Warhawk alumni Jim "Black Bart" Brown, after 36 years of flying jets and 33 years of fighter cockpits, is finally hanging up his g-suit. He's moving on to be the Senior Manager for Flight Test at the Lockheed Skunk Works (Advanced Development Programs). Watch the video below with highlights of his 11 years and over 1000 hours of flight testing the F-22 Raptor.

Dear Mr. F-4 Phantom,

Your days are numbered.  In a few short days you will be leaving the Kansas Air National Guard forever to go to the bone yard in Tucson, Arizona – the plane cemetery.  I know it’s sad for you, but it’s sad for me too.  Just thinking about this good-bye has made me think back and reflect on all the years we’ve had together.

In the 15 years that we’ve shared my husband, I’ve spent many hours waiting on you to bring him home from some far away place.  I’ve watched proudly as you and he did a flyby at an air show, river fest, or parade and I’ve cursed your loud engines as my babies cried from you noise.

You took our family to live in many far way places that we may have never seen if not for you.  We lived in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, West Germany and Kansas.  You took my husband to many more than that – England, Spain, Turkey, Italy, Norway, Hawaii, Thailand, Alaska, Korea, Philippines, and nearly every state in the union, to name a few.

I first became acquainted with you in 1972 and it was love at first sight.  My husband was learning to fly you so he could hurry over to help fight the war in Southeast Asia.  What a job you did there!  You were on the news nearly every night and a familiar sight in most Americans’ living rooms.  You were a very welcome sight to many marines and army ground personnel there who were fighting the mud, heat, the enemy, exhaustion, homesickness and fear.  They would shout for joy when they saw you coming to their rescue – their black, mud streaked faces turning to all white teeth and smiles.  I would have hated to see you dive towards me when you were mad.  Your smoking, loud engines made you look so mean and you could be when you wanted to.  Your noise and size are greater than any other modern fighter.  Sometimes you didn’t make it back, but it was rarely your fault.  The bullets just came too fast or someone didn’t turn you quick enough.  Your protected my husband well, and my children and I thank you for that.

After the war there were many T.D.Y.’s (temporary duty) away from home where the two of you would go off together.  You and my husband would go away to fly in dogfights with the newer planes, (F-5’s, F-15’s and F-16’s) and he’d still win with you strapped to his seat (slight embellishment, I'm sure).  You may not have been able to turn as tight or as fast, but the two of you were old friends and worked as a well oiled cog, a part of the team.  They had the new paint jobs – you didn’t.  They had the fancy radar – you didn’t.  They had the better maneuvering capability – you didn’t.  But you and he still won!
We had many happy reunions where us (moms, wives, babies, kids) greeted you (Mr. F-4, our husbands and fathers) on the ramp all tears, goose bumps and smiles to see you home safely again.

I will never forget the 36 ship take off of F-4’s we had here at McConnell for a change of command.  The town’s people thought there was a war.  One by one you taxied out to take off in sets of two ships at a time.  By the time you were all airborne, which seemed an eternity, the sky was black with smoke, F-4’s filled the air and I don’t think there was a dry eye or an unmoved person to be found in this city.

You know, sometimes I even felt jealous of you or mad at you.  Even after a six week T.D.Y. of nothing but flying you, talking about you in the Officers’ Club after flying you, being with others who flew you and getting up in the morning to do it all over again, my husband would come home and still talk about you with his hands in the air describing everything in detail that you’d done together.  Never mind the beautiful candlelight dinner, how much the kids had changed or the ever faithful dog lapping as his heels.  He still had you on his mind.  I also felt at times that if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have spent a year alone raising a child or fixing broken water pipes alone or getting kids over the chicken pox alone.  At times, I think you even knew him better than I did and possibly are the only one who could understand him.  There’s a mystique and a mythical quality that you and the men who fly you share that cannot be understood by most other people.  I also think he was the happiest after he’d been with you.  But I didn’t mind so much.  That is a given.  That is the way life is when you are married to one who flies you.  You were something to be proud of.  You had it all.  Besides us wives probably got back at you a bit when we made you look a little silly taxing Santa Claus in from the North Pole for all the kids.  You were no war machine on those days; you were the sleigh that brought squeals of delight to young and old alike.

Just think Mr. F-4 of all the places in the world and all the events that you’ve been to or seen.  From our Aircraft Carriers to the walls of our living rooms (or our “I Love Me” walls) – you are or were there.  On our children’s T-shirts, clothes, hats, posters – down main street of my own hometown – you are or were there.  You were the best of the best, a Thunderbird, and the best they’ll ever have.  You’ve been the main attraction, the tear in my eyes, the goose bumps on my skin, the vibration in my chest and down to my very soul at funerals, memorials, 4th of July celebrations, River Fests, air shows, parades and yes, you’ve also portrayed the missing man – the comrades who never came home.  I would feel so proud of you, my husband, all the other wonderful hard working folks who kept you so well maintained that you could fly this long and all the men who gave their lives and yours so we could live free.  I also felt proud of my country, being an American and the freedom that you have helped to maintain.

But now, it is time to say good-by.  There will be those who will say, “out with the old, in with the new – progress moves forever onward”, and they’ll act like they don’t care.  But you and I know better.  There is no man alive who really knew you who could not miss your uniqueness, your size, your style, your noise or something about you.  You were a class act!

So the celebration is planned.  Fighter pilots and back seater’s and their ladies and many others will be here from all around the globe to bid you farewell.  There will be songs sung, stories traded (a few stretched), reminiscing will about and hands will be in the air demonstrating the dogfight they won.  Wives will again be left out of the conversation because of you, but you know we really won’t mind.  Because, there have been fighters before you and have been newer fighters since, but none that can compare with you.  You are one of those rare legends who stands alone – in a class all your own.  Yes, you are old and tired and are going to the bone yard.  You deserve the rest.  But don’t feel sad Mr. F-4 Phantom.  A lot of people the world over will be there with you in mind, heart and spirit.  You will continue to fly in the hearts, souls and minds of men and women for a long time to come.  You are also breaking the hearts; I want you to know, of new and young dreaming-to-be fighter pilots like my sons who will never get to fly you.  You will have the good fortune however, of living on in the history books forever.
So I say good-bye faithful old friend.  I thank you for a job well done, a country well served and I thank you for keeping my husband safe and happy for all these years.  I’ll miss you.

Beverly R. Kavouras
(Wife of Lt. Col. Larry B. "Klit" Kavouras)

Larry Kavouras with Mr. F-4 Phantom circa 1972.

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

TDYs won't be much fun in the future.

In case you missed the latest SEQUESTRATION message for travel, here are the new rules:

TDY/TAD Travel

In keeping with the latest round of DOD budget cuts, changes will be made to the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR). Effective Monday (today) the following revised procedures apply:

Lodging: All DOD personnel performing temporary duty (TDY) are encouraged to stay with relatives and friends while on government business travel. If weather permits, public areas such as parks should be used as temporary lodging sites. Bus terminals, train stations, and office lobbies may provide shelter in periods of inclement weather.

Transportation: Hitchhiking is the preferred mode of travel in lieu of commercial transport. Luminescent safety vests will be issued to all personnel prior to their departure on TDY. Bus transportation will be used only when work schedules require such travel. Airline tickets will be authorized in extreme circumstances and the lowest fares will be used. For example, if a meeting is scheduled in Omaha NE, but a lower fare can be obtained by traveling to San Diego CA, then travel to San Diego will be substituted for travel to Omaha.

Meals: Expenditures for meals will be limited to an absolute minimum. It should be noted that certain grocery and specialty chains, such as Costco, Hickory Farms, General Nutrition centers, and occasionally Safeway often provide free samples of promotional items. Entire meals can be obtained in this manner. We realize many of you survive your weekends this way. Travelers should also be familiar with indigenous roots, berries, and other protein sources available at their destinations. If restaurants must be utilized, travelers should use "all you can eat" salad bars. This is especially effective for employees traveling together as one plate can be used to feed the entire group. DOD Personnel are also encouraged to bring their own food on business travel. Cans of tuna fish, Spam, and Musubi (traveling from LANT, Beefaroni) can be consumed at your leisure without the bother of heating or costly preparation. Cost of these items will not be reimbursed.

Miscellaneous: All DOD personnel are encouraged to devise innovative techniques in effort to save tax dollars. One enterprising individual has already suggested that money could be raised during airport layover periods, which could be used to defray travel expenses. In support of this idea, red caps will be issued to all personnel prior to their departure so that they may earn tips by helping others with their luggage. Small plastic roses and ballpoint pens will also be available to personnel so that sales may be made as time permits. Proceeds must be turned into the DOD finance section at the conclusion of the TDY. We welcome any suggestions for further fiscal innovations. Remember, "We invite you to be a Waste Buster..."

Courtesy J.D. Lyles

Les Kersey and Eric Stroberg get together for an evening of dinner, adult beverages, and lies...

Rogue's Gallery from Society of Wild Weasels Reunion, September 2012, Hampton, Virginia

Left to right: Bill "Mild Bill" Miller, Karl "Orca" Kuschner, Karl "Lips" Dittmer, Dave "PermDog" Perme,
Jeff "Jammer" Moore, Sid "Super Safety Sid" Mayeux, Billy "Thrill(seeker)" Harvey, Keith "Beast" Trouwborst

Photo courtesy Billy Harvey
IN MEMORIAM - "Throw a nickle on the grass..."
Major General (Ret.)
Kenneth "Skip" Burns

CINC Warhawk 1970. Passed 9 June 2012.
Read more information HERE.
Major (Ret.) Robert W. Storey

Warhawk at DaNang 1967-1968.
Passed 15 May 2012 in car accident near Denver, CO.
Read more information HERE.

A Fable: The Fighter Pilot and The Princess

Once upon a time, a Fighter Pilot asked a beautiful Princess, "Will you marry me?”

The Princess said “NO WAY, you are a fighter pilot…."

…. so the Fighter Pilot lived happily ever after and rode motorcycles, made many deployments, got good promotions and duty stations and made love to skinny big-breasted broads and hunted and fished and raced cars and went to men's clubs and dated women half his age and drank Whiskey, Beer, Tequila, Rum, did shooters and Flaming Hookers and never heard bitching and never paid child support or alimony, hosed cheerleaders, almost movie stars, barmaids and kept his house and guns and never got cheated on while he was at work or on a deployment and all his friends and family thought he was friggin' cool as hell and he had tons of money in the bank and left the toilet seat up..

The End

Trevor Albro and Eric Stroberg in a SWA F-737

Raptor "Pilot" Gets Ride in Combat Legend,
Shares Impressions

Warhawks at the Paris Air Show

Yeah, it was back in June, but it's still newsworthy. Word has it that the demos were flown by Lockheed-Martin pilots in a 480th FS jet, that was otherwise on static display attended by real Warhawks, Major Shaun "Colt" Bellamy (right) and Major Jason Hrynek (left). Photo courtesy of Martin "Tags" Aguera.

Click HERE for some Lockheed-Martin YouTube video of the demo flown in the 480FS jet.

The Perfect Gift for the Warhawk on your Christmas list...

Phantoms Over USAFA!

The Class of 2011 at the United States Air Force Academy aptly chose Brigadier General Robin Olds as their Class Exemplar. At the Class's Graduation Parade on 23 May 2011 General Olds was honored by a flyby of McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms led by Psycho Dreher, Commander, 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group. General Olds' daughter Christina rode in Psycho's pit. Word is she was ‘Code One’ after the flight and ready for a ‘quick turn.’ The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Warhawk Done Good
Warhawk (Spang, '80 to '84) Bill "Sureshot" Schauffert pins on his second star recently, assisted by his lovely wife Liz.