February 29, 2004


Via a reader with US military connections (to put it mildly), this e-mail account of recent activities in Afghanistan:

So we are up in the mountains at about 0100 hrs looking for a bad guy that we thought was in the area. Here are ten of us, pitch black, crystal clear night, about 25 degrees. We know there are bad guys in the area, a few shots have been fired but no big deal. We decide that we need air cover and the only thing in the area is a solo B-1 bomber.

He flies around at about 20,000 feet and tells us there is nothing in the area. He then asks if we would like a low level show of force.

Stupid question. Of course we tell him yes.

The controller who is attached to the team then is heard talking to the pilot. Pilot asks if we want it subsonic or supersonic.

Very stupid question. Pilot advises he is twenty miles out and stand by. The controller gets us all sitting down in a line and points out the proper location.

You have to picture this. Pitch black, ten killers sitting down, dead quiet and overlooking this about 30 mile long valley.

All of a sudden, way out (below our level) you see a set of four 200ft white flames coming at us. The controller says, "Ah ... guys ... you might want to plug your ears". Then a B-1, supersonic, 1000ft over our heads, blasts the sound barrier and it feels like God just hit you in the head with a hammer.

He then stands it straight up with 4 white trails of flame coming out and disappears.

Cost of gas for that: Probably $50,000

Hearing damage: For certain

Bunch of ragheads thinking twice about shooting at us: Priceless

UPDATE. Read all about the entertaining jet antics!

Posted by Tim Blair at February 29, 2004 12:29 PM

How sweet it is!

Posted by: The Blogging Caesar at February 29, 2004 at 12:39 PM

When i was in the US Navy, we had some activities with the Air Force once off San Diego. They brought in B-1's and B-52's, flying very, very low. I'll never forget standing on the bridge wing and looking *down* on the B-52 pilot as he flew nearby barely above the waves.

The thing that impressed me the most was that those guys flew both those planes around like they were fighters. I had no idea something that big could fly like that acrobatically.

Posted by: mark nelson at February 29, 2004 at 12:47 PM

Hmm, and there were 3 buses heading towards Syria at the start of the conflict and they also experienced a Godly Act, except it was a bit more than noise - rockets and total destruction according to my source. Stange things that come out of the sky!

Posted by: Louis Hissink at February 29, 2004 at 12:56 PM

It's always nice to have a big hammer available to drive home a point!

Posted by: rinardman at February 29, 2004 at 01:47 PM

All I can say is:
60's US military know!

Posted by: Mike Daley at February 29, 2004 at 01:51 PM

Considering how loud the B-1 giving a demonstration at Avalon in February 2001 was, and it wasn't trying to be noisy.......

Posted by: PeterB at February 29, 2004 at 01:55 PM

I love this description. Why? Because it makes me feel safe, knowing such people are on guard.

Posted by: Rebecca at February 29, 2004 at 02:09 PM

It's all about the oil. How many kangaroo dinners could that $50,000 worth of fuel wasted in this fruitless war of agression purchased? Or to get this closer to home: How many blogads, blogheads?

Posted by: Sortelli Divide at February 29, 2004 at 02:12 PM

That gave me a permahard stiffie.

Posted by: mightymoe at February 29, 2004 at 02:28 PM

"How many kangaroo dinners could that $50,000 worth of fuel............."

Sortelli Divide, just to give your saliva glands some exercise, consider these B1B bomber facts:

Primary Function: Long-range, multi-role, heavy bomber
Power plant: Four General Electric F-101-GE-102 turbofan engine with afterburner
Thrust: 30,000-plus pounds with afterburner, per engine
Length: 146 feet (44.5 meters)
Wingspan: 137 feet (41.8 meters) extended forward, 79 feet (24.1 meters) swept aft
Height: 34 feet (10.4 meters)
Weight: Empty, approximately 190,000 pounds (86,183 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 477,000 pounds (216,634 kilograms)
Speed: 900-plus mph (Mach 1.2 at sea level)
Range: Intercontinental, unrefueled
Armament: Three internal weapons bays can accommodate up to 84 Mk-82 general purpose bombs or Mk-62 naval mines, 30 CBU-87/89 cluster munitions or CBU-97 Sensor Fused Weapons and up to 24 GBU-31 JDAM GPS guided bombs or Mk-84 general purpose bombs
Unit Cost: $283.1 million (fiscal 98 constant dollars)

(This info from http://www.xp-office.de/B1.htm)

Posted by: Tony at February 29, 2004 at 03:12 PM

Oodelalee! I gotta get me one of them.

Posted by: Sortelli at February 29, 2004 at 03:32 PM

The B1 has got to be one of the loudest aircraft in the world. Reminds me of a story:

When I was in the USAF, I was a controller like the one mentioned in the story. One day we were doing a training mission with a 3-ship of B1's, where they'd run their standard low-altitude, high-threat mission profile, and we'd pretty much just act as a safety, making sure they dropped the ordnance (a single, tiny BDU-33 smoke bomb) in our impact area. The pilots were told to maintain a minimum 500ft AGL and maximum 500kts, to avoid noise complaints from our civilian neighbors.

Well, we get the call on the radio when they're a good ways out, we swap info, and we re-inform them of the restrictions. Bastard pilots came in over the nearby town of Antwerp, NY at about 300ft, and clocking something WELL past 500kts. BOOM, ROAR, BOOM, ROAR, BOOM, ROAR, they blast past us going Mach snot, drop the bombs, and off home they go.

We return to the unit to find that just about every resident of Antwerp is blaming us (the USAF controllers) for the incident, and hold us liable for (among other things) a little girl who was so scared by it that she got recurrent nightmares, a cow that supposedly died from fear (???), and the destruction of a town monument that fell over as a result of the noise.

The guys in my unit came to the consensus that the town monument was a carefully built pile of cow pies, and the dead cow had a bullet in the back of it's brain. We did feel a little sorry for the girl, though.

OK, no we didn't. We were jerks.

Posted by: TomK at February 29, 2004 at 04:20 PM

I love it! Walking softly and carrying a BIG hammer, er..., stick.

Posted by: Debra at February 29, 2004 at 04:59 PM

I hope there weren't any Afghan civilians affected by this action. (I almost wrote Iraqi civilians but hopefully there aren't any in that neck of the woods)

There's an amusing, plausible but probably false urban legend about Barbara complaining about planes flying too early and the response to the complaint at http://www.snopes.com/military/escort.htm

Posted by: Andjam at February 29, 2004 at 05:09 PM

I get white knuckles when Qantas QF714 takes off for Sydney.

Posted by: ilibcc at February 29, 2004 at 05:13 PM

I would like to send a message into the past to 1962 to the crew picking up their brand new B-52G.

This is the message:
Your plane is still flying in the 21st century.
Your sons are the crew.
They are using your plane for close air support in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Fred Boness at February 29, 2004 at 06:07 PM

Fred, even more bizarre, by this time their grandsons could be the crew.

Posted by: Spiny Norman at February 29, 2004 at 06:18 PM

An F111 on full wick using Pavetac and TFR is frightening and creates an unearthly ruckus; I can image the row a B1 would make, but I think it would be enogh to make primitive Pathans poop their pantaloons.
Money well spent.

Posted by: Habib at February 29, 2004 at 06:23 PM

I'm uncomfortable with the term "raghead" Can't we call them "persons of traditional Arabic attire"?

I'm OK with blowing them up though.

Posted by: Amos at February 29, 2004 at 09:11 PM

I've got 1800 hours in Phantoms, which was another manly airplane that made plenty of noise. Once, when leaving the tiny town of Fasberb in Northern Germany, our squadron commander led us in a 4-ship impromptu fly-by of the tower at 200' and with all 8 J79s cooking in full afterburner. I remember thinking that I wished I could have seen it from the ground, instead of being in it.

Posted by: arlo at February 29, 2004 at 11:11 PM

Big Hammer:
---I'M THOR!---

...you're Thor?

...well, it hurth!

/veggietales reference

Posted by: hillbilly geek at March 1, 2004 at 12:12 AM

My brother just got back from there. He's a USAF Major, a B-1 navigator. He tells a similar story about providing ground support; some US troops were taking fire from a farm house. Mark's plane made 3 passes. The first was supersonic, at 1000 ft. The second was subsonic; they dropped flares. The third pass was supersonic again. They surrendered, leaving behind rockets, grenades, and 1,000 rounds of ammo.

Posted by: Eric Jablow at March 1, 2004 at 12:43 AM

The B-1, after escaping Jimmuh Carter's fumble fingers, has shaped into a magnificent machine. Check my favorite image of the beast--Dru Blair's painting "Power", at


Posted by: Bruce at March 1, 2004 at 02:45 AM

Now that's the way I want my tax money spent!

Posted by: Brian Swisher at March 1, 2004 at 03:11 AM

Ditto on the "raghead" reference. "Allah-botherer" is much preferable.

Posted by: Angus Jung at March 1, 2004 at 03:25 AM

I'm still trying to come to grips with the idea that the B-1 is actually being used in actual operations, let alone flying.

It's a perpetually grounded aircraft from what I've been able to see.

Posted by: Mike Rentner at March 1, 2004 at 03:41 AM

Eric makes a great point about planes like the B-1 that could also be made about other impressive "tools" in the US armory. A simple demonstration is sometimes enough to convince our enemies of the futility of their tactics.

In the Navy i was a navigator, so i spent most of my working time on the bridge. Being an Aegis cruiser, we did most of the air control and as a result, got many, many flybys. I would always make an effort to get above to watch. I never, ever tired of seeing demonstrations of such incredible power, engineering, motivation and flying skills.

Posted by: mark nelson at March 1, 2004 at 04:07 AM

You should have seen a MITO (Minimum Interval Take-Off) of B52s and B-58s back in the early 60's. By the time the 5th 52 was getting airborne on 30 second interval, it looked like it was about to cartwheel into the tarmac. Talk about noisy. Ground level, 5 B52s with 40 total jet engines going of in just about 2 minutes. Plus, they looked great! F.F.O indeed. The 58 Hustler was better in some ways. Really, really noisy.

Plus, one of my first profs at USAFA claimed to be WGBP (World's Greatest Bomber Pilot). He had flown a B47 _under_ the Golden Gate Bridge (it apppears to be a true story) and got busted in rank for it.

As for Thor.

Waking up next morning, the God of Thunder stretches and proclaims, "I'm Mighty Thor!!"

The girl in the bed says, "You're thor? I'm so thor I can hardly pith." Da-Boom.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at March 1, 2004 at 05:01 AM

Ah, the B-58 Hustler! Coolest plane ever! (Maybe.) My dad-in-law ran the GE engines program for that piece of iron. He's an old fighter pilot and a hell of a man.

I get dizzy on escalators, myself.

Posted by: Bruce at March 1, 2004 at 06:18 AM

I LOVE IT!!!!!!

Posted by: koranistoiletpaper at March 1, 2004 at 06:31 AM

Wow, their cocks must be way bigger that the "ragheads" cocks, huh?

I still love the sound of imperialism in the morning.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at March 1, 2004 at 08:09 AM

Leave it to Miranda to have cock on her mind. Everyone else was talking about aircraft you horny girl, will you just please get laid and get over yourself?

Posted by: Lilly at March 1, 2004 at 09:13 AM


Both secretly love seeing Bush in that flight suit

Posted by: Bob at March 1, 2004 at 09:36 AM

Miranda would have probably preferred that the B-1 pilots would have just carpet bombed every nearby village and school house since they found no targets, just so she could have some extra snarking ammo with her morning coffee.

She probably gets a big ol' psychosexual reaction out of the tragedies of war whereas most normal people like it when things go well and the enemy is scared into surrending without shots fired.

Posted by: Sortelli at March 1, 2004 at 10:03 AM

Miranda, I'm not sure what this has to do with penis size, so let me put it in a way that is both genetalia related (since you have that on the mind), and also documented. The pilot's DAUGHTERS' genitalia is certainly less mutilated than the raghead's daughters' genetalia.
I have two beautiful daughters. That is just one of the reasons I fight these ragheads.
Thanks for your interest in our penises though.

Posted by: Diggs at March 1, 2004 at 11:51 AM

Raghead is really not PC. I suggest using the traditional term of Western Oriental Gentlemen, usually abbreviated to WOGs.

Posted by: Fool to Himself & Burden to Others at March 1, 2004 at 01:09 PM

Jeez, when ya kill 'em, you get criticized; when ya just scare 'em a little, you get criticized.

Biggles! Bring me ... THE COMFY CHAIR!

Posted by: Dave S. at March 1, 2004 at 01:35 PM

Miranda, dear...

You do realize what those poor scared darlings would do to an outspoken female like yourself, don't you?

You should be grateful someone is fighting your enemy for you. I know I am.

Posted by: Dave S. at March 1, 2004 at 01:38 PM

As a former engineer on the B-1B, this is just great stuff. Nice to know that my work contributed a little.

Posted by: rob at March 1, 2004 at 01:41 PM

Heard of this kind of thing used in used in Malaya. "Air-strikes" attracted to much international attention, but for Gurkha patrols cut off in the jungle, a low level pass from a Gloster Javelin (big, all weather "fighter") with afterburners worked almost as well.

A B1 would be something different again, though.

Posted by: Tem at March 1, 2004 at 01:51 PM

Having once lived near an AF base, not to mention O'Hare Airport in Chicago, I maintain that the loudest airplane, pound for pound, is the Harrier (AV-8B in USMC service). Imagine the sound of God's own dental drill...

Though, strangely, I'll personally attest to the volume of the MiG-15 as "pretty darn noisy." I currently live about 10 miles away from an airport that's home to a "vintage warbird" collector, and he's got a couple MiGs that he flies now and again...

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 1, 2004 at 02:50 PM

Miranda dear, what are you doing here? I expect dinner to be on the table when I get home, you damn hussy! And stop hanging around all these RWDB and their big cocks. Don't make me slap you!

Posted by: Quentin Divide at March 1, 2004 at 03:51 PM

From the wife of a US soldier who left Tues on the first leg of his journey to Afghanistan..

Thanks ..I needed that :)

Posted by: Tink at March 1, 2004 at 09:28 PM

Fifty thousand bucks? Just think of what that could have bought back here--it could have paid the salary of a multicultural diversity compliance officer. It could have funded a women's studies conference. It could have paid for a heap of copies of "Heather Has Two Mommies."

Do it again, guys!

Posted by: Alex Bensky at March 2, 2004 at 02:10 AM

I was rather impressed with the F104, taking off it sounded like the sky was being torn in half.

Posted by: Matt at March 2, 2004 at 03:06 AM

Funny, where'd you get this from? I got an email from a guy I used to compete in triathlons with who sent this to our "group". I'm curious to see if it's just a form letter or something.

Posted by: fat kid at March 2, 2004 at 03:46 AM

That is fantastic!!Especially the last line!;)

Posted by: BomberPilot at March 2, 2004 at 06:08 AM

"Well, sir...If the pilot's good...I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that thing in so low, OH it's a sight to see. You wouldn't expect it with a big ol' plane like a '52, but VARRROOOM!! Jet exhaust, fryin' chickens in the barnyard! "

Gen. Buck Turgidson. [Sorry, couldn't resist.]

Posted by: JPS at March 2, 2004 at 10:29 AM

B1Bs loud? When I was at the Air Force-Army game in Springs last year, both Services scheduled a series of fly-bys for their inventory. The Army Blackhawks you could hear coming from the Interstate, while the B1B materialized overhead (close enough to see the insignia on the fuslage with the naked eye) with no warning whatsoever...well, except for the shadow.

Frightening that something that large, that fast, packing that much payload could sneak up on one like that. Glad it's flying for the Good Guys.


Posted by: furious at March 2, 2004 at 05:08 PM

I remember going out to Eagle Range in the Utah desert when some F-16s were doing strafing runs. We were standing about 200 ft. from the target, and here came the F-16s, you would see them pass, see a trail of smoke from the 60mm, then all the sudden you'd hear the largest zipper ever and a huge roar (the cannon and engines, respectively).

However, I think these shows of force could be over-used; how long will it work (and I'm glad it did in this case) until folks figure out that it's a ruse? More specifically, if morale and discipline were high enough on the side of the enemy they'd be unfazed by these sorts of things. I remember reading about the "Stalin Organ" and its effectiveness against unseasoned combatants because of its noise, shrapnel, the pressure wave from the blast, etc. However, with the right training (or combat experience), people learned how to deal with it and its effectiveness was diminished.

It seems that by exposing more and more people to the operational uses of our weapons, we're preparing them to be more effective enemies in the future (assuming, of course, they survive... :))

Posted by: anonynony at March 3, 2004 at 12:56 PM

A supersonic wave is a weapon... pass the B-1 over and they will never hear the sniper plinking away at them.. knock down weak structures, probably blows away loose cover (bushes and laid down branches). Heck.. make up a system that lets you drop a few hundred pounds of firecrackers (worked against our side in the Phillipines).. or better yet.. those souped up strobe lights for Ariel Photography can we say instant night blindness for the next week or two?

Posted by: LarryConley at March 3, 2004 at 03:34 PM

Anonynony, on the other hand, a flybay can remind the bad guy that the planes are everywhere, whether they see them or not. You can guarantee they've all heard stories about what the planes can do, probably didn't believe them or they'd have packed up and given up by now. A reminder from time to time that we own the air above their heads can have a marvelous pucker affect on the bad guys.

Posted by: ruprecht at March 5, 2004 at 06:31 AM