Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Israel Day 5 - Israel Air Force Museum - Got MiGs?

The Israeli Air Force Museum also contains aircraft never used operationally by the Israeli Air Force.

The Israeli Air Force Museum happens to house a lot of MiG aircraft that were flown by their Arab state opponents and subsequently obtained by the Israeli Air Force.

The Mig-15

This Egyptian MiG-15 was shot down during the 1956 Suez campaign and retrieved from the sea.

The MiG-17:

This is one of two Syrian MiG-17s that happened to land by accident in 1968 at an Israeli air force base. Navigation was apparently not stressed sufficiently by the Syrian Air Force.

The MiG-19. Well, the tail of one anyways:

This particular MiG-19 was shot down during the Six Day War.

The MiG-23:

This Syrian MiG-23, similarly to the MiG-17, managed to land at an Israeli airbase in 1989 when its Syrian pilot decided to defect to Israel.

And the museum also houses the most famous MiG in Israeli hands:

MiG-21, number 007.

The MiG-21 was the front-line fighter of the Soviet Union and its allies in the 60s and 70s. The West badly wanted to obtain one to examine its flight characteristics and to prepare for dealing with it, whether in the slies of the Middle East or over Vietnam and elsewhere.

The Mossad launched Operation Diamond with the goal to obtain a MiG-21.

The Mossad was able to enlist Iraqi Pilot Munir Redfa, an Assyrian Christian, who agreed to defect, on condition that along with him and the MiG-21 that the Israelis get all of his family out of Iraq to Israel as well.

Munir Redfa then flew the MiG-21 from Iraq to Israel, and his family was successfully smuggled out of Iraq.

It was quickly renumbered as 007 in honor of how it was acquired and then flown extensively by Israeli pilots to examine and learn its strengths and weaknesses.

Once Israel obtained the MiG-21, it quickly shared both information about it and the aircraft itself with the United States, loaning the US the aircraft under the US Code named Have Doughnut program, which took place at the storied Area 51 base.

In 1988, an HBO movie, Steal the Sky gave a fictionalized and dramatized account of Operation Diamond and the defection of the MiG-21.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Flying - A Jaunt Around The Pattern

I had planned to fly a friend up around Saginaw Bay so he could see from the air some vacation property he was planning on buying.

The weather had other plans.

Saginaw was reporting low IFR conditions and Pontiac was showing MVFR going to VFR later.

So instead I took an early lunch and headed to the airport to get some practice in. Clouds were still low at about 2,500 so just pattern it would be. Might as well take the opportunity to keep the daytime currency up.

Everyone else seems to have the same idea and the pattern was quite busy with airplanes from DCT and Crosswinds and others flying around.

This started to settle down and thin out a bit, mainly because the winds began to pick up. While starting at about 6 knots from 250, they quickly began gusting 9-17 knots from 210-260. I certainly got some decent crosswind practice in.

I began with a takeoff from 27L the nice large runway and then did a right pattern for 27R to land. Not a bad landing. Next one around they had me do an early crosswind turn from 27R so a Cessna on 27L could slip behind me into the 27R pattern. Yes it was busy. Then following another Cessna I did a nice landing with a fun gust as I was flaring to land to make life interesting. Not a bad landing as things go, but I didn’t want to leave it at that not perfect landing.

So up I go again, lots of gusting crosswinds, come in and I have to extend my downwind for a Cessna turning a wide out base to land. I see the traffic and let tower know I’ve got them in sight and then continue outward on the downwind leg until they’ve passed me heading in. Then I do my base turn afterwards for good separation and follow them in to land for a very sweet crosswind landing.

That’s 0.8 and 4 landings.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Good Thing That Wayne State University Is A Gun Free Zone - Oh, Wait.

The Detroit Free Press: Wayne State police warn students, staff after 2 campus robberies

Wayne State University is in Detroit, co-located with some rather, um, exciting in a bad way shall we say areas of Detroit.

Wayne State University police are warning students and staff to use caution after two on-campus robberies.

Let's note that per the article, both robberies, all of six minutes apart, involved the armed robbers using handguns to rob the two students in question.

I guess the criminals didn't follow the gun free zone rules for Wayne State University.

Funny how that happens.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Israel Day 5 - Israel Air Force Museum - Netz 107

Israel first acquired the F-16 in 1980.

The F-16 is not named the Fighting Falcon in Israeli service. Instead its called the Netz.

Netz 107 was the first of the F-16s to arrive in Israel, but that's not its claim to fame nor why it has a place in the Israeli Air Force Museum.

The word "Netz" meaning “Hawk” was the appellation attached to the F-16 A/B series of aircraft, and Netz 107 is an F-16A.

On June 7, 1981 Netz 107 along with 7 other F-16As and six F-15s flying cover took part in Operation Opera, the attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor.

Netz 107 piloted by Amos Yadlin, was the second plane to attack and hit the reactor, following the attack of the Squadron Commander Ze'ev Raz (yes, leaders lead) knocking the reactor out of commission. This prevented Saddam Hussein from acquiring nuclear weapons a strong desire he had at the time.

Nertz 107 went on to score six and a half air-to-air kills, the most by an F-16 in the world. 4 of these were MiG-23s and two were Su-22s (one of which was a gun kill) and a Syrian Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopter was also shot down by Netz 107. All of these kills took place in 1982.

Netz 107 is one of a handful of aircraft in the world that sports a nuclear reactor kill marker.

The F-16s have done well in Israeli service, from the first air-to-air kill by an F-16 ever on July 14 1981, shooting down a Syrian MiG 21 to today, Israeli F-16s have accounted for 53 enemy aircraft in combat and is the ISraeli Air Forces primary ground attack aircraft today.

Later F-I6s are not named Netz, each variant has a different name.

The F-16 C/D variants are named "Barak" meaning Lighting.

The latest F-16 Development, the F-16 I is named the "Sufa" or Storm.

Seeing Netz 107 was awesome. A historic aircraft involved in a major event in aviation and world history up close.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Israel Day 5 - Israel Air Force Museum - The Kfir

The last variant of the Mirage to fly with the IAF, the IAI Kfir took the Mirage to a whole new level.

Building on the experience gained in manufacturing the Nesher, IAI created the Kfir, or Lion Cub, a Mach 2 fighter-bomber.

First was the C.1 version:

The C.1 quickly advanced into the C.2 version, including reconnaissance models.

The Reconnaissance Kfir RC.2 version has a distinctively longer nose, packed full of advanced avionics:

Kfirs also come in a two seat variant for training, the Kfir TC.2 including this particular one, which was the first TC.2 made:

And a TC.2 in standard livery for training:

Kfirs have also been leased to the US Navy and Marine Corps for use as aggressor aircraft, designated the F-21. This one came off lease and was returned to Israel.

The Kfir have mainly been used by the IAF in the ground attack role, and can carry an impressive array of air to ground ordnance as this Kfir C.7 demonstrates:

With a primary role as a ground attack aircraft, given the air superiority role was in the capable hands of the F-15 Baz, only one Kfir in IAF service to date has an air-to-air kill.

This Kfir C.2 was the one that shot down a Syrian MiG-21:

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

What Is It With Democrats And Mass Deleting Emails?

Hillary, between having a private server and backing up a copy where it could be easily hacked, suffered no punishment for destroying government emails, much less having classified emails on non-secure personal servers and copied wholesale to an account that has Chinese links and could be easily compromised.

Now Detroit's Democrat Mayor and staff are facing their own email deletion scandal relating to some favors done by the mayor for a charity run by a "friend" of the mayor.

The Detroit News: Editorial: Detroit email cover-up deserves more than wrist slap

So his staff deleted incriminating emails relating to the deal once it came to light.

But, just as with Hillary!, Mayor Duggan and his staff faces not even a mere slap on the wrist - the staffers now just have to undergo training in how not to delete embarrassing government emails, or at the very least how to do it less obtrusively and not get caught doing it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Israel Day 5 - Israel Air Force Museum - The F-15 "Baz"

Israel first acquired the F-15 Eagle in October 1976.

Not called the Eagle in IAF service, as that name went to the A-4, The F-15 has the moniker "Baz" IOn IAF service meaning Falcon. As you might guess, the F-16 Fighting Falcon has a different name in the IAF as well.

In IAF service, the F-15 has an impressive 61 to none kill ratio, including shooting down MiG-25s. No Israeli F-15s have been lost in combat, but at least three have been lost in training accidents.

This particular aircraft at the museum is responsible for 4 of those kills, sporting 4 Syrian aircraft kill rings.

That the F-15 is a superlative aircraft is beyond question. In Service with multiple nations, it has a 102-0 kill ratio.

Even when damaged, the F15 still can bring its crew home.

In 1983, an Israeli F-15, damaged in a collision, during a training exercise lost an entire wing but was still able to land safely, a testament to the strength and excellence of the aircraft design and the cool head of the pilot.

You can see and hear the pilot involved in that event retell what occurred:

In 2011, an Israeli F-15D suffered severe damage from a bird-strike from a flock of Pelicans. It was repaired using the parts of a single seat Israeli F-15, most likely a C model, and has been named FrankenBaz or FrankenEagle. The repair cost $1 million, cheap when considering a replacement F-15D runs about $40 million.

Even as Israel begins to acquire the F-35, the F-15 will continue to serve as an air superiority fighter and intends to continue to fly updated versions in tandem with the F-35.

Israel has continued to improve the F-15, improving its avionics and weapons systems while in its service.

The F-15E Strike Eagle has also been placed into service by the IAF with a modified version to fit Israeli requirements, the F-15I Ra'am (Thunder) currently in service with Israel's 69 Squadron, The Hammers.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Sunday Flyday - A Great Trip To Bad Axe

Sunday started out Marginal VFR by Pontiac, with low clouds, mist and rain. Thankfully the weather all blew off towards the east, leaving a free shot us to get aloft.

We decided to head to Bad Axe to see some fall colors. I hadn't flown up to Bad Axe in quite awhile.

Winds were calm at Pontiac as we took off.

The clouds had lifted to about 8,000 feet by the time we were aloft.

We passed by Lapeer airport.

Some trees were changing color and the overcast clouds above gave nice interesting shadows on the ground.

Then we flew by Marlette Airport on our way north.

I was flying at 110 knots which was pretty decent performance.

At 5,500 feet I let Leah fly the plane for a bit.

She had fun and tried keeping the airplane on course, which was harder to do than it looked.

We overflew quite a few fields and some forested areas that were changing color nicely.

Winds at Bad Axe were 300 at 9 knots, so a slight crosswind for Runway 35.

I didn't like my first approach so I nixed it and went around. There's no point trying to force it down if it is not feeling or looking right. So Leah got to experience a go round for the first time.

The second approach, flying the pattern, I nailed it with a nice smooth landing. My passenger was very happy with it. We then took back off south for Pontiac.

I'm apparently flying smoothly enough that after awhile, Leah fell asleep on the way back after we had passed Marlette.

Interestingly, I picked up a traffic on the ADS/B traffic system just south of Lapeer.

Same altitude as me, 3 O'clock, no identifier, between my course and Pontiac and getting ever closer from behind and to the right. So close the traffic alert changed it from blue to yellow. No visual at all.

Then an even more urgent traffic alert and I still can't see this guy.

As it was still closing from my right, I said to heck with that and did a wide left turning circle away to let it pass.

Nothing was there. That was getting a bit tense for nothing.

A few people have been reporting ADS/B ghosts around Pontiac/Detroit area. I halfway suspect the system was picking me up and reporting my aircraft back to me as a traffic conflict.

Then 14 nm from Pontiac, the airspace got real busy. I had one real traffic alert, with a plane I knew was actually out there based on radio calls and that the ADS/B was giving the correct N number for the contact. It was hard to get a word in edgewise with Pontiac, but I was eventually able to get a call in and was instructed to report a right base 2 1/12 miles out.

I report it once I get there and he has me widen it out to turn it into a long final for traffic management which is no problem.

A nice smooth landing results, much to the contentment of my passenger who expects such as part of the flight.

I then land and as I'm rolling on past Juliet, he tells me to turn off on Juliet and contact ground. That's not going to happen.

I report I've just missed Juliet and the controller was ok with that, and I get off at the next exit at Kilo.

Then ground gives me clearance back to the hangar and another successful flight comes to an end.

That's 1.8 and 2 landings.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

IWI Masada Rounds 251-500

I went to the range with my friend D yesterday. D brought along his Glock 19 to get some practice in.

I brought along the Masada to get some shooting in. We shot paper targets and steel plates both slow and rapid and had a good time.

200 rounds of Remington 115 grain fired through the Masada by both of us without a hitch.

D also pronounced the Masada trigger to be better than his Glock's trigger, so that's two matching subjective assessments regarding that. He also liked the feel of the Masada more than the Glock. On shooting his Glock, I'd have to agree. I think its got the worst stock Glock trigger I've ever tried, and really puts the crunch in crunchenticker -- seriously. Again, this is another subjective assessment.

Then, I shot 50 rounds of Winchester Ranger 147gr bonded HP through the Masada with zero failures of any kind.

The Masada is definitely shooting low and left for both of us, which is interesting.

It's not a huge amount low and left, but enough to be noticeable especially when shooting for precision. It's less of an issue when you use the dots rather than the top of the front sight to aim, but even with that it's off just enough to miss the X ring even when you place the dot on it and it will hit just under it. You can still knock down steel plates if you aim at the center of them however. I was also able to bounce an ammo box placed on the berm 25 yards away with it nice and consistently by putting the dots on the box. I'm going to try adjusting the rear sight over right to try and correct the leftward issue.

That's 500 rounds through the IWI Masada with zero failures of any kind.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Israel Day 5 - Israel Air Force Museum - The F-4 Phantom II

Now for The Old AF Sarge's aircraft of choice.

Israel acquired the F-4E Phantom II, receiving their first batch of aircraft in January 1968. It was Israel's main fighter aircraft through the Yom Kippur War.

The F-4 Phantom was called the Kurnass - "Sledgehammer" in Israeli service, and the RF-4E, the reconnaissance version was called the Orev - "Raven".

The Phantiom's first air-to-air victory in Israeli service took place on November 11, 1969 when a Phantom shot down a MiG-21.

Israel also updated the Phantom to their Kurnass 2000 / Phantom 2000 standard, with updated avionics including a look down-shoot down capability.

This Phantom clearly sports the Kurnass 2000 livery:

The Museum has multiple F-4s on display.

After touring the museum area, I noticed that behind the main area of the museum, hidden behind a hill and separated by a barrier, there appears to be a boneyard for aircraft with an F-4 in it:

In Israeli service, The Phantom has 116.5 air victories, and 55 Phantoms were lost in action with most lost to SAM and ground fire.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Israel Day 5 - israel Air Force Museum - The Skyhawk

After the Six Day War, the United States became interested in Israel as an ally not just as the one democracy in the Middle East, but now that it had won some strategic depth and other factors such as the Arabs flocking to the Soviet Union as their arms suppliers. This was fortuitous, for as just discussed, France had decided its interest lay with appeasing the Arabs and had embargoed arms sales to Israel.

This meant a significant shift in the Israeli Air Force's composition.

The first plane the US agreed to sell to Israel was the A-4 Skyhawk.

Both an F model and an H model are in the museum. The H model was made specifically for Israel.

The F Model:

Here's an example of the H model.

The Skyhawks served as the IAF's main ground attack aircraft for the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur war.

They suffered heavy losses to Egyptian and Syrian SAMs in the opening days of the Yom Kippur War. The Skyhawks flew 1,000 sorties on the Egyptian front alone in that war.

After 1990 the Skyhawks were removed from tactical service and converted to trainers as lead-in-fighter aircraft to train pilots before transitioning to the F-16 and F-15, the Skyhawks were only retired from the IAF in 2015.

The Skyhawk in Israeli service was called the "Ayit", meaning Eagle. As such the F-15 Eagle is not called the Eagle in Israeli service.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Israel Day 5 - The IAF Museum - The Mirage

The Dassault Mirage III was Israel's premier jet fighter in the 1960s, and its first aircraft to break Mach 2.

The Israeli version was the IIICJ and it was used in both the air superiority and strike modes. Israel had ordered and received 72 Mirage IIICJs.

The Mirage proved more than equal to the Arab air forces' MiG-21s in Air-To-Air Combat.

This particular Mirage has an interesting history.

This is the Israeli aircraft that had downed the first Syrian MiG-21 on July 14, 1966. It is also the IAF's top scoring aircraft with 13 aerial victories. Note the thirteen kill rings on the nose. That's 9 Syrian jets (the three-star roundels) and 4 Egyptian jets that this plane has shot down. It's also currently in Argentine Air Force markings, as it was sold to Argentina and then later returned. Only two other Israeli Aircraft have 13 kills - another Mirage and an IAI Nesher.

The Israelis liked the Mirage so much they ordered and paid for the latest version, the Mirage V from France.

Unfortunately, After the 6 Day War, Charles de Gaulle had the gall to not only place an arms embargo on Israel after it had ordered and paid for the Mirage Vs, and refused to allow Israel to receive them, but to add insult to injury turned around and sold the already paid for aircraft to Libya.

So the Israelis decided in the face of the embargo to build their own updated Mirage.

A lot of help in this venture came from Swiss Engineer Alfred Frauenknecht, who worked for Suissa, the manufacturer of Swiss licensed Mirage aircraft. Frauenknecht who was personally offended by the French embargo, copied thousands of the blueprints pof the Mirage V and gave them to Israel, making it possible for Israel to build its own version of the Mirage.

The Israelis named it the IAI Nesher:

Both the Mirage and the Nesher served successfully in the War of Attrition and during the Yom Kippur War.

In 1974 the Nesher was phased out in favor of the more advanced Israeli Mirage based aircraft, the Kfir, more of which will be seen later. The Neshers were then sold to South American Air Forces, including Argentina, where they were rebranded as "Daggers" and served in the Falklands War.