Phantom Bug-out (part 5)

Posted on 04. Apr, 2007 by in Featured

“Beaver, Bloodhounds are bugging out north. Check our six.”
“Six clear.”
Was the welcome response that came over our head sets. We were on the deck again indicating 580 knots. It was past time to find the tanker, we needed gas, and we needed it now. With our six clear, which meant no one was chasing us; there was no need to stay low. The higher we went the better fuel economy we would get out of our J-79’s. I pulled the nose up to zoom climb the flight. We stayed at military rated thrust but didn’t dare touch the after burner. At our low fuel weight I figured 325 would be a good climb speed, as our indicated bled down I lowered the nose to hold a steady speed of 325. The zoom got us to 17,000 feet rapidly, after lowering the nose we stabilized in a climb at approximately 6000 feet per minute. The higher we climbed, the lower our fuel flow gauges indicated.
During the climb I porpoised the nose by moving the stick fore and aft. Icky saw the tail movement; it was a silent signal to rejoin the flight in close formation. He closed in tight; I asked his fuel state with a hand signal. He held up 4 fingers first, then 5. His answer meant 4,500 pounds of fuel. Leveling the flight at 25,000 feet I figured we were fat on gas and headed for the tanker.
“Beaver, Bloodhounds, say tanker posit.”
“Texaco bears 3 3 5 at 140 miles.”
I set the fuel flow to 3000 pounds per engine, 100 pounds a minute. Quick math told me we’d burn 2000 in route and we’d be on the tanker with 2,500 pounds. That left us 5 minutes to get fuel from the KC-135, plenty of time.
(Hey Ray, I got us on the tanker with two point five. Check my math will ya.)
(I got the same Shantini.)
(Cool, thanks.)
We settled in for a leisurely cruise to the tanker, lost in our own thoughts on a glorious day. Off the left wing stretched the Pacific Ocean for as far as the eye could see. Off our right wing was the coast of California in the distance and San Clemente’ Island in the foreground. I felt a chill as my sweat soaked flight suit cooled in the high altitude air. I turned up the temperature on the cockpit heat, and then went back to daydreaming.
“Bloodhounds, Texaco 3 3 0 at 15.”
We were close, time to pull my head out. I scanned the horizon but couldn’t see the big tanker. He was at 22,000 feet so I wasn’t worried about hitting him, but I knew there were other aircraft in the area. I continued to scan, no tanker but I picked up smoke trails. I followed the smoke trails; at the end of them were two Phantoms. OK there was our other section but where was the tanker? Then I noticed they were tanking. It drove home how the smoke trail gave away our position. They were literally within 20 feet of a converted B-707 and I saw the F-4’s first.
“Bloodhounds are visual, flight go Texaco frequency.”
“Texaco, Bloodhound 101, flight of two Phantoms, noses cold switches safe.”
That meant our radar was off and armament switches were set to safe. Our test models didn’t have a radar but the Tanker Bubba’s wouldn’t know that.
“Bloodhounds cleared to observation.”
We found the tanker, one problem solved. However we needed to get in the basket fast or we would be in deep Kimche’! And as always there was a line at the gas station….

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