Celebrity Backseaters

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cutlassracer

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Unread post16 Apr 2006, 17:02

They need to wake up soon. Contray to thier popular belief, 12 hours shifts, remotes, deployments, and chem gear aren't real incentives. The more with less concept has made the whole thing not alot of fun. When I first got to Holloman, the 117 world was still kinda it's own thing. We had good manning, a manageable flying schedule, and good supervision. By the time I got out 3 years later the F-16 world was in full swing, half the manning, three times the flying and micro managing that would make your head explode. Funny thing is though, the senior leadership still scratches thier heads trying to figure out why nobody wants to stick it out much past thier 4 or 6 year enlistment. To bad we can't get more of the O-6's and above to read some of this stuff, might give them the clue they so desperatly need.
Torrejon, Homestead, Moody, Osan, Holloman
USAF Crew Chief 89-99
F-16D 90-0794/90-0779
F-117A 83-0807
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ViperKeeper

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Unread post16 Apr 2006, 17:59

Meathook wrote:I'm just a nobody (USAF type maintainer) but this last Viper ride gave me a total of 86 hours in the B-Model, another 15 in the D-Model...WoW - How lucky was that!

Not bragging, just being very Grateful for the time and experiences I was lucky enough to have...I sure miss the adventures.

Enjoy... Salute to you all...
SMSgt. Tom Wharton (Retired)
A.K.A. Meathook

(thanks to my buddies on the Thunderbirds giving me that nick name back in 1988)


Here's a question for you.....with those numbers I asume at least 80% of your airmen got a ride???? yes...no .....or more like 90%?
GERB
98-01 22nd
01-03 416th/Pro
03-04 36th
04 79th
05-08 312th
08-08 331skv
08-09 313th
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Meathook

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Unread post16 Apr 2006, 21:10

Not that high, I think I was luckier than most, some has to do with the jobs I managed to get but I would guess and say that maybe...maybe 35 to 40 percent of maintainers had a shot at a ride or two during my era 69 - 96, I know things have changed big time since though.

I managed a flight demonstration team twice (12th AF Team, single ship Demo's, then the Thunderbirds and managed to get on the Blue Angels). Those were very lucky slots and timing due to the jobs I had.

Keep in mind flying F4's back in 75 and 76, I was one of seven guys enlisted to do that, lots of luck and being in the right place at the right time....didn't hurt either. Very lucky and I know it but have always been very grateful too.

I know many ex-Thunderbird Advance Crew Chiefs that sure beat my flight hours too, I now work for a few as civilians...they never let me forget that either...in a nice way of course. (they flew everyday, sometimes twice a day going to the new show sites). They logged many. many hours for enlisted guys.

Every member of the Thunderbirds flew at least once while I was on the team, some more but of course the advanced guys...well, they blew the rest of us away in hours. Especially the T38 folks, they flew everywhere in there jets back then.
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Meathook

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Unread post16 Apr 2006, 21:25

I can say I got 35 to 40 percent of my folks flown when I was a maintenance superintendent (other then the Thunderbirds of course, different story all together) as much as I tried too, our operation tempo was tough too. deployments, phase, maintaining pilot proficiencies (needing their hours too) weapons training, ...you know the drill, I too did not always win my debates to fly more of my folks.

I never took a ride before one of my troops though, the jobs I had, I just got to fly often, every Thunderbird flew that wanted too...some actually turned down the ride (scared or whatever, they did but that is what choice was about). I know it is far tougher now and it breaks my heart to hear it, I know how much work it is to keep those things flying...I just wish each two seater could be filled everyday (with enlisted if no aircrew was scheduled), no matter what the type aircraft...a ride is a ride in my book.
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Meathook

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Unread post16 Apr 2006, 22:28

Keep in mind, must mid-level managers don't get the chance to make the decision or suggest who gets a ride until your at least a Tech Sgt and even then, your merely making recommendations, there is always someone above you that has the final say so.

When your a Msgt (in charge of a flight or as production Super, your thoughts or recommendations are taken a slight bit more serious and maybe the folks you recommend may have a better shot of getting that ride).

Up until then, your just like anybody else, taking what you can when offered, especially if it is your job. But once your in charge and as in my case, was deploying all over the place, you have to brief the powers that be and many times again, as in my case...I was flown cross country to brief the then, Twelfth Air Force Command (General McPeak)...that involved allot of flying backseat to the location. It was not something I could give away to a young Staff or Tech to do for me, it was my job, my site surveys, my briefings..so I went where and when I was told, that was part of the reason I managed to accumulate so many hours.

Only when I made SMSgt and ran my own fighter squadron and had the Commanders ear could I truly influence him to give more rides and had more of a say in who got them and why. I really hated to give non-maintainers rides (you know the types, CBPO, Hospital, Finance when they won awards) they work well too but again, local policy calls the shots. But I know I fought like hell to give as many maintenance folks rides as I could. I knew I was lucky to get those for them, times changed for the worst in my book, I hear it almost impossible to get rides now unless you are a major award winner.

I hope it turns back around, I know it is hard to keep good folks, even my oldest girl (Captain is getting out) she was given a better civilian offer to make great money and start her family (her and her Captain husband who has been it for quite some time is thinking of leaving too) and hopefully be safer.

It is a very tough call, then again my son, the Sra (just got back from Iraq) is staying in but he too has thought about leaving (so he tells me) so I know it must be hard these days but I also know, I did not join to get a ride, that was a perk I never expected but would have stayed in anyway, I loved the travel and the friends I made and the things I was able to do.

However, it is not the same USAF I left and I know that, I wish it was...god we had fun and worked very hard too, they was nothing like it, or since in my book, but you have to decide, is it for money (of course not), is it for fun (sometimes) or is it because your dedicated and love the USA...I say, that must be the answer but we all must choose (thank god in this country we can)..
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Siesta

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Unread post17 Apr 2006, 05:16

When I was active duty E-3 Weapons Controller..got the rare chance in my career to fly in an F-4G..then F-15D.. then F-15E....after I got out... my wife who is a news reporter got a backseat ride with the Thunderbirds. Besides the high paid celebs... The T-birds and Blue Angels fly a few local VIPs/reporters at their show sites. I know Shaun King and John Lynch when they were with the Bucaneers flew with the t-birds.

I know that Stuart Payne the golfer flew with the Blue Angels. If you look at the New England Patriots website - one of their cheerleaders flew backseat out of Spang. Laurie Dhue when she was with MSNBC flew with VF-41 and did a couple carrier landings and takeoffs on the carrier Enterprise. VF-32 flew Chris Collingsworth onto the USS Truman.

Recently an ABC morning news reporter doing the story about the female F-16 thunderbird flew with one of the male pilots.

Gunny from Mail Call also had the rare opportunity not only to fly in backseat F-15D with the Oregon ANG... but also flew in a B-2 bomber.
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Meathook

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Unread post17 Apr 2006, 14:17

Yes, the teams do this to help boost publicity for the local airshows, get them air time and a chance for some lucky reporter to get the chance of a lifetime. Glad to hear you both got some stick time...seems it is harder to come bye these days (shamefully).

Good deal for you both
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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J.J.

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Unread post20 Apr 2006, 19:17

Sorry guys, that´s not my topic. But by searching "Yahoo news", I just found a related news article. It´s not a celebrity, but probably the latest U.S. journalist as a backseater: Wayne Woolley, a staff writer for "The Star-Ledger" of Newark, New Jersey, flew with an F-16 from the 119th FS, 177th FW (New Jersey ANG).

Current story link:
http://www.newhousenews.com/archive/woolley041906.html
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Meathook

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Unread post20 Apr 2006, 19:32

Oh yea, lots of folks get rides, problem is there not always the folks that should. maintainers should fly before any celebrity (least in my book) but, shamefully, it does not happen enough.
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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J.J.

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Unread post20 Apr 2006, 21:14

Although I´m so far away from the United States and from your usual military procedures, so I think I can understand you, Meathook! In my opinion, a backseat ride should be very instructive and, of course, also an experience at least for every dedicated crew chief, other maintenance personnel, and also for leading weapon loaders. In fact, the main body of every F-16 Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) which deploys for combat duty to Southwest Asia are ground personnel. And without their support, every Viper pilot is only a pedestrian.

The ignorance of essential performance, given by ground personnel, is also typical for most of the news media, also including book publications. Only as a sample, in Osprey´s newest publication "F-16 Fighting Falcon Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom" (written by Steve Davies and Doug Dildy) I found not info related to ground personnel support. Only the pilots are the heroes, and really that sucks. In my previews at F-16.net, related to my OEF/OIF fact files for the upcoming new section "F-16 in Combat History", I posted some more info related to ground personnel.
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JakeMelampy

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Unread post11 May 2006, 19:33

Although I tend to agree that giving flights to celebrities gives the unit some much-needed publicity, I think that the maintenance folks should always get first dibs. Rather than the celebs, I think it is a much better idea to spend time flying journalists, photographers, etc, that will write/photograph the event. At least that way, the average public can get a glimpse of what it takes to operate these machines, which is always good for PR/recruiting.

Jake
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Arctus

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Unread post14 May 2006, 14:26

What is the publicity/recruitment "half life" of flying celebs? ZIP ZILCH NADA!!! When's the last time you saw some famous schmuck make a recruiting commercial? Oh yeah...never. They get rides because public affairs at every level of command has the boss' ear and as most of the dudes on this site alredy know...PA doesn't come to the flightline unless there's a photo op or a VIP who need's his schwanse massaged.

Do you think some kid who's thinking of signing up is going to be enticed that much further because some actor got a ride? If the geeks at the pentagon had any brains they would offer rides via a lottery to recruits in the delayed entry program.

The people who work on jets SHOULD have priority and on paper they do especially crew chiefs. If you're a crew chief and not getting a ride under the Dedicated Crew Chief Orientation Program then you have weak or selfish leadership in your AMU. Do yourself a favor and look up AFI 11-450
354 FW Eielson 02-05
389 FS Mtn Home 99-02
54 & 90 FS Elmendorf 91-99
479 TTW Holloman 84-91
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AfterburnerDecalsScott

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Unread post14 May 2006, 15:04

Is it just me, or does Jake look a whole lot like the guy in the Eye of the Viper ad?
More people have died driving with Ted Kennedy than hunting with Dick Cheney.
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Destro

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Unread post14 May 2006, 15:17

Hmmm, nice observation. I think I agree........
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RacerCrewChief

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Unread post15 May 2006, 17:50

I spent 22 years and never recieved a ride in any of the type of aircraft I worked on,I was the "spare" many times but never made it to the flightsuit stage.

I consider myself blessed and lucky just to work on aircraft so a ride would have been nice but not something I feel empty about for not getting.
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