Maj. Mark "Conan" Coan (Viper Driver nr. 1287 on the 1K list), a native from Ohio, graduated from VMI and went to pilot training at Reese AFB, Texas. He has accumulated over 2500 flying hours in trainer and fighter aircraft, and is currently assigned to 5 ATAF at Vicenza AB, Italy where he serves in the CAOC (Combined Air Operations Center), controlling all aircraft flying over Bosnia- Herzegovina.
F-16.net: How long have you been flying the Viper?
Maj. Coan: Eight years, with 2 years non fly staff included.
F-16.net: Your number of flying hours in the Viper?
Maj. Coan: About 1,600 hours.
F-16.net: What is your sweetest memory about your assignment in Europe or your tour at Torrejon AB, Spain?
Maj. Coan: Winning the Excalibur Top Flight and Top Gun of Europe.
F-16.net: While in Europe, what impression did you have about the mission of Torrejon's wing and did the other wings (Ramstein, Hahn etc.) all have the same?
Maj. Coan: The role we had over there was to guard NATO's southern flank with a nuclear role out of our FOL in Aviano, Italy.
F-16.net: Conan, you once had to make a "deadstick-landing" in the F-16. Please explain our readers what this is, and tell us something more about that historical and dangerous flight of yours.
Maj. Coan: It was an October 1993 formation take-off out of Miramar NAS (San Diego) and over downtown San Diego at about 7,000ft my F-16 Pratt and Whitney 220 engine died. While maneuvering the jet to crash past the interstate in an unhabited area and simultaneously attempting a restart, I visually acquired Miramars runway and decided I could make it. I came in perpendicular to the runway and had just enough extra energy to bend the plane around and align it with the runway landed and caught the departure end arresting cable.
F-16.net: You flew 62 Missions during Desert Storm, right? How does it feel to have actual war experience? Was it the way you expected a war to be?
Maj. Coan: Actually 45 Desert Storm and 17 Provide Comfort missions the latter of which should not really be counted as combat but they are. The first five missions were extremely intense with Surface to Air Missiles and anti-aircraft artillery filling the skies. We actually expected to lose a lot more guys to enemy fighters but the Iraqi's just did not want to fight. We were happy to be fighting a war that the Generals not the politicians were running.
F-16.net: What was the worst pratical joke ever played on you on Friday nights at the squadron bar?
Maj. Coan: We used to do Canadian rodeos all the time before the age of political correctness came. Also you can still hear an occasional "dead bug" call in some officers club bars.
F-16.net: You have the callsign "Conan"...what story is behind it?
Maj. Coan: It comes from a combination of my last name Coan and from some of my wilder days.
F-16.net: What was your favorite squadron and why?
Maj. Coan: The 614th TFS "Lucky Devils". It is the squadron I went to war with and we had some awesome people there with great comraderie. We won everything from Top Squadron, Crud champions to even the base wide softball championship.
F-16.net: What was your favorite Viper (tailnumber!?)
Maj. Coan: #87242 (I think it was 87) She took me over Iraq and back 45 times with never a scratch and had one of the best crew chiefs in the world Scott Stutler, whom I believe is now with the Michigan Guard or around there.
F-16.net: How many other jets did you fly and how do they differ compared to the Viper, or what can you say about the different models of the Viper itself?
Maj. Coan: I flew the OA-37 and have flown in F-4, F-104, F-1, OV-10 , Mirage 2000 and a few others and nothing will ever compare to a C model Viper, especially with a great engine (GE100, 129).
F-16.net: Any good advice for our younger readers who want to fly the F-16 as well one day?
Maj. Coan: I think if they get to pilot training and can finish in the top percentage of their class they can probably fly a Viper because we have a lot of them. If they are really serious them the standard line of not doing drugs, staying out of trouble, take a good variety of courses in school and get good grades, try to do a lot of extra activities like sports and getting into the Air Force Academy also helps a lot.
F-16.net: Thank you!
Maj. Coan: My pleasure.
- Maj. Coan was interviewed online by Martin Agüera -