The Fighter Pilot Podcast

By Vincent "Jell-O" Aiello, Retired US Navy Fighter Pilot

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Category: Aviation

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Subscribers: 399
Reviews: 2

 Mar 11, 2020
Great podcast. Well presented. If you want to hear the history and development behind high performance military aircraft and interviews with the pilots who fly them. Then this is the podcast for you.

 Dec 13, 2019


The Fighter Pilot Podcast explores the fascinating world of air combat: the aircraft, the weapons systems, and most importantly--the people. Each episode features a guest who helps explain the topic at hand such as how ejection seats work or what it's like to fly on and off nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

Strap in and hang on for this incredible show! If you love the roar of a high-speed flyby or are enamored by the poise and confidence of the brave men and women who pilot these aircraft, then this show is for you!

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Episode Date
FPP085 - Big Wing Tankers
When aircraft designers and military planners sought a simple way to extend the range, increase the payload, and lengthen the endurance of combat aircraft, they may have been inclined to consider a host of various technological solutions. In fact, the best way to accomplish these endeavors is through aerial refueling with big wing tankers like the KC-135 Stratotanker ( ) , KC-10 Extender ( ) , and forthcoming KC-46 Pegasus ( ). On this episode, retired U.S. Air Force ( ) Lieutenant Colonel Mark “Sluggo” Hasara ( ) joins us to discuss the history, practical applications, and strategic implications of big wing tankers. As a 25-year veteran with over 5,000 flight hours in the KC-135, Sluggo literally “wrote the book ( ) ” on big wing tanking and was instrumental in the creation of the U.S. Air Force tanker Weapons School ( ). Be sure to check out his Wall Pilot ( ) Facebook page and the bonus content ( ) where Sluggo spends another 52 minutes answering listener questions. Episode music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell ( ) / artwork by Janek Krause. This episode was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network ( ). Want to advertise on this podcast? Go to and sign up.
Jun 23, 2020
FPP084 - Mirage 2000

When you think of 4th generation fighters designed in the late 70’s, which aircraft come to mind? Likely the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon for starters, perhaps the F/A-18 Hornet, and for Eastern designs—probably the MiG-29 Fulcrum. But don’t forget the many great 4th gen fighters designed in Europe, many still operational today, such as the Dassault Mirage 2000.

On this episode, Mathieu “Matéo” Carbon—formerly a French Air Force fighter pilot and now host of the 9Gs podcast—joins us from Hong Kong to discuss the usual ‘aircraft series’ topics on the Mirage 2000 and helps answer listener questions including the lowest altitude he ever flew (hint: it was below sea level!).

Be sure to sign up for a chance to win one of three Mirage 2000C DCS modules by Razbam Simulations, together with the Red Flag campaign built by our very own team member, ‘Baltic Dragon.’ Entry is free.

Episode announcements by Clint Bell / music by Jaime Lopez / artwork by Janek Krause. This episode was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network.

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Jun 13, 2020
FPP083 - Electronic Attack

Disrupt /disˈrəpt/ verb — to interrupt an event, activity, or process by causing a disturbance or problem. …Modern aerial combat is a challenging, fast-paced, three-dimensional chess match that requires each side to be on their game. One way to improve the odds of victory is to disrupt your opponent’s plans and systems, and one of the best ways to do that is in the electromagnetic spectrum.

On this episode, U.S. Navy Captain Dave “Mini Me” Kurtz joins us to talk tactical electronic attack based on his career flying the EA-6B Prowler and EA-18G Growler. We discuss what EA is, how it works to disrupt the enemy’s kill chain, and some planning considerations. Mini Me even answers a few listener questions on the subject.

For you DCS fans, be sure to check out the Thrustmaster Warthog stick giveaway and if you enjoy naval aviation history, grab a copy of the new book The Silver Waterfall by former Navy fighter pilot and past FPP guest, Kevin Miller.

Episode announcements by Clint Bell / music by Jaime Lopez / artwork by Janek Krause. This episode was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network.

Jun 03, 2020
FPP082 - MiG-21 Fishbed

The MiG-21 Fishbed. There may be no more recognizable, mass produced, widely proliferated, iconic, enduring fighter jet in existence or throughout history. With more than 11,500 produced and at one time operational in 60 countries on four continents, incredibly this 65-year-old fighter is still in widespread use today.

On this episode, retired Indian Air Force Air Commodore Suren “Bundal” Tyagi joins us to discuss legendary aircraft—not just the numbers but how effective it was, what it was like and how the pilots who flew it enjoyed the MiG-21. And he would know, having amassed over 4,000 flight hours and several combat missions in the Fishbed.

Returning as guest co-host to help explain the MiG-21 is episode 60 hero and former squadron mate with Bundal, Harsih Masand, who helps answer listener questions about the stinger on the back of Flanker aircraft, whether the future of air warfare will be ultra-long range or within visual range, and whether an AC-130s operate from unprepared airfields.

Episode announcements by Clint Bell / music by Jaime Lopez. This episode was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network.

May 23, 2020
Harnessing the Sky

The excellent book 'Harnessing the Sky' chronicles the life and adventures of aviation pioneer and early test pilot Fredrick "Trap" Trapnell during the tumultuous years leading up to World War II and then the transition to jets immediately following.

Trap's granddaughter Dana Trapnell Tibbetts joins us on this bonus episode to discuss the book she co-authored with her father. You can watch a presentation she gave on the book and her grandfather here.

Sign up for a chance to win a free autographed copy of the book here. If you enjoy Naval Aviation history, you'll love the book 'Harnessing the Sky!'

May 16, 2020
FPP081 - The Canadian Forces Snowbirds

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds, 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, are a Canadian icon comprised of Canadian Armed Forces members and National Defence Public Service employees—pilots, technicians, mobile support operators, resource management support clerks and more—working as a team to bring thrilling performances to the public. The Snowbirds demonstrate the high level of skill, professionalism, teamwork, discipline, and dedication inherent in the men and women of the CAF and inspire the pursuit of excellence wherever they go.

On this episode, former RCAF F/A-18 pilot and two-time Snowbird LCol Robert “Scratch” Mitchell joins us to describe the ins and outs of this amazing team, including the exhausting and sometimes unglamorous life on the road between shows. Scratch doubles as co-host this week and answers a few listener questions specific to his experiences and what he sees as the future for the Snowbirds.

Episode announcements by Clint Bell / artwork by Janek Krause. The Royal Canadian Air Force March Past was performed by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. This episode was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network.

May 13, 2020
FPP080 - AC-130 Gunship

Once in a while, popular culture affixes certain expressions—memes, really—to particular military aircraft. “Get some!” is affiliated with Vietnam-era Hueys; “I feel the need for speed,” is a Tomcat-ism; and the Warthog with its devastating 30 mm cannon has simply, “brrrrrrt.”

On this episode, U.S. Air Force Colonel Craig “Buck” Walker joins us to explain how the popular cry “Make it rain!” is anathematic to the AC-130 Gunship community, who pride themselves on precision lethality. Buck answers our usual ‘aircraft series’ questions and provides exclusive insight into this incredible platform and the amazing professionals who crew it.

During the listener question segment the host explains what airborne carrier aircraft do during a mishap on the flight deck, what a “squadron” is, and how many parts the various F-35 models have in common.

Episode announcements by Clint Bell / artwork by Janek Krause / intro music by various artists, theme music by Jaime Lopez. This episode was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network and is dedicated to the brave souls lost on Spirit 03 on January 31, 1999.

May 03, 2020
FPP079 - Advanced Training Methods

Routine and repetitive practice is required to excel at most any endeavor. Musicians spend countless hours on instruments, athletes train relentlessly, and military aviators… they need practice too. The problem is air combat training is either too theoretical, on the one hand, or two resource-intensive on the other.

On this episode, three team members from Red 6, a Southern California aerospace company, join us to describe a high-tech, low-cost solution they have developed to maximize aerial training effectiveness against the latest threats with existing assets. Their augmented reality headset will revolutionize not just how military aviators train but will have countless utility in numerous other applications. It’s a game changer.

During the listener question segment, guest co-host Boat helps answer whether Naval Aviation helps with homeland defense, why the F-35C does not have an internal cannon, and why Super Hornet and Growler pylons are canted, among other topics.

Episode music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell / artwork by Janek Krause. This episode was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network. Follow Red 6 on Instagram: @red6inc, Bond (@Berkutdriver), and Glenn (@_glennsnyder).

Apr 23, 2020
FPP078 - F-35 Lightning II

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is the most advanced aerial weapon system ever fielded. The 5th generation fighter jet is also the most expensive, spent the longest in development, and involves more partners and assembly in more locations than any other aircraft in history.

It is also the most lethal.

This week, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Tucker “Cinco” Hamilton, former F-35 test pilot, joins us to explore this aircraft’s developmental legacy and present lethality. Are parts of it really made in 48 of the 50 American states? Did it really lose to an F-16 in dogfighting tests? We cover these topics, and many more, with Cinco and previous guest Dave “Chip” Berke who returns to help out as co-host.

Episode music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network.

Apr 13, 2020
FPP077 - The Boneyard

Where do automobiles go when they reach the end of their useful lives? Why the junkyard, of course. So, where do military aircraft go? If they’re U.S. military aircraft they most likely go to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group aboard Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona. But don’t call it a “junkyard.”

On this episode, U.S. Air Force Colonel Jennifer “Regen” Barnard, AMARG Commander, joins us to explain how and why aircraft arrive—and eventually depart—this extensive facility which covers four square miles, employs hundreds of specialized technicians, and saves the military and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually. …sure, we’re calling this ‘the Boneyard,’ but don’t let the thousands of preserved aircraft fool you, there’s a lot going on at the AMARG.

Listener questions include how aircraft self-healing fuel tanks work, air-to-air combat between fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, scary carrier landings, and the realism of the movie Top Gun’s jet wash scene.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network.

Apr 03, 2020
FPP076 - F-15E Strike Eagle

F-15 Month' concludes with an in-depth look at the two-seat strike-fighter Eagle variant. Whereas the A-D models profess to not have a "pound for air-to-ground," the Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle was designed to sling mud from the get-go. And it does it exceedingly well!

On this episode, a F-15E pilot and WSO crew, Lieutenant Colonel Richard "TAC" Turner and Captain Mark "Smack" Smith, both active duty U.S. Air Force, tell us all about the mighty "Mud Hen" including how one scored an air-to-air kill with a laser-guided bomb. Read how the Strike Eagle and Super Hornet compare in this article and for you DCS enthusiasts, be sure to sign up for the free Georgian War campaign here.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Jim Hendershot. This episode produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network.

Mar 23, 2020
FPP075 - F-15A-D Eagle (part 2)

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Brian "Spiderman" Kamp and former F-22 Raptor guest Terry "Stretch" Scott return to conclude our in-depth look at the unbeaten Boeing F-15 Eagle and even answer a few listener questions before they go.

Previous guest co-host Mike "BS" Walsh also returns to offer some follow-up thoughts including a comparison of the Eagle's slow-speed flight handling to the F/A-18 Hornet — also a Boeing product.

Episode bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcement by Jim Hendershot. This episode was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network. 

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Mar 13, 2020
FPP074 - F-15A-D Eagle (part 1)

There may be no more accomplished, capable, and effective pure air-to-air fighter aircraft than the once McDonnell Douglas, now Boeing F-15 Eagle. With an impressive weapons suite, radar, and ID capability, eye watering handling characteristics, and an unbeaten combat record, no other bird rules the skies quite like the Eagle.

On this episode, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Brian "Spiderman" Kamp, who accrued more than 4,000 flight hours in the F-15, joins former F-22 Raptor guest Terry "Stretch" Scott, who has over 3,000 flight hours in the Eagle, to discuss this impressive machine inside and out. Former episode 25 hero Mike "BS" Walsh assists as guest co-host to offer his perspective as a relative newcomer to the F-15 after flying more than 1,000 hours in Marine F/A-18s and also helps answer listener questions.

Episode bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcement by Jim Hendershot. This episode was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network.

Support this podcast at —
Mar 03, 2020
FPP073 - Exploitation Programs

Military aviators spend countless hours studying procedures, aircraft systems, limitations, and a host of other topics.  To be safe and effective, clearly it is important to 'know oneself.'  But that's not enough.  To be lethal and survivable, military aviators must also know just as much about their potential adversaries.  There are many ways to do so--the best is to get your hands on their aircraft.  And better yet, to fly them.

On this episode, former U.S. Air Force Captain Brian "Lazmo" McCoy joins us to discuss exploitation programs in general and project CONSTANT PEG in particular.  This once ultra-classified program fostered an understanding of the MiG-21 Fishbed and MiG-23 Flogger that would not have otherwise been possible for U.S. aircrews, doubtlessly saving lives and increasing lethality in combat.

During the listener question segment, Jell-O and guest co-host Boat discuss the F/A-18 Superhornet's wing, top 100 air forces, and whether 'dumb' bombs are obsolete.

Episode music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell.  This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Feb 23, 2020
FPP072 - F-117 Nighthawk

Lockheed Skunk Works is well known for its outrageous aircraft designs and cutting-edge technology. From the long list of visionary platforms comes today's subject--an aircraft Lockheed wasn't even originally invited to contribute a proposal for: the F-117 Nighthawk, also known as the "Stealth Fighter." Retired Michigan ANG Major Robert "Robson" Donaldson joins us to describe this once-top secret mystery craft including all the usual 'aircraft series' topics as well as a DESERT STORM story that will have you equally rolling with laughter and trembling in fear.

During the listener question segment, guest co-host Tra "Fish" Calisch addresses how the term "cockpit" came to be, the use of drop tanks, and whether high altitude training can reduce aircrew susceptibility to hypoxia. Please visit our sponsor for this episode, Hawthorne and remember to use code JELLO for 10% off your first order. And if you'd like to help spouses and dependents of naval aviation members, check out the Wings Over America Scholarship Foundation and their 2020 event at

Episode artwork adapted by Janek Krause / music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network.

Feb 13, 2020
FPP071 - Air-to-Air Mission Planning

Employing an air-to-air missile beyond visual range is not simply a matter of detecting the target and pulling the trigger, a host of factors demand consideration.  What is the threat and what kinds of missiles does it employ?  From what speed and altitude?  With this in mind we can plan to employ so that our missile hits the threat before the threat's missile hits us.  Knowing that drives when to shoot, and thus before that when to lock the threat, and before that...

This air-to-air mission planning results in chronological timelines that fighter aircrews must employ in demanding, chaotic, and ever-changing aerial engagements.  On this episode, retired U.S. Navy Commander and former TOPGUN Instructor Guy "Bus" Snodgrass joins us to describe the many considerations and calculations needed to plan a winning air-to-air timeline.

Bus is an accomplished author, check out his first book on his experiences as speech writer for former Secretary of Defense James Mattis here.  And please visit this episode's sponsor, SimpliSafe, here.

Episode bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Feb 03, 2020
Announcing the 'Afterburn Podcast' with John "Rain" Waters

Former F-16 Viper Demo Team pilot and retired U.S. Air Force Major John "Rain" Waters stops by to discuss his brand new show called the 'Afterburn Podcast.'

The first episode airs Monday, January 27th and can be found on all the usual podcast locations.

Jan 26, 2020
FPP070 - A-4 Skyhawk

Few aircraft capture the imagination like the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. Designed for a carrier-based one-way nuclear strike--a mission it, mercifully, never performed--the diminutive plane instead established a solid reputation as a capable conventional attack aircraft during the Vietnam conflict. The jet went on to serve as the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron's aircraft and is still in service today, in various capacities, nearly six decades later.


On this episode, retired U.S. Rear Admiral Steven Briggs joins us to discuss the venerable Skyhawk, also known as the "Scooter" or "Heinemann's Hot Rod" after the plane's legendary developer. The Admiral answers our usual 'aircraft series' questions leveraging his extensive experience in jet, which includes 229 combat missions.


Be sure to check out and use code JELLO for 10% off your order!


Episode artwork by Janek Krause. Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Jan 23, 2020
FPP069 - U.S. Coast Guard Aviation

The U.S. Coast Guard maintains a robust aviation capability comprised of numerous fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft stationed all over the country and deploying all over the world. This "fifth branch" of the U.S. military enforces laws, conducts search and rescue, maintains navigational equipment, and performs a host of other important tasks. And in a time of war, they can even help fight our nation's adversaries.

This week, U.S. Coast Guard Commander Dan "Rainman" Warren joins us to help us understand everything we ever wanted to know about the Coast Guard but were afraid to ask. Listener questions include the use of gloves when flying and how to confirm a "kill" in long distance air-to-air engagements.

Episode artwork by Janek Krause. Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Jan 13, 2020
FPP068 - JAS 39 Gripen

Bomber Month was a blast but it’s back to our namesake this week with a look at the Saab JAS 39 Gripen. Mikael “Duke” Grev, former lieutenant in the Swedish Air Force, joins us to discuss this delta-wing, canard-equipped, single engine fighter including it’s armament, performance, and many variants. Read more on Duke’s Gripen experiences in his Hushkit article, and check out his company Avioniq here.

During the listener question segment, guest co-host Tra “Fish” Calisch returns to help address sporting event flyovers, wingmen training and responsibilities, and the future of manned naval aviation.

Episode artwork adapted from Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Mindy Bloem. Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Jan 03, 2020
Bonus Episode - End of Year Recap

Fighter Pilot Podcast friend and mentor Rob Kibbe of The MuscleCar Place returns for a year-end look at 2019 highs and lows and what's in store for 2020.

Dec 31, 2019
FPP067 - B-2 Spirit

Bomber Month concludes with the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit.

This week, U.S. Air Force Major Nick "Wolf" Anderson and SMSgt Steve Napier join us to discuss the cutting-edge 'Stealth Bomber' and its enigmatic flying-wing design, not just flying but maintaining this complex machine. We discuss capabilities, weapons, even a little on low-observability and tactics. And before wrapping up, the in-development B-21 Raider is introduced.

Episode artwork adapted by Janek Krause.  Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Dec 23, 2019
FPP066 - B-1 Lancer

Bomber Month marches on with the former Rockwell (now Boeing) B-1 Lancer.

This week, retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel Chris Wachter joins us to talk about the bomber canceled by one president but reinstated by another in a role quite different from what was originally intended.  The "Bone," which in many ways is unlike any other bomber--such as swing-wings and afterburning engines--remains a vital part of the U.S. arsenal employing a wide array of weapons in a host of missions.

Episode artwork adapted by Janek Krause.  Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Dec 16, 2019
FPP065 - B-52 Stratofortress

Bomber Month continues with the mighty Boeing B-52 Stratofortress!

This week, Mr. Ken Katz, a former U.S. Air Force flight test engineer who literally wrote the book on the B-52, joins us to talk all about the mighty "BUFF" including the several variants, its many weapons, and most impressively--how it may end up being the first aircraft in history to fly operationally for 100 years.

Episode artwork adapted by Janek Krause. Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Dec 09, 2019
FPP064 - B-17 Flying Fortress

Here on the Fighter Pilot Podcast it's Bomber Month!

First up is the venerable Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and joining us is Mr. Mike Rowland, former curator of the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, Warner Robins, Georgia where a B-17 is being meticulously restored. Also joining us on this episode is retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Crawford Hicks, a former WWII B-17 pilot who was shot down on his 10th mission and held as a prisoner until the end of hostilities.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Dec 02, 2019
A Quick Update with Guy Snodgrass

Retired U.S. Navy Commander Guy "Bus" Snodgrass, former communications director and chief speech writer for Secretary of Defense John Mattis stops by the podcast to discuss his new book, 'Holding the Line.'

Bus will be back on the show in 2020 for an episode on Air-to-Air Mission Planning.

Nov 26, 2019
FPP063 - A-5 Vigilante

There may be no more enigmatic naval aircraft than the North American A-5 Vigilante. Originally designed to be a carrier-based strategic nuclear bomber, it served primarily as an unarmed reconnaissance asset, substituting its nuclear rear-loaded payload for extra fuel tanks and collections gear.

On this episode, former Vigilante pilot Bob Jellison, retired U.S. Navy Captain, joins us to describe the A-5 and his 100+ missions in it over North Vietnam. Our guest co-host Andy King (@andrewkingdrums), not a former guest or military aviator himself but a listener of the show and Vigilante aficionado, helps us further understand the aircraft. Check out his two favorite A-5 books here and here.

During the listener question segment, Andy asks host Jell-O why some navy VFA squadrons are based on the West Coast of the U.S. but deploy with East Coast air wings (and vice versa), whether he would rather fly the F4U Corsair or F6F Hellcat, and if he thinks strategically the US Navy is weaker due to its insistence on using the Hornet platform for multiple roles.

Episode artwork by Janek Krause. Bumper announcements by Clint Bell / opening song by Jaime Lopez, closing song “Skeleton” by Reader (@readerseattle).   This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Nov 22, 2019
FPP062 - The F-16 Viper Demo Team

What is the difference between a single-ship demo team and a multi-plane demonstration squadron, like the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels?  How does one get selected to perform with a demonstration team at airshows? Is it a tryout, leadership selection process, etc. and how long is a rotation?

On this episode, the U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team joins us to answer these vexing listener questions. Demo pilot Major Garrett “Toro” Schmitz and crew chief Staff Sergeant Austin Dixon explain what the team is, what they do, how they differ from the Thunderbirds, and so much more. Be sure to follow them on Instagram (@viperdemoteam) and Facebook to learn more and catch their next performance.

Episode 45 hero Mike “T-DAY” Torrealday returns to guest co-host this episode, adding valuable insight to the discussion and answering other listener questions such sneezing in flight, canopy considerations in inclement weather, preflight rituals, whether an American F-14 pilot could fly an Iranian Tomcat, and more.


Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Nov 12, 2019
Veterans Day Message

A holiday message adapted from a November 11, 1919 address by President Woodrow Wilson.

Nov 11, 2019
FPP061 - F-22 Raptor

There may be no better fighter in history or currently flying than the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Designed as an air superiority fighter to replace the F-15 Eagle, the Raptor combines advanced sensors, stealth, and exquisite flight controls and thrust vectoring into a lethal platform.

On this episode, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Terry “Stretch” Scott joins us to describe the Raptor’s amazing features, weapons, performance, and more. He also helps answer a listener question on what it’s like to fly a fighter during extended ocean crossings, often lasting 12 hours or more!

Returning to the show as a guest co-host is episode 59 star Dave “Chip” Berke, retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel and former F-22 exchange pilot. During the listener question segment, he discusses historical paradigms of aircraft design, what is included when discussing the bomb weight classes, how to handle not getting your first choice in flight school, and the difference between blue and green / brown water flight operations.

At the end of the episode we say goodbye and thank you to Sunshine, who hangs up his co-host hat as his day job demands more of his time and attention. Fair winds, shipmate!

Episode artwork photo credit to Daniel Vorbach. Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Nov 02, 2019
FPP060 - MiG-29 Fulcrum

Arms races have existed as long as humans have been warring and the Cold War was no exception. In the late 1970’s the U.S. fielded the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F/A-18 Hornet air superiority fighters. The Soviet Union, meanwhile, fielded its own advanced fighter that was in many ways superior. With amazing agility, a high thrust-to-weight ratio, and a helmet-mounted sight with associated high off-boresight weapon, the MiG-29 Fulcrum was a credible opponent to the West.

On this episode, retired Indian Air Force Air Marshal Harish “Fulcrum 1” Masand phones in from Central India to describe the MiG-29 and his key role inducting the Fulcrum into the IAF. He describes the variants, weapons, and how it was so easy to fly that he was able to put on aerial demonstrations with only 20 hours of experience in the Fulcrum. Read more about Air Marshal Masand’s experience flying the MiG-29, fighting it against a Mirage 2000, and why he lovingly referred to the it as the “Super Hunter.”

Guest co-host Darin “Wang” Chung from episode 26 joins us after the interview to describe his experiences training against Malaysian MiG-29s during one of his Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet unit deployments. There is no listener question segment in this episode.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. Episode artwork adapted from original photography by Rich Cooper. This episode was produced by our friends at the MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Oct 22, 2019

The Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Company is an elite Marine Corps unit tasked with coordinating various fires for their attached ground units. Tactical aviators are often chosen to lead these elements because of their unique perspective, having themselves previously supported ground forces from the air. It can be a harrowing experience for the aviators who leave the relative safety of their aircraft to slug it out in gritty ground combat, shoulder-to-shoulder with their brethren. On the other hand, it can be an experience like no other.

On this episode, retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Dave “Chip” Berke joins us to describe his time leading an ANGLICO unit during the height of fighting in Ramadi, Iraq. His exploits are described in extensive depth during his appearance on episode 69 of the Jocko Podcast, which should be considered a prerequisite prior to listening to this episode where we focus on Chip’s actual tactical control of aircraft as a ground FAC.

During the listener question segment, Jell-O and guest co-host Dave “Chili” Culpepper from episode 55, address painting “CAG birds,” the difference between aggressors and adversaries, and staying mentally firm when attempting to land on a carrier during difficult situations.

Episode artwork by Janek Krause. Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This episode was produced by our friends at The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Oct 12, 2019
FPP058 - Eurofighter Typhoon

If someone asked you about the modern delta-wing European fighter jet with canards, you might rightly respond, “which one?”  To be sure, the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Saab Gripen all share similar features. Why is that? And how do we distinguish between them? Thankfully we found someone to help.

On this episode, German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Lorenz “Enzo” Schaffelhofer shares how to distinguish his favorite, the Eurofighter Typhoon, from the other aircraft and why he feels it is the superior fighter. Hold on tight while we describe the amazing performance of this cutting-edge fighter and how, with a more capable missile than the AIM-120D AMRAAM, it could be even more lethal.

During the listener question segment, host Jell-O and cohost Sunshine discuss military aircraft lots versus blocks, thoughts on a choice for Canada’s CF-18 Hornet replacement, some broad ideas on how to succeed in ROTC, and differences between East and West Coast Navy squadrons.

Don’t forget to do your homework prior to the next episode! Catch our future guest Dave “Chip” Berke’s previous appearance on the Jocko Podcast. We’ll be delving into his time as a ground FAC in Ramadi, Iraq.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. This show was produced by our friends at The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network.

Oct 02, 2019
FPP058 - Eurofighter Typhoon

If someone asked you about the modern delta-wing European fighter jet with canards, you might rightly respond, “which one?”  To be sure, the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Saab Gripen all share similar features. Why is that? And how do we distinguish between them? Thankfully we found someone to help.

On this episode, German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Lorenz “Enzo” Schaffelhofer shares how to distinguish his favorite, the Eurofighter Typhoon, from the other aircraft and why he feels it is the superior fighter. Hold on tight while we describe the amazing performance of this cutting-edge fighter and how, with a more capable missile than the AIM-120D AMRAAM, it could be even more lethal.

During the listener question segment, host Jell-O and cohost Sunshine discuss military aircraft lots versus blocks, thoughts on a choice for Canada’s CF-18 Hornet replacement, some broad ideas on how to succeed in ROTC, and differences between East and West Coast Navy squadrons.

Don’t forget to do your homework prior to the next episode! Catch our future guest Dave “Chip” Berke’s previous appearance on the Jocko Podcast. We’ll be delving into his time as a ground FAC in Ramadi, Iraq.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. Produced by The Muscle Car Place Podcast Network.

Oct 02, 2019
FPP057 - C-2 Greyhound

Everyone loves the sleek fighter jets, hovering attack planes, and other glamorous war machines that make the headlines and capture our attention, but few give more than a fleeting thought to the many other aircraft that perform crucial, yet unremarkable missions. One of those missions is logistical support, and only one airplane in history has been designed from the beginning to perform that mission to and from aircraft carriers.

On this episode, retired US Navy Lieutenant Commander Julio “JLO” Galvan joins us to discuss the Grumman C-2 Greyhound and the crucial carrier onboard delivery role it plays for carrier strike groups around the globe. Although not as flashy as a frontline fighter, the Greyhound performs a vital role in moving personnel, equipment, supplies, and even mail from ship to shore and vice versa. It can even be used to deploy parachuting SEALs, as depicted in this YouTube video.

During the listener question segment, Jell-O and Sunshine again discuss collateral duties in a Navy single-seat F/A-18 squadron, what constitutes a flight hour, whether the flight training pipeline does a good job of weeding out unfit student aviators, and if the “right stuff” actually exists.

New “cargo” bumper song by Jaime Lopez. Bumper announcements by Clint Bell

Sep 22, 2019
Bonus Episode - FB Live Q&A Replay

This bonus episode returns us to our three-episode-per-month format, airing on the 2nd, 12th, and 22nd of each month. It is a replay of our early July 2019 Facebook Live question & answer session with episode 50 guest, retired US Navy Commander Jerry "Turkey" Tucker. Enjoy!

Sep 12, 2019
FPP056 - AV-8 Harrier

The Harrier is unique in that it is capable of taking off and landing in extremely short distances—or even vertically—thanks to swiveling exhaust nozzles and augmented flight controls. This feature, originally adapted for a cold war scenario, is particularly useful for shipboard amphibious operations.

On this episode, retired US Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Jeff “Magwa” Scott explains how the Harrier came to be, what it’s like to fly (and hover), and how it is in some ways preferable to the F-35B currently replacing it. DCS players will be thrilled to know Razbam is giving away three Harrier modules for our listeners. Click here to enter.

During the listener question segment, Jell-O and Sunshine discuss aircrew interactions with other aircraft carrier personnel, mental exercises prior to flight, whether aircraft float, and how speedbrake placement is decided during aircraft design.

Episode artwork by Janek Krause. Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. Episode production by The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Sep 09, 2019
FPP055 - Forward Air Controllers

Of the many facets of military aviation, perhaps no other is as consequential to the outcome of an armed conflict then the prosecution of ground targets. When those targets are in close proximity to friendly forces, detailed coordination is required between the ground commander and air assets to ensure the proper targets are attacked in an appropriate way. The conduit for that coordination is the JTAC, or Joint Terminal Attack Controller. An aviator filling this role is known as a Forward Air Controller, or FAC.

On this episode, retired US Navy Captain David “Chili” Culpepper joins us to describe nuances of being a FAC—drawing on his vast experiences piloting both the F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18F Super Hornet as an airborne FAC, or FAC(A). Arguably the most difficult aerial mission aircrew perform, a FAC(A) must balance the availability of air assets with a dynamic and ever-changing ground situation and complex command and control, all while flying. This largely explains why US Navy and Marine FAC(A) missions are only flown in two-seat tactical aircraft where the mission chores can be divided between the crew.

During the listener question segment, Jell-O and Sunshine discuss what happens when a pilot is afflicted with Vertigo, reasons why the F-14 Tomcat was retired, duplicate aircrew callsigns, and favorite flight suit patches.

Episode artwork by Janek Krause. Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. Episode production by The MuscleCar Place Podcast Network.

Aug 26, 2019
FPP054 - V-22 Osprey

When it comes to military aircraft, most enthusiasts are familiar with the subcategories airplanes and helicopters, and the differing ways they generate lift. The former propels one or more stationary wings through the airstream and thus requires a relatively high minimum flying speed. The latter rotates multiple overhead wings, which facilitates flight in a stationary hover but typically at the expense of a relatively slow top speed.

A less-well known third category combines the best features of airplanes and helicopters into one highly effective platform.  Powered Lift air vehicles feature short or vertical takeoffs and landings as well as high top speeds—offering a tremendous advantage in military operations. The powered lift category features only three aircraft: the AV-8B Harrier, the ‘B’ variant of the F-35 Lightning II, and the subject of this week’s show: the V-22 Osprey.

On this episode, US Marine Corps Reserve Major Josh “Sweet Pea” Smith joins us to discuss the Osprey in depth: from its tumultuous development, to the variants flown by three of the four US military branches, to its weapons systems, and more. Sweet Pea further describes what it’s like to pilot an Osprey—whether loaded with Marines or in the service of our country’s top governmental leadership.

During the listener question segment, Jell-O and Sunshine discuss supersonic flight restrictions, carrier obsolescence, ordnance selection for uncertain mission tasking, and whether Cold War and older aircraft will be featured on coming episodes.

New Powered Lift bumper music by Jaime Lopez. Episode artwork by Janek Krause. Bumper announcements by Clint Bell.

Aug 12, 2019
FPP053 - F-4 Phantom II (part 2)

And we're back!

On this episode we conclude last week's discussion with former F-4 pilot John "Tiger" Kerr and RIO Jack "Fingers" Ensch, both retired US Naval aviators.  Hold on to your hats as we talk Vietnam-conflict shoot downs, shot downs, POW stories, and how they earned their callsigns.

Episode artwork by Janek Krause.  Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell.

Jul 29, 2019
FPP052 - F-4 Phantom II (part 1)

Few aircraft so prominently define their eras as the McDonell F-4 Phantom II does the 1960s and the Vietnam conflict.  Initially imagined as a fighter and later an interceptor, the Phantom II eventually entered service as a fighter-bomber that set numerous speed and altitude records, was responsible for much of the bombing and air-to-air kills over Vietnam, and was later used extensively in SEAD and reconnaissance roles.  The F-4 was a truly versatile—and effective—aircraft.

On this episode, former US Navy F-4 Phantom pilot Rear Admiral John “Tiger” Kerr and RIO Captain Jack “Fingers” Ensch, both since retired, join us to answer our standard ‘aircraft series’ questions on this iconic aircraft and what it was like to fly and fight it.  They return on the next episode to continue the stimulating discussion.

This week, hosts Jell-O and Sunshine catch up on phoned-in listener questions offering advice for getting the most out of the ROTC program, answering when we will feature certain aircraft on the show, opining on career paths for TOPGUN graduates, and discussing what happens when military aircraft crash into civilian infrastructure.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell.  Episode artwork by Janek Krause.

Jul 22, 2019
FPP051 - SR-71 Blackbird

There are military aircraft that contribute to shaping US foreign policy.  There are some that usher in cutting edge technology.  Others set speed and altitude records.  A few capture the lifelong imaginations of children and aviation enthusiasts alike.

And then there’s the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.

Brainchild of legendary aeronautical engineer, Kelly Johnson, the Blackbird did it all as we learn on this episode with retired US Air Force Brian “Punchy” Shul.  Known for his infamous ground speed story and numerous books—including Sled Driver—Brian offers a detailed look at what it took to build and fly the Blackbird, and how it played a significant role in shaping President Reagan’s negotiations with the Soviet Union.  The SR-71 Blackbird is a truly iconic aircraft.

Now a renowned key note speaker, author, and aviation and nature photographer, Brian is the curator of Gallery One in Marysville, Calif.

Please support our sponsors by visiting Call the Ball Simulators.  Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.  Announcements by Clint Bell.  Episode artwork by Janek Krause.

Jul 08, 2019
FPP050 - F-8 Crusader

The first recorded account of two aircraft engaging in aerial combat occurred in late November 1913 during the Mexican Revolution.  The pilots, both American ‘soldiers of fortune’ on opposing sides of the conflict, engaged each other (unsuccessfully) with handheld pistols in otherwise unarmed aircraft.

The gun—and soon after, the cannon—quickly became the primary weapon for air-to-air “dogfighting” and was incorporated in various calibers and locations into virtually all combat aircraft for the next 50 years, through two world wars and numerous armed conflicts.  Until the advent of the air-to-air missile, the gunfighters ruled the skies.

On this episode, retired US Navy Commander Jerry “Turkey” Tucker joins us to discuss the “last of the gunfighters,” the Vought F-8 Crusader.  Designed as a supersonic dogfighter, the Crusader ushered in the era of A/A missiles and, indeed, most of its kills in the Vietnam conflict were achieved with early versions of the AIM-9 Sidewinder.  Turkey regales us not just with what it was like to fly and fight the Crusader but the many other aircraft he flew, including the F-4 Phantom II and A-4 Skyhawk as a two-time demonstration pilot for the US Navy Blue Angels.

Due to the length of the interview, no listener questions are addressed on this episode.  For those craving a second helping of Turkey, another serving can be found on our Patreon page where edited parts of the interview are available as bonus content.

Episode artwork by Janek Krause.  Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell.

Jun 24, 2019
Intermission - Aircrew Interviews Replay

We're taking a pause this week and replaying co-host Sunshine's recent two-part appearance on Aircrew Interviews, a YouTube channel aviation show.

Jun 12, 2019
FPP049 - Sharpening the Spear

Virtually everything requires periodic maintenance and upkeep.  Think about it: our cars, our homes, our health, relationships… you name it—if it operates, functions, or has value, odds are precious resources are required to keep it so.  And yet, very little attention is paid by the public or Hollywood to this irrefutable fact.

But since this show tells the story of military aviation, on this episode we take a break from the glamorous planes and amazing weapons to explore what it takes to keep a 1,000-foot long, 10-story tall, $8B, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier protecting the nation’s interests on the world’s seas.  Joining us to help describe this massive undertaking is US Navy Captain Matthew “Pappy” Paradise, commanding officer of the USS Carl Vinson, and Mr. Mike Irby, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard project lead for the Vinson’s current ‘availability’ period—as a carrier in drydock is known.

During the listener question segment, Jell-O and Sunshine address Navy VFA squadron organization, loneliness in flight, the effect of dihedral on pulling Gs, the differences between the Naval Academy and ROTC when it comes to flight school performance, and more.

Episode artwork by Janek Krause.  Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell.  Our thanks to the public affairs offices of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Carl Vinson for making this episode possible.

Jun 02, 2019
FPP048 - Panavia Tornado

Anyone who watched early superhero shows years ago recalls opening scenes where bystanders gawking skyward exclaim, “Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird!… It’s a plane! It’s…” (…of course, we all know, it’s Superman!).

But when the subject of today’s episode blasts overhead, folks might similarly cry, “it’s a fighter!...  “It’s a deep interdictor striker!...”  “It’s a reconnaissance craft!”  …Well, which is it?

On this episode, retired Royal Air Force flight lieutenant Cameron Mckay (and his alter ego, “Dangerman”) joins us to explain that the Panavia Tornado is all of those, and so much more.  Jointly designed by the UK, Italy, and—at the time, West Germany, the Tornado admirably served these three nations and Saudi Arabia for over four decades, seeing action in numerous armed conflicts.  Today, the aircraft is on its way to retirement but the “Fin,” as aircrew lovingly referred to it, is still a favorite.

During the listener question segment Jell-O (Sunshine is away) discusses F/A-18 angle of attack probe contingencies, mission specialization among US Navy and Marine Corps VFA squadrons, and ‘newbie’ yellow shirt considerations.

Opening audio taken from an actual Tornado strike on an Iraqi airfield during the 1991 Gulf War.  Opening “attack song” and closing “fighter song” composed and performed by Jaime Lopez.  Special thanks to Clint Bell Productions for the bumper announcements.

May 22, 2019
FPP047 - A-6 Intruder

They say fighter pilots make movies while attack pilots make history. So, what happens when a former attack pilot writes a book—his first ever—that so accurately and engagingly captures Vietnam combat operations that it ends up on President Reagan’s desk before soaring up New York Times’ best seller charts? That’s right, they make a movie out of it.

On this episode, the Fighter Pilot Podcast is honored to host world renowned author and retired US Navy Reserve Commander Stephen “Cooter” Coonts. With nearly 50 aviation-themed books to his credit—including his out-of-the-gate runaway success, Flight of the Intruder—Mr. Coonts not only regales us with how he came to be such a prolific writer but, oh yeah, continues us along our aircraft series with a detailed explanation of the Grumman A-6 Intruder.

At the end of the discussion Mr. Coonts offers a sneak peek into what projects he is working on next, including a diversion from his typical fictional accounts for his latest work, Dragon’s Jaw, due out May 14, 2019 and available here.

Due to having a distinguished visitor on the show, there is no listener question segment on this episode. Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell. Episode artwork by Janek Krause.

May 12, 2019
FPP046 - Blue Angels Transitions

The US Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Blue Angels, has amazed audiences with incredible aerial performances since their debut in 1946 flying the propeller-driven F6F Hellcat.  In the 73 years since, the team has transitioned to the Bearcat and then jets including the Panther, Cougar, Tiger, Phantom II, and Skyhawk.  For the last 33 years the team has operated the Hornet.  With each new aircraft comes several changes, seen and unseen, to their routine and how contingencies are handled.

On this episode, US Navy Captain Ryan “Little Guido” Bernacchi joins us to discuss the ongoing efforts to transition the team to their future aircraft: the F/A-18 Super Hornet.  As the Blue Angels commanding officer during the 2016 and 2017 show seasons, Little Guido is uniquely suited to lead the effort that involves numerous Naval Aviation Enterprise stakeholders and hundreds of simulator hours to prepare the maneuvers and in-flight contingency plans.  With an appreciation of the immense behind-the-scenes efforts required, you may never again watch a Blue Angels performance in quite the same way.

Due to the longer interview, no listener questions were addressed on this episode.  Bonus segments of co-host Sunshine’s interview with Little Guido are available on our Patreon page.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez / announcements by Clint Bell.

May 02, 2019
FPP045 - F-16 Fighting Falcon

The Sopwith Camel, P-51 Mustang, F-86 Sabre, and F-4 Phantom II may all be the quintessential fighters of their era, from World War I through the Vietnam conflict.  And from Desert Storm to today, few would dispute the aircraft that most deserves to join such an esteemed group is none other than the General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) F-16 Fighting Falcon—better known as simply, the Viper.

On this episode, retired US Air Force Reserve Colonel Mike “T-DAY” Torrealday, who amassed over 4,000 flight hours in nearly every block and variant of the Viper over a 29-year career, joins us to discuss this amazing fighter as a continuation of our ‘aircraft series.’  T-DAY describes the many variants, flight envelope, ordnance inventory, and so much more.  Read about the F-16N here.

During the listener question segment, we discuss wristwatches, multi-mission aircraft versus specialized aircraft, and dogfighting the F/A-18 versus other ‘teen’ fighters.

Bumper announcements by Clint Bell / music by Jaime Lopez.  Artwork by Janek Krause.

Apr 22, 2019
FPP044 - A-10 Thunderbolt ll


The sound of an aircraft cannon firing is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying, depending on which side of the barrels a person finds themselves.  And while most combat aircraft have featured guns and cannons since the dawn of aerial battle, no aircraft is more known for—or respected for—its gun than the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt ll and it’s tank-busting 30mm GAU-8 Avenger cannon.

On this episode, retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Luke “Supa” Fricke joins the Fighter Pilot Podcast to discuss the purpose-built Warthog—as the pilots affectionately refer to it—and answers all our usual questions featured in the ongoing ‘aircraft series.’  As an added bonus to this discussion for DCS players in the audience five copies of the Enemy Within 3.0 campaign created by team member Baltic Dragon will be given away.  Click here to enter.

During the listener questions segment, we discuss aircraft carrier alert postures, officer-enlisted relationships, and the rudder’s importance in ACM.

New episode bumper announcements provided by Clint Bell.  Music by Jaime Lopez.  Artwork by Janek Krause.

Apr 12, 2019
Intermission - Listener Questions

We've been cranking out quite a bit of content lately and need to take a little time off while the kids are on spring break.

So for this week's episode, Sunshine and Jell-O banter a bit before answering a few listener questions.  We end with an edited replay of Jell-O's January 9, 2019 appearance answering yet more listener questions on the show Aircrew Interviews.

Apr 02, 2019
FPP043 - F-5 Freedom Fighter / Tiger ll

Everyone recognizes the F-14 as the star of the 1986 hit movie Top Gun, but few can readily identify the Western fighter that acted as the Tomcat’s nemesis—a role it was perfectly suited for and still performs for the US Navy and Marine Corps daily.

On this episode, retired US Navy Reserve Commander Paco Chierici joins us to describe how the Northrop F-5 began life in the 1950’s as the ‘Freedom Fighter’ but became and is now known as the Tiger ll, still flying 60 years later as a capable adversary aircraft.  Paco—the mastermind behind the naval aviation documentary Speed & Angels and author of the upcoming novel, Lions of the Sky—not only answers our standard ‘aircraft series’ questions but goes on to tell us about the time he was involved in a mishap in the F-5 that nearly cost him his life.

During the listener question segment, Jell-O and Sunshine opine on why a bachelor’s degree is a requirement to be a military pilot and who would have prevailed had the two of them dueled it out in the skies.  Negative G limits, reasons for the Blue Angels’ flight control modifications, and entry-level pay and benefits for military pilots are also covered.

Click here to read the Flying with the Aggressors article mentioned in the interview and check out our Patreon page for bonus content with Paco.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.  Episode artwork by Janek Krause.

Mar 22, 2019
FPP042 - F-14 Tomcat

Of all the fighter planes to ever take to the sky, perhaps none is more recognized, more revered, than the venerable Grumman F-14 Tomcat.  Made popular by movies such as The Final Countdown and, of course, Top Gun—not to mention real world heroics off the coast of Libya in the 1980s and Desert Storm in the early 90s—the F-14 is no stranger to attention.

But what was it like to fly?  Why is it so big?  Why did the A model have one brand of engine and subsequent models another…?

On this episode, former US Navy F-14 pilot and RIO crew Commander Roy “SYFH” Wylie (retired) and Captain John “Cosmo” DePree join us to address these questions and many more—including several listener questions, such as the rivalry between Tomcat and Hornet squadrons, bird strikes around the carrier, the procedures for when a weapon fails to release, and large explosions.

The in depth look at this illustrious aircraft comes just in time for the Heatblur Simulation F-14 release for DCS World.  For more information check out the Heatblur website or our DCS SME Jabbers’ YouTube channel.

 Bumper music by Slater Aiello of Jam & Slate.

Mar 12, 2019
FPP041 - Dassault Rafale

The SEPECAT Jaguar, Vought F-8 Crusader, Mirage F-1, Mirage 2000, Dassault Étendard and later the Super Étendard were all remarkable aircraft designed to do one or two missions well.  But what may be most noteworthy about these aircraft is that they were all replaced by just one model: the incredibly-capable Dassault Rafale.

We conduct our first remote interview this week, welcoming Lieutenant Pierre “Até” Chuet of the French Navy who phoned in from the United Kingdom to answer our standard ‘aircraft series’ questions.  Até paints a remarkable picture of the one aircraft that replaced so many others and currently serves as the frontline fighter for the French Navy and Air Force, as well as export countries.

During the listener question segment, we discuss the psychology of killing in war, personal camera regulations, left-handed F-16 pilots, and overhead break permissions at the ship.  DCS aficionados: keep an eye on our Patreon page for developments and be sure to check out our new team member Baltic Dragon’s Facebook page.

Episode artwork by Janek Krause.  Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Mar 02, 2019
FPP040 - H-60 (Black / Sea) Hawk

Few Western aerospace design and manufacturing firms can boast an aircraft so successful that it is flown by every branch of the US military, plus the Coast Guard and dozens of countries, with over 4,000 aircraft being built in dozens of configurations.  No, it’s not the Lockheed C-130 Hercules or Bell UH-1 Huey.  We’re talking the Sikorsky H-60 helicopter.

Joining us this episode to discuss the numerous H-60 variants (Blackhawk and Seahawk primarily, but also the Jayhawk and Pavehawk) is US Navy Commander Jeremiah Ragadio.  “FRANK,” a career Seahawk pilot currently in training to assume a leadership position in a sea-going MH-60R squadron, offers a fascinating look at not only all the H-60 variants, but its armament and performance as well.

During the listener question segment we discuss land-based Navy squadrons, S-3 radio limitations, and aircraft carrier landing F/A-18E/F weight limits and ordnance considerations.  Click here to read the latest ‘Musing’ on our website and here to view our inaugural ‘Deep Dive’ video.

Bumper announcements by Jim Hendershot; bumper music by Jaime Lopez.  Episode artwork by Janek Krause.

Feb 22, 2019
FPP039 - A-7 Corsair ll

In the early 1960’s the US Navy began a program for a carrier-based attack aircraft to replace the A-4 Skyhawk.  Two requirements were specified to ensure a lethal platform at the lowest possible cost: accurate weapons delivery and a design based on an existing aircraft.  The Ling-Temco-Vought team’s winning proposal, based on Vought’s F-8 Crusader, became the LTV A-7 Corsair ll.

This week, retired US Navy Captain Tom “Demon” Mitchell joins us to describe the single-engine Corsair ll—including the variants, armament, strengths & weaknesses, and more.  You’ll be amazed at Demon’s stories, not just of the Corsair ll but of the life and experiences of a career carrier aviator during the tumultuous 60s and 70s.

During the listener question segment, we discuss mishap involvement, faith, the importance of FCLPs, and how improperly dispensed expendables are handled.  Don’t forget to check out the SHOP page on our website for Fighter Pilot Podcast-themed apparel and household items.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Feb 12, 2019
FPP038 - S-3 Viking

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union fielded a formidable navy—both above and below the surface.  In response, the United States Navy required a carrier-based, fixed-wing aircraft with long on-station time and an extensive air-to-surface and -subsurface avionics sweet and weapons capability.  The result was the twin-turbofan, high-wing Lockheed Martin S-3 Viking.

On this episode, retired US Navy Commander David “Deke” Slayton joins us to discuss S-3 variants, which weapons it can carry, why it looks the way it does, and much more.  And turns out, Deke was an S-3 instructor when co-host Sunshine received his initial fleet training in the Viking—an aircraft he would fly before later transitioning to the F/A-18 Hornet.

During the listener question segment, we dig a little deeper into the Mutha trophy, discuss the purpose of exchange programs, talk about the relevance of a gun on combat fighters, stereotypes for military pilots, the need to self-assess before flight, and brushes with death.

Click here to check out Wings Over America and support scholarships for military dependents. To compliment the interview, click here to order Brad Elward’s authoritative book, S-3 Viking in Action.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Feb 02, 2019
FPP037 - F/A-18 (Super) Hornet

What was it designed to do?  What does it do well?  What ordnance does it carry?  Why does it look the way it does…?

…These are a few of the questions retired US Navy lieutenant commander Q “BBQ” Sterling answers while explaining the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet on this, our inaugural ‘aircraft series’ episode.  These same questions will be posed to guests in future episodes on a variety military aircraft. 

The unique, dual designation fighter and attack Hornet is renowned for its lethality and reliability.  The follow-on, larger Super Hornet offers improved systems and avionics, with two additional weapons stations and more “bring back” than its predecessor.  Click here to learn more about Brad Elward’s authoritative book chronicling the Super Hornet development.

During the listener question segment, we discuss aircraft selection regrets, aircrew anthropometric limitations, where Sunshine and Jell-O were on 9/11, and what the Mutha trophy is.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Jan 22, 2019
FPP036 - 4th vs 5th Gen Fighters

Just as humans are broadly generalized as Baby Boomers or Millennials, etc., so too are fighter aircraft lumped into categories—only it has less to do when they are born (or what we would call, IOC) and more to do with various capabilities such as speed, maneuverability, avionics, and weaponry.  And what’s more—with upgrades, some aircraft change generations.

On this episode, US Air Force Major John “Skosh” Searcy joins Sunshine on his first solo interview to explain the different fighter categories, from the earliest and least capable 1st generation (or, simply, ‘Gen’) to the modern, highly capable 5th Gen fighters.  Much of the discussion centers on the differences between the current slate of 4th Gen fighters (F-15, -16, F/A-18, etc) to the F-22 and, specifically, F-35, which Skosh currently flies as a Test Pilot.

During the listener question segment, we cover cold weather carrier operations, squadron naming conventions, ejection hazards with NVGs, aircraft personality with fly-by-wire, and the connection between the radar and CIT.

Don’t forget to check out our friends at Volatus Wines!  Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Jan 12, 2019
FPP035 - UFOs

Convinced we're alone in the universe?  Think everyone who believes in UFOs is a lot like Randy Quaid’s character, Russel, in 20th Century Fox’s original Independence Day?

Get ready to entertain doubts after listening to this week’s episode with retired US Navy Commander David “Sex” Fravor (you may recognize him from numerous appearances on the 2008 PBS series, Carrier).  You’ll be amazed to hear events that transpired off the coast of Mexico in November 2004—events witnessed not just by Commander Fravor but by three other aviators in his flight and several others on subsequent flights.

Cutting edge technology from the AEGIS radar system aboard the USS Princeton, a nearby Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, to the Super Hornet’s radar and TFLIR systems recorded the day’s events.  And yet, doubts and questions linger as to what was actually witnessed.  The listener will have to decide for him- or herself.

 During the listener question segment of this episode, we discuss mid-90’s flight simulators, math formulae used airborne, air intercepts, and IFF use in training.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Jan 02, 2019
Bonus Episode - Year in Review

Join Vincent and special guest Rob Kibbe, host of The Musclecar Place, for an intimate look back at the Fighter Pilot Podcast’s first year and what’s coming in 2019.

Dec 31, 2018
FPP034 - The Home Front

Some suggest the most difficult job in the military is not the force recon Marine, nuclear reactor officer, fighter pilot, or even Navy SEAL … but rather the military spouse. 

Independent, resilient, and resourceful, military spouses face challenges beyond that of other professions—except without the formal training.  Part nurse, part mechanic, occasional therapist, and frequent single parent, military spouses are indeed a unique breed.  And despite repeated relocations and extended separations from loved ones, incredibly many spouses manage these and innumerable other challenges while pursuing professional careers of their own.

On this episode, Beth Aiello and Kristen Sinclair join their show host husbands Vincent and Brian for an intimate look at life as a Navy spouse.  Fielding listener questions such as how they handle the risks associated with their husbands’ careers, how they cope with deployments lasting up to eight months—especially when children enter the picture, and what it’s like to have to move every couple years, Beth and Kristen offer a sobering look at not only the most difficult job in the military, but arguably the most under-appreciated also.

Opening bumper music “Letters From Home” (Warner Bros. Nashville, performed by John Michael Montgomery) used without permission.  Closing bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Dec 21, 2018
FPP033 - The Wingman Foundation

If aviation itself is an inherently unforgiving activity, then how much more so naval aviation—which routinely involves formation flying, ship landings, night vision goggle usage and… of course, the enemy?  When tragedy strikes—as it frequently does—the US Government cares for family members of the fallen, as well as the parent unit but, inevitably, response times can sometimes be lengthy and expenses can exceed those payable by the government, per law.  Oftentimes, the family and squadron need someone to come alongside to provide a little extra help.  That’s where The Wingman Foundation comes in.

Founded by three US Marine Corps aviators in 2014, the non-profit foundation strives to “honor the sacrifices of our fallen air warriors and support the families they've left behind.”  Retired CWO3 Ricky “Leroy” Savage, USMC, joins us on this episode to describe how the foundation does so, particularly in response to recent high-profile mishaps worldwide.  The Fighter Pilot Podcast is proud to announce a partnership with the foundation—helping promote their mission and offering podcast listeners a convenient way to shoulder some of the grief when tragedy strikes.

This episode also features a brief overview of the Wings Over America Scholarship Foundation, a non-profit foundation founded in 1987 that provides “college scholarships to dependent children and spouses of all US Navy personnel—officer and enlisted.”

During the listener question segment, we again address simulators, discuss whether specific dogfighting maneuvers are decided formulaically, and cover how prevalent smoking is among the fighter pilot ranks.

Dec 11, 2018
FPP032 - Air-to-Air Missions

Sweep, point defense, close escort, high-value airborne asset protection…

These are just a few of the many air-to-air missions modern US fighter pilots may be required to perform in the course of their duties.  Each requires significant pre-mission planning to analyze how various constraints and limitations might affect execution.

Here to describe these missions and associated planning factors is former enlisted US Marine, then naval flight officer, now pilot and fighter attack squadron commander—Lieutenant Colonel Mark “SNOTY” Bortnem, US Marine Corps.  He offers not only a fascinating explanation of each mission and planning factor, but a sobering overview of the mindset he imbues in each of his pilots.

During the listener question segment we address the importance of simulators, the presence (or not) of aircraft manufacturer representatives on deployment, and how to avoid shooting down the wrong aircraft during a heated, multi-aircraft dog fight.

Holiday-themed bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Dec 01, 2018
FPP031 - Air Intercept Communications

Taken out of context, Stephen Hawking’s comment, “all we need to do is make sure we keep talking,” does not apply to aerial engagements.  In complex and dynamic scenarios with multiple fighter elements on both sides—some closing on each other at well over 1,000 knots—more is not better.  Clear, concise, standardized (and minimal) communications are essential to ensure situational awareness and, thus, success.

Join US Navy Commander Alan “Niles” Schiaffino on this episode as we discuss air-to-air fighter engagement communications.  As an E-2 Hawkeye NFO and former aircraft carrier operations officer, Niles has a unique perspective on battlegroup communications from the tactical to the strategic.  He also answers listener questions on the West’s octal IFF system and foreign intrusion flights.

During the listener question segment, the hosts describe their favorite missions (see Sunshine’s Tomahawk chase flight here) and why some aircraft, such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, have gold-tinted canopies.

Episode artwork by Janek Krause.  Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Nov 21, 2018
FPP030 - Expendables

Advancements in weapons technology and lethality have spawned countermeasures for as long as humans have been warring.  With the broadsword came plate armor.  For arrows it was shields.  And with the advent of radar, infrared tracking, and active missiles—came chaff, flares, and jammers.

On this episode, Utah Air National Guard Major Sean “Bauer” Demeter joins us to discuss the various countermeasures military aircraft employ to defend against surface- and air-to-air threats.  Bauer also touches on ANG career paths and fighter squadron deployments to South Korea.

During the listener question segment, we discuss tactical performance tracking methods, whether there was a cover up with Duke and Willy D’s shootdown, why US fifth-generation fighters are only single-seat, and more.

Photo credit: US Air Force.  Bumper music: Jaime Lopez.

Nov 11, 2018
Intermission - FB Live Discussion Replay

A replay of the September 28 Facebook live discussion with retired US Navy Captain Kevin "Hozer" Miller.

Nov 01, 2018
FPP029 - Fighter Pilots in Space

Ever wonder why so many astronauts are (and were) former fighter pilots?  Could it be that flight training is good preparation for astronaut training and thus acts as a natural selection process?  Maybe.  Or it could be that flying fighter jets attracts a certain type of person who enjoys challenges, works well under pressure, handles disorienting situations, manages risk, and—most importantly—performs well as part of a team.

The space program seeks these same people.

Climb aboard this episode as NASA astronaut and US Navy Captain Scott “Maker” Tingle describes how his previous career as an F/A-18 pilot and test pilot prepared him for the rigors of the astronaut application process and subsequent training program.  Marvel at his account of blasting into space on a Russian-made Soyuz rocket, then spending nearly six months on the International Space Station before returning safely to earth in June 2018—experiences that certainly change anyone’s outlook on life, and our world.

Due to the length of the interview there is no listener question segment on this episode.  Original artwork by Janek Krause.  Space Oddity cover by Jaime Lopez.

Oct 21, 2018
FPP028 - Air Combat Simulation Gaming

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to fly a high-performance military jet fighter but now anyone can enjoy the incredibly realistic air combat simulation platforms available on the market today.  From the astonishingly accurate aircraft recreation to the flawless graphics and imagery, air combat simulation is the next best thing for military aircraft aficionados, and without the long deployments!

On this episode, Mr. Matt Wagner of Eagle Dynamics joins us to discuss one of the most popular and most realistic platforms available today: Digital Combat Simulator.  We cover how DCS came to be and what’s coming in the future.  We also watch as our host Jell-O tries the Lot 20 F/A-18C simulation for the very first time and describes just how close it compares to the real thing (hint: it’s pretty darn close and his two years out of the cockpit really show!).

During the abbreviated listener question segment we address why some squadrons refer to themselves as “World Famous” and how fighters deal with contrails in tactical situations.  …and speaking of gaming, if you want something a little more casual, check out Sky Knights created by one of our Swedish listeners.

Episode music by Jaime Lopez.

Oct 11, 2018
FPP027 - USS Midway Museum

The Battle of Midway was a decisive US naval victory that turned the tide of World War ll.  As a result, the name ‘Midway’ has been assigned to everything from a high school in Texas to an airport in Chicago.

It is also the name of the longest serving American aircraft carrier of the 20th century.

Today, the USS Midway continues to serve as a museum on the San Diego waterfront.  Hosting thousands of visitors daily, the ship proudly features dozens of static aircraft displays and offers a glimpse of what daily life was like for its crew. 

The museum president and CEO, retired US Navy Rear Admiral John “Mac” McLaughlin joins us on this episode to explain not only the ship’s namesake battle and storied half-century of service, but of the deeper meaning of service and sacrifice in our modern, ever-changing society. 

During the listener question segment, we discuss whether squadrons undergo specific tactical training based on where they expect to deploy, if shutting down an engine is a viable tactic to save fuel in flight, and whether weight and balance is a constant concern for fighters.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.  Episode artwork by Janek Krause.

Oct 01, 2018
Bonus Episode - Facebook Live Listener Question Replay

A replay of the September 19 Facebook Live listener question session with episode 25 guest Mike "BS" Walsh.

Sep 26, 2018
FPP026 - The MAGTF

There may be a no more lethal or effective fighting unit than the Marine Air Ground Task Force.  Comprised of combat Marines on land, in the air, and from the sea, the MAGTF is equally capable massing its formidable firepower to overwhelm and defeat an adversary as applying its vast resources and logistics network to assist in disaster relief and humanitarian roles.

On this episode, retired US Marine Corps Major and former F/A-18 pilot Darin “Wang” Chung joins us to describe the various MAGTF components including the Air Combat Element comprised of nearly every aircraft in the Marine Corps inventory such as the AH-1, AV-8B, C-130, CH-53, F/A-18, F-35B, MV-22, and UH-1. 

Due to the interview length, this episode does not contain a listener question segment.  Episode music, 'Everybody Have Fun Tonight,' performed by Wang Chung, Geffen Records.  Artwork by Janek Krause.

Sep 21, 2018
Intermission - Tailhook Reunion

Jell-O and Sunshine met up in Reno, Nevada with hundreds of other Naval and Marine aviators for the annual Tailhook Convention and Reunion.  It was a great time to get together to not only celebrate life but to discuss different pressing matters at the various panels and meetings held over the weekend event.

This episode is a compilation of updates from past guests and shorts by a few friends of the podcast.  We will return to the normal format on episode 26.

Sep 11, 2018
FPP025 - Flight School (US Navy)

Doctors attend medical school.  Attorneys go to law school.  …Plumbers acquire the skills of their craft at a plumbing trade school.

So where do fighter pilots get their start?  Duh.  At flight school, of course.

The US Air Force and Navy maintain discrete flight schools.  While they share some aircraft (i.e. the Beechcraft / Raytheon T-6 Texan II) and occasionally exchange students and instructors, the two flight schools otherwise differ in their focus and execution.

We will talk about the Air Force’s school on a future episode but, for this week, join Major Mike “BS” Walsh—the podcast’s first US Marine Corps guest—as we delve into the US Navy flight school from beginning (immediately following commissioning) to end (FRS completion).  We discuss the syllabus, aircraft flown, training locations, what it takes to succeed, and what preparation (if any, arguably) students should undertake before attending.

Like med-, law-, and plumbing school, US Navy flight school is lengthy and arduous, but the rewards that follow are well worth the effort.

Due to the lengthy interview, this episode does not feature a listener question segment.  New bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Sep 01, 2018
FPP024 - Helicopters!

Troop transport, MEDEVAC, CSAR, ASW, VERTREP, special operations, ground attack… these are but a few of the many missions rotary-wing aircraft perform for militaries the world over, day in and day out.

But how do helicopters even fly?  How difficult is it to fly them?  Why do most have two pilots?  In the event of total power loss can they glide to an emergency landing like some airplanes?  How and why can some helicopters perform aerobatics but not others?

All this and more is discussed on this episode with US Navy Commander and H-60 Seahawk pilot Ron “Chadwick” Martin who schools the podcast host on all things helicopters.  And, yes, there are confirmed cases of helicopters shooting down fixed-wing aircraft.

During the listener question segment we discuss military flight operations while transiting allied territory, carrier hopping for airwings and squadrons, and more on drones.

Bumper music and audio clips borrowed from Apocalypse Now (1979, Francis Ford Coppola) and Full Metal Jacket (1987, Stanley Kubrick).  Episode art by Janek Krause.

Aug 21, 2018
FPP023 - The Distinguished Flying Cross

Besides notoriety, what do astronaut Alan Shepard, actor Clark Gable, aviatrix Amelia Earhart, and president George H. W. Bush all have in common?

Each distinguished him- or herself by heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.

Each acted in the face of danger, well above those actions performed by others engaged in similar flight operations, with results so exceptional as to render them conspicuous among those accomplished by others involved in similar circumstances. 

Each of these four brave Americans, and thousands more like them, was awarded the military’s fourth highest decoration: the Distinguished Flying Cross.

On this episode, learn all about the prestigious medal and the organization designed to promote its heritage with guest Chuck Sweeney, retired US Navy Commander and President and CEO of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society.  Learn how the medal was once awarded to civilians (like Amelia Earhart and Orville and Wilbur Wright) but is now reserved for military recipients.  Then find out how Chuck was awarded three DFCs following a particularly harrowing week of combat operations while piloting an A-4 Skyhawk during the Vietnam conflict.

Chuck’s stories, and those of thousands of other DFC recipients like him, are compiled in the riveting book, On Heroic Wings (available on Amazon).

During the listener question segment, we discuss helmet bags, go- / no-go pills, what my very first trap was like, whether I ever met “Lex” LeFon, and whether flying ever became ‘routine.’

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez. 

Aug 11, 2018
FPP022 - Test Pilot School

No matter how well designed a military aircraft may be, it will always require extensive testing and evaluation to ensure it performs as intended.  And even when it does, sometimes unforeseen complications arise—such as when weapons catastrophically collide with the aircraft after release.  This too requires extensive testing.  But who performs this testing?

Why, test pilots, of course.

On this episode, US Navy Lieutenant Becky “Wrecky” Shaw explains everything you want to know about the Navy Test Pilot School—who the students and faculty are, what the school’s purpose is, when classes take place, where it all happens, why such a school is necessary in the first place, and how it all integrates together to create flight test experts to ensure military aircraft are safe and effective.  We also learn why TPS is a common background of so many of the nation’s astronauts, from the original Mercury 7 to today’s space station inhabitants.

During the listener question segment, learn how the cockpit is set up for a CAS mission, what the limit is for a hard landing on an F/A-18, and whether pilots can customize their flight helmets with their callsigns.

Episode photograph courtesy of the USNTPS Commanding Officer.  Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Aug 01, 2018
FPP021 - The Real 'Viper'

Few pilots ever have an opportunity to meet an enemy aircraft in aerial battle.  Fewer yet come out victorious.  And even fewer still—in fact, only one—then go on to be involved in arguably the most influential pop culture aviation film of all time.

That man is retired US Navy Rear Admiral Pete “Viper” Pettigrew.

Climb aboard this week’s episode and hear the harrowing tale of Viper’s shootdown of a North Vietnamese MiG-21 with an untrained RIO in the backseat of his F-4 Phantom.  Then learn how he took the call to assist Hollywood as the military adviser to everyone’s favorite flying movie, Top Gun.  Think it’s a coincidence that Tom Skerritt’s character—the CO of TOPGUN—was callsign ‘Viper’?!

After the interview we had a little extra time and so answer listener questions such as how likely it would have been in the real world for Maverick’s engine flameout to have occurred by flying through another plane’s jet wash, which cockpit arrangement I liked better between the F/A-18 and F-16, more on aircraft paint schemes, how Approach magazine was regarded, and the defining moment in my career I look back on with the most pride.

Episode art by Gary Meyer.  Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Jul 21, 2018
FPP020 - After the Cockpit

Military aviators are generally hard-working, improvement-seeking, self-motivated individuals who are accustomed to working well under pressure, on tight deadlines, and with limited budgets.  It’s no wonder they typically find follow on success after leaving the service and very few—if any—end up homeless.

On this episode, retired US Navy Captain Kevin “Hozer” Miller joins us to add his post-military experiences to our discussion on what many aviators do after leaving the cockpit.  We discuss the transferable skills that generally lead to success whether they choose the airlines, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, or hundreds of other options.

Hozer also shares his experiences writing two critically-acclaimed fictional novels (with a third on the way) on what squadron life is like aboard an aircraft carrier with amazingly accurate descriptions of ship and combat operations.  Click here on Raven One and Declared Hostile to order these books on Amazon and in the process, help support this show financially.

During the listener question segment, we address F/A-18 climb and descent profiles, how deployments take a toll on the home front, lightning strikes, how pilots maintain carrier landing proficiency ashore, and personal weapons carried during combat missions.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez.


Jul 11, 2018
FPP019 - Air-to-Surface Weapons

Today’s combat aviator enjoys a wide variety of munitions from which to choose when attacking surface targets.  From free fall general purpose bombs, to laser- and GPS-guided weapons, to glide and forward firing rockets, missiles, and guns—the extensive arsenal is full of complex, yet highly effective ordnance.

Join US Navy Commander Colin “Farva” Price as we discuss how pilots choose which weapons to use against which targets and how ‘collateral damage’ concerns are addressed in recent conflicts.  We step through the various weapons employed by the F/A-18 series of aircraft such as Mk 80 and BLU-series warheads, LGBs, JDAM, JSOW, SLAM ER, HARM, Maverick, rockets, and more.  We also describe practice munitions used in training before wrapping up with a peek at future weapons coming down the pipeline.  And check out the Super Hornet with 10 JDAM!

During the listener question segment, find out what happens when a navy pilot gets fired, what we know about the Top Gun sequel filming, and how military aircraft paint schemes have changed since Vietnam and the tactical significance of aircraft finishes.

Episode bumper music by Jaime Lopez.

Jul 01, 2018
FPP018 - Air-to-Air Weapons

Just as a viper relies on its venomous fangs and a hornet its stinger to deliver a lethal attack on adversaries, so too do modern combat fighter aircraft depend on guided missiles and cannon fire to engage aerial foes.

But what guidance methods do missiles use?  How difficult is it to effectively employ the gun on a non-cooperative target?  And how far, exactly, can the AIM-120C AMRAAM be employed against a non-maneuvering fighter-size target when both the shooter and target are at Mach 1 and above 30,000 feet?

…okay, we don’t answer that last one.  In fact, for the die-hard technology and tactics buffs out there—fair warning: we avoid specific details because, more so than any other topic yet discussed on this show, information on air-to-air missiles is jealously guarded to maintain an advantage against potential foes.

Join our first US Air Force guest, Major Trevor Boswell, as we discuss the AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM, and M-61A1 Vulcan Cannon—weapons common to all US ‘teen-series’ fighters.  We discuss guidance methods, employment considerations, and how we employ (and simulate employing) these weapons in training.

During the listener question segment we discuss training with foreign forces, whether a fear of drones is warranted, and if it is common to still see unfamiliar faces among a carrier crew of 5,000 sailors several months into deployment.

Bumper music by Jaime Lopez; fighter communications found on YouTube.  Episode photograph by Eric Larson.  Book your trip at Call the Ball Simulators in La Mirada, California here.

Jun 21, 2018
FPP017 - Desert Storm MiG Kill

We've all heard 'war is hell.'  But this week on the Fighter Pilot Podcast, we hear it from a new perspective: that of a young pilot, new to the fleet and the F/A-18, who finds himself fighting far from home in the fog of war, on the heels of the death of a beloved squadron mate.

Climb aboard as retired US Navy Captain Nick "Mongo" Mongillo tells the riveting story of his downing an Iraqi MiG-21 on day one of Desert Storm.  Live the experience as you hear the actual in-flight audio, then dissect it to learn what each call meant then, and how times have changed now.

Visit the show's CafePress site for cool FPP merchandise.  Episode intro and outtro bumper music by Jaime Lopez, announcements by Jim Hendershot.  The Hornet's First Victory album art by Mark Styling.

Jun 11, 2018
Bonus Episode - FB Live Listener Question Replay

A replay of the June 5 Facebook Live listener question session with episode 5 guest Fitz "Dud" Lee.

Jun 06, 2018
FPP016 - The Airboss

On this episode, retired US Navy Vice Admiral Mike "Shoe" Shoemaker, whose last tour on active duty was Commander, Naval Air Forces, joins us to discuss the current state and future of naval aviation.  We touch on several high-level strategic issues and spend several minutes answering listener questions.

Opening and closing bumper music provided by Jaime Lopez (

Jun 01, 2018
FPP015 - Night Carrier Landings

On this episode, US Navy lieutenant commander and former landing signal officer Tra Calisch joins us to wrap up our 5-part mini-series on aircraft carrier operations with a discussion on what is universally agreed upon to be the single most difficult feat of aviation: landing a high performance jet aircraft on an aircraft carrier at night.  We also discuss marshaling and arrival procedures and what happens when the ship starts pitching up and down in rough seas (hint: it isn't fun).

In the listener question segment I explain what survival gear is in an F/A-18's ejection seat pan, why aircraft fuel levels are measured by weight instead of volume, and what was my favorite aerial tanker to refuel from--among other topics.

Check out our YouTube playlist for a few examples on night carrier landings.

May 21, 2018
FPP014 - Day Carrier Landings (part 2)

Meatball – lineup – angle of attack.

Nothing matters more to a fixed-wing naval pilot during the final 17 seconds of a landing on an aircraft carrier than those three parameters.  But what is a “meatball”?  Why is lineup so important and why does it require continuous corrections to maintain?  What happens if the landing aircraft’s angle of attack is too far off one way or the other?

This week, US Navy Commander Jack “Farva” Curtis returns to answer these questions, and much more, while wrapping up our discussion on daytime carrier landings begun in episode 13 (and in fact, if you have not listened to that episode you will certainly want to do so prior to consuming this one). 

Next week, we will wrap up our carrier operations mini-series with what even astronauts say is the hardest thing they have ever done: night landings.

May 11, 2018
FPP013 - Day Carrier Landings (part 1)

Landing a high-performance jet aircraft on an aircraft carrier is arguably the most difficult and challenging task any pilot will ever face, and it is what distinguishes US Naval aviators from all other military aircrew.  In what effectively amounts to a “controlled crash” onto the flight deck, a 44,000-pound aircraft traveling 140 mph engages a 1.5-inch steel cable and is brought to a halt in less than 200 feet.  The feat requires the combined efforts of hundreds of sailors above and below decks, and the assistance of fellow pilots to ensure the pilot landing does so safely.

The fact that they do—hundreds of times a day somewhere around the world—is a testament to their skill and professionalism.

On this episode, US Navy Commander Jack “Farva” Curtis, EA-18G pilot and former air wing landing signal officer, joins us to begin a discussion on the procedures and equipment involved in daytime carrier landings.  We discuss the “Case 1 stack” and aircraft arrival procedures, as well as the arresting gear cables and equipment involved in bringing an aircraft to a (relatively) uneventful stop.  Check out our YouTube playlist for a compilation of videos showing some of the people and equipment involved.

The listener question segment this week is a replay of a recent Facebook Live session with episode 1 guest Brian “Sunshine” Sinclair, who returns to help explain what a ‘VX’ squadron is, why the US Air Force is dealing with pilot shortages, and whether “compartmentalization” is a trained skill.

May 01, 2018
FPP012 - Aircraft Carriers (part 2)

This week we continue where we left off the previous episode with US Navy Captain Eric Anduze: discussing what the various flight deck jersey colors mean and then how a catapult launch works--including the hardware that makes it possible and what happens in an emergency.

If you missed Aircraft Carriers part 1, definitely go back and listen to episode 11 before listening to part 2.  Next week we will talk about daytime landings on these massive floating cities.  Stay tuned!

Apr 21, 2018
FPP011 - Aircraft Carriers (part 1)

The nuclear-powered American aircraft carrier: the largest, most lethal warship to ever sail the high seas.  And the U.S. has eleven of them, each equipped with a myriad of combat aircraft--together they can cover 2/3 of the earth's surface and strike most of the remaining third, all in the name of enforcing freedom of navigation on the world's seas and implementing America's resolve anywhere it is needed.

This week, on the first installment of a multi-part series exploring aircraft carriers and air operations on them, former USS Carl Vinson 'Big XO' Captain Eric, "Pappy" Anduze, US Navy, joins us to explain just how big these carriers are, how fast they go, and how operations safely take place in the hangar bay and on the flight deck.

In the announcements section we touch briefly on the recent spate of fatal mishaps in the U.S. and introduce our new Patreon page, which offers exclusive content to this show's cherished supporters (and a big shout out to Mikko Veijalainen and Bill Horvath for leading the charge!).  During the Q&A segment we discuss whether a passion for aviation is required to be a fighter pilot, the different visors aircrew wear, more callsign questions, and how aircrew (male, specifically) "take care of business" in flight.

Stay tuned for more on aircraft carriers over the next several episodes!

Apr 11, 2018
Intermission - FB Live Q&A Highlights

We've been at it pretty steadily since launching on January 1st and the kids have been on spring break this past week--so we're taking a little pause from our normal programming routine.  However, we didn't want to go completely dark so here are highlights from the two Facebook Live sessions that took place earlier this month.  If you already caught those then there's nothing new here, although they are lightly edited for content and relevance.

Apr 01, 2018
FPP010 - Maintenance

When we observe military aircraft in flight--be it at an airshow or during the flyover of a sporting event--most of us, most of the time, think nothing of the immense behind-the-scenes costs and effort required to make and keep those aircraft flying. From normal servicing and upkeep to the repair or replacement of major aircraft components, the required resources can often reach dozens of man-hours and tens of thousands of dollars per flight hour, especially as technologically-advanced military aircraft age.

Here to help us understand these costs, on this episode, is Major Dave "Chucky" Chown of the Royal Canadian Air Force.  As our first non-US guest, Dave spends a few minutes sharing details on the RCAF and some of its missions before diving into a thorough discussion on aircraft maintenance, with the F/A-18 Hornet as the main reference.  Prepare to be amazed at the resources you never knew were required, and forever change the way you observe military aircraft in flight.

Mar 21, 2018
FPP009 - Vietnam Ace

On May 10, 1972, US Navy lieutenants Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Bill "Willy D" Driscoll launched from the aircraft carrier Constellation in an F-4 Phantom, callsign Showtime 100, on what should have been a "routine" flak suppression mission over North Vietnam.  Instead, the strike force was jumped by dozens of enemy fighters and in the ensuing melee Duke and Willy D downed their third, fourth, and fifth MiGs, becoming the Navy's only aces of the conflict.  But the eventful missions was far from over as Showtime 100 never made it back to the "Connie...."

Hear the rest of Willy D's captivating story along with the lifelong lessons he drew from both his combat experiences and subsequent interviews with dozens of other air combat aces around the world.  Then find out how he turned those lessons into riveting talks and presentations to improve the performance of a variety of audiences from TOPGUN classes to Fortune 500 executives.

Mar 11, 2018
FPP008 - Aircraft Nomenclature

Ever notice that a B-52 Stratofortress is a bomber, an F-14 Tomcat is a fighter, and a T-45 Goshawk is a trainer?  What a coincidence!

...well, not really.  And it's also no coincidence either that we call the Chinese J-8 fighter and Russian Tu-160 bomber the FINBACK and BLACKJACK, respectively.

On this episode, retired US Navy lieutenant commander Josh Larson helps explain the alphanumeric naming conventions used to describe US, European, Russian, and Chinese warplanes.  Be sure to stick around until the very end of the episode, after the flyby, to learn the designation of the airplane we all know as Air Force 1.

In the announcements we mention the Wings Over South Texas airshow featuring the US Navy Blue Angels at NAS Kingsville, March 24-25, 2018.  During the Q&A segment, listener Wolfgang from Germany asks whether anyone has ever stolen a military jet for a short trip.  Click here to read about the time a young US Marine decided to take an A-4 Skyhawk out for a joyride--at night!

Mar 01, 2018
FPP007 - TOPGUN vs Top Gun

TOPGUN – aka the US Navy Fighter Weapons School. An institution that develops and provides graduate-level strike-fighter tactics.

Top Gun – A 1986 American romantic military action drama motion picture starring Tom Cruise.

Although they may sound the same and the latter is loosely based on the former, the fact is TOPGUN the school and Top Gun the movie otherwise have very little in common. But that's okay--a movie based too closely on how things really are would be mind-numbingly boring!

On this episode, US Navy Commander Andy Mariner, the TOPGUN commanding officer, joins us to describe how the school came to be, how it operates today, and what it's like there for both students and instructors.

Feb 21, 2018
FPP006 - Pulling Gs

On this episode, US Navy aerospace operational physiologist Commander Susan Jay explains how flying high-performance jet aircraft takes a toll on the human body.

We discuss pulling Gs, air sickness, decompression sickness, trapped gas, and spatial disorientation.

Check out the FPP006 - Pulling Gs playlist on our YouTube channel for footage of pilots struggling to control G forces in a centrifuge.

Feb 11, 2018
FPP005 - Aerial Refueling

In this episode, retired US Navy Captain Fitz "Dud" Lee explains how and why military aircraft refuel in flight, and which aircraft are capable of doing so.

Why also share a few "sea stories" of how managing aerial tankers is vital to aircraft carrier flight operations.

Feb 01, 2018
FPP004 - Ejection Seats

In this episode we take an in-depth look at ejection seats: a brief history, how they work, how aircrew inspect them before flight, and why--in multi-place aircraft--it is important to have the 'Eject Select' switch in the proper position.

Our guest wraps the discussion with a riveting description of the time an ejection seat saved his life from a doomed F-14 Tomcat.

Jan 21, 2018
FPP003 - Flight Clothing and Equipment

In this episode, US Navy Lieutenant Commander Aaron "Vern" Vernallis explains the flight clothing and equipment F/A-18 aircrews wear in flight.  We go inside-out, bottom-to-top, discussing flight suits, boots, g-suits, torso harnesses, survival vests, helmets, and more.

Hard to visualize on a radio show?  Yup.  Check out our 5-minute YouTube video where Vern demonstrates donning the gear we discuss on the show.

Jan 10, 2018
FPP002 - Callsigns

On this episode, US Navy Captain Brian “Ferg” Fergusson and I talk callsigns–those whimsical, often juvenile nicknames many military aviators go by instead of their real names when flying and on the ground.

Only in the movies do fighter pilots end up with cool callsigns like “Viper”, “Iceman”, or “Maverick”. In the real world, callsigns are generally plays on names (e.g. “Notso” Sharp), reflective of a pilot’s physical resemblance to some well-known character (“Shrek” Olsen), or the result of a mistake the pilot made at some point in his or her career (“Skids” Pennington). Callsigns are at times derogatory, and frequently not politically correct, but they are almost always funny.

Ferg and I discuss how callsigns are assigned, whether they ever change, and why it’s actually a good thing when a new fighter pilot despises a newly-assigned callsign.

Jan 04, 2018
FPP001 - What is a 'Fighter Pilot'?

In this inaugural episode of The Fighter Pilot Podcast, US Navy Commander Brian “Sunshine” Sinclair and I sit down to answer the question, what is a ‘fighter pilot’?  We discuss what a fighter pilot is, some characteristics typical of most fighter pilots, and the various paths to become one.

We also debunk cliché Hollywood stereotypes while discussing what a fighter pilot is not.

Towards the end of the show we discuss a few of the jets used in civilian organizations, including the F-21 Kfir and Hawker Hunter flown by ATAC, and the Super Tucano.  Click on each to learn a bit more.

Jan 03, 2018
FPP000 - Introduction

Welcome to The Fighter Pilot Podcast!

In this short initial episode, I introduce myself and explain how and why this show came about. I also describe a few features of the show—expected frequency, length, episode structure, and more.

Much of this information can also be found on the website’s About page.

Jan 02, 2018