Jan. 25, 2012
Over the winter break, four members of the Air Force baseball team were able to experience F-16 Fighter rides. Junior right-hand pitcher Alex Baker talks about about his F-16 ride.
On the morning of Dec. 28, 2011 I showed up to the 457th Flying Squadron (Ft. Worth, Texas) not really knowing what I was doing or what I would I experience that day.
I was taken across the street to the readiness squadron where I was fitted with a harness, a G-suit, my helmet and gloves. After we were fitted with all the items for our flight we went into a room where we began to discuss getting out of the F-16 whether it was on the ground during an emergency or if we would actually have to eject. In the room there was a mock cockpit that was fully operational. It was weird to actually be sitting in a cockpit of the aircraft that I would be flying in the next day running through all the procedures and then finally pulling the ejection handle, which slowly popped the canopy and pushed the seat in the fake cockpit up as to simulate you leaving the aircraft.
I kept thinking to myself that I did not want to be in the situation where the pilot would be holding the plane steady and I would have to pull the ejection handle. After this training we talked about being under canopy of the parachute after ejecting and what we would have to do to control our parachute in order to fall safely to the ground.
The next day I drove back to the 457th on the day of my flight. I showed up early and talked to a handful of the pilots in the squadron before we met at the OPS (Operations) desk and all the pilots who were flying in the training mission were briefed on what would go on during the flight and the weather conditions.
After that I met with the Lt. Col who I would be riding with. "Farmer" as he was called, then just went over what he wanted me to know before riding with him that day. After that, we went back over to the readiness squadron where I found my locker with all the things I was fitted with the day before.
After dressing we walked out onto the flight line and walked all the way down the two rows of F-16s to find the two "D" Model F-16s (two seat F-16s). "Farmer" and I then clipped our harnesses up and the crew chief in charge of plane maintenance helped us strap into the plane. After being strapped in we hooked up to the comm. system and oxygen. We then closed the canopy and started the engine. After flight checks we taxied out to near the end of the runway with one other F-16. We then sat near the end of the runway for 10-15 minutes because we were early to our step time. After the plane was finally cleared to go, our two-ship taxied onto the end of the runway. We lined up for a formation take off with the other F-16 in front of us.
We sat there for a second as the two pilots gave each hand signals back and forth. I then felt the engine spool up and the other pilot tapped the front of his visor and threw his head back. And when he popped it forward we both released brakes at the same time and shot down the runway with full afterburner. We lifted off and shot over Interstate-30 and soon after backed off the throttle and split off from each other, cruising out to our designated airspace which was just south of Abilene.
Our two-ship was out there first and we started to make some turns to get ready to actually start the training mission. We then pulled a 4 G turn and then a 5 G turn in the opposite direction. A few minutes later, the opposing four-ship of F-16s showed up and we started to try to get them to chase us into a mock Surface to Air missile area.
During this we were making some long 5-to-6 G turns. I could hear the plane telling us that we were popping flares while turning and throwing out chaff (strips of metal foil dropped by an aircraft to confuse enemy radar by creating false blips). We kept fighting for a little while and then settled back into the airspace. "Farmer" then showed me what the targeting pod on the bottom of the F-16 could do. I can't go into specifics, but it has several amazing capabilities.
We then got back into the fight and began flying aggressively. Towards the end of the flight we made our most aggressive maneuver which was when we started at 25,000 feet, turned all the way over and dove straight at the ground which then turned into three spirals, finally settling in around 10,000 feet. After that it was time to head back and we flew back to Carswell NAS and landed.
I left that day feeling like I got hit by a truck and all these thoughts running through my head about how crazy the flight was. I was just happy that I got all the puke in the bag and not on the avionics.
C2C - Alex Baker