Weekend Over Libya Open Comments

25 years ago, Brian Shul and Walter Watson made a short incursion into Libyan airspace. Though the Libyans noticed their incursion and decided to do something about it – firing a couple of most likely SA-2 and SA-4 surface-to-air missiles capable of Mach 5 and reaching the altitude our heroes were flying (at or over 100,000ft – airliners fly at around 30-35,000ft.

I estimated that we could beat the rocket-powered missiles to the turn and stayed our course, betting our lives on the plane’s performance.

After several agonizingly long seconds, we made the turn and blasted toward the Mediterranean ‘You might want to pull it back,’ Walter suggested. It was then that I noticed I still had the throttles full forward. The plane was flying a mile every 1.6 seconds, well above our Mach 3.2 limit. It was the fastest we would ever fly. I pulled the throttles to idle just south of Sicily , but we still overran the refueling tanker awaiting us over Gibraltar.

To give you an idea of how fast that is, the distance involved here is between 800 and 1,000 miles (Houston-Tucson, Houston-Savannah). At the speed they were going, they would have covered that distance in about 20-30 minutes, then blown by a tanker flying around 500mph.

One day, high above Arizona , we were monitoring the radio traffic of all the mortal airplanes below us. First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. ‘Ninety knots,’ ATC replied. A twin Bonanza soon made the same request. ‘One-twenty on the ground,’ was the reply. To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio with a ground speed check. I knew exactly what he was doing. Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley know what real speed was ‘Dusty 52, we show you at 620 on the ground,’ ATC responded. The situation was too ripe. I heard the click of Walter’s mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walter startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace. In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, ‘ Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground.’ We did not hear another transmis sion on that frequency all the way to the coast.

There’s a similar story where a pilot contacts ATC:
Pilot: Request clearance to flight level 1,000 (100,000ft)
ATC: Sure, if you can get there.
Pilot: Roger. Descending to flight level 1,000

Here’s the author and his EWO:

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78 thoughts on “Weekend Over Libya Open Comments

  1. Good article on the Blackbird. It brought tears to my eyes when they retired it.

    To give you an idea of how fast that is

    Not near like the SR-71, but pretty dang fast in it’s day (it’s day lasted about 30 years) was the F4 Phantom. It was powered by 2 GE-J79 engines and developed 45,000 lbs of thrust in each engine. It was the first airplane capable of going vertical and increasing it’s speed. It was capable of Mach 2+. Immediately after roll-out from USMC El Torro (Orange county, CA they were getting their approach instructions from San Diego. The entire flight from El Torro to San Diego took 7 minutes. We had to have top secret clearance to work on it.

  2. Moammar Khadaffi went vowed to fight to the last drop of blood and declared his country was under the influence of hallucination pills.

    He also said he’s completed rehab and he’s ready to return to work on Two and a Half Men.

  3. Rahm Emanuel was glad he was elected on the first ballot and didn’t have to call for a recount.

    The soil is rock hard from the coldest winter in history and they couldn’t verify all the voters.

  4. One of the units on our airfield at Ft. Sill was a Heavy Lift Helicopter compnay flying CH-54 Skycranes. It’s 88 fett long with a 72 foot rotor diameter, which painted a rather large radar signature on equipment in general use in the 1970’s. To many ATC’s the image on the radar screen was about the same as many commericial passenger planes. We had one pilot who would mess with the approach controllers by coming to a hover at some point in the approach and remain there for bit. Most ATC’s are looking for an aircraft to continue on the approach, or drop out of the sky to bore a smoking hole in the ground. They really arne’t prepared for the aircraft on approach to remain in a single spot in the sky.

    Made for soime interesting radio conversations at small airports around the country.

  5. OletomerLin
    In one of my other lives I was a Radar repairman/operator at a remote site at Eglin AFB in the piney woods of north Florida. This would be in the mid 70’s. We had an old 50’s vintage MSQ 77 X band tracking radar. We often tracked F 4’s running bombing runs on range 72. The range was about 2 miles from us and since we were on the highest hill around we could see the aircraft over the range. Our radar automatically tracked the aircraft after we located it and got the computer locked on. Between us and the range was a tall (800′) communication tower and sometimes if the aircraft made a low going away maneuver behind the tower, the radar would “lock” on the tower and just scan the tower up and down. So if you were at the control plotter you’d see the azimuth pen sitting still on the map while the elevation one would go up or down. One morning after we finished a run I walked by the plotter on the way out of the trailer and saw the elevation pen going straight up but not near the tower. I walked out on the cat-walk and saw the F 4 over the range going straight up while gaining speed! I couldn’t believe it, looked just like a rocket going up. When I first got to Eglin I was driving down FL 85 and passed the active runway while one of these beasts were taking off with full after burners. It passed just in front of me and I remember thinking Dayaam that thang his huge! Then the sound caught up with me and I dang near ran off the road. Impressive, to say the least.

  6. The sky crane is a beauty of function. According to the article over 40,000 lb payload – mondo cool. That gives planners the option of putting a whole lot of hurt potential pretty much anywhere.

  7. From yesterday’s comments:

    Well, I am officially getting “man hands”.

    Heh. Welcome to my world. 🙂

  8. #12 WW

    And I’m contemplating more digging today. I need to do what I can before (1) the dirt gets rock hard from the heat, (2) the weeds get too thick for me to accomplish anything, and (3) the mosquitoes suck all the life juice from my wildly thrashing body, leaving nothing but a dessicated corpse for my family to find.

  9. The sky crane is a beauty of function. According to the article over 40,000 lb payload – mondo cool. That gives planners the option of putting a whole lot of hurt potential pretty much anywhere.

    Not really. Military use of the Skycrane ceased in the 1980s, there simply weren’t enough missions for it that would make aquisition and maintenance worthwhile.

    In 1973-4 the Army Field Artillery Aviation Command, in an effort to find a mission for the Skycrane, developed a system that would allow one Skycrane to transport a battery of 105MM Howizters with one lift. The system involved a collar that would allow the trails of 6 guns to be attached at the center and lifted. That ship was to be accompanied by two Chinooks that had sling loads of ammunition and battery personnel, and OH-58 for FAC spotting, two Hueys with command personnel and sling loads of fire control and admin equipment, and two Cobras designated Aerial Field Artillery for LZ prep and security during emplacement of the guns and immediate counter battery missions if required.

    It looks good on paper, but one problem surfaced almost immediately that untimately doomed the project. The first design of the collar did not account for the strength of the aluminum alloy trails on the 105 and during the initial test, the load master punched the load at around 1000′ AGL. The guns ended up with the tubes buried into the ground with the trails opened up and in an almost perfect circle. From the air, it looked like a pretty flower blossum. But such beauty does not calm the soul of a Battery Commander who has lost all his guns, and the Post Commander wasn’t none to happy with the incident, either.

    The problem was addressed and a number of successful tests were done many involving training of the battery personnel, culminating with a rather impressive demonstration of the entire concept at Fort Sill’s annual Firepower Demonstration. In tnhe end, though, it was decided that since there would inevitably be problems with loads, it would be bettery to transport guns single or double slung on Chinooks (or single slung on Blackhawks) so that if the load had to be punched, an entire battery would not be lost.

    I know. I was there working in the S-3 of USAFAAC at the time. I was standing on the apron watching the lift the day that picture was taken (I surprised to find it on the web). FWIW, about 30 minutes after that picture was taken, those guns looked like a beautiful flower blossum. From the air at least.

  10. Right now, the NEA takes 10% of thier members dues and puts it towards political donations.

    But that’s going to change.

    Faced with unfriendly legislatures and governors seeking to roll back the union’s influence, the NEA Executive Committee decided to double down – literally. It proposed raising each active member’s assessment to $20, effective in September 2011. The union’s board of directors ratified the decision, and it will go before the NEA Representative Assembly for a vote this July in Chicago. If passed, NEA’s national dues for teachers will total $178.

    You know.

    Its for the children.

  11. Stole this:

    Ever notice that there were no unions on Star Trek?
    Thats because there are no Unions in the future.


  12. The company website has a blog where employees may post their thoughts on any subject. This week it has been full of questions about evacuating personnel and familes out of Libya. The worst-off seem to be crews out in the desert. There have been some alarming posts…

    I am in Libya, at Eastern Desert… We are all left alone to our hope! There is no emergency response plan and there is no hope to leave this place. Everyone is getting crazy and things are not safe at all. I hope someone reads this message and does something to get us all out of here safely!!

    The evacuation plan should not leave employees with black skin on sight at any location in Libya as they are now potential targets. We need to get out of here.

    We are trying to be as pacient as possible, at the moment we are 300 people at location and there is not enough food or water. We’re still waiting.

    Until yesterday we were in seismic crew ####, close to Benghazi city. We had to urgently leave our crew as situation there deteriorated rapidly. After 7.5 hours of driving full of dangers (in one rebel police check point they started shooting in the air) we finally reached base camp ###. Base camp fully packed, we don’t have even beds here. Please evacuate us out of here!!!

    suddenly we were forced to be moved immediately, believe me the security plan prepared at that moment was awesome, much better than a movie. Absolutely all senior staff were together in the rubbish track escaping throw the desert, and for some kilometers accompanied by local people with GUNS, I was just thinking in use my seat belt but I couldn’t find it, almost 8 hours later when finally we arrive completely frozen to ### camp I felt a little bit comfortable, and now I’m thinking what the next for us?

    Me and other 200 people are finally safe in Malta. Thanks to all for the good wishes and help and the evacuation plan. On the other hand, are there any news from the guys in ###? yesterday before the boat departed, I got a call from one of them saying they were going to take an airplane, but I haven’t found them or any news about them here in Malta. I’m calling to their mobile phones but I get no response. any one?

  13. As many of you know, I live near Hobby Airport – which is not too far from Ellington Field. All afternoon there has been a large military cargo aircraft, escorted by a smaller aircraft, circling the area over and over and over. No landings, just a constant circling around. My explanation is that there’s a new pilot training on the approaches to Ellington. They finally landed about a half hour ago, as the sun was setting.

    Was I right, or is there another explanation for this circling behavior?

  14. But seriously.

    If an aircraft expects that it might have a tough landing, perhaps the landing gear light does not come on when its supposed to, it will circle to burn off fuel so that if there is a crash the chance for fire is lowered. The smaller A/C would be dispatched to make a visual inspection of the exterior of the plane in trouble and to help locate any crewmembers who might need to bail out.

    Its usually done in an abundance of caution, generally resulting in nothing much at all—-

  15. It’s also a matter of Lovely not ever forgiving me if I dispensed of kitty. But when she’s not annoying me or barfing on the furniture, she’s a good cat. As long as she has a heat source, she’s good and quiet and across the room.

    Right now she’s all stretched out, asleep, on her hot water milk jug.

    Recycling was never so helpful.

  16. My Texas Citizenship card was put on probation Thursday for cussin’ a trail ride holding up traffic. I’m appealing the penalty though ’cause horses, riders and wagons were all decked out in pink. I suspect they were flee-bagging politicians from another state thinking they could go incognito in Texas on horseback.

  17. It’s also a matter of Lovely not ever forgiving me if I dispensed of kitty.

    Isn’t she getting married or something? It’s not like she’ll be around much after that or anything. If it’s such a big deal, maybe she should stick around.

    Just sayin’s all.

  18. I just noted our benevolent dictator has gifted us a seach bar. Doesn’t work though.

    Search for: I cut my teeth on a wang

    Nothing Found
    Sorry, but nothing matched your search criteria. Please try again with some different keywords.

  19. Sunday First!
    G’Morning all

    29 mharper42 says:
    February 26, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Launch of the shuttle Discovery filmed from a passenger plane:

    You’ve been hoodwinked. That is obviously a commercial jets contrails, just like in California last month.

  20. 39 GJT says:
    February 26, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I just noted our benevolent dictator has gifted us a seach bar. Doesn’t work though.

    Search for: I cut my teeth on a wang

    I’m not too sure about our benefactor.

    I shortened the search to “Wang” and it popped up a bunch of porn sites. 🙂

  21. 35 GJT says:
    February 26, 2011 at 9:30 pm


    Good video. Grandpa used to drag 50 to 60 foot trees with a 4 mule team. Amazing how strong they are, and willing to work, also.

  22. Oil hit one hundred dollars per barrel. Gas prices have soared.

    Lindsay Lohan saved ten thousand dollars by renting a condo a block from the courthouse.

  23. Easy Jet airlines apologized to its Jewish passengers over a recent flight to Israel when all they served was pork.

    That was just the beginning. The in-flight entertainment was a Mel Gibson double feature.

  24. I heard on the radio this morning as I was waking up, about a military air rescue of stranded oil workers from Libyan desert. Didn’t see this story on Drudge but found it by searching. It was a Brit mission and it doesn’t seem to have been the camp where my colleagues are holed up. There is reference to some unspecified groups of people also being evacuated out of the desert by bus.

  25. The final vote count for Rahm Emanuel was released this morning.

    He carried sixty percent of the black vote, sixty-five percent of the women’s vote and one hundred percent of the deceased vote.

  26. G”Morning MHarper

    I saw where there were between 200-380 Brits left to get out. Didn’t realize it this close to home til I read your post.

  27. Grandpa used to drag 50 to 60 foot trees with a 4 mule team. Amazing how strong they are, and willing to work, also.

    I wonder if they have trouble getting their teenagers to do anything.

  28. My sister emailed me that she had heard that the circling military aircraft were engaged in a photo shoot.

    That makes me feel more comfortable than a possible crash event.

  29. Pro-Union Protester Uses Hard Blind-Side Shove on Opponent in Atlanta


    ‘Fascists Go Home!’: Tea Partier Injured in Assault by ‘Teamster’ at Sacramento Protest

    Andazola tells a different story though.

    “He was spitting on me, he’s bigger than me, and I told him to get off of me,” Andazola said. “I was backing up and he was staying on me ’til the point that he spit in my mouth.”


    Just remember, hateful rhetoric almost always comes from the right.

  30. Cinnamon raisin bagels schmeered with Nutella.

    Good first course.

    Pancakes comin up.

    Just got finished watching the Sunday Service. Replay at 11:15 . Its a goodun and the music this weekend is country in honor of Rodeo.

  31. #57 Sarge

    Cinnamon raisin bagels schmeered with Nutella.

    Good first course.

    Pancakes comin up.

    I’ll be right over, I like cane syrup but I can go Maple. 😉

  32. My sister emailed me that she had heard that the circling military aircraft were engaged in a photo shoot.

    That’s what the Public Affairs Officers always say when they get caught spreading chemtrails.

  33. They stopped before I began attending, but have recently reinstated the tradition of the minister telling a joke before passing the plate (many times they were UU jokes.)

    A priest and a time share salesman are at the pearly gates. St Peter asks the salesman what he did with his life, and the salesman told him that he sold time shares. St. Peter pointed to a nice large house with a pool and manicured landscape, and said,”That will be your home here.”

    St Peter then asked the priest the same question, and was told of the priest’s many good deeds. The priest was pointed to a two room cottage in a sheep pasture. Puzzled, the priest inquired, “I’m not ungrateful, but why did the salesman get such a fancy home?” St Peter replied, “Don’t worry. He can only stay there for one week.”

  34. #48 OTL

    I’m not sure where those rescued Brits were located. There is word today that at least some of the company’s multinational employees have been evacuated from that desert camp from whence most of the distress postings were coming. Hopefully anyone still there will get out safely and very soon.

    I mentioned this to my husband, imagining the agony of being stranded in Libyan desert for a week during a civil uprising, to which he responded, he would have been feeling about the same if he were working in Libya 2 months ago…

  35. I keep seeing stuff about a new show on TV called “Oscar.” Does anyone know anything about this? I seem to recall that they tried it a year or so ago also, but that it turned out to be nothing but a bunch of screwed up actors and actresses flashing their stuff getting out of fancy cars. Maybe this time it will be able to get off the ground, but since I don’t watch TV, I won’t be able to see it.

  36. Oscar: where a bunch of self-centered egotists spend an entire evening telling each other how wonderful they are, throw in some political criticisms of conservatives (based on truth is optional), then they proceed to a variety of parties to continue celebrating themselves.

  37. In an interview today on the Al Arabyia news network, an informed source within the Revolutionary Guards Corps revealed that Iran has several military bases in Libya.

    The source, who requested anonymity due to his sensitive position within the Guards, elaborated further that the Iranian military bases are located mostly along Libya’s borders with the African countries of Chad and Niger. From there, he said, the Guards actively smuggle arms and supply logistical assistance to rebellious groups in the African countries.


    Nice, eh?

    OK, with the recent talk about helping Libyans gain their freedom, I honestly have to ask, “to establish what?” A Sharia-law-based country? Pro-Islamist country? Anti-Israeli country? I do not think I can support helping out the Libyans unti I know what the end game is. It has to be something far better than “democracy”.

  38. Well, I spent several hours outside again today, with shovel. I didn’t move a lot of real estate, but I did clear out a small flower bed at one spot next to the house, which required moving some bricks out of the way and larger bricks into position. I’m glad I have a small dolly, suitable for moving these large bricks without breaking my back. I mixed some of the Mirkwood dirt with my compost from last year and used it to build the bed. Along the way I collected some more grubs and stuff for my sister’s chickens, but the chickies had gone to bed by the time I got them over; sis will feed them tomorrow.

    I also planted some more squares in my garden. My legs and arms are again tired, but I should be able to recuperate this week as I sit at my desk daily, pushing paper.

  39. Thinking that Mr. Obama is a conventional American politician who will react in predictable, rational ways to common American political stimuli is a common mistake, so it is unsurprising that Mr. Medved makes it. But Mr. Obama manifestly and demonstrably is not a convention politician. The evidence is stark and easy to find for those willing to see.

    Mr. Obama is a doctrinaire socialist who does not, perhaps cannot, see that the pursuit of socialist policies is harmful to America and harmful to his electoral prospects. He simply can’t bring himself to believe that the public won’t ultimately be grateful to him and catapult him back into the White House. Recall that he has, on more than one occasion, said that people ought to be thanking him for imposing socialist policies, and in making those statements, seemed genuinely puzzled and angry that they were not.

    Another well-written article from Pajams Media arguing against Michael Medved’s position that we should not at all label Obama as one who is purposfully harming America.

    Well-Meaning or Not, Obama Threatens America

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