"So - There I was." It's how EVERY great aviation tale begins. Join hosts, Fig and Repete, as they bring in some great aviation raconteurs to relate the glamorous, hilarious, poignant, tragic, and incredible tales of aviation. Fig and Repete met more than 30 years ago as Marine Attack pilots in Marine Attack Squadron VMA-223 flying the AV-8B Harrier II. Both have since gone on to careers in the majors. Realizing that they are around the most accomplished professionals in aviation with amazing stories to tell, they decided these stories are too good to be kept quiet. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll laugh until you cry, but if you have ANY interest in aviation, you won't ever be bored.
He Left His Footprint on My Face Episode 29
We are proud to welcome our first helicopter pilot, "GT" this week: Capt. Wayne Tunick USN (ret) author of the book "American Quest" The book is a fun read and traces the career of a young man who had never considered the military as he serves his country and his fellow man.
GT had a successful career as a Navy Helicopter pilot who learned early on the seriousness of aviation in a crash that could have easily cost him his life and it changed the way he approached flying for the rest of his career. And, while everyone couldn't experience exactly what he did, GT tells us how he demanded exacting standards of his fellow aviators so they could be ready to meet any challenge they faced - expectedly or unexpectedly in the airplane.
GT's experiences range from incredible to terrifying - and how he was fortunate enough to be able to learn from his experience and pass that on to other pilots throughout his career - including two tours as a Squadron Commander.
Over the years GT came up with 18 Rules to live by. They are republished here:
COMMANDING OFFICER, HSL-44 AIRCREW POLICY
THIS IS A LIFE AND DEATH BUSINESS. DON’T DIE BECAUSE YOU WERE STUPID.
KNOW YOUR NATOPS-IT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE.
KNOW YOUR TACTICS. YOU MUST KNOW HOW TO FIGHT WHEN CALLED UPON.
TRAIN HARD. THE REAL THING WILL BE EASIER.
DEVELOP STANDARD PRACTICES. DO THINGS THE SAME WAY. WHEN YOU GET RUSHED-YOU WILL STILL DO THEM THE SAME. BUT DON’T GET RUSHED.
NEVER HESITATE TO SPEAK UP OR IF NEEDED, TAKE CONTROL OF THE AIRCRAFT. IF YOU HESITATE YOU WILL DIE.
HAVE A BURNING DESIRE TO LEARN THE AIRCRAFT. INSTILL THAT DESIRE IN OTHERS.
NEVER STOP LEARNING.
PRACTICE RISK ASSESSMENT. ASK YOURSELF: “IS IT WORTH THE RISK?”
DO NOT CONFUSE A HOSTILE AREA WITH A WAR. THERE ARE HOSTILE AREAS ALL OVER THE WORLD.
OPERATIONAL NECESSITY RARELY, IF EVER, PRESENTS ITSELF DURING PEACETIME.
USE THE BOOK. CHECKLISTS, PREFLIGHTS, BRIEFS, AND DEBRIEFS REQUIRE DEDICATED EFFORT. NEVER GET COMPLACENT.
NEVER TAKE AN AIRCRAFT THAT DOESN’T “FEEL” RIGHT. NEVER GIVE IN TO PERCEIVED PRESSURE.
ERR TO CONSERVATISM. BETTER TO COME BACK AND FIGHT ANOTHER DAY.
USE YOUR CREW. IF YOU ARE THINKING IT. SAY IT. OTHERS ARE PROBABLY THINKING THE SAME THING.
AW’S ARE ONE THIRD OF THE CREW. MONITOR THE NAV TABLE, ASK QUESTIONS, DO NOT LET THE PILOTS KILL YOU.
YOU DON’T CRASH GOING UP. NIGHT DECENTS OVER WATER ARE THE MOST DANGEROUS THING WE DO. RESPECT THEM.
LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES. THEN NEVER REPEAT THEM!!!!
EXPERIENCE IS A TOUGH TEACHER, IT GIVES THE TEST FIRST AND THE LESSON AFTER. THE SH-60B HAS 3 FORECASTED CLASS “A” MISHAPS THIS FY. ARE YOU ONE OF THEM? THE ANSWER IS NO!!!
The Boss is HAM'N Episode 28
What's the worst part about being a Blue Angel? Get the unbelievable answer here. And what's the best part? Lawman says it's completing a successful tour with the team. We say the corollary is the camaraderie that comes with professionals doing what appears to be impossible and making it look easy, all while holding each other to the highest standard, and of course tormenting each other relentlessly.
You will howl at some of the practical jokes played on Lawman his first year with the team. Hear that and other crazy adventures this week as well.
The show picks up where last week's show left off. This week is a little disjointed due to the order in which the interviews were mixed and we hear some fleet adventures in here as well - but you won't be disappointed.
Deep appreciation to Dos Gringos for the music and the MacGeekGab for the support that helped make this show possible. Thanks also to our sponsor, Robin's Bird Brain Designs. Get amazing, custom Christmas and Holiday gifts this year now!
NEVER Talk to the Boss Again Episode 27
Our third show with Lawman is a fun one. He opens the show describing how embarrassed he felt living the good life in Qatar while getting combat pay - though he did have to go to Afghanistan to prevent the outbreak of violence between the Marines and the Air Force!
Then we back into how he was serving as the Full-Time Support (FTS) Officer for the Marine Reserve squadron in Willow Grove, PA. You will laugh out loud at the segment we call “An Approach Article Waiting to Happen” as Lawman tells about flying on a snowy night, unable to hear the pilot in the back seat, flying the second worst approach in the history of Naval Aviation; and then getting chewed-out because neither he nor the Major General in his back seat were qualified to fly that TA-4 that night!
Lawman then tells how he applied to the Blue Angels to stay in a flying job for his next tour. Despite the pressure from his competition and the Monitor (the Marine who assigns your next duty station) to pull his application and forget it - Lawman was chosen to be a Blue Angel.
Then the fun REALLY began! Whether it was pranks played on the FNG (Funny New Guy) or a steep learning curve, Lawman found out the hard way that initiative isn’t always worth the trouble. This week’s episode title was inspired when he tried to help the team and got yelled at on the radio for his efforts. No good deed goes unpunished!
Getting selected to be a Blue Angel may be the "easy part." Once you're there you have to perform. We close out with Lawman wondering if he made the wrong choice - riding on his first practice airshow with the Blues he wasn't sure they would make it through their first maneuver!
Thanks this week goes out to “Sticks” for our new website logo. Check the pilot’s visor. If you don’t get it, go look up the Far Side cartoon from February 2, 1983! And thanks also to Dos Gringos for the music we use on So There I Was.
Keep an Eye Out for Me Episode 26
Fatty joins the show this week to talk about how he became a Guardsman - and the benefits thereof. He tells how plans went awry when the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) got rid of his F-15 Squadron while he was in flight school and how he managed to adapt and overcome.
When he found himself in Afghanistan over Christmas of ~2010 Fatty found entertainment in providing roofies to his flight commander: You, dear listener, know that commander well! But they actually did some flying there as well - and you'll learn about air-drops to resupply the troops in the field and how that works.
We close out with yet another amazing story of challenges overcome. Fatty's journey from knowing he'd lost his ability to do what he loved to overcoming every hurdle in front of him will inspire others to persevere when all hope seems lost.
Music is again provided courtesy of Dos Gringos! Thank you! (NSFW)
Here's to Woody. The Last Worst Day Episode 25
In our second hour with Lawman, things get real. This episode is not entirely comprised of our usual light-hearted hijinks and buffoonery - though we throw some in for good measure. Lawman details months of training aboard the USS Nassau, and losing a squadron mate, Buick, during a night training sortie in the lead-up to Gulf War I.
Spending months aboard the boat before the war without going ashore was maddening. So much so that they literally prayed for a cause a divert to give an excuse to get Marines off the boat for a few days!
As the months dragged on with limited contact with the outside world, the Marines tried to keep their morale up. Lawman took some heat, but managed to strike a deal to keep the line-shack Marines happy.
Then the war kicked off, and they found themselves in the thick of it. With Anti-Aircraft missiles in the air, Lawman's flight narrowly escaped disaster on their first combat sortie. On their first flight of the last day of the war, the Marine Aviators' of VMA-331 luck ran out when one of their own was shot down.
Hope remained as evidence that the pilot got out of the doomed aircraft kept trickling in. Eventually Lawman found himself ashore in Saudi Arabia to identify the remains of his friend and fellow pilot, Reg Underwood, "Woody."
Woody volunteered to be a Marine Pilot. He trained hard and was a Weapons and Tactics Instructor - one of the best who taught other Marines to use their jet effectively as a weapon. Woody was well-respected by his contemporaries and senior officers alike. He was a husband and a father to a daughter whom he would never meet. Woody's sacrifice became their sacrifice too. Woody's brother and sister still live in his home state of Kentucky, and his wife and daughter remain in North Carolina. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers please.
We are grateful to have known Woody and mourn his loss for ourselves and for his family. His life made the world a better place.
The music for this episode is courtesy of Dos Gringos - Last of the Breed. Thank you, Gents! Great stuff as always!
The Lieutenant Savoy Incident Episode 24
Lawman sat with us for more than 5 hours to discuss his unique career before becoming a Blue Angel; and how he got to fly almost every plane in the Marine Corps inventory in Afghanistan. We will break this into about five shows and likely intersperse other shows in between.
Lawman is a natural storyteller; he had us howling with laughter and choking up in despair. You'll hear how his upbringing set him up for success in Officer Candidates' School. And you'll learn that growing up in the 60s, the son of a special forces father, was not for the faint-hearted. In upcoming episodes, we will dedicate shows to two Marines with whom Lawman served. And who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.
In this episode, hear about Lawman's early career and how he almost got a much less desirable callsign. Hold your sides as he describes the unauthorized appropriation of a Navy staff car in Spain and how he held his breath waiting for the "shoe to drop" in the wake of their antics.
You'll also hear how an innocent (and hilarious) practical joke almost cost him his Marine Corps career. Unfortunately, the only person who didn't find it funny was the one who controlled his fitness report!
This show is the first of many with Lawman. You WON'T be disappointed!
Please also check out our sponsors' page and get some ideas for custom, thoughtful Christmas, or other holiday gifts. Thank you to Dave Hamilton over at the MacGeekGab for his support and counsel on getting this show to you! Finally, this week you'll note we're using music from "Dos Gringos"; two Air Force Viper drivers who have written some fun and fantastic music which is definitely NOT safe for work! We hope to have the Dos Gringos, "Trip" and "Snooze," on with us in an upcoming show soon!
Iwakuni Japan…. My first duty station. Loved that base. Loved watching all the TDY units come though, practicing traps and such. Was such a joy to see/feel those birds coming through.
Seeing the harriers though…. Different experience altogether. Just plain cool. And now it’s my pleasure to hear how it was on the other side, from those who flew them. Simply awesome. THANK YOU for doing this podcast. Semper Fi!!
Keep 'em coming!
Thursday morning commutes to work have never been so good. Only thing better would be hearing these stories over a cold brewskie 🤙
Great Flying Stories
The best I’ve heard, the real deal from the real deal. Thanks for sharing these stories👍