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Nightmare Scrapbook For July, 2001


The Sixth Month of Command . . .

Cow was guest speaker at the
Imperial Valley Navy League

Only one squadron fly a formation like this: a Radar Harrier, a Night Attack Harrier, and the original Harrier II


July saw the Nightmares forced to make some hard decisions about training priorities with the confluential issues of imprecise radar variant deliveries, powerplant bulletins, air-to-air core competency objectives, flight demonstrations, short-fused TAD requirements, and the offer of a sister squadron's Red Beach forward-based operations deployment all interfering with, or altering existing plans. No plan survives first contact with reality and the Nightmares flexed to accommodate the new contextual realities.

Giving the latest Radar Harrier delivery a Nightmare paint scheme

The unforeseen obligations to send commissioned officers hither and yon to support distant exercises and tactics conferences saw every field grade officer (and many of the company grade) on the road. After the XO, OPSO, AMO, and DOSS all did their time in the barrel, the Cow found himself committed to two weeks of MEFEX (a Marine Expeditionary Force Exercise) service in the Wing's tactical air command center. This immediately followed the week he spent in Virginia and North Carolina attending the promotion of his Panama roommate "Chef" to Brigadier General and assumption of command as Commanding General, 2nd FSSG. The high quality of our Nightmare Non-Commissioned Officers was most apparent during this turbulent period, and the C.O. couldn't have been more impressed with their adroit leadership.

The business end, with a Marine 
standing in the nose wheel well

So it turned out that the Cow was not present during the first three weeks of July and Zieg was charged with steering the course to August. Thanks to the magic of e-mail, Zieg kept the Bovine abreast of his decisions and they were executed exactly as the Cow would have wished. This was especially true when Vino and Lurch flew the squadron's last two "Day Attack" AV-8B's to the Harrier Training Squadron at Cherry Point, N.C. Thus, 20 July marks the final date that the original version of the "Harrier II" served in Marine Operational "Gun" squadrons. Coincidentally, on the same day Major Art "Turbo" Tomassetti --a former Nightmare pilot-- made aviation history by becoming the first pilot to fly a STOVL (short takeoff, vertical landing) aircraft in supersonic flight. Turbo began the history-making flight of the Joint Strike Fighter nominee from Lockheed with a short takeoff in the STOVL configuration from Edwards AFB CA. He then transitioned to conventional flight and accelerated to supersonic speed. After completing the supersonic dash, Turbo returned to Edwards, converted to the STOVL configuration and landed vertically on the hover pad.

The Cow can't stand up in there

The Nightmares will spend much of July and August accepting six new radar variant Harriers from Boeing to augment the first two that were transferred from the VMA-311 "Tomcats." This will afford ample opportunity to properly welcome "Boss," the newest Nightmare pilot and a superb addition to the team.

Show and tell on an old El Centro 
Base Operations Terminal stairway with the Navy League of Imperial Valley

The Aircraft Group Commander, 'Ragu,'
explains his intent to Cliffy, Zieg, Screech and Cow

The XO takes notes

The AMO memorizes...

Dano and Cow pass the Colorado River en route to El
Centro during a weekend cross-country

A closer view of Dano, the squadron's Logistics Officer

OK, even closer still...

View of the NAF El Centro tower while refueling in the 'hot pits'

Dano takes on fuel

After takeoff, Dano and Cow proceed to Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson

These dunes, between Yuma and El Centro are where the first and third episodes of Star Wars were filmed

Passing Baker's Peak (known as 'Rope' to local pilots) in the Goldwater bombing range

A peek inside Dano's office

Safe on deck at Davis-Monthan AFB 
in Tucson, Arizona

Heading home again

What did you do to our airplane sir?

One of the Harrier's seven weapon
carriage pylons is inspected

With the main wheels removed,
higher power settings are required to taxi...

For every hour airborne, many more 
hours are spent with these professionals

The newest factory delivery becomes
aircraft eleven

The finished product

Cow's pride and joy over the Cibola
Wildlife Refuge

Naval Aviator Wings