Longbow
Topic Author
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:07 am

Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sat Jan 21, 2006 12:15 am

I recently had an argument with a buddy of mine about which would be "cooler" to fly, a chopper or a fighter jet. We didn't go into specifics about which helicopter or which fighter, we just stayed general. So I was just wondering if some people who have actually flown both could share their experiences. Which did they think was "cooler" to fly?
 
SlamClick
Posts: 9576
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:09 am

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sat Jan 21, 2006 4:04 am

Navy friend of mine told me about an A-7 squadron aboard the ship on a WestPac cruise. One day they had some kind of formation where uniform of the day included "all awards and decorations." One of his squadron mates showed up with a silver star, DFC with oak leaf clusters, purple heart, beaucoup air medals etc. The rest of them are resplendent in their NDSM "geedunk medal" Turned out he'd been an Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam who'd gotten out, finished college then went in the Navy.

In this context the helo guy was absolutely Fonzie!

Interesting thing about "cool" as it relates to flying. There are about a thousand things to have in your past that are totally cool. I have a handful of these achievements but any time I get to thinking I am the original dunghill rooster I meet someone who was a Blue Angel, or a POW or an astronaut or owns a P-51 or any of a catalog of things I cannot lay claim to.

What works in the end is respect for the things we have all done.

(fighters are still pretty cool!)

edit: Some further thought as an outsider to both these things.

Peacetime fighter pilot is still pretty cool. Peacetime Army helicopter pilot maybe not quite so much. Combat fighter pilot - way cool, but combat helicopter pilot maybe just a little bit more studly. Fighter pilots like to refer to combat as a "knife fight" but I think the helicopter pilot is a bit closer to that.

I'm not a VHPA member. I flew helicopters and I flew in Vietnam but I didn't fly helicopters in Vietnam. I am well aware that I am not worthy.

[Edited 2006-01-20 20:08:45]
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
Longbow
Topic Author
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:07 am

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sat Jan 21, 2006 5:31 am

Thanks SlamClick. We always agreed that it would be awesome to fly either one, and just wanted to hear from some people who actually have. Thanks again.

Keep the stories coming!
 
UH60FtRucker
Posts: 3252
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 9:15 am

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sat Jan 21, 2006 7:18 am

Well I'm bias to helicopters... but I've logged some fixed-wing hours, and this is true:

On a standard weather day (29.92 pressure, 15 degrees C, calm winds, 15+ vis) Take a person, who has never flown an airplane, up the air in a Cessna 172, fly around for an hour or so and show them how to fly straight and level, descend/ascend, turn, and land. Then give them the controls and pretend like you were not there. 8/10 people could probably land that airplane. (it wouldn't be pretty, but they would make it down).

Now do the same in a helicopter. Same conditions, same person, same weather, etc... And give them the controls and ask them to land... I promise you that you will have a very expensive lawn dart in about 20 seconds.

Helicopter flight takes far more skill than fixed wing. Add in night conditions, poor weather, enemy threats, close ship formation, very low altitudes... and you've made it 100x harder. And then add in emergencies such as LTE (loss of tailrotor thrust) or any emergency requiring an autorotation, and airplanes look far more easier. Hell, a fighter has an ejection seat. Like it or not, in a helicopter you're strapped in for the ride!

We've got to know navigation just as a fighter does (even more so, considering that you're ground reference points are usually not seen until you're 50ft above them!) We've got to know ordinance delivery. We've got to avoid SAMs/AAA, (and lower altitudes means less response time and more threats) we've got endure long flights (an 8+hour flight in a UH60 will cause you to piss blood from the low level vibrations effecting your kidneys), and so on...

Fixed wing aircraft are awesome, and invaluable assets to the battlefield. It takes skill, maturity and a keen mind to fly an airplane into a hostile environment. But when it comes down to it, helicopter flying is more challenging on countless dimensions.

-UH60
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
LongbowPilot
Posts: 526
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 4:16 am

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sat Jan 21, 2006 7:40 am

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 3):
Helicopter flight takes far more skill than fixed wing. Add in night conditions, poor weather, enemy threats, close ship formation, very low altitudes... and you've made it 100x harder. And then add in emergencies such as LTE (loss of tailrotor thrust) or any emergency requiring an autorotation, and airplanes look far more easier. Hell, a fighter has an ejection seat. Like it or not, in a helicopter you're strapped in for the ride!

He is merely showing the 60's side of the house, and sorry I would be out of character to not interject here an support the Attack side of the house. What he said and add the fact we are in the fight for 2 hour blocks receiving the same small arms, and RPG fire as the ground guys do. Granted that is what Apache guys are for, the fighting. It is something entirely different when you have been in the fight for 8 hours and a 60 comes into a hot LZ to do a cas-evac. I'm brave and stupid, but with guns and rockets to support and destroy. Those 60 guys are flat out NUTS coming into a LZ that was rocketd not more than 30 seconds before with a set of pee shooters and a prayer. Granted the 64 covering but still one stray bullet and you just saw a helicopter have a mid air with itself.
 
UH60FtRucker
Posts: 3252
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 9:15 am

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:07 am

Quoting LongbowPilot (Reply 4):

The longbow guys really are in an odd situation at the moment. Their raison-d'etre... tank busting... doesn't exist in Iraq. So they're being tasked with going after the terrorists. Ever see what a Hellfire does to a tank? It's not any nicer when it gets turned on an insurgent instead!

****

In regards to taking fire in a -60... we've got a lot of safety features that make us fairly well protected. You want to see courage under fire... talk to a Huey pilot from Vietnam. Now those are true aviators!

-UH60
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
LongbowPilot
Posts: 526
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 4:16 am

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:12 am

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 5):
In regards to taking fire in a -60... we've got a lot of safety features that make us fairly well protected. You want to see courage under fire... talk to a Huey pilot from Vietnam. Now those are true aviators!

TRUE THAT UH, TRUE THAT!
 
SlamClick
Posts: 9576
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:09 am

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:55 am

Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 5):
... talk to a Huey pilot from Vietnam. Now those are true aviators!

I remember talking to a Special Forces major once. He said he was being taken into a small and quite hot LZ somewhere along the fence (didn't say which side) and the pilot was scrunching down into his seat armor as tight as he could and the major thought: Hey you coward, I'm sitting out here in just a shirt! Then on a little more reflection (a) If the pilot got hit he, the major, would have had a great view of the crash and (b) the insertion was probably the most dangerous part of the major's mission and the pilot had to fly back out and repeat it several more times that day.

When you've earned the kind of respect I heard from that major - from a Sneaky Pete, you've earned some serious respect.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
CTR
Posts: 299
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2005 4:57 am

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sat Jan 21, 2006 12:30 pm

Longbow,

I am an engineer not a pilot. I have flown fighter jet, helicopter and tiltrotor simulators (real training simulators, not a PC). With no one shooting at me and no one shooting back, I found tiltrotors, helicopters and fighter jets most exciting to fly, in that order. However the F-18 was the most exciting to land (on a pitching carrier).

From an engineering stand point, the same order holds. Except maybe for those engineers working on the F-35 STOVL.

Take care,

CTR
Aircraft design is just one big compromise,,,
 
PaveLowDriver
Posts: 36
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2004 7:40 am

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sat Jan 21, 2006 7:30 pm

I've flown both supersonic aircraft and Robinson R-22s...and lots in between.

My (obviously biased) two cents -

Mach 2 at 35000 feet may be fast, but doing 150 knots at 50 feet is way faster!
 
SlamClick
Posts: 9576
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2003 7:09 am

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sat Jan 21, 2006 11:59 pm

Quoting PaveLowDriver (Reply 9):
Mach 2 at 35000 feet may be fast, but doing 150 knots at 50 feet is way faster!

In the ground school for our "nap of the Earth flying" training at Fort Rucker they made a statement to that effect. Having to do with the rate that the scenery "refreshes" and the time you have to respond after seeing something. The word was; 110 knots at treetop level was equal to mach one at maybe a thousand feet. So I believe that unless you are an F-111 guy, you probably never see anything like that.

But cool is as cool does. C-47 is no glamour queen but a C-47 crewman grabbing a magnesium flare that was ignited by groundfire and throwing it out the door, saving the aircraft and all aboard, and earning the Medal of Honor - that is cool in my book.

Taking off two timezones from the target and firing some standoff weapon then landing at home - less cool.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
columba
Posts: 5060
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2004 10:12 pm

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sun Jan 22, 2006 2:04 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 10):
So I believe that unless you are an F-111 guy, you probably never see anything like that.

Ask a German/British/Italian Tornado pilot he also can add something to low level flying.........
It will forever be a McDonnell Douglas MD 80 , Boeing MD 80 sounds so wrong
 
Gary2880
Posts: 1856
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2004 8:52 pm

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:10 pm

I think helicopters rule the lot, low, fast, pop in and out of where they like, and most importantly they can land where ever they like which I think is the main thing that makes them most special to me.
Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel :- Samuel Johnson
 
Longbow
Topic Author
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 1:07 am

RE: Choppers Or Fighter Jets?

Tue Jan 24, 2006 2:01 am

I'm an engineer also, but I do get to work with a lot Army Aviation people, and many of them are ex-pilots. My favorite quote of all time came in a meeting down at Redstone, talking about the primary missions of the different aircraft.

The Apache guy said (in a Southern accent), "The primary mission of the Apache is to LAY METAL ON THE TARGET!"

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