Capt. Andy "Opie" Davidson Taylor has flown the Viper for 8 years this April 3rd, 1997. He has flown block 30 Big Mouths in Torrejon, Spain; block 10's and Block 30 Small Mouths with the DC Air National Guard; and block 25's with the 62d Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB at which he is now stationed.
F-16.net: How many hours have you already accumulate during your career?
Capt. Taylor: To date I have 1399.4 hours in the F-16, 89.9 combat hours and 294.8 instructor hours.
F-16.net: Why did you leave the active duty, in other words, what made this decision relevant?
Capt. Taylor: Currently still on Active Duty. But also, actively running my own international marketing company.
F-16.net: Please tell us a little bit about your life at Torrejon, your other fellow pilots (if you want to greet someone you can easily do this here!), squadron activities, in general how life for a young man was in that specific fighter squadron.
Capt. Taylor: Our life was great. I remember flying maybe twice in a day, coming home drinking a six pack of beer with the guys and watching a movie - a great life for a single young LT. The people are what made the experience the best. When you go through what we all went through, there is a bond that can never be broken no matterwhat.
I pass on my greetings to the other members of the HODJA - Rico, YT, and Bogie. My best to all who served with the 612th Fighting Eagles.
F-16.net: You fought in Desert Storm. What did that teach you?
Capt. Taylor: AIRPOWER can win a war. Personally it taught me the power of cooperation. It takes a great many people to get ordonance on target. It also taught me the value of living each day to the fullest - there may be no tomorrow - never let yourself regret not doing something.
F-16.net: Can you talk a little about your day-to-day routine during the war?
Capt. Taylor: We were normally in the AM go so we were up around 03:30 or so. Three of us in a room so a little crowded. We'd get in to the squadron for a 430 or so mass brief. All our support assets were there - a little different than the rest of the war, we had everyone in one location at Incirlik. Our mass brief would last 30 minutes and then we'd brief individually for 20 minutes for target study. Maybe 30 minutes or so before we stepped to the jets for a quick bite to eat and then we'd be out to the jets.
A mass launch would takeoff around 06:30 or so and head to the Northeast. 60+ airplanes just taking off 1 after the other would take about 20-25 minutes for the entire package. We'd refuel enroute to our orbit point and then hit a push time as a mass package. We'd ingress to the target and then egress back across the border. Tankers would be available for those that needed gas - although that was rarely any F-16. We'd then fly back to base and land. We'd usually go get breakfast and then debrief the mass package after everyone was finally down. Following that we'd plan the mission for the next day and be out after twelve hours total for the day. For leisure activities we'd workout, drink some, watch TV or just talk. We'd then do it all again the next day. We all got into a pretty good routine.
F-16.net: I heard that, during the war, you and three other Viper drivers were called "The Hodja" (Opie, Bogie, Whitey and Rico). What exactly was "The Hodja"?
Capt. Taylor: The "HODJA" was what was used to describe first five then four of us guys. We all lived together in a large house in Spain. A few of the pilots considered our house to be like a hotel. There was a hotel at Incirlik AB known as the Hodja so it kinda of stuck on us. What it became after that was more of a symbol to describe the enthusiasm and spiritual center of all of us guys. The HODJA became a driving force within the squadron for morale and commaraderie. It almost took on a mystical quality - above and beyond us as just a group of fighter pilots.
F-16.net: I guess you have experienced several trans atlantic flights in the Viper for excercises etc. What do you do to pass time on such a flight?
Capt. Taylor: Actually only one flight. Traveled back to Turkey with the DC Guard. Sometimes we play battleship on the radio. Othertimes you just sleep - just kidding. Sometimes it can get pretty boring.
F-16.net: What was your favorite squadron in your USAF career?
Capt. Taylor: I'd have to say that the 612th at Torrejon is by far the best. Nothing can top my experiences there.
F-16.net: What F-16 you liked best?
Capt. Taylor: My aircraft in Torrejon (no. 237). Block 30 Big Mouth Day VFR Fighter. My lodge number in the Boy Scouts Order of the Arrow was 237 so it has special meaning to me.
F-16.net: What hobbies do you have, what do you do in your leisure time, are you still flying little airplanes?
Capt. Taylor: Not really a civilian flyer. I still make a video or two now and then. A lot of my time is spent with my wife Mary-Kay and new son Ian. Together we are also spending time expanding our business internationally throughout Asia, Europe as well as in the US. Always looking for strong leaders to help with our expansion.
F-16.net: What would you tell someone who wanted to join the USAF or any other military service in order to fly the F-16?
Capt. Taylor: GO FOR IT. It is truly a great thing to do. Challenging and definately rewarding no matter what country you live in.
F-16.net: Thank you for the interview!
- Capt. Davidson was interviewed online by Martin Agüera -