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Tell me how …


Tell me how to match the feeling of flight with out flying…


To match the feeling of the walk out to your jet in the scorching heat, the searing sounds, and the sweat-soaked earplugs in your ears.


To match the strap-in…when suddenly you realize this is nothing like the sim you did yesterday.


Tell me how to match how you feel: your body weighted down by gear and already exhausted, your wingman's jet-blast in your face, stress and pure joy mixing around in your blood.


Tell me how to match the cockpit...the sun, the glare, the heat, the worn buttons, the vibration, the noises (what was that!?)…the cold, familiar-odor oxygen flowing...hitting your wet face and somehow cooling your entire body; the pressure of the mask on your nose.


Tell me how to match the chance of death, the risk, and the thought that it’ll never be you.


Tell me how to match the thrust, the Gs, the G-strain, the grey out, the 'holy shit ease off!', the master caution lights; digging around in the bottomless map-case to look for your checklist; how its so difficult to find while you try to control yourself and the thing you are strapped into.


Tell me how to match the feel of your heart-rate rise just before "turn in, fights on." Tell me how to match the merge, that want and NEED to win, knowing you're pushing your body and the jet faster, higher, tighter, slower, than you've ever had it and not being totally sure you will keep it together.


Tell me how to match being beaten...and the awful smile you know your wingman gives you under his mask when he gets on your wing.


To match the 2 minutes you get each sortie where you finally look around at the world and realize that you’re doing the one thing you always wanted to do for the 308th time ...the split second your give to your mind to think of your wife, your kids, your fear, your friend who died doing this exact thing; then the rapid jerk back into reality, and you are again immersed.


Tell me how to match the shocking feeling when you finally understand the fight and the world around you; like your instructor did years before when you thought he was a god.


Tell me how to match the night. How the whole world transforms into darkness and green it closes in on up can be down, and down can be up, and fast can be up, and slow can be down.

Tell me how to match the landing…the check to make sure for the 15th time that your gear is down. Wait, is it!? The hope that you'll see the lights running through the low clouds below you; the hope that the earth really is down there.


Tell me how to match the taxi-back…how you're already thinking all over, of how it went wrong, and what you'll debrief.


Tell me how to match the shut down...and the wind hitting you after your crack the canopy open...the quiet walk in after the jets are asleep. The clank of turbine blades slowly turning in a wind-blown motor.


Tell me how to match the debrief, the stress, the pens, the realization you didn't know what you thought you knew. The thought that you should be better...better than this.


Tell me how to match the drive home, the thinking it over and over and over and over and over and over; the too-tired-to-talk-to-your-wife flop onto the bed. Tell me how the best fighter pilots in the world got to be so damned good.


Tell me how to match the feeling of waking up the next day and wanting nothing more than to do it all again.