Tag Archives: F-5

The story of a legendary F-14 pilot and the gun kill on an F-15 that could sell Tomcats to Japan

Known and unknown stories of a legendary F-8 Crusader and F-14 Tomcat pilot

If you Google “F-14 gun kill” or “F-14 Hoser”, you can find a 8” x 10” frame of a 16 mm gun film shot which shows an  F-15 Eagle locked through an  F-14 Tomcat Head Up Display, at 250 feet, with piper on the Eagle’s pilot, gun selected, master arm on (beware the image below does not show the gun kill mentioned in the story….).

Even if the photo itself is already very interesting, the story behind it, is by far more fascinating. In fact, the naval aviator at the controls of the Tomcat can be considered a sort-of legend.

As explained by Alvin Townley in his book Fly Navy, most probably other pilots have scored more kills, held higher ranks or more prestigious commands, but few living aviators embody the untamed nature of aviation like the one-of-a-kind legend known to decades of F-8 Crusader and F-14 Tomcat pilots: Joe “Hoser” Satrapa.

A skilled rifleman, Joe joined the Navy with the aim to fly a jet fighter.  His passion for guns guided him after the flight school graduation, in 1966, when he was called to opt for the F-4 Phantom or the F-8 Crusader. The Phantom had no guns and Satrapa thought: “No guns? What kind of aircraft is this with no guns?” and he immediately chose the “Last Of The Gunfighters” as the Crusader was dubbed by aircrews.

But the “Satrapa legend” began the day he was given the callsign “Hoser” (even if he is also known as “Da-Hose” or “D-hose”), during a mission at the gunnery range in which he was flying the tail position in a flight of four Crusaders. He cut off the preceding aircraft as they approached the target and started shooting from two thousand feet up, one and a half miles out, hosing off all his bullets in one pass.

His flight leader J.P. O’ Neill told him to return to the airfield at El Centro and the same night O’ Neill had the final say on the incident when he nailed Satrapa: “Lieutenant junior grade Satrapa, for hosing off all his bullets in one pass, will hence forth be known as Hoser. That’ ll be five bucks.”

Hoser was also widely known during the Vietnam War as a fearless F-8 pilot who regularly carried a good forty pounds of lethal ordnance, in case he was suddenly forced to eject from his aircraft and face an entire platoon of North Vietnamese Army regulars.

As explained by George Hall in his book Top Gun – The Navy’ s Fighter Weapons School, Hoser’s interest for guns continued when he transitioned to the F-14 Tomcat.

During the AIMVAL/ACEVAL (the Air Combat Evaluation/Air Intercept Missile Evaluation) fighter trials that put the F-14s and the F-15s against the F-5Es to test new weapons and tactics which took place from 1974 to 1978 at Nellis Air Force Base, Hoser (assigned to the VX-4 evaluators) was put in a 1 vs 1 against an F-5.

As the two combatants sat side-by-side on the Nellis runway, awaiting tower clearance for takeoff, Hoser looked over at his opponent, reached his hand up over the control panel, and mimicked the cocking of machine guns in a World War I Spad. A thumbs up came from the other cockpit, meaning that guns it would be, the proverbial knife fight in a phone booth, forget the missiles.

Both jets took off.

As soon as they reached the assigned area, the fighters set up twenty miles apart for a head-on intercept under ground control. Seven miles from the merge, with closure well over 1,000 knots, Hoser called “Fox One”, a Sparrow missile away, scoring a direct hit.

As they flashed past each other, the furious F-5 driver radioed, “What the hell was that all about?” “Sorry.” said Hoser, “lost my head. Let’s set up again. Guns only, I promise.”

Again the two fighters streaked towards the pass, again at seven miles Hoser called “Fox One.” The F-5 driver was apoplectic.

Hoser was first back to the club bar, nursing an end of the day cold one as the flushed Aggressor stomped in. “Hoser, what the hell happened to credibility?” the F-5 pilot asked. Hoser replied “Credibility is DOWN, kill ratio is UP!”

This story became very popular around Topgun, alongside the lesson learned: from 1 vs 1 to forty-plane furball, expect anything. But never expect your enemy to be a sweet guy.

Still, Hoser’s best experience during the AIMVAL/ACEVAL most probably came after the end of the trials. Even if Tomcat and Eagle drivers could not engage each other, Hoser and his RIO Bill “Hill Billy” Hill with  Dan “Turk” Pentecost and Frank “Fearless” Schumacher onboard the second F-14, went 2 vs 2 against a couple of F-15 instructors from 415th Training Squadron (415th Flight Test Flight).

Both Eagles were gunned down and a gun camera film which showed the F-15 locked in the F-14 HUD almost caused Japan to revert its decision to buy the Eagle.


Image credit: U.S. Navy

Disbandment of Swiss Air Force display team could make its “Flat Eric” yellow puppet mascot unemployed

The Patrouille Suisse is one of the most renowned aerobatic display team in Europe.

Equipped with the F-5E Tiger the team is, together with the Turk Yildizlari (Turkish Stars), that flies the NF-5A/B  Freedom Fighter, the only European display team on supersonic fighter jets.

Despite being regularly invited to attend airshows across the continent, the Patrouille Suisse could be forced to stand down from 2016 as a consequence of budget cuts.

Indeed, beginning in 2016, the ageing F-5 fleet will be progressively retired and replaced by the first Gripen examples and, simply, there will not be many military aircraft in the Swiss Air Force, at least, not enough to equip an aerobatic display team.

In spite of Swiss Minister of Defense claims that the Patrouille Suisse will survive transiting on the F-18 Hornet or the new JAS-39 Gripen (even if the Swiss Parliament has suspended the purchase of the Sweden fighters ordered in 22 examples) the chances that there will be enough resources to dispatch some of these few frontline fighters to the team appear scarce.

Along with the team, even its mascot and honorary member “Flat Eric” will probably be put apart.

Flat Eric is a yellow puppet character from Levi’s commercials that is part of the Patrouille Suisse since 2000. It flies on board aircraft number 2.

Flat Eric - mascot of the Patrouille Suisse

Image credit: Daniel Rychcik/Flickr

One of the maneuvers performed by the team and called “Flat Mirror” is dedicated to Flat Eric: it consists of the classic mirror performed by the two team solos during a schneider turn.

One of Flat Eric’s distinctive characteristic is that it wears a Red Arrows flight suit since 2004, when it was kidnapped by the British aerobatic display team: when it reappeared in the spring of 2005 it was adorned with this special dress.

Since it belongs to the Patrouille Suisse, it follows the team in every air show and deployment; moreover “Flati”, as it is affectionately called by other team members, posses his own Swiss Air force identification card and a log book like all other Swiss pilots.

If the Patrouille Suisse will eventually be disestablished in 3 or 4 years, the airshow circus will not only lose one of its main and best aerobatic display teams, but also one of the most funny mascottes.

David Cenciotti has contributed to this article

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Some (rusty) Iranian Mig-29s on display at Tabriz airbase in new images released by IRNA news agency

IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency) has just released some quite interesting pictures of an exhibition of IRIAF planes and equipment that took place at Tabriz, in northwest of Iran.

Among the images made public by the news agency, some depict some (quite “rusty”, or at least dirty) Mig-29s, along with F-5Es and “Saeqeh” (Thunder) an indigenously modified version of the American F-5 Tiger, whose twin tails and blue colour are loosely reminiscent of the Blue Angels.

Generally speaking, the flying F-14s and F-4s recently exposed in the Russian Knights pictures taken during the return trip of the team from Bahrain International Air Show seemed to be in better conditions than these Mig-29s: at least one of the Fulcrum on display is unserviceable (it lacks both engines).

Image credit: IRNA news agency

Formation aerobatics from inside the cockpit: fly on the F-5E Tiger II of the leader of the Patrouille Suisse

Uploaded on Youtube just few days ago, the following footage was recorded by an onboard camera installed on the lead plane of Patrouille Suisse, flown by Capt. Marc ” Zimi” Zimmerli. The interesting video shows the rehearsal flight for the Fiesta en el Cielo Barcelona Airshow 2011 (Oct. 2, 2011) and provides a privileged view of the display flown by the Swiss display team with an insight into  the pre and post airshow operations. Thanks to the on board cam you will be able to see the pilot as he taxies the formation to take off along with commercial traffic; when he gives the formation the signal to begin the take off roll; checks the maps to reach the display area; guides the formation through all the maneuvers of the team’s display program; and returns to Barcelona performing a visual approach with an overhead break. Something you don’t see very often.

Axalp 2010

In 2006 I went to Axalp, Switzerland, and wrote a detailed report (in both Italian and English) that provided all the “tips and tricks” to reach the Axalp Ebenfluh range at 2.300 meters above sea level and to observe the flight operations taking place at Meiringen airbase.
Simone Bovi made the same experience on Oct. 13, 2010, and took the following interesting pictures of this year’s edition of the famous Axalp “unconventional” and unique airshow held each year, in October, by the Swiss Air Force, in the Alps of the Bernese Oberland. Next year’s Axalp airshow is scheduled for Oct. 12 – 13, 2011, while Axalp 2012 will take place on Oct. 10 – 11, 2012.