Here goes...
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02-10-2016, 01:12 AM
RE: Here goes...
(27-09-2016 03:50 AM)The Dark One Wrote:  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.

And here i have been whining because I have an infection in one toe due to diabetes that just won't heal and they are talking about having to remove the toe. I am 70 years old and have lived with diabetes for 30 of those years, and I have 9 more toes, but what you are facig makes mine seem minuscule.
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02-10-2016, 01:16 AM
RE: Here goes...
(29-09-2016 03:35 PM)Paleophyte Wrote:  
(29-09-2016 12:15 AM)The Dark One Wrote:  Now, that might work for me except for one thing. While my life has been pretty good, I won't deny that, I still remember, very clearly, July 20, 1969. I watched the events of that day unfold, and was absolutely CERTAIN that I would have career paths open to me as an adult, that, sadly, do not exist even today.

Like I said, the future is never what we expect. I love reading the old sci-fi from that era. Stalwart spacemen pilotting nuclear rockets by sliderule. Even the experts missed what the future held.

I agree that cybernetics seem an unlikely option. Perhaps they'll simply clone you a set of legs. Or maybe they'll figure that legs are for menial ground-pounders and simply wire your carcass straight into one of those planes. Those seem unlikely too. My bet is on something so odd that we don't have a proper name for it yet.

Maybe Waldos? Remember Waldos from science fiction?
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02-10-2016, 05:06 AM
RE: Here goes...
Damn, you've seen and done things that a lot of people only dream about. A sincere thank you for serving our country. I met a couple online (Jeep club). We later met at an offroad park. The man, "Mike", was missing both of his legs. I didn't ask why. I treated him like anyone else. His jeep was rigged with brake/accelerator on the steering column. When we arrived at the staging area, he got out of his jeep and started airing down his tires like the rest of us. He then came over and offered to help me with my jeep. I could not get over just how positive and upbeat this guy was. He was NOT letting his disability get in his way. Later, I got stuck on a trail. I called them on my CB radio and they came back to winch me out. I wish you could meet this guy. His can-do attitude really inspired me. I wish you the best.
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04-10-2016, 01:23 AM
RE: Here goes...
Yeah, I have friends like that...I've always considered myself like that with the problems I already have, to be honest. But this disarticulation's like worst case scenario in my head- well, not quite, that would be TBI, or quadraplegia, but it's not too far off.
It's also one thing to wake up in a hospital, and find out, hey, ya got blown up. Shit happens, remember those legs you used to have?'s the new plan! I mean, you don't really have a choice, wallow in self pity or move on, it already happened.
But I'm walking and talking. They want me to drive down to the hospital, check myself in, and volunteer to have my body severely and permanently mutilated. To forever seriously hamper my ability to do things, to be mobile, to limit myself forever.

Plus, there is a pretty high chance this surgery will kill me. It is one of the most dangerous surgeries they perform.

Or, I wait until the infection finally reaches the point where I don't have a choice, and then have the surgery. Then it's about 50 times more likely to kill me.

What if it's 20 years before it gets that bad?

What if they find a cure for resistant staph by then?

What if it gets that bad next week?


I can jump on a grenade to save any one of you guys...and I would do it, in a heartbeat. This is the kind of situation that makes me a pansy.
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04-10-2016, 02:06 AM
RE: Here goes...
You are absolutely right. Its like tortue. Showing you the instreuments beforehand, before you get mutilated. Of course it puts a lot of strain on ones psyche.

All i can do from here is wishing you good luck. Confused

Ceterum censeo, religionem delendam esse
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04-10-2016, 02:15 AM
RE: Here goes...
(02-10-2016 01:11 AM)Deesse23 Wrote:  What impresses me most is how relaxed this young guy seems to be about his whole situation as an amputee.

Dont tell me a kickass F15 top gun fighter pilot cant do what a silly young student can do! Big Grin Cool

Well, "top gun" is Navy, so please don't ever say that again...Weeping

I got to sit down pretty much the entire time, in the airplane, and...Rolleyes

that kid has probably 30 years or so on me...No

Plus, you don't know that this entire thing wasn't CG. He didn't actually DO anything...he just talked about it.

You know Lt. Dan really had legs, right? Tongue

I do very much appreciate the thought, though. Heart
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05-10-2016, 05:17 PM
RE: Here goes...
I don't think it's CGI or any trickery. I checked his channel and he has lots of videos where he shows his leg and how it works and so on. Where he runs and walks and does stuff. You can check out his channel, I linked it below the video.

But yes, I understand your worry. Especially the fact that you could go like tomorrow, check in, get the surgery done and probably survive (I believe in you, man!) and then might hear a few years down the road, that now there is a cure or a better medicine (hoorah or something). Then again, you point out yourself that it is currently a bit like a ticking time bomb.
You know what would worry me most is the fact that usually doctors prefer, for a good reason, to operate on healthy or close to healthy tissue. If they operate when it is infected, there is a higher risk because of no matter how sterile stuff is, they might still cross contaminate from the infected leg tissue to the open wound with the healthy tissue...

Sorry to see/hear/read you suffer like this right now. It's scary is hell.... You ever wanna talk, I'll be happy to lend you my ear. But I guess you figured that anyway.

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05-10-2016, 05:48 PM
RE: Here goes...
(27-09-2016 09:17 AM)The Dark One Wrote:  Nobody commented on my pictures. Aren't those planes gorgeous? The F-5 is ooold tech, no doubt about it, but damn...what a beautiful bird. You WEAR that airplane, you really do. I looked into buying one, they're cheap- you can get an E for about $175,000 now. But the cost of fuel, maintenance, parts...damn. I need to hit the powerball. twice. Sad

How many hours did you wind up logging in each plane? I have seen those at an air show before. beautiful birds. I also remember a story where an F 15 had a mid air collision and lost a wing and the pilot was still able to fly the plane with one wing. Turns out that the F15 would fly with only one if it was going fast enough.

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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08-10-2016, 12:53 PM
RE: Here goes...
Quote:How many hours did you wind up logging in each plane? I have seen those at an air show before. beautiful birds. I also remember a story where an F 15 had a mid air collision and lost a wing and the pilot was still able to fly the plane with one wing. Turns out that the F15 would fly with only one if it was going fast enough.
Yeah, the Eagle has a bit of a lifting body fuselage, it's flying, but it's not flying well. That is a famous incident in F-15 history that happened well after my time. The book does NOT say it will do that...well, it may NOW. It didn't before. Smile

Military pilots don't log anywhere near what civilian pilots do- which is unfortunate. I flew anything anywhere anytime, my entire life. I literally never said no. I flew some...scary flights.
In 8 years, I ended up with 1092 hours in the F-15
521 hours in the F-5
1453 hours in the T-38 (I was an instructor)
1493 hours in the T-37 (same)
for a total military time of
4559 Which is HUGE for a fighter guy. I've seen guys who retired at 20 with less time. But I spent 3 years as an instructor, and I ended up attached to an aggressor squadron, I begged maintenance flights, I was constantly there, if a plane needed to go somewhere, I was ready and waiting to take it there.
As an airline pilot I flew about 800 hours per year, on average. So I was still light, but I got close. 1841 short. Damn it.
My total time, civilian, ended up 15,562.21, so my Total Flight Time, all types, is 20,121.21 I think that's a cool number. I think I'm going to stop logging time. I'll get another logbook and log BFR's and approaches to stay current, but I kind of like that number for some reason. 20,121.21 it has a sort of symmetry I like, even though its asymmetrical. That makes no sense. I am at the age where I want to stop making sense. It's incredibly freeing.
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