Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A year of change: more coming

By Col. Michael Thomas
127th Wing Commander
(Published in the December 2011 public online PDF issue's Commander's Call section of "Prevailing Wind" - the official newspaper of the 127th Wing)

Larger picture

Wow 2011, what a dynamic year! We all experienced significant change in 2011. We also experienced tremendous success. Bringing pride to our Selfridge community and the State of Michigan.

First the change: The year stated with Col. Augustine announcing his move to the 122nd Fighter Wing in Indiana. In March, Brig. Gen. Peplinski announced his pending retirement scheduled for June. Command Chief Edwards also retired in March. These announcements initiated massive change that we experienced at all levels of this wing.

Here are just a few of the leadership changes throughout the 127th Wing: Col. Thomas to Wing Commander, Lt. Col. Sheridan to Vice Wing Commander, Chief Master Sgt. Dobson to Wing Command Chief. Lt. Col. Brooks to Air Refueling Group Commander, Lt. Col. Krasovic to 171st ARS Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Spehar to 127th MXS Commander, Lt. Col. Holmes to Force Support Squadron Commander, Major Dominissini to 191st Director of Maintenance, Major Hitchcock to 191st AMX Commander. This was some serious change and folks are still feeling the affects of all this change.

With all this change also came tremendous success. The Operations and Maintenance Groups came out of conversion from the F-16 to the A-10. Following a very successful Red Flag exercise in March, the unit reported their Initial Operational Capability in June. No rest for the weary! The Air Force needed our A-10 aviation package in CENTCOM six months earlier then initially scheduled. With only two months to prepare, the OG and MXG spun up for war and the wing successfully deployed ap-proximately 300 personnel trained and equipped ready to answer the call in late September. This was by far the most successful, mini-mum time, deployment I've seen to date. Thanks to all the OG, MXG and MSG folks that worked so hard to make this deployment such a success. As I write this article, let's all keep these wing members in our thoughts and prayers until their safe return early next year.

All of our wing personnel have contributed significantly to the war fight in numerous ways. Let's all thank our Civil Engineering folks for their successful, six-month deployment to Afghanistan; our Services personnel for their deployment to Kuwait; Special Operations Weather Team to unknown locations around the globe and all the Air Refueling Group folks that deployed to both CENTCOM and PACOM. The Air Refueling Group is also currently involved in a rolling mobilization to CENTCOM where we'll be deploying aircraft and airmen for 60-day rotations far into the future.

Other deployments included Logistics Readiness Squadron to Alaska, Air Refueling Group to Germany, Africa and the Pacific Rim. We stand ready to answer the nation's call. This was evident during the Libya contingency when the Air Refueling Group deployed an airplane and personnel in less than 48 hours -- with some of our maintenance folks only receiving a four-hour heads up call. Pack a bag, kiss the kids and spouse goodbye, leave a message for the civilian boss and report to the base for deployment.

You all answered the call so others could prevail. What you do each and every day is important to our state and nation. Your skills and expertise are saving lives all around the world. Keep up the great work!

Now we're looking forward to 2012. What will be in our future? Whatever comes our way, I know that you're all prepared to meet the challenge ahead. Don't be afraid of change. As I've said in the past, change leads to opportunity and opportunity leads to success. We have what it takes to be the best Wing in the U.S. Air Force and your actions and commitment prove that each and every day.

Thank you for your service. Thank you and your family for all your sacrifice. I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to getting it done again in 2012.


Official USAF biography of Colonel Michael T. Thomas

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Airmen perform maintenance to keep A-10's flying

Senior Airman Jeremy Fly, 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons loader, updates aircraft forms after a gun is loaded onto an A-10 Thunderbolt II here Nov. 4. These forms are updated every three to four days. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Nick Wilson)


Note: Pictured is A-10C 79-0117.

by Senior Airman Nick Wilson
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

11/28/2011 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- As the Air Force's A-10 Thunderbolt II's climb high into the sun to fly, fight and win, Airmen from the 442nd Maintenance Squadron are on the job day and night to maintain their engines. They keep the warthogs in the skies so they can continue to provide close air support to Airmen and other servicemembers fighting on the ground down range.

One of the A-10 Thunderbolt II engines these Airmen have been maintaining recently accumulated more than 3,000 flight hours.

"That's a pretty significant accomplishment," said Chief Master Sgt. Mike Pignotti, 442nd MXS propulsion supervisor. "You won't see any other fighter aircraft in our Air Force inventory that can keep an engine on as long as an A-10 Thunderbolt II can."

According to Airmen who maintain these engines, one process that helps accomplish such a feat is the phase inspection that each A-10 Thunderbolt II is required to undergo every 500 flight hours.

"A lot of mishaps can be prevented by performing these inspections," said Master Sgt. Kellie Askew 442nd MXS phase dock flight chief.

To ensure mishaps with the airplane are prevented, technicians specializing in fuels, avionics, hydraulics, sheet metal, egress, armament and propulsion play a part in the phase process when it comes to repairing discrepancies once they are found.

"When the airplane goes into phase, that is everyone's chance to see what's going on with the airplane and to introduce reliability into it," Pignotti said. "The more you can fix during that phase period, the more problems you can prevent down the road."

"It is very important that we perform these inspections so we know that these airplanes and motors will not fail. We take these inspections very seriously," said Staff Sgt. Boyd Kempher, 442nd MXS aerospace propulsion craftsman.

Maintenance veterans who have operated in the game for more than 25 years, like Pignotti, are living proof of the experience, knowledge and expertise that assists younger Airmen in accomplishing feats such as maintaining an engine that has compiled more than 3,000 flight hours.

"Working on machinery that's more than 30 years old isn't easy," explained Pignotti. "When you've worked on something for 25 or 30 years, and then you hear the problem coming in on the radio from the pilot, you already have an idea of what it is and how to fix it."

Technicians working on the aircraft are responsible for paying attention to every detail when inspecting and troubleshooting various components. To ensure steps aren't missed, Airmen follow sets of procedures in work decks, job guides and troubleshooting guides to get the job done right.

"It's basically a checklist that tells you what you'll need to look for," said Pignotti. "When something needs to be fixed, it'll tell you what panel to open up and what components to inspect."

In spite of having these troubleshooting manuals available as a reference, Pignotti explains that there are times when even the troubleshooting manuals won't solve certain problems.

"Some guides are better than others," said Pignotti. "Some are more generalized to where the effectiveness of that troubleshooting procedure is going to merely be based on the experience of the technician that's trying to figure out what's wrong. That's where the experience comes in that makes up for the lack of what the troubleshooting book tells you. When that happens, we look at the problem to brainstorm what the problem is and identify a pathway to isolate what's going on."

As the A-10 Thunderbolt II ages, Airmen from the 442nd MXS are working with trained and skillful eyes to keep them flying while adapting to overcome to new difficulties and setbacks that will continuously arise through the years.

"We learn something new every day," said Pignotti. "We see something on these airplanes almost on a weekly basis that we've never seen before. I've worked on them since 1984. That's just a product of the airplanes just getting old; things happen."


Success in 2011: Thanks to all of you

Released by 442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Col. Eric Overturf (left) his daughters and his wife, Karla (second from left.) Overturf is the commander of the 442nd Fighter Wing, an A-10 Thunderbolt II Air Force Reserve unit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force/courtesy photo)

Note: They are posing in front of A-10C 122. A hi-res picture is currently not available.

by Col. Eric S. Overturf
442nd Fighter Wing commander

11/28/2011 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Congratulations on wrapping up an incredibly successful year of unprecedented mission accomplishment for the 442nd Fighter Wing.

We started 2011 with an ambitious set of goals to pursue along with our mission to Train and Deploy Ready Reservists, and we achieved all of them while providing outstanding Reserve Airmen to support combatant commander tasking around the world.

We supported AEF deployments with more than 100 reservists including a full mobilization of the 442nd Civil Engineers Squadron for service in Afghanistan.

We won the ORI, and we successfully integrated geographically separated units at Barksdale, Moody and Davis-Monthan Air Force Bases into our wing procedures and

We are off to a great start preparing for our process inspections next year under the leadership of Maj. Cathy Roberts and the combined unit inspection steering group, and we continued to develop and care for Airmen and their families through education, training, promotions, career enhancement and family oriented events like our wing family day and the Yellow Ribbon program.

We faced many challenges this year, and we still have plenty of things to work on next year, but there is no doubt that 2011 was a tremendous success for the 442nd Fighter Wing thanks to YOU.

Our focus for the remainder of 2011 will be on safely and successfully deploying more than 300 of our operations and maintenance personnel to provide combat air power in Operation Enduring Freedom. Some of our 442nd Airmen will be among the thousands of American servicemen and women who will spend Christmas overseas this year, so please keep them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

We are putting together a team of key spouses (including my wife Karla) who call the families of deployed Airmen to see how they are doing and provide advice on resources that are available to help them. Our key spouse team is looking for friendly, outgoing volunteers to join them, so if you're interested, please call Master Sgt. Nicole Willeford (660) 687-6415. To find out more about the key spouse program, you may attend the training session Dec. 4.

Next year we are beginning a new era for the Mohawk by moving to an online version posted on the 442nd Fighter Wing website. I have to admit I'm going to miss the printed magazine, but the online Mohawk will allow us to provide more up-to-date information and save more than $4,500 every month in printing and shipping costs. You'll still get the same great stories, pictures and unit information, and you can even print a hard copy if you're one of the old timers like me who likes the printed version better than a computer screen.

For those of us who are fortunate enough to be home over the holidays, I encourage you to take some well-earned time off to slow down, relax, and enjoy the spirit of the season with your families and friends. Whether you are lighting candles, opening packages or singing carols, the common themes of peace, hope and joy are shared around the world as we celebrate our past while looking forward to a bright future.

For me, this is also a time to think about what I want to do next year, and how I need to rebalance my priorities and actions to get there. A plan that includes personal and professional development on the job, strong family connections, leisure activities, and regular exercise is a proven recipe for a healthy, happy lifestyle. I hope the Air Force Reserve is a part of that plan for you. Please include the 442nd Fighter Wing in your thoughts and let us know what we can do to help you achieve your goals.

Thanks for all the amazing things you did in 2011, and here's to even greater things in 2012!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Some more 25th Fighter Squadron A-10C shots of 2011 Air Power Day at Osan

The following additional photos of A-10Cs from the 25th Fighter Squadron, 51st Fighter Wing (PACAF), Osan AB, Republic of Korea (Tailcode OS), has been published on the well-recommended

What a great shot, taken on October 30, 2011! From front: A-10Cs 80-0283, ...183, 78-0685 and ...615 (possible 78-0615), all from the 25th Fighter Squadron. (Photo by Yunjin Lee - Korea Aero Photos)

October 30, 2011: A-10C 80-0283 from the 25th Fighter Squadron. (Photo by Chang Kyu Kim - Korea Aero Photos)

October 30, 2011: A-10C 78-0685 from the 25th Fighter Squadron drops flares. (Photo by Yunjin Lee - Korea Aero Photos)

Friday, November 25, 2011

184th Fighter Squadron A-10C inventory update

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

So far, by photos I've identified the following 18 "Hogs" assigned now to the 184th Fighter Squadron, 188th Fighter Wing (Arkansas ANG), Fort Smith, Arkansas (Tailcode FS):

A-10C 78-0583 (ex 131st FS, 104th FW (Massachusetts ANG)
A-10C 78-0613 (ex 118th FS, 103rd FW, Connecticut ANG)
A-10C 78-0614 (A10-0234) to AMARC as AC0207 8 Mar 2000; returned to service 8 Jun 2000)
A-10C 78-0621 (ex 118th FS, 103rd FW, Connecticut ANG) ("Boomer" ladder door art)
A-10C 78-0626 (ex 131st FS, 104th FW, Massachusetts ANG)
A-10C 78-0630 (A10-0250) to AMARC as AC0462 27 Jul 2005; returned to service
A-10C 78-0638 (ex 118th FS, 103rd FW, Connecticut ANG)
A-10C 78-0639 (ex 118th FS, 103rd FW, Connecticut ANG)
A-10C 78-0642 (ex 131st FS, 104th FW, Massachusetts ANG)
A-10C 78-0646 (ex 118th FS, 103rd FW, Connecticut ANG)
A-10C 78-0647 (A10-0267) to AMARC as AC0453 25 Mar 2005; returned to service; 184th FS, 188th FW (FS)
A-10C 78-0649 (ex 131st FS, 104th FW, Massachusetts ANG)
A-10C 78-0659 (78-0659 (A10-0279) to AMARC as AC0446 25 Jan 2005
A-10C 78-0696 (ex 131st FS, 104th FW, Massachusetts ANG)
A-10C 79-0129 (A10-0393) to AMARC as AC0324 22 Oct 2002; returned to service; 184th FS, 188th FW (FS)
A-10C 79-0216 (79-0216 (A10-0480) 184th FS, 188th FW (FS)
A-10C 80-0166 (A10-0516) 76th TFS, 23rd TFW (EL); Desert Storm; 184th FS, 188th FW (FS)
A-10C 80-0188 (marked as 188th Fighter Wing boss bird)

Please note: I would be very grateful for any additional info or corrections. Some of this info is re-posted from my Warthog Aircraft Database

Thursday, November 24, 2011

355th Training Squadron change of command

Released by 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Col. Samuel Milam, 355th Operations Group commander, passes the guidon to U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kevin Eilers as he assumes command of the 355th Training Squadron on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Nov. 23, 2011. Before assuming command, Colonel Eilers was the 75th Fighter Squadron chief wing inspections, director of operations at Moody AFB, Ga. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Timothy D. Moore) Hi-res

Please note: If I'm right, pictured in this stand-alone news photo (titled "355th TRS CoC") is the 355th Operations Group guidon, and not a 355th TRS guidon. Question: Has been really established a 355th Training Squadron at D-M, alongside the well-known 354th, 357th and 358th Fighter Squadrons? Did I miss anything of their current wing structure?

A final tribute to fallen Airmen

Released by 23rd Wing Public Affairs

11/23/2011 - U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Austin Stradala, forefront, Staff Sgt. Jason Maple, left, and Tech. Sgt. Dan Reed, 23rd Emergency Maintenance Squadron, share a few words about three Airmen who recently passed away during a memorial service at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Nov. 22, 2011. The three Airmen were A-10C Thunderbolt II inspection section journeymen with the 23rd EMS. Family, friends and coworkers showed their respect for three young Airmen who recently lost their lives after a single-vehicle automobile accident. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephanie Mancha) Hi-res

Source (including 4 more pictures)

See also:
MOODY AFB News Release - MXG Airman deceased after car vehicle accident
MOODY AFB News Release- One MXG Airman dead after vehicle accident
Moody AFB News Release: 2 MXG Airmen die in vehicle accident

Condolences from the entire Warthog News community!

PRESS RELEASE: Rumors addressed with Fort Smith's 188th Fighter Wing; A-10 units among discussion of Department of Defense budget cuts

by Maj. Chris Heathscott
Arkansas National Guard State Public Affairs Officer

11/23/2011 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- The adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard met with members of the 188th Fighter Wing Nov. 22 to address concerns relating to pending budget cuts within the Department of Defense. With DoD facing its greatest cuts since World War II, the future of the 188th - one of five A-10 units in the Air National Guard - has been the subject of multiple conversations.

"We wanted to clarify some rumors that are floating around," said Maj. Gen. William D. Wofford, the adjutant general. "The reality is, after visiting with the director for the Air National Guard, the 188th could potentially be under consideration. What we've been told is that anything and everything is on the table. At this point we don't know what the cuts are going to be in the DoD budget."

The Department of Defense is already facing proposed budget cuts of $450 billion, but with the Super Committee's deadline met without decision those cuts will potentially double. Wofford said there have been no official talks of changes to the force structure in Arkansas at this point, but added "We don't want to take anything for granted."

"We've got to show that the Fort Smith unit is the most cost effective A-10 unit in the Air Force," said Wofford. "We think we've got a good argument. With Fort Chaffee right next door, they can be on the range in just a matter of minutes. From a flying hour perspective, we've got a good argument for taxpayers."

The unit's location is not only a benefit in terms of taxpayer dollars, but also a tremendous strategic benefit in being centrally located in the nation. Following the aerial attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the unit was immediately called to deploy its force of F-16s at the time to protect America's skies from border to border.

Those fast and furious fighters transitioned out of Fort Smith in 2007 as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Committee recommendations of 2005. The resulting spark of community and congressional support helped the 188th earn its current mission aircraft, the A-10 Thunderbolt II. Wofford assured the unit's force of 350 full-time Airmen that that same support would no doubt be there for the 188th as needed in the future. The 188th has a total of more than 1,000 unit members.

"As part of the Arkansas Air Guard's strategic plan, we've got to be looking beyond right now. What do we need 10 years from now, 20 years from now, so we can stay relevant," said Wofford. "From a long-range planning perspective, we want to keep the A-10. That's our number one priority, but we would like at some point in the future to transition to the F-35."

Wofford said the location of the base would make it an ideal candidate strategically for the F-35, as it was for the F-16. And while the F-35 is not currently an available mission for the unit, it is a possible option for the future of this unit, which has already proven its readiness to respond and commitment to serve.

"Nobody knows what's going to happen yet but whatever happens is not going to occur until after the unit's upcoming deployment," said Wofford.

The unit is slated for an Air Expeditionary Forces rotation to Afghanistan in 2012, after having already logged 2,870 combat flight hours there in 2010.

Stressing that there has been nothing official handed down reference the 188th, General Wofford said he wanted to help ease rumors in the unit while preparing the troops for that potential fight in the future.

"I wanted the people to know we were going to be up front with them," Wofford said of his meeting with the troops Nov. 22. "We've heard the same rumors they have. We've got the same concerns they do. The earliest we would probably know would be February, when the president's budget comes out. We can't wait till February to tell our story and make the case. We've got to work now."


The Flying Razorback spotlight for December 2011

Released by 188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Richard Danford was recognized as The Flying Razorback spotlight for December 2011. Danford is a member of the 188th Maintenance Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hannah Landeros/188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs) Hi-res

Note: Staff Sgt. Danford is posing in front of A-10C 79-0216 from the 184th Fighter Squadron.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The "Warthog" is featured in James Grady's newest novella

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

The "Warthog" and one of their (but fictional) Desert Storm A-10 pilots are featured in James Grady's newest novella "This Given Sky", published as an e-book yesterday.

James Grady is the award-winning, bestselling author of Six Days of the Condor, which became the Robert Redford movie THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, and more than a dozen critically acclaimed thrillers.

In early October 2011, James asked me via e-mail to get a digital "in-flight" A-10 Desert Storm photo free of charge and copyrights. He told me: One of my heroes flew an A-10 Warthog in the Persian Gulf War, and though that section of the small novella is brief, I interviewed a couple pilots and I think it would be cool to include a digital photo of a Warthog in the text of the novella so readers can see that amazing plane. I've been surprised by how difficult it is to go through DOD channels to get such a photo (and the costs, as well as time), so I'm going out to experts and fans of the Warthog like you, hoping to get a "close up" digital photo of an A-10 in flight and permission to use it in my novella.

James was very happy with the following official USAF A-10 Desert Storm shot:

Yesterday, James provided me the following essay, exclusively written for Warthog News:

Ugly Is Beautiful
Writing Fiction About The A-10 Warthog
by James Grady

Verisimilitude is the watchword of my fiction.
Make it 'feel real' even though fiction is un-real.
This watchword to get it right led me to the A-10 Warthog, to good and brave men who've flown that incredible aircraft, and to this great Warthog News website and Joachim Jacob.
What a lucky journey it's been.

When I was first seized by the inspiration of THIS GIVEN SKY, a noir novella set in my small Montana hometown of Shelby, when I realized one of my two male heroes fell in love with flying as a teenager and then served in the Air Force during the Gulf War, I knew I had to "get it right." Of course, fiction is also about getting a poetic essence that goes beyond – and thus sometimes must fudge – "just the facts" to create something "true." Good fiction is as magic as a great kiss.

As I researched our pilots of the Gulf War, I stumbled on an aircraft called "the Warthog," a remarkable work of avionic engineering and a lethal battle machine. The poetry of something called "ugly" being so beautiful for its function kissed my imagination: I knew my hero Jake had to have been a Warthog pilot.

And I had to make my fiction feel real.
I'd already been lucky in imaging Jake's early flying days.
My cousin, friend, and CEO of Alpine Air Express (and former boxing champion) Gene Mallette took me for a ride in his World War II Mustang P-51 two seat trainer airplane, a wondrous, heart-pounding surreal experience that left me, who makes his living from words, able to say only "Wow!" So when I put Jake in the backseat of a P-51, I had that sky-time experience to draw on.
But I'd never even seen a real Warthog.
Yet I felt creatively honor bound to "get it right."
How lucky I am to be writing in this Internet age!
Beyond the resources of this great website, like the activists of Arab Spring, I went on line, used Facebook, posted a "status update" announcing that I needed to talk to an A-10 pilot who'd served in the Gulf War.
Within days, one such pilot had talked to me a little, linked me to others, especially to a savvy and articulate man I'll call "Zack."
Why "Zack" and not his real name? Because like the investigative reporter I've been, I wanted to give my source the "on background" freedom to open up, to share with me – and to be free of being compared to my hero Jake. That was the commitment I made, that's the commitment I honor.
My veteran pilot Zack – now flying commercially – took the time out of his busy life to share his A-10 experiences. To talk with me over the phone about what it felt like to fly that plane, the jokes he and his fellow combat pilots exchanged, the life he lived in that war, the pain of his divorce, his fears, his dreams, his perspective.
Zack gave me so much detail that I had to compress it to make that section of my novella fit into the story, so yes: there are poetic license errors in my descriptions, yes some elements of flying the A-10 in combat are not like I portrayed them.
But I did my best to get "true" and "right" the essence and heart of my story, to honor Zack and his fellow pilots, to celebrate a plane that's so ugly it's beautiful.

James Grady's first novel became the Robert Redford movie THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR. Grady's published more than a dozen other novels and as many short stories. His literary awards include France's Grand Prix du Roman Noir, Italy's Raymond Chandler medal, Japan's Baku-Misu. His novella THIS GIVEN SKY is being published as an e-book by Open Road Media and Mysterious Press, along with three other Grady titles: his classic SIX DAYS OF THE CONDOR, it's post-9/11 re-imagining "" and a secret spy history of the Baby Boomer generation -- THE NATURE OF THE GAME.

Pit stop: Flying Razorbacks 'hot-pit' refuel Warthogs

Airmen with the 188th Fighter Wing conduct "hot-pit" refueling during a Unit Training Assembly at the 188th Nov. 6. The process is required training for Airmen and is a common practice in the Unites States Central Command Area of Responsibility. The objective of the process is to increase the number of sorties by decreasing the number of thru-flight inspections required each time the engines shut down. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hannah Landeros/188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs) Hi-res

Note: Pictured is A-10C 80-0166.

by Airman 1st Class John Hillier
188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/22/2011 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- Gassing up one's car or truck is a short, simple process that thousands of people do each day. When "hot-pit" refueling an A-10C Thunderbolt II "Warthog," however, putting fuel in the tanks becomes a much more complex exercise.

Hot-pit refueling is the process in which an aircraft's engines are not shut down during refueling. This is done so that aircraft are able to generate additional sorties without having to be taken out of service for the inspections and maintenance required upon engine shutdown, which saves valuable time, especially in a wartime scenario.

For Airmen in the 188th, the four to five minutes they spend fueling each jet requires hours of careful preparation and training, said Staff Sgt. Brian Phillips, a fuels specialist with the 188th Logistics Readiness Squadron. In addition to the laboratory testing and storage maintenance required for a typical refuel, Airmen must inspect their fuel trucks from top to bottom for any malfunctioning component, Phillips said.

There are more than 100 items on their inspection checklists, each of which must be in working order before that truck can be used for a hot-pit refuel, he said. Even something as small as a turn signal can cause a fuel truck to fail the inspection, Phillips said.

The most important item on the inspection list is to pressurize the fuel hoses and check them for leaks, Phillips said. There is hot exhaust coming from both the truck and the aircraft, and either one could ignite fuel vapors from a leaking hose, he said.

Philips said that at the refueling pit, everything is organized to minimize safety hazards, especially that of fire. Crew chiefs and ordinance specialists go over the aircraft in a staging area, before they are allowed to enter the refueling pit, said Tech Sgt. Tony Crockett, a crew chief with the 188th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. They ensure that the aircraft's weapons are disarmed, and communicate with the pilot about any issues that may have occurred in flight, Crockett said.

While hot-pit refueling is commonly accomplished to generate additional sorties in the United States Central Command Area of Responsibility, it also allows the 188th's Airmen opportunities to keep current on their required training here at home station, Crockett said.

Guardsmen must meet the same training requirements as active-duty Airmen, which can be an arduous challenge for traditional Guardsmen who only have two days per month to train, Crockett said.

In order to maintain current certifications to accomplish hot-pit refuels, crew chiefs must perform the procedure at least once every 180 days, Crockett said. If they allow the training certification to expire they must complete the entire certification process from the beginning.

Master Sgt. Haden Key said ensuring that training is up-to-date with Air Force standards is paramount as the 188th prepares for another deployment in 2012. Key is a crew chief with the 188th and is responsible for training Airmen on hot-pit refueling procedures.

Key said the quickest possible turnaround on an A-10 after the engines shut down is approximately an hour and a half. Once the engines shut down, a thru-flight inspection must be accomplished and often maintainers must wait on fuel trucks to arrive.

In a hot-pit refuel, fuel trucks are staged and awaiting the aircraft arrival. Key estimates the hot-pit refuel saves more than an hour of downtime per aircraft.

"In a combat situation we need to be able to turn these aircraft and get them back in the air as soon as possible," Key said. "If there aren't any tankers available for our pilots to refuel, this is an important process to get our jets ready to go and back to helping save lives on the ground."

The 188th completed its first combat deployment in the A-10 when it traveled to Kandahar, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010.

Airmen with the 188th Fighter Wing conduct "hot-pit" refueling during a Unit Training Assembly at the 188th Nov. 6. The process is required training for Airmen and is a common practice in the Unites States Central Command Area of Responsibility. The objective of the process is to increase the number of sorties by decreasing the number of thru-flight inspections required each time the engines shut down. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hannah Landeros/188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs) Hi-res

Note: Pictured is A-10C 78-0647.

Airmen with the 188th Fighter Wing conduct "hot-pit" refueling during a Unit Training Assembly at the 188th Nov. 6. The process is required training for Airmen and is a common practice in the Unites States Central Command Area of Responsibility. The objective of the process is to increase the number of sorties by decreasing the number of thru-flight inspections required each time the engines shut down. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hannah Landeros/188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs) Hi-res

Airmen with the 188th Fighter Wing conduct "hot-pit" refueling during a Unit Training Assembly at the 188th Nov. 6. The process is required training for Airmen and is a common practice in the Unites States Central Command Area of Responsibility. The objective of the process is to increase the number of sorties by decreasing the number of thru-flight inspections required each time the engines shut down. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hannah Landeros/188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs) Hi-res

Airmen with the 188th Fighter Wing conduct "hot-pit" refueling during a Unit Training Assembly at the 188th Nov. 6. The process is required training for Airmen and is a common practice in the Unites States Central Command Area of Responsibility. The objective of the process is to increase the number of sorties by decreasing the number of thru-flight inspections required each time the engines shut down. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hannah Landeros/188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs) Hi-res

Airmen with the 188th Fighter Wing conduct "hot-pit" refueling during a Unit Training Assembly at the 188th Nov. 6. The process is required training for Airmen and is a common practice in the Unites States Central Command Area of Responsibility. The objective of the process is to increase the number of sorties by decreasing the number of thru-flight inspections required each time the engines shut down. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hannah Landeros/188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs) Hi-res


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Irma: Flying Tiger lady

Irma Aul, an 87-year-old Pittsburg native, has had much love for the Flying Tigers ever since the days of World War II when she installed avionics on P-51 Mustang and P-40 Warhawk aircraft. Irma owns tiger earrings, tiger-stripe framed glasses and a beret with a Flying Tiger patch among other things. She attends the annual Flying Tigers Reunion nearly every year and is always eager to share her stories about Flying Tiger history. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter) Hi-res

by Senior Airman Brigitte N. Brantley
23rd Wing Public Affairs

11/22/2011 - TAMPA, Fla. -- When the men of America were called to fight overseas during World War II, it was left up to the women to take care of things on the homefront.

Irma Aul, a Pittsburg native who is now 87, was one of 3 million women who worked at war plants. She installed avionics on aircraft including the P-51 Mustang and P-40 Warhawk.

Her work on the Warhawk and subsequent support of the American Volunteer Group have left her known as the "Tiger Lady." She attends the Flying Tigers Reunion nearly every year.

"So many people who used to come to the reunions are gone," said Irma, whose sister Maria used to accompany her before passing away earlier this year. "We love coming to them because all the people are so friendly, but it's sad to see fewer and fewer people show up each year."

As a war plant worker in Niagra, N.Y., she welded wires and installed secret radar and other electronics into planes that were directly responsible for downing enemy aircraft in multiple theaters.

Irma said she is proud to be a Flying Tiger affiliate and for her part in the war effort. Now as a Tiger Lady, she shows her enthusiastic Tiger support wherever possible.

"I cannot find another place for tigers in my house," she said as she gestured to the tiger stripe-rimmed glasses on her head. "I've got tiger earrings, piles of stuffed tigers, tiger plates, tiger jewelry, tiger clothes and Tiger1 and Tiger2 license plates. I would need an extra house to display everything I've got tucked away."

Her neighbor Pat Majeskie, who accompanied her to this year's reunion, said getting to know Irma has been an honor.

"It is unbelievable to me that history doesn't focus more on the Flying Tigers and everything they did for our country," said Majeskie. "I first met Irma because she and Maria lived next door and they were always on the go.

"Now, she is like family and it is just amazing to hear the stories she has to tell. There's so much to learn from those who served in WWII."

Irma isn't the first in her family with a military connection−her father was a sheet metalist who served in World War I.

"Back then, it was just the World War because there hadn't been a second one yet," said Irma. "Our attic was full of stuff such as my dad's trench hat and helmet. We also had an uncle who got mustard gassed and came back no good. Some things, people just wouldn't talk about."

However, Irma has no problem talking to anyone who is interested about her love for tigers and her part in Flying Tiger history.


See also:
Flying Tigers reunite, honor 70 years of service

Historic 16mm A-10 film for sale on Ebay

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

I got this very hot info by my latest check of the recommended Warthog Territory Forums: Old A-10 film on Ebay

From the seller's description: Here are 2 big rolls of film (about 3,000 ft) on the A-10 "Warthog" from the FAIRCHILD REPUBLIC company dating back to the very early 1970's. These are the very last films on the A-10 in my collection so don't miss out on this auction. The footage includes scenes inside the Hagerstown, MD factory where there are some production scenes along with some great roll-out scenes, but I only looked at the first 50 ft or so of both films so there could also be some flight footage.

The A-10 assembly line at Fairchild.

YA-10A 71-1369, the first of the two prototypes.

Maybe the same aircraft - or not?

That should be a close-up view of the tail number of pre-production aircraft 73-1667 (A10-0004).


Please note: If anybody is buying this item, please drop me a line to share at least some digitalized sequences on Warthog News.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Marshall High School JROTC visits Barksdale

Released by 307th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

11/21/2011 - Cadets from the Marshall High School Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps look on as U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Beau Traweek, 917th Maintenance Squadron jet engine mechanic, talks about the disassembly and inspection of an engine for the A-10 Thunderbolt II. The cadets visited Barksdale and were given a tour of an A-10 and the 917th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment shop. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Greg Steele) Hi-res


One more of Mike Badrocke's A-10 cutaways online now

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

One more of Mike Badrocke's very old but still remarkable A-10 cutaways is online now as part of an article Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, posted on INFORMATION2SHARE on October 8, 2011.

It looks to me like this cutaway with full descriptions has been scanned from an older issue of "Air International" magazine. Maybe the person who did this scan deleted all of the related source info (title and page numbers). Anybody who remember the original source to give full credits? Full size

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weather-Studying Warthog: A Fixed-Up A-10 Will Fly Into Thunderstorms

The National Science Foundation is refurbishing a retired A-10 warplane, equipping it with scientific instruments to study severe-weather systems. This Thunderbolt will soon be flying into thunderstorms.

By Mara Grunbaum
Popular Mechanics
November 18, 2011 2:30 PM

The U.S. military's veteran A-10 Thunderbolt II is built for battle: a titanium-armored cockpit protects its pilot from explosive projectile hits, and it can carry weapons like a 30-mm nose-mounted cannon to take out enemy tanks. Now the National Science Foundation (NSF) plans to arm a retired Thunderbolt not with bombs, but with scientific instruments, and use it to study the inside of violent thunderstorms—where winds, hail, and lightning would take down lesser planes.

The NSF recently awarded a $10.9 million grant to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., a to refurbish a retired Thunderbolt for use as a storm-penetrating research plane, the journal Science reported this week. Stripped of weapons and outfitted with instruments and sensors, the extra-tough A-10 will let researchers study massive, energetic storms from the inside, increasing their understanding of how these damaging storms form and evolve, and helping meteorologists predict when and where they will strike.

"Conventional research aircraft avoid these severe storms, so they're basically outside looking in," meteorologist and veteran storm-chaser Joshua Wurman of the Center for Severe Weather Research in Boulder, Colo, tells PM. "We want to study the worst weather, but we're trying to keep the [plane] outside the worst weather. With the A-10, we don't have that limitation."

A couple of the Thunderbolt's targets will be supercell thunderstorms, which birth tornadoes, and mesoscale convective systems, giant storm clusters that can produce thunder and lightning, pounding hail, and damaging winds. Ground-based radar systems can track wind and precipitation in these systems fairly well from a distance. But to understand how temperature and humidity contribute to tornado formation, for example, researchers need to get at the heart of the storm.

The A-10 replaces a T-28, a small, single-propeller armored plane that flew into storms for 35 years before it was grounded in 2005. The Thunderbolt (also nicknamed Warthog, after its toughness and looks) can carry more than five times as much weight as the T-28, meaning it could bring heavier instruments such as radar and other remote-sensing equipment into the air. The A-10 has a far greater range, too, which will let it venture out to study thunderstorms over the ocean and the mechanics of hurricane formation. And where the T-28 had a maximum altitude of 23,000 feet, the Thunderbolt can reach nearly 40,000 feet: high enough to get above some storms, or to study the upper reaches of severe storms that stretch as high as 50,000 feet above sea level. "A lot of the important physics is happening throughout the depth of these storms," Wurman says, "so the higher we can go, the more comprehensive the measurements we can take."

The A-10 is rugged, but not invincible. It couldn't fly directly into a tornado, for example, and very high g-forces or hailstones much bigger than golf balls would probably put the plane and its pilot at risk. Scientists on the ground plan to use satellite communications to monitor the plane and direct it toward the most interesting parts of the storm, but ultimately, it will be up to the pilot to decide whether it's safe to proceed. "Doing frontier science does involve risks, but there are limits," said Brad Smull, a program director in NSF's Division of Atmospheric & Geospace Sciences, in a live chat hosted by Science this week.

The ready-to-be-refurbished Thunderbolt recently arrived at the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely Piloted Aircraft Studies, which operates several other aircraft for scientific research. The mechanics there will modify it for NSF's purposes. But since the A-10 is already hardened for wartime use, Smull said, the mechanics won't have to do too many structural modifications to make the plane stand up to intense storms (though they will remove the cannon and tweak the hardpoints that used to hold bombs to make room for scientific instruments). And because the A-10 originally was built for ground attacks, the plane can fly at slower speeds, which means it can spend a longer time inside storms recording quality data.

The NSF plans to have the plane ready by 2013, at which point scientists will submit proposals for how to use it. According to Sonia Lasher-Trapp, a meteorologist at Purdue University, researchers are already talking about commissioning the Thunderbolt to study electrical activity and lightning production, hail formation, and how thunderstorms over the ocean differ from those over land. Data the plane collects will also help refine computer models and algorithms for predicting storms based on radar and satellite observations.

And, surely, scientists will dream up entirely new uses for the Thunderbolt once it's available, Wurman says. "Once somebody has an airplane, scientists come up with all sorts of things that they want to measure."


See also:
NSF to Turn Tank Killer Into Storm Chaser

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NSF to Turn Tank Killer Into Storm Chaser

Science 11 November 2011:
Vol. 334 no. 6057 p. 747
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6057.747
News & Analysis
Atmospheric Science

NSF to Turn Tank Killer Into Storm Chaser

David Malakoff

On the battlefields of Iraq, the U.S. military's A-10 Thunderbolt jet was a fearsome tank killer able to survive punishing hits from antiaircraft fire. Now, one retired Thunderbolt is taking on a new scientific mission that fits its nickname. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has given a $10.9 million grant to a U.S. Navy university to transform the warplane into an aircraft capable of withstanding stomach-churning winds, pounding hail, and lightning strikes as it probes the heart of heavy weather. The grant, made 23 September, caps a 6-year effort to replace a propeller-driven T-28 military trainer that was grounded in 2005 after 35 years of storm chasing.


See also:

Live Chat: The Science of Storm Chasing

by David Malakoff on 16 November 2011, 12:13 PM

A flash of lightning, a clap of thunder. Big storms have long inspired awe, fear—and a lot of scientific interest. Now, researchers are getting an unusual new tool to probe severe weather: A retired warplane best known for destroying tanks on the battlefield. In September, the U.S. National Science Foundation announced that it will spend about $13 million to convert an A-10 Thunderbolt jet fighter into a next-generation storm penetrator. The heavily-armored aircraft will lug a suite of high-tech instruments into the hearts of storms to study everything from how hail and lightning form to mysterious bursts of high-energy gamma rays. What are some capabilities this new plane will have that its predecessor didn't? Will it help scientists learn to identify killer storms before they strike? And why, in the age of high-tech satellites and super-sharp radar, do we need to risk a pilot's life flying into a storm at all?

Join us for a live chat about the new storm penetrator and the science it will enable at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, 17 November, on this page. You can leave your questions in the comment box below before the chat starts.


See also:

Warplane Goes From Tank Killer to Storm Chaser

Nov 15, 2011 02:01 PM ET
OurAmazingPlanet Staff

One of the military's feared tank killers, the A-10 Thunderbolt, will soon start its new career as a storm chaser.

The retired plane is getting a $13 million scientific makeover so that it can fly though some of nature's biggest storms and withstand hail and lightning strikes, reported Science magazine (Subscription required). Also known as the Warthog, the Thunderbolt is not the prettiest plane, but it will gather data that will be beautiful in the eyes of storm-chasing scientists.

The Thunderbolt will replace a T-28 military trainer that retired in 2005 after 35 years chasing storms. That plane was limited by the number of instruments it could carry, and the retro-fitted Thunderbolt will carry more instruments. It will also fly higher and linger in storms longer. The plane's 30-millimeter cannon will be dismounted and replaced with scientific instruments. "Hard points" under the wings will carry sensors and instruments instead of bombs and missiles.

The U.S. Navy's Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., will acquire and operate the Thunderbolt. Former A-10 pilots will command the planes into the heart of the storms.

Severe weather scientists have other ways to see inside a storm from afar — weather balloons and storm skirting aircraft — but the best data is found in the heart of the bad weather.

"You really have to go right into the storm to get the most useful data," meteorologist Terry Schuur told Science. Schuur works at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma.

The National Science Foundation, which is funding the conversion, expects to have the planes back in the sky by 2013.


Question: Has been this A-10 already selected or acquired? If yes, anybody who can tell me it's serial number? By the way: I remember an older proposal, made by the U.S. Forestry Servive, to purchase two A-10s and modifying them as water bombers to fight forest fires.

First Osan sorties take off during peninsula wide exercise

Released by 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/16/2011 - An A-10 Thunderbolt II, close air-support aircraft, takes off from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea Nov. 15, 2011, during Beverly Bulldog 11-03, a peninsula-wide operational readiness exercise. The exercise allows Airmen to demonstrate their ability to complete the mission in a simulated hostile environment while executing their primarily duties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daylena Gonzalez) Hi-res

Note: Pictured is A-10C 81-0959 from the 25th Fighter Squadron.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

KTAL Channel 6 highlights Green Flag exercise at Barksdale

Released by 307th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

11/16/2011 - Paul Sweazy, KTAL Channel 6 photojournalist, interviews Lt. Cols. James Travis, 47th Fighter Squadron commander, and Patrick McKeever, 548th Combat Training Squadron/Detachment 1 commander, for a Barksdale Profile segment on the Green Flag exercise at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Nov. 15, 2011. KTAL, an NBC affiliate, provides the newscast as part of their weekly military salute to Barksdale. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Greg Steele) Hi-res

Note: Pictured is A-10C 79-0147 from the 47th Fighter Squadron, assigned to pilot Lt. Col. James Travis, 47th FS commander.

11/16/2011 - U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick McKeever, 548th Combat Training Squadron (CTS)/Detachment 1 commander, is interviewed by Paul Sweazy, KTBS Channel 6 photo journalist, during a Barksdale Profile segment, Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Nov. 15, 2011. The 548th CTS, along with its detachment at Barksdale, executes Green Flag East exercises, providing operational control, safe employment, and realistic close-air-support training for tactical aircrews and tactical air control parties at the U.S. Army Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Greg Steele) Hi-res

Note: This A-10C, probably 79-0147, is marked "47th" as 47th Fighter Squadron's boss bird. Please note that this "Hog" isn't marked as "47 FS" or "47th FS" as usual for some other current A-10 units.

11/16/2011 - A 47th Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II taxis back to its parking spot after returning from a Green Flag sortie, Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Nov. 16, 2011. Green Flag exercises provide realistic close-air-support training for tactical aircrews and tactical air control parties at the U.S. Army Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Greg Steele) Hi-res

Paul Sweazy, KTAL Channel 6 photojournalist, records video of a 47th Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II as it taxis to its parking after returning from a Green Flag mission, Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Nov. 15, 2011. Sweazy recorded flight line video and interviews for a weekly Barksdale Profile segment which highlights events happening on base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Greg Steele) Hi-res

Note: Pictured is A-10C 80-0232 from the 47th Fighter Squadron.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Flying Tigers reunite, honor 70 years of service

Past and present Flying Tigers gather next to an A-10C Thunderbolt II during the 2011 Flying Tigers Reunion at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 11, 2011. During World World II, the original Flying Tigers famously painted shark teeth on P-40s, a tradition still followed and used on today's A-10s within the 23rd Fighter Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter) Hi-res

by Senior Airman Brigitte N. Brantley
23rd Wing Public Affairs

11/15/2011 - TAMPA, Fla. -- The 2011 Flying Tigers Reunion brought together pilots who have flown attack and rescue aircraft bearing the infamous shark's teeth for the past 70 years.

The remaining American Volunteer Group pilots, who were the original Flying Tigers, and supporters who defended China in World War II met Nov. 10 through 13 with pilots who have flown in conflicts from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

"It's an honor to meet with these generations of warriors," said U.S. Air Force Col. Ronald Stuewe, commander of the 23rd Fighter Group at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. "We stand on the shoulders of giants and it is distinctly humbling to be with them on Veterans Day. The legacy and heritage of the original Flying Tigers aren't lost on those currently serving."

The group's aircraft have evolved from the P-40 Warhawk, which lacked gun sights or bomb racks, to the current A-10C Thunderbolt II, which is the most-requested and sought-after air-to-ground support aircraft downrange.

Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault, who formed and led the legendary Flying Tigers, gives a breakdown of the AVG's accomplishments in his book "The Way of a Fighter."

"The group that military experts predicted would not last three weeks in combat had fought for seven months over Burma, China, Thailand, and French Indo-China, destroying 299 Japanese planes with another 153 probably destroyed. All of this with a loss of 12 P-40s in combat and 61 on the ground."

These reunions have been going on since 1947 and give veterans the chance to share war stories with current Flying Tiger pilots.

"I've looked up to these guys since I was a little boy, so to actually meet them and hear their stories is truly, truly humbling," said Capt. Matthew Cichowski, 75th FS pilot. "As soon as I heard about this reunion, I said, 'Sign me up.'

"I've always wanted to be an A-10 pilot and my first time flying one with the shark's teeth is something I won't forget," he added. "It's something I had been waiting decades for and to be a part of the Flying Tigers now is an honor."

There were five original Flying Tiger pilots in attendance, and another handful are thought to still be alive. Also in attendance were original supporters of the Flying Tigers such as maintainers, intelligence and medical staff.

This year, there were two guest speakers. Retired Lt. Col. Dale Storr, an A-10 pilot, spoke about his experiences as a prisoner of war when he was shot down during Desert Storm.

The other was Retired Chinese air force Maj. Gen. Fred Wu-O Chiao, who trained and flew with Chennault. Like many of the other remaining Tigers, he is in his mid-90s.

"It almost made me cry to see how proud you all are," he said during his address. "There aren't a lot of us left. We don't have much time left and we hope through your efforts to make the world a better place to live."

The spirit of camaraderie runs deep between the current and veteran Flying Tigers. In June, a group of 75th FS (Attack) member led by current squadron commander Lt. Col. David Trucksa, rented an RV and traveled to Arlington National Cemetery to attend the funeral of Maj. Gen. John Alison.

A WWII ace, Alison was hand-picked to demonstrate the P-40's abilities to Chennault and Chinese officials. He was also a former 75th FS commander and the father of Air Force Special Operations- NBD.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Trucksa, 75th Fighter Squadron commander, shakes hands with retired Col. Frank Epperson, World War II era 75th FS pilot, during the 2011 Flying Tigers Reunion at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 11, 2011. The reunion was a three-day event which included briefings, static displays, guest speakers and a dinner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter) Hi-res

A banner for the 2011 Flying Tigers Reunion hangs in the lobby area of a hotel in Tampa, Fla., Nov. 11, 2011. The history of the Flying Tigers dates back to 1941, when Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault created the first American Volunteer Group. The group comprises of three squadrons which fought with China during World War II against Japanese forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter) Hi-res

Note: Please take a closer look on the Devil Woman nose art, later also used by Flying Tigers A-10As during Operation Desert Storm.


Elementary school welcomes members of the 917th Fighter Group

Released by 307th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

11/15/2011 - Members of the 917th Fighter Group gather for a group photo at the Phoenix Magnet Elementary School, Alexandria, La., Nov. 10, 2011. The school hosted a group of 917th Fighter Group personnel, who visited all 675 students, answering questions about themselves, their jobs and the Air Force Reserve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Greg Steele) Hi-res

11/15/2011 - U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Mike Thornton, 917th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, signs a photo for a group of students at the Phoenix Magnet Elementary School in Alexandria, La., Nov. 10, 2011. The school hosted a group of 917th Fighter Group personnel, who visited all 675 students, answering questions about themselves, their jobs and the Air Force Reserve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Greg Steele) Hi-res

Source (including 14 photos)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nellis holds 2011 Aviation Nation

Released by Nellis Public Affairs

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II, simulates its air to ground capabilities during the 2011 Aviation Nation Open House Nov. 12th, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Aviation Nation celebrates 70 years of airpower in Las Vegas and the Air Force's accomplishments in air, space and cyberspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Bob Sommer) Hi-res

An F-4 Phantom, A-10 Thunderbolt II, and F-86 Sabre perform the Heritage Flight during the 2011 Aviation Nation Nov. 13th, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Aviation Nation celebrates 70 years of airpower in Las Vegas and the Air Force's accomplishments in air, space and cyberspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Worley) Hi-res

The "Hog" caught at Nellis during Aviation Nation 2011

Updated November 14, 2011

At Nellis AFB, Nevada, Warthog News contributor Bruce Smith from the United States had the opportunity to take the following shots:

November 11, 2011: Heritage flight with A-10C 80-0279 of A-10 West Demo Team from the 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

November 11, 2011: Another related heritage flight shot. (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

November 11, 2011: May be this impressive shot of A-10C 80-0279 is very special and probably more interesting for the A-10 "hard core" community. (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

November 12, 2011: A-10C 80-0279. (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

November 13, 2011: A-10C 80-0238. (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

November 12, 2011: POW-MIA You Are Not Forgotten ladder door art of A-10C 80-0238. (Photo by Bruce Smith) Full size

Saturday, November 12, 2011

VETS: John Marks still living his boyhood dream

By Sarah Moore
for the Digitalburg - A Warrensburg community news service of the Muleskinner at The University of Central Missouri
Nov 11, 2011, 10:09 AM
Photos submitted by Col. Marks

Devil Woman is painted. Note the absence of the canopy. (Courtesy photo by Lt. Col. John Marks)

WARRENSBURG, Mo. -- It's rare that a 14-year-old boy, putting together model jets with a buddy, gets to grow up and fly those same jets. But that's exactly what Lt. Col. John Marks of the U.S. Air Force gets to do.

About a year before graduating from the University of Kansas, Marks went to an Air Force recruiter and said, "I want to fly airplanes!" And the recruiter told him "Yeah, yeah, you and everyone else."

Initially, Marks was turned down by the Air Force, he said, so he pursued the Navy. A couple of days after being accepted by the Navy, Marks said the Air Force recruiter called and told him a pilot position had opened. And since he really wanted to fly a fighter airplane, and the idea of being on a ship for six months at a time "wasn't as exciting" to Marks, he pursued the Air Force.

Maj. Raymond Laffoon, II, a retired Air Force navigator, said that Officer Training School, by itself, could take "a little more than three months" to finish. After that comes Undergraduate Pilot Training, which is "very rigorous" and can last a year for pilots. According to Laffoon, the whole process of becoming an Air Force pilot could take between two and two-and-a-half years to finish.

In 1987, Marks joined the Air Force and started his training. He was able to pick the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, or "Warthog," for short, as his specialty. This was the same jet that he and his buddy had put together as a model.

After completing his training, Marks was then assigned to the 76th Tactical Fighter Squadron, which was a part of the 23rd Fighter Group, and was stationed in Alexandria, La.

The "Flying Tigers" was the nickname for the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force in 1941-1942. In July 1942, the 23rd Fighter Group replaced the AVG. The shark-faced fighters of this group remain among the most recognizable of any combat aircraft of World War II, although the A-10s of today do not have the shark painting.

While he was based in Louisiana, the Cold War was still going on. But the United States was not involved in any conflict at the time. So it was a shock to Marks' unit when it was told, "You're deploying to Kuwait."

This was a time before 9/11, when deployments weren't an every-day thing for the military. Nobody had heard of this "Kuwait" place. Marks said they pulled out a "big map," and saw the "tiny little" state of Kuwait.

Before being told this, according to Marks, everyone had thought if they were deploying, it would be "World War III or the Soviets," not the Middle East.

Marks said that "everybody was shocked" when they taxied down the runway at the King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia, a civilian airport. He hadn't seen this kind of environment before. Marks remembered that after landing in Saudi, upon opening the canopy, there was a "wall of hot air hitting you, just like opening an oven door." This country was "very dry and amazingly hot."

According to Marks, a lot of the "Army guys" were in tents, but he and his unit got to stay in small trailers that made up the airport workers' quarters. The trailers had air conditioning units in the rooms. Four men to a room. Very close quarters.

Before Desert Shield became Desert Storm, Marks and his unit stayed in Saudi Arabia for six months, flying a few missions for training, but mostly trying to find something to do to pass the time.

They didn't have the Internet during Desert Storm, so the men had to write a lot of letters. They also built gym equipment out of stuff they had lying around. According to Marks, "The communication, and the ability to stay in touch with people, was completely different" than it is now.

Marks and his unit had six months to get to know each other before flying out to combat, so the question of trust wasn't really there. The men flew their A-10's in formation for a reason. They HAD to trust each other. Marks said the question that was really in the men's minds was, "How am I going to react to this?" The generalizations that had been made about who was going to react a certain way in combat, and who was going to act the opposite, "weren't necessarily true." Marks said in his experience, for combat, "You can't judge by your impression" of people.

Marks said he can "clearly remember on the way back." He was flying his A-10, on which he had painted the "devil woman" that was painted on the WWII fighter planes. He was on the last leg of the journey home, "feeling depressed, even angry" that what he "figured would be the biggest adventure" of his life was over. But at the same time, he was excited to return to his parents, his brother and his sister.

For Marks, the feelings that every combat deployment brings out are "hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it." But he tried, saying that a soldier "holds two completely opposite thoughts at the same time." They are excited about the possibility of combat, "but at the same time the self-preservation part" doesn't want to go at all, because of all the preconceived thoughts one has.

"It's great to be home," Marks said, "but at the same time, you miss the excitement and adrenaline rush of combat."

Marks was not married when he deployed for Desert Storm. But for the eight months he was deployed in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom, he had a wife, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the same unit, and three kids who were very hard to leave behind. Marks also deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 and 2008 for Operation Enduring Freedom.

Hearing Marks' boyhood story could make one wonder what a young man imagines while putting the last swipe of paint on the model A-10. Does he imagine the flights of war? Does he understand how small the cockpit of the one-man fighter jet is? Can he smell the gunpowder in the cockpit?

Marks can remember the A-10 clearly, because he still gets to fly them. He said that he will wait until he is 60-years-old to retire, and will "try to find a way to fly one after that."

Airmen are posing for a group shot. The A-10 belongs to the 76th TFS (red fin caps with white stars). (Courtesy photo by Lt. Col. John Marks)

(Courtesy photo by Lt. Col. John Marks)

Partial view of the trailer park at King Fahd IAP. (Courtesy photo by Lt. Col. John Marks)

Source Printer friendly page

Comment: Special thanks to Sarah Moore for this excellent Veterans Day news story about an experienced A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot and his Desert Storm memories. Currently, Lt. Col. John Marks is assigned to the 303rd Fighter Squadron, 442nd Fighter Wing (AFRC), Whiteman AFB, Missouri.

Note: The associated four pictures are downloadable only from the printer friendly page! And I'm still in the process to edit related photo captions. Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

Warthog News linked now much better on Italian Fighter Combat Sims Website

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

Thanks to Andrew Heater, Warthog News is linked now much better to the Italian Fightercombatsims website

(Screenshot by Joachim Jacob)

A nice special color skin by Andrew. That should be A-10 78-0610 "City of Boston" from the 131st Fighter Squadron 'Death Vipers', 104th Fighter Wing (Massachusetts ANG), Barnes ANGB, Massachusetts, Tailcode MA

See also:
Warthog News now linked on DCS A-10C Virtual Italian Community

Friday, November 11, 2011

451st AEW celebrates Veterans Day

Released by 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

11/11/2011 - Members of the 451st Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron adjust the American flag hung on the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing headquarters building at Camp Losano at Kandahar Airfield Nov. 11, 2011. The flag is 25 feet by 40 feet and was placed in honor of Veterans Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman David Carbajal) Hi-res


Please note: Currently, the 451st AEW is U.S. Central Command's single unit which hosts an A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft package in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

11-11-11: Saluting America's veterans

by TSgt. Dan Heaton
127th Wing Public Affairs

11/2/2011 - SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- For nearly 100 years, America has been honoring her veterans on a day that recalls the end of the first war that included extensive use of military air power.

For that same long century, a field near Detroit has been providing a significant percentage of that air power to meet the nation's needs.

The guns of World War I fell silent on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. That day, Nov. 11, has been marked ever since by the United States as a day to honor those who have served - first in that war and later expanded to all those who have served in peace time and in war.

For more than a year before that date, Selfridge Field had been a training center for the fledgling new air wing of America's military. More than 1,000 pilots and aerial gunners were trained at Selfridge during World War I. "The Great War" - as the conflict was known at the time -- launched a history of service at Selfridge which continues to this day. Almost 400 Airmen from around the wing will be forward deployed on Veterans Day 2011.

"For almost 100 years, Selfridge has played an important role in our military history," said Col. Michael Thomas, 127th Wing commander at Selfridge. "Veterans of service at Selfridge, as well as those who continue to serve, have earned the gratitude of a nation that continues to enjoy the freedoms these veterans have defended."

The Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended World War I, was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France, some seven months after the fighting had concluded. In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations..."

On May 13, 1938, Congress made the 11th of November a legal holiday--a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after both World War II and the Korean War had passed into the history books, numerous veterans organizations to change the name to Veterans Day. President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" on Oct. 8, 1954.

The 1968 Uniform Holiday Law changed the dates of several federal holidays, including moving Veteran's Day to the nearest Monday to Nov. 11. This action was protested by many veterans organizations and many states continued to celebrate the holiday on Nov. 11.

Veterans Day was marked on a Monday in 1971-1974. In 1975, Congress changed the official date back to Nov. 11, because of the historic significance of the date.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Today, Selfridge Field is known as Selfridge Air National Guard Base and is home to units of every branch of the U.S. military and several agencies of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.

Parts of this article were provided by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs.


Warthog News linked now on Patrick McGee's Gulf War A-10 battle damage website

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

Following a request by me, Patrick McGee, SMSgt, USAF (Ret), has added a link to my blog in the A-10 Community section on the main menu of his outstanding A-10 Desert Shield/Desert Storm website.

Thank you very much, Patrick!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

25th Fighter Squadron A-10C drops flare galore during 2011 Air Power Day at Osan

By Joachim Jacob, Warthog News Editor

The following stunning shots, both taken on October 30, 2011, has been published on Pictured is A-10C 78-0615 from the 25th Fighter Squadron, 51st Fighter Wing (PACAF), Osan AB, Republic of Korea.

(Photo by Yunjin Lee - Korea Aero Photos) Full size

(Photo by Andreas Zeitler - Flying-Wings) Full size