Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Long drive yesterday...

Driving home from Knoxville yesterday, on I-75 in the hills south of Corbin, Kentucky, I saw what appeared to be a... was that a hawk? A buzzard?

Instead, it grew rapidly in size and turned out to be a little higher above the treetops than I'd initially thought: An OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, looking like a black*-painted traffic chopper with stubby, hardpoint-studded gunship wings and a bulbous growth atop the rotor mast.

It was blasting south-southwest at about yeehaw feet AGL, following the asphalt compass just high enough to clear ridge lines and high-tension wires.

After a decent interval, another trio of dots resolved into the Kiowa's wingman, trailing him astern at a distance, in turn being closely followed by a pair of what looked like MH-60 Blackhawks. Given where I was at the time, I reckon they were headed in a generally Fort Campbell-ward direction.

It was kinda cool.


*Yeah, I know it's really very dark green.

40 comments:

Jim said...

Tam, you're not paranoid. See, they really are "out to get you".

/tinfoil


Jim
Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Fred said...

I like watching the Kiowas coming in here, I think the only ballsier pilots are the former 160th SOAR guys that are flying as contractors. They've got a couple Super-Hueys and like to come in hard and fast.

Boat Guy said...

"...yeehaw feet AGL ..." Perfect! Gotta steal that one.
Those boys don't know any other altitude, unless it's measured in single-digits...

Anonymous said...

Could be in two years you won't think "kinda cool" when you see that.....

LCB said...

About...20 years ago at the same spot, also driving north, we had the "bodily fluid" scared out of us by 2 B-52's flying low across the freeway. Was way cool...

I figured that area was some kind of flight corridor for the military. Maybe I was right for once...

Anonymous said...

The crews from Ft Campbell do instrument approaches at out local airport.

I met a pilot from the 160th and we talked about it. He knew right where I live because my barm is on their pattern. He dropped pretty low one day to say hello.

The A-10 pilots will get close to the deck when no one can see them. Two flew under my tree stand on a side hill in PA.

Gerry

aczarnowski said...

During the 2012 Great Minnesota Get Together (State Fair) they announced the 160th was doing urban drills in the Twin Cities area and weren't coming for me personally. Seeing them move those little birds and blackhawks around in tight formations was a treat.

Ed Jones said...

The A-10s and AH-64 Apaches operate out of Whiteman AFB. The A-10s make gun runs on semi's and bomb runs on dams and bridges around Missouri and Kansas. Every thing they due is at low level.

Tam said...

Anonymous Commenter 9:08,

"Could be in two years you won't think "kinda cool" when you see that....."

Why? What's happening in two years?

Anonymous said...

Out here they're doing PR photo shoots and training, so we've had a small flock of Apaches and Ospreys commuting over the place. Our resident mockingbirds keeps giving them the middle feather, but I don't think they notice.

LittleRed1

wizardpc said...

I'm within spitting distance of a TN ANG airbase and I've noticed a LOT more kiowa action lately. On Saturday a pair of them were circling Target low enough for me to count the hellfires on the stubs

mikee said...

On a drive from Amarillo to the Raton Pass one hot summer afternoon, my pickup truck, all alone on a flat stretch of highway, was used as a simulated target by a very low-flying B-52 that approached from my 7 o'clock, scaring me wide awake for the next 100 miles.

Probably saved my life, as I was quite drowsy before being so honored.

Ancient Woodsman said...

One of the most peaceful things one can do on this planet is a timber tally on a high ridge of the Pemigewasset valley in north-central New Hampshire of a winter's day.

Until that pair of A-10s that you never heard coming streaks over the ridge at tree-top, drop-your-tally-sheet-and-lumber-crayon and go "Holy S**T!" level.

Broke the peace but was kind of neat, anyway. I grew up under the flight path of the FB111s from Pease and frequently saw F100s, 101s, 105s, 106s, A37s, various F4s and the occassional weirdo from some foreign country. Sometimes I miss those days.

Woodman said...

Our TOW gunners used to use the passing traffic going to North Shore as targets from the cliffs where we trained.

And when I was in the Indiana Nasty Girls it was always a treat to get buzzed by an A-10 on a live fire attack run, at a target far enough away that I never saw it, but close enough that the chain gun was pretty damn loud. I swear the A10 shooting sounds like Thor farting.

Trav said...

"asphalt compass." Nice. Aka "I Follow Roads."

I had a neighbor growing up who had ferried a plane to OK from PA back in the '50's using a Texaco road map. He followed the RR tracks home; however, he cautioned that, when using this method, one was wise to offset from the RR tracks because Navy trainers liked to fly right down the middle.

Frank W. James said...

It's been over 25 years now, but for a number of weeks in the late fall and early winter one year there used to be low level 'over-flights' of 3 C-130's flying in extremely close formation in the middle of the night at our farm. They seemed to use our farm as a 'pivot' point.

This always happened between 10:00 and 11:00PM, but I couldn't really identify the aircraft at first because by the time I got out of the house after they had severely rattled our windows.....they were gone.

So, I waited for 'em in the middle of my field (they always seemed to fly the same route) in my pick-up with one of those 100,000 candlepower plug-in spotlights.

Sure enough, here they came about 2 nights later because I could hear 'em plainly. Just about the time they were 5 degrees from being straight overhead I lit 'em up with the spotlight. They weren't even 500 feet off the deck. They were L-O-W! My light revealed the inside of the cockpit.

Surprisingly, they responded almost immediately with their landing lights....I suppose to identify me.

Yeah, it was a CLOSE ENCOUNTER.

That was the last time I ever heard 'em because they never came back...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Stuart the Viking said...

While I was in the Marines, we did some training near a live-fire range for aircraft. The A-10s could sneak up on you. Sometimes you didn't even know they were there until the entire sky was farting and you look up and it was almost like you could touch them. Love me some A-10s. I always thought the Marines should see if they could figure out how to work the A-10s on a carrier and use them for Close Air Support. It shouldn't be too much of update to the design to make it work (note: I am not an engineer). Yes, yes, I know... the A-10 is a tank killer. Bla bla bla, I've heard that all before. Personally, I say if you limit the A-10 to tank killing, you aren't using it to it's full capabilities (note: it was designed for CAS AND tank killing).

s

Ed Foster said...

Camp Hartell (the CT National Guard helicopter base) is just over the hill, and they'r still flying Hueys with the old "Whop-Whop" blades, which still brings back the old memory or two.

I'm also less than 3 miles from Bradley International, and whenever the wind shifts around to the north, the 737's pass overhead at about 500 feet, with everything down. My old Brittany Spaniel used to point them.

The Air Guard flies A-10's out of the GI side of Bradley, and one of them bumped the go switch by accident a while back and dumped sixty-some odd ronds of 30mm all over the neighborhood.

Inert target rounds, but electric primed 30mm has an awkward tendency to sit in the sunlight and build up a static charge that can make the powder charge go boom when somebody kicks the thing.

Chas Clifton said...

We are going to be seeing more of those around here too.

I am glad about the CH-47's, however, because they have the best high-altitude performance (so I am told) and the Army sometimes loans them out for search-and-rescue.

RandyGC said...

...the Marines should see if they could figure out how to work the A-10s on a carrier

Went through Air Ground Operations School in the 80's. Warthog drivers had an "orientation" video that included a "concept" for A-10 carrier ops.

Hook mounted on the nose of the A-10, facing the rear. A-10 flies straight and level and the carrier drives up under them.

HerrBGone said...

Tam, be mindful of the speed limit with those guys flying around...

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_LBn-0uZWsZE/S7e0ilrTgWI/AAAAAAAAASE/fE7jC-AW_2Q/s1600/AbideTheRules.jpg

RobertM said...

I get overflown by Blackhawks at home a couple times a week. I wish they stop and offer me a ride.

Woodman said...

We still had Cobra Attack Hellichoppers in Hawaii. Frankly I'm surprised we didn't have Hueys for us, but we had Blackhawks.

I had to wait until I got back to Indiana to use an M16 on full auto with the triangle grips, and to ride in a UH-1D, four at a time because the old birds weren't as strong as they ustabe.

Am I the only one that looks at their cell phone and remembers the first pluggers and sluggers (PLGR and who knows what a slugger was called, I can't find it now) and ? Accurate to within 100 or 10 meters after taking 5 minutes to find 7 satellites. Though this was 1994.

Will said...

Early '05, early evening in So NJ, the unmistakeable sound of multiple choppers was heard while I was inside my father's shop. Looking across the neighbor's farm, I could see a few Cobras flitting around the trees bordering his fields. Looked like they might have been dragging the skids through the tops of them as they bounced up and over. After a while, they landed in the stubbled field, and had a crew meeting. Would have liked to have gotten a closer look than the hundred feet they were parked at, but didn't want to intrude on their business.

Turned out to be led by the farmer's son, who stopped by the shop later that night. Saw the flight suit I was working in, and wanted to ask about it. Told me they were working up for deployment to the ME in a few months. Said the open fields surrounded by trees and a few scattered buildings was as close to actual conditions as he could find within reasonable range, and he knew nobody would complain!

Benjamin said...

Heh, and you thought those little signs saying "Speed Limits Enforced By Aircraft" meant that they'd call a Piper and scratch out a cite.

Wroooooong.... lol

BGM

Anonymous said...

160 SOAW are all painted fulda gap green. The black UH-60s ,and kiowas are Fed FLEA birds out of Frankfort or London.

Marcus said...

Hah! I saw the same or identical group heading outbound from Campbell just a few miles south of the KY border. I always estimate lead with my eyeballs but I think they where moving faster than the 'copters in the old Army manuals.

Lergnom said...

Whenever I see .mil aircraft over my little corner of Philadelphia, it means someplace far away is in for it. We must be in the flight path to Dover from the joine base in NJ, whatever it's called now.
Saw a mess of A-10s in formation over my yard one day. Impressive.

Stay safe

Darrell said...

I was on I-25 in northern NM once, out in the middle of nowhere between Las Vegas and Raton, and got buzzed by an F111 hugging the ground out on the plains. I never saw him 'til after he'd passed right over me, going from my left to right (west to east). The first I knew of it was when I was hit by the plane's roar right over my head. Scared the living crap outta me.

The Russian fail vids often show military craft overflying the roadways.

Tam said...

Anon 2:34,

The Crashhawks were a normal green, and may have been plain ol' UH-60s. SFAIK, the 160th doesn't fly Kiowas.



Hunter said...

"...SFAIK, the 160th doesn't fly Kiowas. "
When stationed at Campbell, back in mid-80's, the 160th was just transitioning to a special ops aviation unit. At that time they had the Kiowas and used them as scouts. That is the little bulbous mast extension (cameras, laser-designators, sooper-sekrit stuff). We watched a crew practicing low-level flight skills by having one pilot throw a basketball out the door. A large rope loop (about two foot diameter) was fastened to the ball, and it was the task of the other pilot to use the tip of the skid under his butt to pick up the ball. That is one maneuverable little bird, that is.

Colorado Joe said...

Back in the mid 80s when the US military could afford flight training, I ran a delivery route that included lake Livingston in East Texas. The TANG was flying F-4s at the time and used to fly them low/fast in pairs down the lake valley from North to South, making target runs on the dam.

The area is heavily wooded so you could not see them comming, and several times they scared the C--P out of me by passing overhead at 500ft-ish and 5-600 mph. The truck had no A/C so the windows were almost always down (even in winter!) and the surprise roar was impressive! Very cool toys!

Ted N said...

FYI, the camera ball on top of the -58 is nicknamed Kenny, for the South Park character it resembles. :D

And 500 feet is plenty high. You're not low until you come back with grass stains on the bottom.

Ted N said...

Also, 160th MH-60s'd have the fuel probe out front, and they don't use Kiowas anymore, it's all MH/AH-6's now.

Frank, appreciate frustration with the low level flights, but next time could you try and contact the closest air base or your congressman first. Pretty please? I know Ft. Riley is really good about adjusting flight routes if we're asked, I just came from there.

Tam said...

Ted N,

"Also, 160th MH-60s'd have the fuel probe out front, and they don't use Kiowas anymore, it's all MH/AH-6's now."

Probably 2-17 Kiowas. Not sure if they were MH-60s: They appeared to have the high stub wings, but I don't recollect if I noticed the refueling probe or not.

We were headed in opposite directions at a closure rate of a pretty good number of knots, and I was trying to keep a Subie with worn suspension between the paint stripes at about 70kias. :D

Geodkyt said...

Heh.

Good aviators are the ones who get airsick above 500'.

I mean, isn't that why the Marines, all good helo pilots, and BUFFs fly so damned low? [grin]

Bubblehead Les. said...

On the "Kinds Kool" theme: When Star Wars came out in '77, I was going through one of my Navy Schools at Dam Neck, Va. That base is just down the road from NAS Oceana. The nearest movie theater showing Star Wars was the Hilltop Cinema, just on the far side of Oceana. So I go to see what all the Brouhaha was about, and caught the 6:00 show. As soon as it ended, I turned around and went right back in. I would have stayed for a third showing, but they were closing. So I get in my car, and decided to back road it to my base, full of Fan Boi Giddiness and I was skirting the end of one of the runways. Suddenly the "Sound of Freedom" roared over my head, and a F-14 was coming in low for a landing. Then another,then another. I pulled over and realized that a Squadron of F-14s was running a Night Ops Exercise of 'Touch and Goes."

Did you know that seeing all the butt ends of F-14s passing overhead in the dark looked just like I was on the Death Star watching the Rebels come in for their Attack Run LIVE!?

God, one of the Best Moments of My Life, and it was all my "Federal Tax Dollars at Work!" Awesome.

Angus McThag said...

Dark green?

Do not be fooled! All helicopters are black under the paint!





Because paint is opaque...

Ted N said...

Tam: rock on. Everybody at least has the hook ups for external stores, the wings. Could be anybody. Meh.

Les: That's pretty awesome. I've been on the hold short line for C-17's coming in, it's always cool to me how they can go from not-that-big to omg-run! so quick. Stop on a dime, relatively speaking, too.

Angus: CARC, then yellow, then silver. Still not sure where people keep getting black from. :D

RickR said...

Years ago a friend & I were on his front porch (he lives on the side of a valley) and watched an F4 blast past at roughly our level, I could see the pilots head pretty much straight across from us. Loud as hell, but very cool.