I knew that the plane I heard above was a fighter. We don't get many fighter aircraft flying over our house. I knew that with his speed, he would probably be gone before I could get somewhere to see him. I went back to work.....but because of the plane and the fact it was Memorial Day weekend, I began reminiscing about the old days in the Air Force. Later, I heard another fighter plane fly over. I then knew that some air show was going on somewhere. A little later, the unmistakable sound of a fighter formation was approaching. I HAD to go see it. I walked out from under the patio and waited for them.
It was a awesome site. I am still moved by the site of fighter planes in formation. It is made more awesome by the knowledge of what those fighter planes can do in a fight. Let me tell you an eye witness story.
I was once assigned to a fighter squadron base that had a bomb range site. Every time the pilots were making practice runs on the bomb range, regulations required that two medics and a cracker box (military ambulance) be stationed on site. I really don't know why. If there is an accident involving a fighter aircraft, one needs an undertaker, not a medic.
In any event, out NCOIC (non-commissioned officer in charge) selected me to accompany him to the bomb range. He had been to many. It was my first trip. We parked the cracker box about about 300-400 yards away from the targets. We could see them easily. The targets were three concrete pill boxes and four cloth targets made out of parachute straps. The cloth targets were huge, about 25 feet square and held up by two poles. They had circles painted on them like any target, but they would not blow down from wind because they allowed air to pass thru them. The aircraft were loaded with ordinance that had color dye on the bullets that marked each "hit" and identified which planes made which holes. The concrete bunkers were just like you see in the movies. They were round with a slotted "peep hole" in the forward wall. These "peep holes" allowed observations and the mounting of machine guns. The real ones were built with 8-10 feet think ceilings that would repel normal bombs.
We parked a while before the bomb runs were scheduled. The NCOIC, being experienced, knew when to tell me what targets to watch. Then, he said, "start watching the targets." I did. It was quiet. Several seconds passed before all the land around the first target just exploded into the air. A dust bubble of about 50 feet in diameter shot up into the air. Only after seeing this did the sound of gunfire reach my ears. The bullets got there before the sound did. You never see the planes. They shoot the target then go vertical, straight up, so far away that they can not be seen. The targets fell to the ground. The pole supports were shot away. If you were in a fox hole or a gun emplacement and were the target, you were dead before you ever heard the shot that got you.
Now it was the bunker's turn. The fighters came in much lower. You could see them clearly. You can see the bombs being dropped. However, unlike the movies, they were practicing "skip bombing." A "skip bomb" will hit the ground, bounce up, then come down a second time to explode. The idea is to slide the napalm into the slit in the front instead of trying to bomb thru the roof. It was an unbelievable site to see. You could clearly see the bomb leave the fighter, hit the ground, continue on to the bunker and explode right at the slit. If the enemy was looking out the slit to see what was going on, he got napalm sent right down his pie hole.
Now, what's these stories have to do with Saturday's sightings? I would have been one of the few who knew what these pretty formations could do in a fight. You can not imagine what these fighters can unleash during a fight. That fighter formation and their pilots had my undying respect and admiration.
I was serving during the Viet Nam war. The planes I watched at the bomb range were F-100s, the Super Sabre. They were being transitioned out of service and the new F-4s were replacing them. The F-4s had immensely more powerful ordinance. They are now building the F-35s. You can guess how powerful they are.
The "flyover" I witnessed on Sunday was timely, impressive, and respected. I felt proud to be an American, and an Air Force veteran.