Early on in academics, our class went out on the ramp to see the AT-38B jet “up-close and personal;” the classmate on the ladder would be a future roommate of mine at Homestead AFB, FL, and go on to fly F-4’s with me at Spangdahlem AB, GE.
We were able to inspect the features of the AT-38B first hand, that we were learning about in class.
My classmate on the left would also later be a roommate of mine at Homestead AFB, FL; and eventually go on to become a F-111 and UAV pilot.
The other purpose of the AT-38B ramp inspection, was to take each other’s “hero” shots on the ramp beside the jet.
It was quite an achievement of ours to have reached this point in our fighter training, and we gladly posed for our pictures on the ramp.
Most fighter training courses had the opportunity for taking pictures early on in training, prior to the first training flights for the class.
Of course there was an “unspoken” reason for these picture sessions, as well that was left unsaid.
Flying fighters was a dangerous business; always has been and always will be.
On a practical basis, there wouldn’t be a historical record of what we did and accomplished during our training without these scheduled photo sessions.
We were in our youth and doing something that we loved and dreamed of doing; learning to fly jets.
So of course this photo process also served to “stroke our egos” a bit, as we hadn’t had a single flight yet at this point.
Everything about flying fighters and jets was focused on achieving your very highest potential, and we were eager to learn.
Your life, your wingman’s life, and the lives of many others depended on your excellence and exacting level of detail in all that you did.
Every minor detail became critical to get right and perfect; otherwise you wouldn’t graduate or have a future in tactical aviation.
Making crisp and precise radio calls, closing canopies together in exacting unison, and “every minute detail” of the flight was briefed and debriefed in exacting detail.
This classmate would also later be a roommate of mine at Homestead AFB, FL.
He later went on to become an “A-10 Solo East Coast Demonstration Pilot.”
Getting “all the details perfect” was standard in the fighter world and expected of us; lives depended on “getting it right the first time,” as there were no second chances.
Of course the girlfriends, wives, parents and friends appreciated the pictures from our class photo shoot as well…
From Mather AFB, CA, to “LIFT” training at Holloman AFB, NM; I visited as many ski resorts by car that I could while driving through Colorado on the way to New Mexico, and I saved this “Air Force Magazine” article from 1983 describing the LIFT program.
Along the way I stayed overnight in “downtown” Aspen, CO; and visited the “Black Canyon of the Gunnison” and “Mesa Verde” National Parks. (The “Air Force Magazine” article from 1983 continued.)
The Highway 550 mountain pass between Montrose and Durango, CO; was the most impressive mountain pass that I’d ever seen at the time. (The “Air Force Magazine” article From 1983 continues.)
Then it was on to Holloman AFB at Alamogordo, NM; in south central New Mexico. (The “Air Force Magazine” article from 1983 continues.)
It seemed to take forever to get to Alamogordo, NM; as I took the “scenic” route south of Santa Fe on some very lonely and isolated two lane highways. (The “Air Force Magazine” Article From 1983 continues.)
Holloman AFB and Alamogordo, NM, are near the White Sands National Monument at what seemed at the time to be at the end of the known world. (The “Air Force Magazine” article from 1983 continues.)
Alamogordo, NM, was a friendly town and had the very best Mexican food that I’d ever tasted. (The “Air Force Magazine” article from 1983 finishes here.)
This was our Tactical Air Command patch, as “LIFT” was our “Gateway to TAC” and our introduction into the fighter community.
Our Wing patch at Holloman AFB, the 479th Tactical Training Wing.
Here’s our squadron patch, the 465th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron or 465th TFTS “Check Six” patch.
My original Navigator Wings that I earned at Mather AFB, CA; which would always be sewn on my helmet bag along with my F-4 patch.
Holloman AFB’s AT-38B’s were a beautiful sight on the ramp in the high desert of New Mexico.
This was our first opportunity to experience the tactical fighter world and we were eager to learn all that we could.
“LIFT” was a “firehose” of a course that placed significant demands on our ability to “stay ahead of the power curve” and graduate.
On our first day of class we were each given a huge stack of manuals, that must have stacked 18″ high on our desks; that we had to learn in only a few short days.
We had academic classes, tests and an introduction to everything about the tactical fighter world to learn almost overnight.
I used what little free time I had to jog around the base and admire this “high desert” world of Holloman AFB, NM.
The “high desert” was a beautiful environment with towering mountains, picture perfect blue skies and amazing weather.
The flying was amazing as well, with low level training routes, and both air-to-air and air-to-ground training sorties.
Besides the syllabus sorties, we could also “sandbag” rides with student pilots in the back cockpit when available on the flying schedule.