Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pig Bop*

*Possibly obscure reference to this possibly obscure song that I quite like.

Revisiting the F-111 post because I think I got some okay pics of the jet that day. I say 'okay', because given the same opportunity now I would get better ones. Since the last F-111's (said "F-one-eleven" for the record) were retired at the end of last year never to fly again I'll just have to be happy with these.

Unusually the F-111 was never given a formal name (like 'Tomcat' or 'Raptor') while it was in service. It was officially christened the 'Aardvark' (the hitherto unofficial nickname) only on the day it was retired from the USAF in 1996. The only country outside the US to use the F-111 was Australia, and they universally referred to theirs as 'Pigs', affectionately rather than insultingly.

The Pig may not have been the prettiest or the most agile airshow performer, but it made up for it by simply being spectacular, particularly toward the end of it's career as the crews tried to make the final displays of a 37 year operational life the most memorable ones. I got to see a high speed pass and dump and burn one night in 2003. During the day these were memorable enough, but at night they were something else. With all lights off, the jet sped in at around 200ft altitude, and only became visible when the pilot lit the afterburners, two bright yellow/purple spearheads speeding across the sky in front of us, just ahead of the noise they produced. It was awesome.

The Pig on the brain at the moment isn't entirely without reason, as I have one on the workbench at the moment.

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