Friday In The Fast Jet Business

Viper Flaring

It’s been a long week full of long days flying fast jets. Some may argue you’ll never work harder than you will in an active duty fighter squadron, especially one that is at home preparing to deploy. No matter how difficult the week, it’s all worth it come Friday. Fridays in the fast jet business are magical. It’s a break from the fast pace of the rest of the week.

Some may find it hard to believe that being a fighter pilot is work. You may wonder why Fridays are so special if we just spend the rest of the week partying. Don’t let Hollywood fool you. A day in the life of a fighter pilot is not all fun and games as Maverick and Goose from the movie Top Gun would have you believe. If it were, here’s how your day would look:

Typical Day for Maverick and Goose

0800 (or 0830, who’s keeping track?) – Don sunglasses and leather jacket, ride motorcycle to work (be sure to fist pump any aircraft that may be shooting a practice ILS or taking off.)

0900ish – Meet up with a room full of bros for a pre-flight briefing filled with antics, flirty smack talk, and words from the commander telling you that whatever mission you are about to do is the most important mission you’ll ever fly.

1000 – Walk to your aircraft in slow motion. No one needs earplugs because hearing damage doesn’t happen when walking by running jet engines. It just doesn’t.

1030 – Put on serious face as you perform loops to music. The whifferdill, combined with speed brakes, is the secret to fighting BFM. There’s no known defense, it works every time.

1100 – High-five your back seater as you head to the locker room for a leisurely hot shower full of smack talk and lounging around.

1200 – Pop some gum in your mouth and head to the debrief where your blatant violation of training rules and disregard for safety of flight is praised as “the gutsiest move I ever saw.”

1230 – Grab some baby oil and Levi’s (not blue jeans, legitimate Levi’s) and hit the beach for some shirtless beach volleyball.

1245 – Ditch the game to spend the rest of the day chasing girls and drinking (not necessarily in that order.)

If there were any day of the week in the life of a REAL fighter pilot that comes remotely close to a day in the lives of Maverick and Goose, it would be Friday. Friday in the fast jet business is a great day to be alive. The fighter squadron seems to lighten up a little. The intense focus, rushed schedules, and long hours seem to fade into the background on Friday.

Fridays usually kick off with Continuation Training (CT) sorties. CT missions involve current and qualified pilots, and are therefore usually pretty “push-it-up”. Red Air pulls out all the stops for these missions – they become a sort of grudge match. The mission debrief is usually kept to only an hour or two as you usually have a squadron Burger Burn to attend for lunch. The Burger Burn is the opportunity for the LPA (Lieutenant Protection Association) to proudly display their culinary abilities – at least some of their skills can be appreciated by the other fighter pilots in the squadron. Their flying abilities most certainly are not.

After the Burger Burn, everyone gathers back in the vault for a Weapons and Tactics Training, affectionately known as a WATT. Once everyone has been tactically enlightened at the WATT, it is time to turn up the socializing at Roll Call. All of the pent up rage, frustration, and stress of the week comes out during Roll Call as stories are told, songs sung, and beverages imbibed. Fridays are like clockwork. You can set your watch by the Friday schedule in a fighter squadron.

Piano burning at a Friday Roll Call.

Piano burning at a Friday Roll Call.

If you didn’t happen to find yourself in a fighter squadron today (Friday), don’t worry. “Friday in the Fast Jet Business” is more a state of mind than anything else. It’s a time to enjoy friends, talk about flying, and tell everyone else how great you are. Last I checked, you don’t have to be in a fighter squadron to that, but it sure helps.

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, and don’t forget to check six!