astronaut)

If you're faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible.
(Bob Hoover - renowned aerobatic and test pilot)

Never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than you!!

There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime.
(Sign over squadron OPS desk at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, 1970).

The three best things in life are a good landing, a good orgasm, and, a good bowel movement. The night carrier landing is one of the few opportunities in life where you get to experience all three at the same time.
(Author unknown, but surely someone who's been there)

If something hasn't broken on your helicopter, it's about to!!

Try to stay in the middle of the air. Do not go near the edges of it. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there.

The 2 most abundant things in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity and I don't know which is the more.

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Pete

Dont do anything you wont like explaining to the paramedics..............
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PaulS
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Joined: Feb 18, 2006
Posts: 3410
Location: South-Eastern Washington - the State

PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:55 am    Post subject: Re: The Fastest Guys in Town Reply with quote

Here is one that is listed in the manual:
Taking off is always optional, landing is not.

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Paul
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So and So's pages on the internet = NOT reliable loading data
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