22 November 2005

Gunfighter Diary Desert Shield 17 Nov 90

17 NOV 90

160438, 5T2, 3.6, 362, Pickle

This morning got to sleep in because we were flying late. It was hard to sit around in tent but I managed. Went in to terminal at 1030, spent a few hours prepping for the brief. Our mission was to go out and use the FLIR to ensure no one was on a range that the Cobras were going to shoot on later. There was no moon, so we weren't authorized to use the NVGs. We went out during the day to locate target and make sure it hadn't blown down. Winds were high today and it was very dusty. Target was okay, and we landed to turn a goat herder away from the area. He spoke no English, so there I was, pointing up, saying "helicopter,...bang bang" and motioning which way for him to go. The goats had the right idea but he wasn't getting it. He was busy holding mama goat down so baby goat could get some chow.
Took off and followed Cobras around for an hour. That was LOTS of fun in the pitch black haze. Basically, set the low altitude warning on the radar altimeter to an altitude that you don't want to go below and chase 2 other sets of lights around. The closer you fly formation, the easier to see the other ships, but then you run the risk of hitting them. Finally, as part of the mission, the other Cobras fired some illumination rounds. Much easier to get around after that. We followed them tonight to get some practice for hauling a photographer around on Monday.
We had shot some instrument approaches a few days ago, so that helped. On nights like tonight, there is no horizon and no ground lights to give any visual reference. I think that it is the most demanding flying that we do, except for night boat landings when it's hazy and no moon. That's why I like the NVGs for nights like tonight. Better than no help at all. I haven't flown nights in a while, most of our frags have been during the day. We did one night approach also.
Got back late, shut down and debriefed. I guess the papers are building this up as a huge exercise? Well, it's nothing we haven't been doing since we got here, but you know how the media likes to blow things out of proportion. I'm sure SH is worried. Guess he said he would let 100 Americans go today, haven't heard yet whether that happened. We see fewer and fewer reporters, so I guess they aren't getting around as much or relying more on speculation. Or the chow is much better in the rear.
Got back to tent in time to hear Texas-TCU game on Armed Forces Radio, Even better, it was the Longhorn football announcers. It was about 2200, I listened to it with Russ until 4th quarter, then he went to sleep and let me borrow his radio. The game was real close until the 4th quarter. There I was, sitting on my cot, with all the lights off, listening to Longhorn football with the earphones. It was so dark that I couldn't see anything at all, kind of weird. I was going to be mad if they blew the game, as it was probably the only one that I would hear live. The Rice-Texas game was on a few weeks back, but I only heard a few minutes. Maybe Texas-A&M will be on, as it is at such a weird time.

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