HOW TO BE MARRIED TO A MARINE FIGHTER PILOT--A Marine Corps pilot's wife: F-4s, F/A-18s and aviators from my perspective.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fighter Pilot Rule #3: Be aware of neutral, offensive and defensive starts.

Rereading some of my blogs from years past, I visited The Ready Room 2008. I'm heading into new territory with my writing and wanted to go back to the comfort of the familiar. There were more lessons to learn from the procedures of aviators preparing for flight.

Before pilots or RIOs took off and slipped the surly bonds of earth, they met in the Ready Room to get their shit together with the other flight members.

First, they got the admin details out of the way: like when to walk to the plane, when to man-up--be in the plane ready to strap in--when to taxi and take-off.

Second, they had to brief the set-ups and engagements. Would the air combat maneuvers, ACMs, be on radar or visual? A radar set-up meant starting BVR--Beyond Visual Range--a visual set-up began much closer in.

Aviators then briefed where the planes would be the start of each engagement. Different start parameters meant different tactics. If 1v.1--one fighter fighting against one other--in a defensive start, then one plane had an advantage. The bogey--the bad guy--could come up on the fighter’s ass or could have an angle of attack to shoot a virtual sidewinder missile for a virtual kill. Fox Two!

A neutral start began with bogey and fighter side by side, turning away 45 degrees in a butterfly maneuver before turning head on, so neither had an angle, no position of advantage on the other.

An offensive start gave the fighter an advantage--say at the six-o-clock ready to attack the bogey up the rear. Aviators preferred an advantage right from the git-go but they needed to practice offensive and defensive tactics so in a real combat situation, they could get themselves out of tight spots, find the bogey, and shoot it down. The job of the fighter pilot. As the Red Baron said, “Anything else is nonsense.”

In my relationships with others, too often I find myself thinking there’s my side and the other side (and the other side is so wrong). I want to prove my point, show them I’m right. I want to win.

In tactical maneuvering in war or combat training winning is important. In war it can be a matter of life or death.

In a relationship, winning or losing can also be a matter of life or death--the life of death of the relationship. Too many times, defense means not listening, offense speaks the unforgivable. A relationship--whether with a spouse, a family member or a friend--is not about offense or defense--except to defend and support the other. Relationships are about establishing common ground--neutral. Be aware of when it’s best to insist, when to break away and when to leave the ACM to fly another day.

I have to remember to be a good wingman, not a Manfred Von Richtofen. We have enough nonsense in our lives.