Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. the Buddha

Title to be decided pt10

Continued from pt9

One of these days, my mouth is gonna get me in some really hot water.

Let it not be this day dear Lord.

“I need 4 guys ASAP to help me get this bird airborne!” I yell as I am bouncing and rolling across this gravel.  Luckily, we had already pulled her out and set the wings in place.  Batteries are full up and fuel loaded, but no missiles set yet.  I want speed tonight so I think 6 should be enough.  More just in case than actual need.  My daddy taught me enough to know never leave it behind, you will need it then.  As I roll up, two young guys run up “whatcha need sir?” one of them asks.

“There are tubes in the trailer.  Grab 6 of the blue ones and fit three to each wing.  As soon as you got that come get me or T to show you how to arm them.  I’ll  be in the nose of the trailer getting things fired up.  Got that?”

“Loud n clear sir.  You’re gonna give bravo a woody when they hear you are on the way.” He grins broadly as he he heads into the trailer.  I run my wheels up the ramp behind him and make sure they understand the mounts, then roll forward  to get my rig fired up.

“One of these days,”

“I know T, I already said the same thing rolling out here.  Can you give those guys a hand, I am firing up the radios and pre-checking.  Then I need you to work your magic on this IR unit ”

“Dont worry about the IR, already done, channel 11 is your sensitivity.  Keep it low until you really need it or you may shut it down.”

“When did you do that?”

“You know how I am, somnambulist n all. Did it during my nap, just in case.  My hunches about your fat lip tend to pay off.”

Laughing, “glad to know I am so predictable.  Hopefully I can stay unpredictable in the air, otherwise I am gonna have a wreckage strewn career. ”

“Yah, unpredictable.  That may keep us aloft tonight.  Still no word on whats out there but I am going to have my laptop and headset with me in the tent.  I’ll  let you know as soon as I know, k?”

“Sounds better than what I think Napoleon had in mind.”

“Cool off on him G, he knows you somehow from one of your tours, just didnt realize it until you jumped the shark in there.   He has in mind an apology; I told him to hold it until you got Damocles back on the ground.”

“T,  I wasnt kidding about taking it out of his hide if she gets shot up, you know that right?”

“Yeh, I know it, and I think he knows it as well.  Just bring her home and we’ll  worry about the rest later. ”

“Mhmm, excuse me guys, we have the rockets on, whats next?” This from the younger guy that ran up.

T replies “be right there.  You guys got ear plugs? These engines are about to go hot and they are really loud.” As he walks out to help them.

I have a moment of out of body experience everytime I get in this rig. I know I am in the trailer, but my vision is elsewhere and with the radio set on my ears, so is my hearing. And i can ‘feel’ the plane around me, even if that’s mostly imagination.  Its a strange feeling for certain.

T is standing in front of Damocles now and signalling.  Here we go, final checks: rudder, check, elevators,check, ailerons, check, flaps check, spoilers, check , barrel spin, check. All go signal and he runs to my left. I dial up the IR a touch and can actually ‘see’ the runway: five by five baby!  Throttle up, and I am rolling.  40, 50 55 touch of up elevator and suddenly all my images go calm as I am airborn.  75, 85, 90 knots, climb speed, see y’all at 3000′

“Team Bravo is 15 miles east of base camp.  They are on a ridge overlooking POS2. No signs of assets at this time but keep your eyes open boy, copy?”

“Loud and clear Papa, let  Bravo know I am 5 minutes to over head and will loiter at angels 3 .  I should be near invisible from the ground unless these guys have thermal or radar.”

This is my world now.  I can see to the horizon, which is blacker than the ground thanks to what starlight there is. Its an incredible view honestly, but much bleaker than a day run.  My GPS is saying I am over Bravo now, and I can see some lights down there, switch back  to IR and the view gets a little more interesting.  I can barely make out Bravo on the ridge, but then, I am at 3000′ and they are just two guys.  Time to throttle back a hair and hang out.  Touch of flap and I am cruising at 50 knots airspeed.  Gotta bit of wind out of the west, have to play with that in my turns.  Looks like this may just be a milk run.  Right now, without changing anything, I can stay here for 5 hours and then need to go fuel up: that leaves me a reserve of 20 minutes, or 5 minutes hard knocks.  Yup, she can sip or guzzle, but not much in the middle.

“Raphog, do you see anything in the vicinty of POS2, Bravo says they can hear rotors just north of their location, but cant get a visual.”

“Checking Papa, wait one.”

“Copy that”

Looking down, orient on Bravo, track north. Nothing nothing.  Shit. Hotspot!  “Verify with LP Bravo.  Looks like a turbo jet spooling up.  I may have company soon.  Advise over.”

“Standby Raphog, advise angels 5 and loiter.  Keep me informed of bogey, over.”

“Roger, angels 5 loiter, and eyeball on bogey. Copy that.”

Flaps in and throttle up for climb, still keeping my loiter pattern just in an upward spiral now.  That heat signiture is hot even from here: whatever it is, its no Bell Ranger.  My question is this, what does it have under its wings?  Cannon or pods?  I highly doubt its a sneak n peek type.

“Papa, advise Bravo to seek cover.  If I can see them, so can others. Over.”

“Raphog, message received and relayed. Advise if bravo is still in view in 5, over”

“Copy that, report in 5.  Angels 5 ceiling and loiter.  Bogey is still ground bound at this time. Over.”

“Negative, belay last.  Bogey is airborn and climbing.  Advise bravo to freeze and hold.  Bogey is bound straight over them. Over.”

“Advised raphog. Will advise as info arrives soonest. Over.”

Well, I wanted an interesting life, I thinking that Chinese proverb is more true than comfort allows.  The way that bird moved, I do believe we have a blackhawk in the ‘hood.

“Raphog, Bravo states Blackhawk on move.  Bravo has left surveillance behind and is in exfil. Bring it home Raphog. Over.”

Yeah, bring it home, and have a stray follow me, Dont think so.  I’ve 4 hours of fuel left at current burn and I think it may just need to be used to visit Mexico for a few.  Lets see if I can get that stray confused.

“Raphog to Papa, advise playing wounded dove, flying southwest airlines to Chihuahua for a Dos equis. Be home soonest.”

“Negative, negative negative!  Return base!”

“Say again Papa, some static broke you up.”

“Dammit G, bring that bird home! You are 30′ from this tent, no way did I break up.”

The whole time of this conversation, I have been dropping speed and altitude. I am now at 2500′ and I have a pretty good view of a blackhawk, nacelles showing white hot in my camera. And he sees me too.  I can tell he is confused by appearances, but knows I am not where I am supposed to be. Time to turn tail and get a move on.  See if he follows or not.  30+miles to Mexico from here, and he has at least twice the speed of me running flat out. 500’ aughta give me some play room.  I know I can pull some moves he can’t even think about, but can I stay far enough out of reach. Guess I am gonna find out. Hard left bank, throttles to 105% and here we go!
Oops.  I can’t see backwards.  If he’s there, he is invisible to me. That rear mounted camera is daylight only.  Shit!

25 miles.  Keep the burn.  Roll, jog left, jog right, roll back.  Dunno if hes there or not.

Yup, those are tracers. Throttle back ,hard left rudder, full up elevator, snap roll.  Better than a roller-coaster!  And there he is! Throttle up, barrel spin, fire!  BRRT! BRRRRT! “AINT THE ONLY ONE WITH A GUN, BITCH!”

I know I hit him, but now its time to get a little crazy.  He may be fast, but he ain’t got airbrakes like my old hog does.  Yup, hes bringing it back around, time to go wide open again.  20 miles to the border, come on baby, we can do this.

Tracers again.  I am thinking thats all he has.  Hope I’m right.  Hard up elevator, vertical climb, cut throttle and hard left rudder.  Hammerhead!  And there he is again, Fox  1 fire, miss.  BRRRRT!  ouch, that left a mark,  skeedaddle again. 15 miles to go.

“Raphog break off contact repeat  breakoff contact! Do you copy!”

“Headed mexico way papa, brother bear keeps wanting to play though”

“Roger that, so called brother bear is limping home on one engine.  Get your bird home soonest. Copy?”

“Who is brother bear Papa?  Advise over.”

“DEA, radio contact is clear.”

Oh shit.  A fat lip gets me fired up and now I really goosed the girls in DC.  Not good.  Time to go home with my tail ‘tween my legs.  T is really gonnna thump my nose over this.

“Return to base copy over”  time to pay the piper.

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