It’s been several weeks since my last report… After my untimely ejection and subsequent rescue, I spent several days working my way back to the carrier. No big deal, standard stuff. Nevertheless after I got there I was temporarily taken off active flight status. It was okay, mostly I helped plan some ops and ran a few meetings. There wasn’t much happening. Quite a few boring CAP flights. Like anyone out there is going to challenge this floating city. Soon though, the flying itch was begging to be attended to. Finally I passed my flight physical, and my carrier re-quals. Now word has come down the pipe that more suspected chemical plants have been identified. What a lucky day for me. First day back on the job, and a big mission at that.
Here is the satellite shot of our target. The central building with the smoke stack is the main target. If we destroy that building we should disrupt the output of any potential chemical weapons.
I assigned the main building as my primary target, then each flight member was assigned a warehouse next to the main plant. If everything goes to plan we will make a drop from medium altitude with precision weapons, eradicating the plant and all stored product.
Were loading both P24A’s and P24B’s. The plan is to drop the penetrating bomb first, and then scatter the ashes to the wind with the second bomb.
It sure is a beautiful day for flying.
The warm glow of the afternoon sun is almost enough to distract me from the fact that there is a war going on.
But of course all the high tech hardware hanging on my wings doesn’t let me forget it for too long. I take a moment while on the way to visit the tanker to check all my munitions settings.
We rendezvous with the tanker, and then fence in and proceed in country.
On our way, we pass by one of the previously liberated oil fields, with its rigs tirelessly turning in circles pumping black gold from the desert sands.
A quick bogey dope from Shovelhead reveals no enemy aircraft in our vicinity, so I switch master modes to ground and start the search for the factory.
It doesn’t take long. I spot the smoke from the chimney and then quickly zero in with my FLIR.
I order everyone into a line-abreast formation and watch the counter tick toward zero. On my mark we all pickle and begin a coordinated turn to the left out of the target area.
All of a sudden, #2 calls with a strange observation, “Boss, look behind you.” Later he shows me this photograph. I have never seen this phenomenon before. Even though I am not going excessively fast, or turning hard, I have two vapor trails coming from my tail. One of the coolest things I’ve seen.
Distracted for a moment, until I figure out that nothing is wrong, just the atmosphere playing tricks with my plane, I almost miss it as the bombs begin crashing all over the factory compound.
Something inside was definitely volatile. Seconds after the first explosion the main building began burning with flames reaching hundreds of feet in the air. I watch fascinated until the FLIR image is cut off from the excessive angle.
We are now well beyond any danger, but AAA chases us out the area like angry bees anyway.
I even get a quick pop on the EW gear from a SA15. We are well out of range though, and after observing it for a few minutes, I realize it won’t be a threat.
Once again we meet up with our friend Flounder. And then its home to mother.
During our case three recoveries, I was told to descend earlier than I thought was prudent. Nevertheless I followed the request of the air boss, and almost lopped of a wing on the oil rig.
Not that it really actually helped the spacing, I still took a wave off on my first approach because of a foul deck.
Moments before touchdown, slightly left of centerline.
And the outcome you ask?
I think the brass will be ecstatic.