The flight for today was another ACM hop with Kane as the lead and Gimbel as the wily Red Bandit. Since I was the only field grader in the flight, el Gimbel was looking forward to trying to gun me. I scoffed at the young whippersnapper (and fortune was kind in that I didn’t have to skulk about my scoffing after the flight).
The usual administrivia took place from takeoff to ‘Fight’s on!’ We started with an Intercept to a BVR shot. I killed Gimbel (simulated) from over 20 miles away. Easy enough!
The second engagement was an intercept to another BVR engagement, only Gimbel flew at us at a high-fast flyer and put his radar on both of us. Typically in that situation we’d let #3 and #4 handle that while #1 and #2 dragged, so we practiced our abort maneuver and terminated. We went back to our side, he went back to his, and we called to begin set #3.
The third engagement had Gimble flying at us pretty low (and fast). It was good to see, we flew in nearly directly over him and did a split-S to complete the intercept. Easy enough yet again!
After that intercept, we turned student-body-180o and set up for a defensive perch. We basically let Gimbel stay behind us, pretended he was a bandit that just showed up at our six-o’clock, practiced a defensive break turn, and shot him down (simulated). Once we got the ‘kill,’ we terminated and got ready for set #5.
To begin engagement #5, we set up a CAP in the center of the airspace and sent Gimbel off to do his worst! We got a total of three ‘Tap the CAP’ fights. Gimbel attacked Kane unsuccessfully, and I shot him down (simulated) for his efforts on the first pass. The second pass was a mirror image of the first, with Gimbel attacking me unsuccessfully and Kane getting the shot in. The third time was a little tougher, when the three of us merged Gimbel turned knife-edge to me as he flew over me (where the sun happened to be), so I lost sight of him. In complying with the rules, I had to call ‘No joy’ so Kane knew I couldn’t see Gimbel anymore and therefore couldn’t shoot him. Gimbel, as part of our formation, had to listen to the same radios, so he knew I couldn’t see him. He therefore switched his attack from Kane to me, and managed to get nearly to guns range when Kane finally pulled all the Gs he could, got his nose around, and shot Gimbel with a simulated heat-seeking missile before Gimbel could start shooting at me. Whew! After that, we were all out of gas, so we safed up our simulation switches and headed back home.
The only noteworthy event of the flight (other than the fights) was the crow I saw pass right below me on final approach back to the base. I saw the crow again after I landed, or I should say I saw what was left of the crow. It turned out the giant vacuum cleaner under my nose sucked the bird right into the lip, severing the poor avian, with half going down the mouth, and the other half skittering down the left side of the airframe. I was pretty lucky the entire bird didn’t go down the engine, who knows what might’ve happened.