This chapter is accompanied by a video recording of the actual "Heads Up Display (HUD)" tape made during the events described below. To see the following video clip, you must have RealPlayer installed on your computer system. Click here to download this player for free.
This video clip is best viewed after reading the actual chapter in Keith Rosenkranz's book, as he describes in great detail the sounds and sights you are about to see and hear. If you do not have a copy of his book yet, you can order one here and save 30% off the list price.
Click here to view the Chapter 35 HUD Tape.
Passing 9,000 feet, Bitchin' Betty calls out: "Altitude, altitude." Seconds later, Grover radios: "08 is unable to lock any movers." I continue to descend, and, as I pass through 7,000 feet, the weather begins to clear.
"Copy. I've got a mover locked... he's moving in the dirt!" As I pass through 6,000 feet, Bitchin' Betty calls out again: "Altitude, altitude." While leveling off, I hit the uncage switch, and the Maverick video appears in my right MFD. The vehicle I locked up is close to the Maverick tracking gates. I push the TMS switch forward and slew the tracking gates over the vehicle. The infrared picture is perfect, and the
pointing cross is holding steady. Approximately five miles from the target, I hit the pickle button. With a load roar, the missile flies off the rail.
"Husky 07, missile's away," I radio. "I'm climbing back up!" I pull hard to the right and spot a stream of red tracers at my right four o'clock. I jink a couple of times, then check back to the left.
"Copy that," Grover responds. "I'm thirteen miles in trail. Say heading, and tell me when you're coming off left."
I roll to my left and stare into the blackness below. While I wait for the missile to reach its mark, I key my mike and radio: "I'm in a left-hand turn now through three-two-zero ... Splash the target! He's burning! It's a tank!"
What an incredible sight! The armored hulk blew up directly
underneath me, and I can see it rolling off the highway. I'm so excited, I can barely catch my breath. My heart feels like it's about to explode, and I quickly radio: "He's in a left turn, rolling off the side of the road." While Bitchin' Betty reminds me of my altitude, Grover calls back and says: "Say your heading and reference off steerpoint five."
"Okay... stand by," I reply. I realize Grover made reference to the
wrong steerpoint and, after pausing a moment, I call him back and say: "Understand steerpoint fifteen?"
While waiting for a reply, I glance inside the cockpit at my instrument panel. After confirming that I have the correct steerpoint in, I perform a range and bearing check so I can relay my position to Grover. In the middle of my calculations, my instincts tell me something isn't right.
The flight controls are extremely sensitive, and the wind blast against the canopy is deafening. The situation reminds me of the supersonic flights I used to fly with students when I was a T-38 instructor at Reese AFB. Every student breaks the sound barrier during their first flight,
and they come away with two distinct impressions: It's extremely noisy in the cockpit, and, because of the increase in airflow over the wings, the flight controls are much more sensitive.
When I realize what's happening, I look directly at my main attitude director indicator (ADI). I'm thirty degrees nose low, diving straight toward the ground. I quickly check my HUD and notice my altitude decreasing through 1,600 feet. Without hesitation, I pull back on the
stick as hard as I can. The rapid onset of Gs causes me to lose my vision. Straining with all my might, I key my mike and radio: "Oh man... Hold on!"