To: Lt Col Ventura,
Sir, I am DJ Baker and I would
appreciate it if you could tell me what
it takes to be an F-16 fighter pilot of the USAF.
What classes should I take in high school to help the career I
want to take later in my life. What could I do to get in the academy?
Subject: Anybody want to help this
poor kid from Cyberspace?
From: Lt. Col Ventura
Obviously, through no fault of your own, your young,
impressionable brain has been poisoned by the
superfluous, hyped-up, "Top Gun" media portrayal
of fighter pilots. Unfortunately, this portrayal could not
be further from the truth. In my
experience, I've found most fighter pilots
pompous, back-stabbing, momma's boys with inferiority complexes,
as well as being extremely over-rated
aeronautically. However, rather than dash
your budding dreams of becoming a USAF pilot, I offer the
What you REALLY want to aspire to is the exciting, challenging,
and rewarding world of TACTICAL AIRLIFT.
And this, young DJ, means one thing - the venerable, workhorse C-130! I
can> guarantee no fighter pilot can brag that he has led a
12-ship> formation down a valley at 300 ft above the ground, while trying to
interpret a 9-line to a new DZ, avoiding pop-up threats, and coordinating with AWACS, all while
eating a box lunch, with the engineer in the
back taking a piss and the navigator puking in his trash can!
I tell you, DJ, TAC Airlift is where it's at. Where else is it legal to
throw tanks, HMMWVs, and other crap out the back of an airplane,
and not even worry about it when the chute
doesn't open and it torpedoes the General's staff car! No where else
can you land on a 3,000' dirt strip, kick a
bunch of ammo and stuff off the ramp without even stopping,
then take off again before range control
can call to tell you you've landed on the wrong LZ!
And talk about exotic travel-when C-130s go somewhere, they GO somewhere
(usually for 3 months, unfortunately). This gives you the opportunity
to immerse yourself in the culture enough to give any local population a
bad taste in their mouths, not something those strat-lift pilots can
do from their airport hotel rooms!
As far as recommendations for your course of study, I offer these. Take
a lot of math courses. You will need all the advanced math skills
you can muster to facilitate the calculation of per diem rates around the
world, and when trying to split up the crew's bar tab so that the
co-pilot really believes he owes 85%> of the whole thing.
Health sciences are important, too. You will need a thorough knowledge
of biology to make those educated guesses of how much longer you
can drink beer before the tremendous case of the [censored] catches up to you
from that meal you ate at that place that had the belly dancers in
some God-forsaken foreign country whose> name you can't even pronounce!
Social studies are also beneficial. It is important for a good
TAC>Airlifter to have the cultural knowledge to be able to ascertain the
exact location of the nearest [censored] bar in any country in the
world, then be able to convince the local authorities to release the loadmaster
after he offends every sensibility of the local religion and> culture.
A foreign language is helpful, but not required. You will never be able
to pronounce the names of the NAVAIDs in France, and it's much easier to
ignore them and go where you want to anyway.
A study of geography is also paramount. You will need to know the basic
location of all the places you've been when you get back from your TDY
and are ready to stick those little pins in that huge world map you've
got taped to you living room wall, right next to that gigantic
wooden giraffe statue and beer stein collection.
Well, DJ, I hope this little note inspires you. And by the way, forget
about that Academy thing. All TAC Airlifters know that there are
waaay too few women and too little alcohol there to provide a well-balanced
education. A nice, big state college would be a much better choice.
Good luck and see you on the SKE scope!