Air-Minded: Air-to-Air in the F-15 Eagle

In my day, the only video cameras we could use to film our own air-to-air flying were hand-held devices.  USAF pilots weren’t (and aren’t, AFAIK) allowed, for safety reasons, to use cameras or video recorders in single-seat cockpits.  If you were flying a two-seater, which you might do once a month or so, and you had a fellow pilot for a back-seater, maybe then … but pilot-produced cockpit videos were a rarity, and there aren’t that many good ones out there.

Until now, that is, thanks to the availability of small video cameras you can position here and there around the cockpit and operate hands-free.  Like this cockpit video, produced by members of my old unit at Kadena Air Base in Japan.

2012 Raytheon Award Video from Jersey on Vimeo.

People are always asking me what it’s like to fly air-to-air combat in the Eagle.  Minus actual missiles in the air, this is what it’s like.  This is what it looks like, this is what it sounds like.  This is just what it’s like.  And I’m proud that pilots and airplanes from one of my former squadrons, the 44th FS Vampires, are featured here, along with the 67th FS Fighting Cocks, our old Kadena rivals.  There’s even a shot of one Eagle I remember from the early 1990s, the one with the mismatched radome … you’ll know it when you see it.

The only thing here that’s less than realistic is the pilot’s view through the HUD, the head up device.  In the two brief HUD shots you see in the video the only thing showing is a standby gun reticle, not the array of performance and weapons information the pilot actually sees.  That’s because the USAF has classified most of the information projected onto the HUD and we can no longer share it.

Update (4/30/12): New to me are the odd-looking helmets with the protruding visors, which I learn are JHMCS (Joint helmet mounted cuing system) rigs, which project weapons aiming and some flight information onto the visor in front of the pilot’s eyes, bypassing the HUD, though to what degree I don’t know.

Everything else in the video is … as I may have mentioned earlier … just like what it’s like.

If this video doesn’t explain the concept of Shit Hot to you, nothing will.

© 2012 – 2017, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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