Here goes...
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27-09-2016, 03:50 AM
Here goes...
Ok, I am going to talk about this, even though it really doesn't want to be talked about. I'm a very open person, but my own problems are just not usually discussed...I like to fix them before I even tell my family there is a problem. It's just a Texas thing.

This time, however, I can't do that. Everybody in my family knows now, and...I'm having a really hard time with it. I'm going to break a long standing rule, I guess you could say, and share it here. I don't know what I'm expecting, but I really want to unload it on people who don't have a stake in it, you feel me? After that...who knows. Maybe nothing. I just need to put it into plain words, not carefully chosen ones so that I don't hurt anyone's feelings. Which is really odd, considering that...well. I'll just continue.

I should tell it from the beginning, which will be fun- and long. But the very best time of my life is what sent me here, to this, not the best, part.

But first, the fun stuff. I hope you like this part, because the ending is pretty crappy.

My entire family is in aviation. My father flew in the Army Air Corps from 1938 to 1947, then the Air Force was formed and he moved over. He served from 1947 to 1977 in the US Air Force. My brothers- except one- flew in the AF, Navy or Army, too.

I began flying at age 12. I got my student pilot license at 14, my private license at 17, my commercial at 18, my ATP at 19. (Airline Transport Pilot license) I also collected a commercial helicopter license, instructor ratings, aerobatics, floatplanes, multiengine, glider, really just everything I could get my hands on. Growing up in an aviation family that owned one of the largest cattle ranches in the state of Texas didn't suck.

I flew all over while I was in college, gaining lots of experience and a few type ratings in large and jet aircraft. When I finished OTS (Officer Training School) and left for UPT (Undergraduate Pilot Training) at Sheppard AFB, I just KNEW I had the world by the throat.

I breezed through UPT. My intense flying background, the fact that I read incessantly, and the fact that I flourish under pressure made it a cake walk for me. I finished #2 in the class, behind a Lt Richard _________. (I won't use his last name here, for reasons which will become obvious) I was JUST behind him, and he was exceptional, so I was happy.

Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I was faip'ed. (First Assignment Instructor Pilot, or a plow-back.) Argh! I was bummed, but really it is an honor, you have to stand out to be brought back as an instructor right away. Still...I was a fighter pilot without a fighter, dammit!

I loved the T-37 "Tweet" and the T-38 "Talon", however, and actually had a great time. We played and flew and partied and had...well, a blast.

Suddenly, my time was up, and I was due to get a new toy. I had filled out my form 90 honestly- the "Dreamsheet", where a pilot puts his dream aircraft/assignment on paper. There were various theories about how to fill it out- put your last wish first and your first with last, etc. I didn't even think, I just put down what I wanted in #1. If I didn't get that...whatever. Everyone warned me that I wouldn't, so have a good #2 and #3 and...etc. Stupid! Now I just knew I had screwed myself.

I received my orders. I was to report to Nellis AFB, Nevada, to fly F-15C's for the 65th TFAS (AGRS). My #1 choice! My dream! Holy shit! I was the happiest guy on earth, no doubt at all. I was in a daze, I couldn't believe it was real.

I went through training with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of grins. I was made for the single seat Eagle- it was an easy transition for me. I FIT that airplane. It loved me too.

The 65th Tactical Fighter Aggressor Squadron, also caled the 65th AGRS (Aggressors) depending on what day it was, was a squadron of the baddest of the bad. We were the bad guys, we flew planes in Russian livery, and we trained and trained and trained- ACM all day, DAC all day, we were like SWAT on a police department- we HAD to whup every squadron in the inventory, in exercises like Red Flag. We put the other squadrons through hell, so they could learn. We never lost a fight. We literally were the baddest of the bad. Our job was to challenge and evaluate. It was freaking awesome. We also flew F-5E's, you probably saw them- they were used in Top Gun to simulate the "MiG 28's" that Maverick and Goose were taking photos of. (Just FYI, Russians give even numbers to bombers and some attack aircraft, odd numbers to was all Hollywood makeup, there is no MiG 28.) (MiG 15, 17, 19, 21, etc)
We used them to simulate the flying qualities of Gen III Soviet fighter aircraft. I fought for a checkout in the F-5 and got one. I LOVE the F-5. In a no-radar engagement, the speedy, tiny little bastard is almost impossible to acquire visually. I was often able to get away with some pretty sneaky stuff. Plus, they're just damned sexy!

Our squadron patch:

[Image: t4wcqw.jpg]

My dream plane.

[Image: 35iuh69.jpg]

Three of our F-5E's. Sexy, eh?

[Image: 2lu45mv.jpg]

So life is good. I'm in hog heaven, I don't know how I could BE happier.

Then we get a new guy. Lt. Richard _______ from UPT! He and I had been close, and we got even closer now. We were like brothers, we flew and played and sweated and flew some more and just had a better time, although a demanding one, than should be legal.

Richard and I both had a background that earned us some time at Edwards with the test and eval guys. It was a sort of atypical situation that I can't go into- it's silly, it's honestly nothing important, but technically it's classified secret, so we'll have to dance around it a little.

Neither of us was a test pilot, but we were asked to evaluate specific equipment on occasion due to some common ground Richard and I shared. We were often asked to fly a certain flight profile, in either the F-5 or F-15, after they had installed something, and then to write a written report on it. It really was nothing, don't picture laser guns or anything. Just silly military rules. We enjoyed it, though, because it got us more time aloft.

Generally one of us flew whatever bird they wanted us to, and the other guy flew chase in his airplane- not strictly required, but we got away with it, so...we did.

This time, though, the weirdos at Edwards (You have to meet them to understand that) heard Richard wanted to be an IP (Instructor pilot) so they wrangled it so that I could check him out as an IP in a T-38 (Which is a 2 seat F-5...or more accurately, an F-5 is a single seat T-38) and coincidentally, they had some gear they wanted tested that would require a pilot and an operator. See how they worked over there?

Still, an IP checkout and more flight time, so..obviously!

We set up a plan and got it approved for 12 sorties, to get Rich the longed-for IP, and wove the guys' testing into it. They wanted us to fly some aggressive zero G parabolas, which was weird, but even more fun! They wanted some serious zoom climbs, and up where the air is rare, too. Curious, considering what we were testing, but...woohoo!

Anyway, we flew the first 4 sorties, no sweat. We had to do this between our other duties, so this was over about 3 weeks.

For sortie number 5, we were to fly level at fl400 (40,000 ft) accelerate to 400 knots indicated, pull to vertical at 5.5 G's and fly a rudder reversal at 165 knots indicated. (I'm simplifying a bit here)
I was flying, so I did as they asked. Everything went fine, until both engines flamed out during the reversal. No big deal, thin air and a violent maneuver that basically uncoupled the intake air.

So we set up for an air start. We had both done this...I don't even know how many times. Piece of cake.

Except this time we had a problem, that we didn't know about. A fuel controller valve had stuck open and filled the burner can with fuel. When the ignitors fired, at first nothing happened- too rich a mixture. They fire repeatedly, like a spark plug, sort of.
But eventually all of the ducks got lined up, and the engine exploded.

The T-38 is called a CLT aircraft- center line thrust. Both engines sit side by side directly behind the pilots. This makes it easy to fly when one engine fails, because the aircraft doesn't try to fly sideways, like when the engines are out on the wings.
However, it places two long, very hot engines side by side, right behind you.
Here is a pic of a T-38 underside- see two exhaust nozzles in back? The engines are skinny and very long, and as you can see, packed together.

[Image: nedkaq.jpg]

Everything got chaotic, smoke, fire, wind, (wind? inside?) tumbling, pain, fire again.

I woke up 3 days later at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, in the burn ward. I had 2nd degree burns everywhere, but they would heal. My right leg was 3rd degree from hip to ankle. I would be hospitalized for 16 months and have to have reconstructive surgery and 33 skin grafts.

Initially I was in a clean room, heavily drugged, and not allowed visitors.

Finally, some time later, I think it was about 2 weeks, I was able to talk, (my lungs had been burnt) and breathe better, and I was moved out of the clean room.

Colonel Bass, my CO, came to see me. He had actually been there all along.

He told me the news. We ejected at 46,000 ft.

The ejection had been commanded by Richard's handle.

Richard died before he made it down- details were not forthcoming, and never have been given to me. I assume something horrific.

I eventually recovered fully, and returned to flight status. My leg is a mass of scar tissue, and I limp a little bit, but I was amazingly lucky. I thought.

I broke my back in Alaska, back in 2000. I spent almost 5 years in a wheel chair, while they repaired my spine. They eventually got me back together, and I got back on my feet- after physical therapy, I was back to normal- for me. All good.

Except that the doctors in Alaska fed me steroids for the entire 5 years. My spine was BAD, and swelling caused not only pain but potentially a loss of adequate blood flow and paralysis. Still... 5 YEARS of steroids? My immune system was just wrecked. Forever.

I began having frequent cellulitis in my leg. At first it was just a nuisance. It got worse. Eventually, about 3 years ago, it started getting bad enough that I would have to go into the hospital for a week or ten days of IV antibiotics.

It has steadily gotten worse. In the last 8 weeks, I have been hospitalized 3 times, for a total of 24 days.

Because of the burned flesh and skin grafts, and lack of a lymphatic system, it has gotten very difficult to treat the infections. The bacteria have gotten more and more resistant, as well. I have had to start seeing a wound care doctor, in addition to my PCP and my pain doctor. I am on so many opiates every day, the average person would not survive. I can't even feel them. I still rate my pain as a 7 or higher.

During this last hospitalization, the doctors all sat down with my wife and I to discuss my prognosis.

Apparently, this will worsen, no doubt about it. Sometime, sooner rather than later, I will check in with an infection and it will simply ignore the antibiotics. It's doing a pretty good job of that now.

But this time the infection will run rampant. It will head for my heart and brain.

The only solution- if I make the decision fast enough- is amputation.

If it was a matter of cutting my leg off at the knee...go for it. Let's do it now!

But it isn't. It's not even called amputation anymore. It's called hip disarticulation. Google it yourself, I can't talk about that anymore. It's considered 100 times worse than a leg amputation.

No way. Drug me until I die. I don't want to be carved up. And this one is NASTY. 25% don't survive the surgery itself.

I was so looking forward to being a grandpa.

That's all.
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27-09-2016, 04:18 AM
RE: Here goes...


Don't let those gnomes and their illusions get you down. They're just gnomes and illusions.

--Jake the Dog, Adventure Time

Alouette, je te plumerai.
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27-09-2016, 04:27 AM
RE: Here goes...
I am too moved to be able to think of what to ssy.

But my thoughts are with you, for what little that us worth.

Thank you for sharing, it puts a new perspective on things.

Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.
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27-09-2016, 04:56 AM
RE: Here goes...
F**k. I am literally having goosebumps right now. Dont know what to say, i am usually bad at this. I really dont...

Have to think about it.

Ceterum censeo, religionem delendam esse
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27-09-2016, 05:22 AM
RE: Here goes...
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27-09-2016, 05:25 AM
RE: Here goes...
Whoa Undecided That's some heavy shit.

I'd go for it. Get it, survive it, see the grand-kids. AFAICT the docs are saying the longer you leave it the more likely the next infection's gonna kill you anyway. If they think it's your best shot...

Although definitely look at getting a second or third opinion.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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27-09-2016, 05:45 AM
RE: Here goes...
The only thing(s) i really can think of
You had some real bad times, worse than anyone like me. 5y in a wheelchair is horrible, but you also did stuff, people like me only dream of. I love planes and flying and figuratively would give my right leg to have done only part of what you were doing. Dont get me wrong please. You certainly had a "full" life, i think thats the best way to describe it. Having had such a life until now.....thats something isnt it?

Of course this amputation is a major and irreversible cut in your life, but -no offense intended- other people had to do this too, and they did well i suppose? How about researching or even trying to get in personal contact with people who did this and ask them how this effected their quality of life? That should give you a pretty good impression.

Its a horrible desicion to make, but if you are otherwise healthy, you can maybe get off those opiates and pain you still suffer from, you may get some quality of life back even (in exchange of your leg). watching your grandchildren grow up can still be worth it, even with this amputation.

There are two rules as we say here about life:
1. It often turns out to be different
2. than you think

In any case i wish you all the best. Do what you have to do. Talk to your family, i am sure they will support you. Mabye they have some more and new input for you. New perspectives on things cant be bad. Gather info until you feel confident to make a decision, either way.

Viel Glück! Hug

Ceterum censeo, religionem delendam esse
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27-09-2016, 06:12 AM
RE: Here goes...
Whether you do it or not - you will have made the right decision - as it's yours to make......

I and I'm sure others here would like for ya to stick around... If nothing else, ya tell the best stories..



I'm a double atheist. I don't believe in your god or your politician.
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27-09-2016, 06:31 AM
RE: Here goes...
Fuck! I can't even imagine what it would be like in your position but for what it's worth, I'd like to think that I'd go for losing the leg - if it gave a me a chance for more time with my family.
Good luck!

“The first duty of a man is to think for himself” ― José Martí
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27-09-2016, 07:07 AM
RE: Here goes...
Get it done asap! You'll surprise yourself with how well you will cope.

You can build a whole new life after that. And judging by your life so far, you'll do just great!

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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