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Vikings.  Hawkeyes.  CODs.  Prowlers.  Whales (when they were still around)…

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Cats and dogs we were called.  Didn’t go fast (‘cept down hill).  Didn’t do afterburner flybys.  Boss and Handler generaly tolerated ‘em, barely, unless they went stiff wing in the wires, then all hell was unleashed.  Usually got the back-end pick of the Ready Rooms (“Viking ready room?  yeah – it’s back aft under the wires, next to the Hummers…”).

And now of course, there’s one less in the family (and another new link on the wall to the right — check out The Viking Association).  Rifling through the rapidly dmming synapses pulls some fond, funny and sad memories to the fore, like:

- the time it was just us and the Hoov’s in the west Med (helos too, but they were sticking close to mom…) drilling holes in the late night/early morning sky.  JO’s all, except for us.  XO was flying right seat cause he’d bitched at the Schedules O about flight time and demanded something short and early — and pulled the mid-watch H3 flight.  The grumbling over the ICS gave us an idea that Scheds was going to come out on the short end of the stick…  Comparing notes with the Hoov’s backend on ESM to see if we could get LOB’s to match (we didn’t).  Passing the obligatory ‘heads-up’ as they approached the coastline of a not so friendly nation (but not openly hostile)  only to be met with a “…ah, negative Bluetail, my system shows us well north of  (redacted to protect the not so innocent- SJS)…”  “703, is your primary (radar) up?” “negative” (‘now he tells me…’ thinks the RO).   “Roger, meet me secondary (back-up freq, not in the comm plan & used for conversations we didn’t want the heavies to listen in on)  “Still have that layer below you?”  “It’s breaking up pretty quick”  “OK, steer 360, now.  You’re XX Red”  “Negative – system’s showing a good 20 miles to Yellow…”  “703, you’re well inside of XX Red, look left, down – what do you see?”  (long pause followed by symbol on E-2 scope turning north) “Umm, Bluetail, 703’s heading 355.  Must’ve been a bad alignment – were you reporting us on the ‘gator (Link 11) ?”  “Negative – we’ll put it on the tab…switching primary”

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- The admin in Barbados…(still hurts)

- Foc’sl follies with our VS buds in CVW-3 on JFK during the “Stop Making Sense” Cruise (87-88).  The directive from CAG that “thou shalt not mention ‘Bunnie’ in your skits” (not explaining that one – if you were there, you remember…), which meant, of course the JO’s would.  First out of the box were the VS JOs and the you-know-what hit the fan shortly thereafter…

- Ops in the North Atlantic off Norway, running an intercept on a Bear D using an S-3 with a tanker package because all the fighters (F-14s, F-4s and Sea Harriers) and A-7s were otherwise occupied, broke or RTB  (“Can you go faster?” “No” “Downhill?” “No – I’m peddling as fast as I can…”)

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-  Coming into the break, a Whale in the lead with us and a Hoover trying our best to keep up.  Boss on tower freg “That is about the ugliest sight I’ve ever seen” with howls of laughter in the background…

- Memorial services for a lost VS crew early in deployment – and for the A-6 crew we also lost during the SAR.

- My first view of something other than sea blue or sky blue in months as I flew in the back of a Longhorn S-3 conducting Rawhide Ops up in the Straits of Hormuz – never thought I’d be so enthralled looking at dirt.

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- Helping out a fellow CO and friend with a broken Shadow (ES-3) getting it fixed and back to the boat while pulling CD-OPS in Roosey

- H-cubed ops (Hummers, Hoovers and helos) in the North Atlantic.  Lots of H-cubed ops.  Scheming to see if we could get an alert fighter to be launched.

- H-cubed ops.  Radar flood missions – but finding a periscope where there shouldn’t have been one.  Together.

- Working with some really great folks from the community, from CO (Jack R. especially) on down as epitomized by my ANAV on IKE (who, I would note parenthetically, ended up in VAW, with a command tour, as the community was being downsized).

- S-3’s with Doritos – they want to do what with the S-3??? Put a radar dome where???

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- Pushing waaay out to the edge of our area, hoping to press the radar range just that little bit further with the hope of locating ‘Miss Piggy’ (the US-3 COD) flying in from Diego Garcia to our spot on Gonzo Station.  Hearing the palpable relief in the “roger, thanks” when told we had them radar contact, your steer for mom – 345 for 427 miles.

…And now they’re gone; disappeared from view and undoubtedly headed inbound to join-up with the Whales, Tomcats, Corsairs, Intruders, Phantoms and others in that great overhead pattern.

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…Gonna miss ‘em.

10 Comments

  1. Its sad that the Viking is gone. It became a very capable airplane-and we do not have a replacement for it. It still had lots of flight hours available-getting rid of it was a very short sighted decision.

    Furthermore-it highlights the loss of what I will call the “spirit of an Air Wing”, namely that all of the squadrons had a job to do and if one failed-all failed. Since the end of the Cold War and the advent of the Hornet Mafia that idea has died. We’ve come back to the CVA days when there were fighters, and the rest of us bastard children. That’s what is really sad about all this. Bring back the Cold War!

  2. Steeljawscribe

    Amen, Skippy…amen.

  3. Nice job, SJS. I’d forgotten about the dome concept – don’t believe I ever saw the “artist’s version” in print before.

    I remember listening to the famous Steeljaw bailout unfold on the radio, crossing the JBD, into tension and praying that it wasn’t our turn for an uncommanded lateral hardover off the cat. (It wasn’t.)

    One night the launch wasn’t exactly proceeding as the Boss would have liked. TACCO in the rear steps on the wrong pedal, keys the radio instead of ICS and transmits on deck, “Boss sure is being an ass tonight!”

    Radar flooding. Our CO decided to try it without launching any aircraft. Chained down a jet facing aft near the round-down, cranked up the APU and fired up the radar to flood the wake just in case “Ivan” popped up. If I remember correctly my AT’s had to bypass weight-on-wheels circuitry to enable the radar to radiate on deck. The problem was cooling. Without altitude and airflow to cool things it overheated. After the third unit burned up and maintenance informed the old man that we now had no spares for actual airborne ops sanity prevailed and we permanently shut down the “wake watch”.

    Good times.

  4. Steeljawscribe

    @Steve:
    Ahhh – airbosses…can’t live with em’ or without ‘em ;) Was almost one myself until the Bureau suddenly realized the paucity of CVN ‘gators and needed a quick fix…
    We had a real screamer of an airboss on IKE back when I was a JO in VAW-121 (mumble1980mumble). Ex-Viggie RAN. One day he came up to the tower only to find the ever industrious night watch had expended a copious amount of grease pencils coloring the window opposite his throne down to a clear square about the size of…the window in the back of a Viggie. Air wing and flightdeck felt his wrath for the rest of the week. On flyoff, about mid-way through the gaggle launch someone came up on Tower with their parting shot “See you later chimphead” Now, see – with a bunch of aviators hot for the beach after a looong deployment, one would think the wise and judicious person would leave it go at that.
    He was neither.
    As he screamed on the freq, demanding the identity of the felonious radio talker, the rest of te air wing, dutifully, complied…
    “012, negative on the chimphead boss”
    “304, negative n the chimphead boss”
    “711, negative on the chimphead boss”
    and so on, until the mini came up and passed the word no further identification attempts were required.
    Our guys up front were so doubled over in peals of laughter I wondered if we were going to survive the cat shot.
    We did.
    A rumor making the rounds afterwards was that one of the unwashed ones had strapped an O2 mask on to emulate one of the go-fasters in passing the insult.
    I’m not telling… :cool:
    – SJS

  5. Chimphead….. :mrgreen: priceless! We affectionately referred to ours as “Tree Frog” – ever looked out a window and seen a tree frog stuck to the glass?

  6. Andy (JADAA)

    From one Bastard Step-Child (Whales until they figured out they were short of A-6 B/N’s where I resided) to another:

    Funny how we were always shunted off…until they absolutely, positively needed that high priority part/pax/courier bag from the beach. Max flail-ex, man up, shoot off, get to beach, go through the usual “part/pax/bag, what part/pax/bag?” goat-rope, buster back, screw bingo fuel, Boss screaming “Charlie NOW!!” Get part/pax/bag below to get the always charming “oh, yeah, thanks, just park it/him in the corner, we really didn’t need it/him after all, but thanks anyway, and OBTW, can you guys do an add-on for the dawn launch?”

    Let’s hoist one in honor of the VAW/VS/VQ/HS patron Saint: Rodney Dangerfield!

    Best and thanks,
    Andy

  7. Steeljawscribe

    @Andy:

    …that calls for a real “A-men” brother :)

    Rodney Dangerfield was always a hit in the Ready Room flicks for us – there was definitely a kindred spirit there.

    – SJS

  8. Ray

    Thanks for mention SJS. And the memories.

    Was a SENSO with the Checkmates during the 87-88 excursion. Afraid the only E-2 guy that’s stands out in memory was a driver. Think he wrote, or was writing, a book. Been too long ago but he was hilarious.

    Side note: Later when I was in VS-31 we were briefing with the VF/VFA guys for a training strike. Texaco with some EW for us. They were talking altitudes and airspeeds for the flight. Mach this, Mach that, 5,000ft to 25,000, etc, etc. Then looked at us. Response was something like “uhhh we’re usually around 250 knots and can get to 20,000ft”.

    Sad to see the Hoovers go.

  9. JoeC

    Entropy is such a sad thing… as an Avionics Tech in the ’70s seeing the last of the planes I grew up with westward fading to the boneyard…just sad. The A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, E2B, F4s of my first cruise giving way to the E2C, F14A, S3, EA6B of my second now long waves passed; with only the E2C and EA6B flying electronic stuff of magic these days; shortly to be retired for the E2Ds and F18 monstrosities. (I don’t see any poetry in a one size fits all categories jet.) Age has crept up on me to the point I find myself actually planning a visit to AMARC just to relive for a moment memories of planes of my past. Just sad……

  10. bc

    Thx SJS. Yep, I remember the ready room/maint control location scrotum-pole (we were HS, next-door kin to VS, but not as outcast as the VQ lot….you could damn near get LOST trying to run down their spaces!). Direct correlation to offload. VF upfront, cats and dogs in the back. I really respect and appreciate Skippy’s comment about the spirit of the airwing. We were first-off, last- back doing PG/Stbd-D but he’s right, if one failed, we all failed.

    Is it true that part of the demise of the Viking was that it became logistically unsupportable, that we had gotten ourselves into such a bind with the prime that we had to “let it go”?

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