Newbie Flier Becky McLendon Takes To The Skies With Books

becky1This interview with new-born flier Becky McLendon will make you want to go and read her new book. Curious? Well it’s called “Settling In: At Home in my Sky” and it’s available now on Amazon. Need a link? Well here it is…


When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Writing was embedded in my DNA. I wrote before I could even form letters on paper. Storytelling, imagination, wondering and remembering events was always there

How long does it take you to write a book?

I have spent as long as 4 years and as little time as 6 months writing a book. One thing for sure, I have found that the more you write, the easier it is to write.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Being retired, with the exception of my editing work, I have no work schedule per se. When the urge to write is there, I simply announce to the world, “Back off a little, I’m writing.”

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Jotting notes on whatever I can find when an inspiration hits. Writing the final paragraph before writing the book. And asking people if an opportunity arises, “May I quote you in my book?” They usually accommodate me and even embellish a bit.

How do books get published?

The big thrust these days is “Indie” publishing…self publishing. I am for the most part “self” published although I have recently signed on with a publishing house.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Life is my main source! Experiences are worthy of being written about.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read voraciously. I am a photographer. I am a musician. And I find, that all being a part of the arts, they are all intertwined with writing.

What does your family think of your writing?

They have suddenly begun to realize, HEY she is a real live author. They are quite proud.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That it can be done. There is no huge dark secret out there hidden from the masses.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have written probably 10 books. 2 are full length books of 150 -300 pages. The rest are “short stories” available on Kindle (electronic books)

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Study your native language, its formalities and it’s dialectical colors. Enjoy the language and practice just spilling out on paper daily. If you cannot think of anything to write, write that! You will eventually arrive at the point where suddenly, it will begin to be “a dark and stormy night….where she huddled in her chair, book in hand, wondering if she was really seeing it or only imagining it……”

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

What I hear from my readers who take the time to contact me and review my work is pure liquid gold encouragement!

Do you like to create books for adults?

Yes. I think adults enjoy sharing rich experience, entertainment and information with one another.

What do you think makes a good story?

A story that inspires, encourages and sends the reader on a true adventure and a true educational experience is a good story. In my case, to hear a reader say, “I learned about flying from this book.” Or, “I overcame my fear of flying…” or “I want to fly too!” That is a mission accomplished.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to grow up never losing my childlike wonder, but having the ability to impart wonder to others, to give them memories and something solid to think about. That last one…. Something SOLID to consider, to hold on and carry with them. Yes! Well maybe my years of teaching fulfilled some of that.

Vietnam & Flying with Author and Pilot Mike Trahan

The Gift Part Two: The Air Force Years: 1965 – 1970” covers my Air Force years from October 1966 to April 1970. It begins where my first book “The Gift” left off. I have just left home for U.S. Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training and am on my way to my assignment in C-141 Jet Transport Aircraft.

Would you begin at the beginning — where you grew up, school, going into the military, etc?

I grew up in a small East Texas town, and after graduating West Orange High School, I attended college at Ole Miss and The University of Texas. I graduated from Texas. I participated in the USAF ROTC Program in college, and got my Commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force after graduation.

Where were you trained?

I actually started my flight training while I was still in high school. I was driving by the local airport one day and saw a small airplane near the parking lot. I stopped in asked the pilots standing by the airplane if they offered rides in it. They did, so I took one. About ten seconds after we left the ground, I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I was fifteen years old at the time.

With my parent’s permission, I started taking flying lessons one week later, and continued to fly through high school and college. After I got my Air Force Commission, I went to USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training. I was a member of Class 67-C, and was based at Webb AFB in Big Spring, Texas. UPT was a one-year course.

Can you tell me about your experience with flight school?

In my civilian training, where I worked my way up to Commercial Pilot with Single and Multi-Engine Ratings, I was taught by the Feuge Brothers, Clarence and Edward. Both men were fine pilots and I learned a lot from them. I started flying in July 1957, soloed on my 16th birthday in January 1958. Had my Private Pilot Certificate when I was 17, and was achieved my Commercial Pilot Rating at the age of twenty-one. I got my Multi-Engine Rating the same year I got my Commercial.

My year at Webb, in UPT, was without a doubt the best year of my life. I had 650 hours of flight time before I even reported for Air Force training, so I had a good jump on the program. Consequently, it was just a very exciting and fun school for me. I graduated high enough in my class to qualify for fighters, but I elected to fly C-141 jet transports instead.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received about flying?

An old Captain once told me, “If your mind is not always five minutes ahead of the airplane, you are in trouble.”

Can you tell me about your Vietnam experience?

I had been flying the C-141, around the world, for two years. During that time I made two or three trips into Vietnam every month, supporting the war effort by bringing supplies in, and the wounded, and unfortunately, dead, personnel out. We got shot at a lot during our approaches and departures in Vietnam, and we were hit a time or two.

In December 1968, I was reassigned to Vietnam, flying the AC-47 “Spooky” Gunship. I was happy to be flying something that had the capability of shooting back. I flew “Spooky” from April 69 to December 69, when we turned that mission over to the South Vietnam Air Force. I was reassigned to the 362nd Electronics Warfare Squadron, where I flew the EC-47 aircraft until the end of my tour in April 70.

It would be impossible to tell about my entire Vietnam experience in one answer to your questionnaire, but I will say that the highlight of that tour was being assigned as a Flight Commander in the 4th Air Commando Squadron. I had the privilege of leading a great group of Officers and Enlisted Men in a mission that was vital to the safety of our ground troops. We provided night close air support, and were called in when those troops were under attack. We never lost an outpost!

As a Vietnam veteran, and because of the anti-war sentiment that prevailed when I got home, I never heard any praise for my work in Vietnam. BUT, I have heard from a lot of ground troops who said they lived to come home because of us. Most of them started off by saying, “Spooky” saved my ass one night… and then they would tell me their story. That was all the thanks I needed.

Which plane did you want to fly—but never got the chance to try out?

The F-100 Super Sabre was the airplane I could have, and should have flown, but for some reason I decided to fly transports and see the world instead. It’s a shame though, because I flew transports (airliners) most of my career, and the ONLY opportunity I would have had to fly the F-100 was while I was still in the Air Force. Big regret!

What did you think of the planes you flew during the war?

Well, the C-141 was not very glamorous as a war bird, but it performed a vital mission, and it was a fantastic airplane to fly. When I was flying it, it was the most modern jet transport in the Air Force inventory.
Conversely, the C-47 was the oldest transport aircraft in the Air Force, and in the gunship version it was a magnificent airplane. We carried three 7.62mm Minigun Machine Guns and were capable of firing at a rate of 6000 rounds per minute, per gun. The AC-47 was the “Proof of Concept” for side firing gunnery, and it led to the development of the AC-130 Gunships which are used to this day. As a little homage to the AC-47, the modern AC-130 uses our old call sign – “Spooky!”

What was your most hair-raising experience?

I flew for forty-five years before I retired, in Civilian, Air Force, and Airline flying, and there were quite a few “hair-raising” experiences. But, the one that immediately comes to mind was the day that I got caught above an overcast and had to fly around for four hours to find a hole to go down through to get below the clouds. I was a relatively new pilot at the time, and not instrument rated at the time, and penetrating those clouds could have been fatal.

Do you believe it was safer in the air than on the ground?

Statistically it is safer in the air. I was blessed to have a career that included over twenty thousand hours in flight, and I came away from it never hurting a passenger, bending an airplane, or violating a Federal Air Regulation.

What was your initial experience with the Viet-cong?

I went to war against them. They shot at me and I shot back at them.

Returning to America how do you feel when you look back on the war?

Well, when I returned there was a lot of Anti-War sentiment in America, so I decided to just forget about it and get on with my life. I honestly naver gave it much thought.

Now that nearly fifty years has gone by, I look back on my job as a “Spooky” Gunship pilot with pride, and that is validated when I meet veterans who say, “The only reason I am home today, is because of Spooky!”


I read THE GIFT. It was spellbinding. I was so sure that I would not like the THE GIFT PART TWO THE AIR FORCE YEARS, however, I bought the book. Was I ever wrong! THE GIFT-PART TWO-THE AIR FORCE YEARS was as spellbinding as the first book, THE GIFT.

Some friends and I were at the beach for a few days. I was reading THE GIFT PART TWO and telling my friends about the first book. One of my friends bought the book on Amazon and enjoyed it so much. She knew several people who were mentioned. I left the part two book with her when I came home. The other friend was reading the first book and waiting for part two. They both found the books spellbinding. We never turned the television on for three days.

Mike, I am waiting for THE GIFT PART THREE. Thanks for sharing your life experiences with us!

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Get Your Copy Today!

SR-71, The Blackbird with Pilot Terry Pappas

About the SR-71

Astronaut Walt Cunningham talks about this book: Higher, farther, faster – what every real aviator aspires to. The SR-71 was the epitome of this dream for three decades. The only way to beat the SR-71 was to rocket into space, and every astronaut in the office with me in the 1960s would have loved to have flown the Blackbird. In many ways it placed greater demand on piloting proficiency than any spacecraft. Terry’s book answers all those questions you ever had about the wonderful challenge of controlling an airplane, flying at 80,000 feet and more than three times the speed of sound for hours at a time. -Walt Cunningham, Apollo 7

terry p

When it comes to writing a book about your own past—what do you really want to tell the reader? Are you looking to entertain, or educate?

I wrote my book to educate readers about the SR-71. I’ve been told that many readers found it entertaining as well.

What did you learn from writing your book?

I learned a lot from M/Gen Pat Halloran’s ‘Foreword’ that he wrote for this book. Since General Halloran was among the initial cadre of U-2 and SR-71 pilots, he has a very unusual perspective on U.S.’s earliest high altitude manned reconnaissance aircraft. I didn’t realize that the early U-2 aircraft didn’t even have an ejection seat!

Do you think people can identify with you?

I think many readers can identify with a number of experiences that I touch on in the book. Many military personnel have been assigned overseas and have risked their lives on a regular basis in order to accomplish their missions. This often evolves into a ‘work hard and play hard’ mentality. You never know when it’ll be your last day on earth, so you tend to make the most of it. We partied hard when we were overseas flying combat missions.

Can you tell us your favorite memory from your flying career?

My favorite memory from my flying career surrounds the extremely long (11.2 hours) and challenging mission that John Manzi and I flew in the Blackbird in August of 1987. It required five aerial refuelings, each of which was stretched to 500 miles in length, so we wouldn’t need a sixth refueling. Our target area was the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war. We launched out of our Forward Operating Location at Kadena Air Base at Okinawa, Japan. The weather was the most difficult I’ve ever faced during my Air Force career. It required me to stay in close formation with the tanker aircraft for extended periods of time. Of the five hours that we spent in the air refueling tracks, I had to maintain the ‘close contact’ position (12 feet from the tanker) for a total of three and a half hours. In my book, I go into detail about the challenges and close calls that this mission entailed. These challenges include operational as well as physiological issues.

If you had one passion—what is that passion and how did you discover it?

I played sports continuously since I was a young boy. I sometimes played two sports at once, going from track practice to baseball practice daily for weeks. The only sport I didn’t find the time for was golf, until eight years ago. Now, I play golf daily. And I practice daily too. I think you could say that I’m passionate about golf.

When did you realize that you were a storyteller and how long after that did you pick up a pen?

As the Blackbird program was winding down in 1990, I was approached by two photographer/writers who asked me to write a chapter for their new book about the SR-71. I decided to give it a try. I discovered two things. One, I didn’t know how to write. Two, I loved it. I could sit for 10 hours at my computer writing. I’d never been able to sit still for anything lasting that long. So, I began the never-ending process to educate myself about the writing craft, and I later attended a weekly workshop for advanced writers in Los Angeles for two years.

Why would the average aviation fan enjoy your book?

Though my book deals with the fastest aircraft ever built, and the details of what it was like to fly it, I also cover many day-to-day activities that surrounded our lives, particularly when we were overseas in Great Britain and Okinawa, Japan, as well as our activities while back at Beale AFB in northern California when we were home in between operational deployments overseas.

Are there more books in the wings? 

I have assembled some ideas concerning a techno-thriller, fiction book, based on my military aviation experience.

Where can we find out more about you? Where can we buy your books?

A10. You can learn more about me by visiting my website and by checking out my book, “SR-71, The Blackbird, Q&A” on Amazon. It’s available in paperback and as an eBook there. I currently autograph every one of the actual books.

Thank you for your time, Terry.

Thank you.

You can get your copy of “SR-71, The Blackbird, Q&A” by clicking here. I sincerely hope you enjoyed the interview. All profit from this book will go to charity.

sr terry

About Terry Pappas

Terry spent 41 years flying aircraft, primarily for the USAF and NASA. His career started during the Vietnam era, conducting officer training while in college at the University of Florida, being commissioned there and attending AF pilot training at Reese AFB in Lubbock, Texas in 1971. After earning his wings he became an instructor pilot in the T-38A, training USAF and foreign national pilots in that high performance aircraft.

He went on to fly numerous aircraft, in and out of the Air Force, to include the B-52G, while stationed at Blytheville AFB, Arkansas, ’81-’85. From there he was selected to fly the mach 3 plus, SR-71, stationed at Beale AFB, California from ’85-’90. When the Blackbird ended its operational service of over two decades in 1990, he transferred to Edwards AFB, near Los Angeles, and served as an instructor pilot and flight examiner in the T-38A for the Air Force Flight Test Center, until he retired from the AF in 1994.

Terry flew Learjets with camera systems onboard filming aerial scenes for the movie industry for a couple years. Then he accepted a position as a demonstration pilot for an aircraft manufacturer. There he demonstrated new business jets to chief pilots and company presidents around the world. He flew for a privately held business in Las Vegas, Nevada for two years before accepting a position as an Aerospace Engineer and Research Pilot with NASA in 1998. There his duties included: T-38 Project Pilot, IP for astronauts in T-38, Gulfstream I, II and III executive transport, Super Guppy transport for outsize cargo, and DC-9 for micro-gravity research flights. He also managed a number of training functions for Aircraft Operations Division. He has over 10,000 flying hours, most of which are hour-long flights, with numerous instrument approaches and landings.

Terry retired from NASA in Oct 2011. He spends most of his time now pursuing writing and speaking projects. Terry’s hobbies include golf and photography. He lives in Houston, Texas.

Practical Flying Advice From A Pro: Steve Taylor

Editors Note: I hope to get more from this author. This is an unusual interview from a pilot. I had to laugh at his answer to the gross weight question- that would be my reply too.

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You find your co-pilot drinking before a flight, how will you handle this?

He must be replaced. There is no compromise here.

You smell smoke in the cockpit, what initial action should you take?

I guess that what some might be looking for here is, don the oxygen mask, however, this is not an immediate necessity with just the smell of smoke.

If you are on the ground, return to the gate unless the smoke becomes severe. Then, of course you would consider evacuating. If in flight and the smoke has an electrical oder and the smoke is not visible, then you scan everything in the cockpit to see if you can identify anything unusual, paying particular attention to the area of the electrical compartment and circuit breaker panels. The key here is to trip all circuit breakers that are of suspicion and not necessary for flight.

There is also the possibility of the smell coming from the air condition duct. If that is the case, this can also be isolated.
It would also be instructive to see if any of the flight attendants had smelled smoke.

Then what do you do?

If the smoke becomes visible and no solution is evident then oxygen masks should be used and an emergency declared, landing at the nearest suitable airport.

Your co-pilot tells you the smoke is normal and it will clear itself, 15 minutes later the condition is growing worse. Your co-pilot gives you the same response. Now, what would you do?

This kinda gets into the area of, if smoke is normal then no smoke must be abnormal. I think it’s a good idea to always listen to the explanation from either the copilot or the engineer but ultimately the decision is yours.

The aircraft is loaded way beyond gross weight. Your co-pilot tells you that he does this all the time, and the aircraft will fly. What do you do?

Of course, this is a ridiculous question. Any responsible Capt. does not fly an over grossed airplane. I have a story in my book about this very situation.

You have been cleared for take-off, upon getting airborne with the gear in the wells, what kind of conversation are you going to have with your co-pilot?

Most copilots learn best from observing good captain decisions. Usually it is not necessary or desirable to give too much instruction. Professional flying is a function of practice and experience. You should not deny your copilot the opportunity to learn in this time honored way. However, he might be told that you appreciate any information, but he should temper his advice.

What is V1?

V1 is a calculated speed based temperature, runway condition and the aircraft weight, at which a take off can be continued to an altitude of 35 feet with an engine loss in the same length of runway that is necessary to stop the airplane in case the decision is made to abort. In short this is the go no go point for an engine loss.

I see you flying various twins, do they all have a critical engine?

In a twin-engine Jet, for all practical purposes there is no critical engine. The last airplane I flew that had this situation was C-119 box car. It had reciprocating engines and actually there was a point at Max gross weight where it would not fly with an engine failure. I had 3000 hours in C-130. This airplane was a turboprop with constant speed propellers. One might think that some P factor could cause a critical engine situation, however it was a four engine airplane and this was not a noticeable thing compared to the loss of an outboard engine. This critical engine thing is mostly theory and of little practical value. If an engine fails the pilot generally puts in the necessary aileron and rudder to keep the airplane flying and doesn’t really notice that much difference in which engine it is.

Which one’s do not, and why?

If you have an aircraft with counterrotating props then there is no critical engine and as I have already mentioned, jet engines.

Can you define Balanced Field Length?

The length of runway necessary to reach V1, lose an engine and stop at Max gross weight.

You’re the PIC on one a Lear, you’re taking off on a 13,000′ runway with clear skies and unlimited visibility, upon getting airborne you have an emergency and the co-pilot calls out that there’s a problem. With 11,000 feet of runway still in front of you, and the gear still down, what would you do?

This is a judgment call. In theory, after V1 is achieved, the airplane is supposed to take off, however, as illustrated by the following story, the captain’s best judgment always prevails: I had a friend flying captain on a DC-9. Right at lift off and after achieving V1 and VR, he had a double engine compressor stall. He glanced at his engine instruments and saw the RPM unwinding. Thinking he had a double engine flameout, he put the airplane back on the runway and ran into the dirt at the overrun. The FAA tried to take his license, but at the hearing it was determined that the captain’s best judgment trumps the V1 rule.

“Wheels Up: Sky Jinks in the Jet Age” is available now from Amazon

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Top 10 Fighter Planes of WWII

When considering the top 10 Fighter planes of WWII, a number of criteria should be considered.

What was the plane’s top speed?
How does the aircraft maneuver at low and high altitudes?
How durable is the plane?
What is the visibility out the cockpit windows?
How safe is the aircraft?
What armament does it carry?
What is the range of the aircraft?
What is its overall flying performance?

Listed below is a list that should be entertained when considering the top 10 World War II fighter aircraft. They are listed in alphabetical order.

1) Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair

This big and powerful fighter was feared by the Japanese more than any other aircraft. The F4Us top speed was 415 mph, but at 30,000 feet, the aircraft could reach 435 mph. Armament included 6 – 50 cal guns, 2,000 lbs. of bombs and 8 – 5 inch rockets. The F4U-4 Corsair of WWII had a range of 1,005 miles.

2) Focke-Wulf FW 190 D-9

Some state the FW 190 D-9 was superior even to the British spitfire. This aircraft dominated WWII skies until the P51 D was introduced. This aircraft was light and easy to control, which made it an ideal pilot’s plane. Not only did the armor of this aircraft offer excellent protection, the plane was heavily armed with 2 – 7 .9mm MG and 4 – 20 mm cannons. The FW 190 D-9 could reach a top speed of 436 mph and at 38,000 feet the aircraft could reach 458 mph. The range was only 395 miles.

3) Grumman F8F Bearcat

Though not the best dogfighter, this aircraft was considered small, quick and deadly. It could reach a top speed of 358 mph. The armament of the Grumman F8F Bearcat consisted of 4 – 20mm cannons and 4 – 127mm rockets. It could also carry 2 – 1,000 lb. bombs. Total range for the F8F Bearcat was 1,105 miles.

4) Lockheed P-38J Lightning

This large aircraft was considered to be a great dogfighter and was greatly feared by the Germans. The P-38J had a top speed of 426 mph and could climb 20k feet in 5.9 seconds. Armament for this plane included 1 – 20 mm cannon and 4 – 50cal guns.

5) Messerschmitt Bf 109K

The Bf 109K was an easy aircraft to fly, could reach a top speed of 354 mph and had a range of 820 miles. It was a multi-role fighter armed with 2 to 7 – 9mm guns and 4 – 20mm cannons.

6) Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Not only was this WWII aircraft fast (top speed of 358 mph), it had a total range of 1,844 miles. Armament for the Mitsubishi A6M Zero included 2 to 7 7mm guns and 2 – 20mm cannons. The aircraft was a versatile fighter that was easily maneuvered. The Zero was constructed of wood.

7) North American P-51D Mustang

The P-51D Mustang is considered by many to be the #1 fighter aircraft of WWII. With internal tanks, the plane had a range of 1,140 miles. The range increased to 2,200 miles with external tanks. This aircraft was both fast and maneuverable. The visibility was considered excellent. The P-51D Mustang could reach a top speed of 445 mph, increasing to 486 mph at 30,000 feet. Armament included 6 – .50cal machine guns.

8) Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

Pilots favored this solid built aircraft in part, due to the protection it provided and its ability to take punishment and still fly. The P-47D Thunderbolt carried the highest kill to death ratio of any other WWII aircraft. Total range for the P-47D was 1,900 miles with tanks and it had a top speed of 433 mph. Armament included 8 to 12 7mm guns, 2,500 lbs of external mounted bombs, rockets and other ordnance.

9) Soviet Yakovlev Yak-3

The Soviet Yakovlev Yak-3 was considered the best dogfighter on the Eastern front. It had a tight turn ratio and was an easily maneuvered aircraft. The Yak-3 could reach a top speed of 412 mph (428 at 20,000 feet) and a range of 558 miles. Armament for the Yakovlev Yak-3 included 1 – 20mm cannon and 2 – 50cal guns.

10) Supermarine MKs 24 Spitfire

The WWII British Spitfire was one of the ultimate fighters of the war, had tremendous fire power and could climb to a high rate of altitude at a very fast rate. This Spitfire could reach 454 mph and had a range of 390 miles. Armament on the aircraft included 4 – 20mm cannons, up to 2 – 250 lb. bombs and 1 – 500 lb. bomb.

A complete list of top aircraft from WWII would be quite extensive. However, in considering a top 10 list of WWII fighter planes, the above list should at least be entertained.

Plane hits buffalo during take-off in India

An Indian airliner crashed into a stray buffalo during take-off from the western city of Surat although no passengers or crew were hurt.

The plane’s operator, SpiceJet Ltd, said it was forced to ground the Boeing 737 which suffered “substantial damages” in the collision.

SpiceJet said the buffalo, which was killed in the accident on Thursday evening, was “essentially invisible” against a dark background. Passengers on the Delhi-bound aircraft were transferred on to another plane, it added.

“Stray animals are a growing menace in some airports,” SpiceJet said in a statement.

“This incident has affected our regular operations and hence SpiceJet flights from Surat will now be suspended after this incident.”

Poorly maintained fences at some Indian airports mean animals can stray onto runways.
Collisions with unusual animals are not uncommon elsewhere. Last year US airports recorded 11,000 animal strikes. While most involved birds, other creatures struck included deer, coyotes, turtles, bats and alligators. In one incident in Florida a plane even struck a fish – thought to have been dropped by a passing osprey.

Last year a sheep was hit near a private aircraft near Rhigos Airfield in Wales, but escaped unhurt.
SpiceJet services were suspended following the collision (Photo: Getty)

Japan Set to Launch First Homegrown Fighter Jet Since World War II to Counter China

The growing concern of the Chinese neighbour has led Japan to ready its first homegrown fighter jet post World War II. The move by Tokyo is reportedly a bid to counter China’s growing military prowess.

The Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD – X), a stealth jet fighter, which has been in the making for four years, is expected to take to the skies for the first time in January next year, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Japan’s World War II defence manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is currently undertaking a final ground test of the prototype fighter also referred to as ‘Shinshin’, which it will deliver to Japan’s Defence Ministry in April next year.

The government is expected to conduct further tests to verify the jet’s capabilities before it decides on production of the aircrafts in 2018.

This is the first time that Japan will break away from joint production with the United States and make fighter jets domestically. Japan was reportedly forced into a joint development agreement by the US in 1987 in exchange of US-made engines for the F-2 fighter jets.

The Shinshin is touted to be the successor to the F-2 fighter jet, and IHI, a defence contractor in the consortium, has produced an engine weighing 640kg with the capacity to deliver up to 5 tons of thrust.
However, the main reason for developing a homegrown jet goes beyond national pride, and is essentially focused on countering Chinese aggression, the report said.

China currently has about 670 fighter jets, while Japan lags behind at 260.

“Given the threat posed by China, Japan will be able to boost its defense capabilities to higher levels by fostering its own technologies, rather than by depending completely on the U.S. for the development of fighter jets,” a senior official at the Defense Ministry’s Technical Research and Development Institute told the newspaper.

According to Japanese Army officials, an advantage of a home-grown fighter jet is that it allows the country to “modify the fighter jet flexibly in accordance with changes in the security environment.”
According to the report, Japan will have to keep aside more than 1 trillion yen ($9.06 billion) from its defence budget of 5 trillion yen to develop a fighter aircraft.

Jack Broughton, 89, Dies; Pilot in Vietnam Turned Critic of Leaders


Col. Jack Broughton flew more than 200 jet-fighter missions in the Korean and Vietnam Wars and received the Air Force Cross, his service’s highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor. He led the Air Force’s Thunderbirds in acrobatics that thrilled air show spectators in the mid-1950s and piloted nearly 50 types of military aircraft.

But in June 1967, he faced a possible prison term when the Air Force accused him of covering up the strafing of a Soviet freighter in the North Vietnamese port of Cam Pha by a pilot under his command.

Colonel Broughton and two of his pilots were court-martialed. All were acquitted of the most serious charges, conspiracy to violate Air Force rules of engagement that forbade such an attack. But Colonel Broughton’s career was destroyed in the fallout from one of the most contentious issues of the Vietnam War: the restrictions Washington placed on bomber pilots out of fear that the Soviet Union or China could be drawn into the conflict.

Colonel Broughton died on Friday in Lake Forest, Calif., his daughter Kathleen Schaefer said. He was 89.

In retirement, Colonel Broughton (pronounced BROH-ton) wrote widely on his combat exploits and his anger at President Lyndon B. Johnson, Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara and the Air Force for limitations that he believed cost pilots’ lives and destroyed any chance America had of winning the Vietnam War.

“We were poorly utilized, we were hopelessly misdirected and restricted, and we were woefully misused by a chain of stagnant high-level civilian and military leadership” that lacked fortitude in a “war that they ineptly micromanaged,” Colonel Broughton wrote in “Rupert Red Two” (2007), a memoir whose title drew on his call sign while a young military pilot.

Citing restrictions on hitting important targets like major ports, antiaircraft-missile sites under construction and MIG fighters on the ground during the bombing campaign called Rolling Thunder, Colonel Broughton lamented “what was probably the most inefficient and self-destructive set of rules of engagement that a fighting force ever tried to take into battle.”

Jacksel Markham Broughton was born on Jan. 4, 1925, in Utica, N.Y., and grew up in Rochester, the son of a drapery salesman.

When he was a teenager, he recalled, he saw a picture in a newspaper of “an open cockpit Navy dive bomber high above the ocean.”

“The pilot, with his cloth helmet and goggles, was at the controls while the gunner in the rear cockpit manned his turret-mounted machine gun and searched the sky for enemy aircraft,” he continued. “I could easily visualize myself in that front cockpit. I knew I wanted to be a military pilot.”

He entered West Point in 1942 and graduated too late to see combat in World War II. He flew fighter-bombers in support of American ground troops in the Korean War, then served as vice commander of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing in the Vietnam War while also leading strikes of F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bombers.

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On June 2, 1967, one of Colonel Broughton’s pilots told him that his cannon fire may have hit a ship at Cam Pha while he was leading an attack on nearby antiaircraft sites.

The next day, the Soviet Union complained that one of its merchant ships, the Turkestan, had been bombed at Cam Pha. Believing that his pilots would be punished for an infraction that could have easily been overlooked, Colonel Broughton ordered destruction of the gun-camera film that showed the ship in the sights of the pilot leading the mission.

After an investigation, he admitted that he had ordered that the film be destroyed. Because it was the only evidence of an apparent attack on the Soviet ship, the court-martial board acquitted Colonel Broughton and two other pilots of conspiring to violate the rule forbidding the bombing of Cam Pha harbor. Colonel Broughton was found guilty of destroying government property — the seven rolls of film — and was fined $600 and admonished.

Col. Chuck Yeager, the president of the court-martial, who in 1947 had been the first pilot to break the sound barrier, was quoted by Air Force magazine as saying later that “everybody from the Joint Chiefs down wanted to nail Colonel Broughton and his pilots and make them examples” for flouting restrictive bombing rules, but that most of the Air Force colonels in Vietnam sympathized with him.

Colonel Broughton was transferred to an administrative post in Washington. In July 1968, the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records expunged the court-martial from his records, ruling that he should have been subjected to minor nonjudicial punishment, known as an Article 15 proceeding. He retired a month later.

In October 1968, Copley News Service cited an account from an unidentified source who had reported seeing the damage to the Soviet ship Turkestan and believed that it had probably not been hit by the Air Force; rather, the source said, it had apparently been accidentally struck by North Vietnam antiaircraft gunners trying to shoot down a low-flying American warplane.

In addition to “Rupert Red Two,” Colonel Broughton told of his Vietnam experiences in “Thud Ridge” (1969) and “Going Downtown: The War Against Hanoi and Washington” (1988). (“Downtown” was the American pilots’ nickname for North Vietnam’s capital.) “Thud Ridge” became a selection on the Air Force chief of staff’s recommended reading list for officers.

In addition to his daughter Kathleen, Colonel Broughton is survived by his wife, Alice Joy; his daughters Sheila Broughton and Maureen Murrah; his son, Markham; a brother, Robert; and nine grandchildren.

Colonel Broughton received the Air Force Cross for his actions over North Vietnam on Feb. 5, 1967, when he hit his target after his plane had been heavily damaged and drew fire as a decoy to divert enemy aircraft from attacking his fellow pilots on the mission. He was also awarded two Silver Stars and four Distinguished Flying Crosses.

After retiring from the Air Force, besides writing about his combat experiences, he developed commercial hovercraft and worked for Rockwell on advanced aviation projects.

Col. Leo K. Thorsness, a pilot in Colonel Broughton’s wing who was shot down, spent six years as a prisoner of war and received the Medal of Honor, revered him.

“He was a leader who led with brains and guts,” Air Force magazine quoted him as saying. “But one of his greatest strengths — supporting his pilots — was his downfall