I had to re-fly my local area orientation sortie today since I haven’t flown since December.  The plan was for Huck and I to fly out to the CHARLIE airspace, do a quick G-warmup, and take a look to see what we could see with our training mode of the HARM Targeting System Pod and to just view the coastline and some of the references out in the ocean.  Afterward we were going to go back to Misawa to beat up the pattern.  I was out of landing currency, so updating it was the primary feature of the mission.

     It was not to be.  The first problem was the solid undercast from about 800′ AGL up to 9,000′ MSL.  We couldn’t see any of Hokkaido or northern Honshu.  The second problem was after a couple of spins in the area, Huck had an issue with his jet which upon consulting the almighty checklist said to ‘Land as soon as practical.’  We buzzed straight back to RJSM, held over the field to burn down to a reasonable weight to land on the wet runway, and landed relatively uneventfully. 

     As for the new toys, I think I only hit the IFF interrogator once.  LINK-16 worked like a champ all day! The HMCS in my jet wasn’t very cooperative, but it worked to a limited extent.  Who needs a stinkin’ helmet-mounted sight, though!? I grew up as a HUD-baby, and I can fly with just a HUD quite easily!

     Some F-4 guy probably just read that and is snickering.  Clock-to-map-to-ground navigation is challenging enough, I must grant (they used to teach us that at pilot training).  But then, those guys had a back-seater to watch the radar for them. 

     I may have grown up in one of the best times in the F-16.  Active radar missiles, the dawn of the J-series weapons, and advanced targeting pods.  By the end of my career, the mighty Viper will still have some useful life in her, even if it is just a ‘legacy jet.’  It (and the F-15) will forever be the first of the fighter jets to max out human endurance.  The F-22 and F-35, as good as they are or will become, will still be 9G jets.  Sorry, Phantom, Starfighter, and Delta Dart guys!

     Semper Viper!

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