For #AskExtremeRoss, @nolewoods asked “What did you fly before the u2?”
As @combat_learjet could atest, this shot was taken out the left side of the tip-tank-terror-of-the-sky known at the C-21A, or military version Lear 35. I was stationed at Ramstein, Germany for my first 4 years after pilot training flying this beast all around Europe and Africa for VIP transport, and occasionally “across the pond” for specialty depot services.
This was actually an awesome plane to fly and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was fast, agile, and we went to some incredible places. We also upgraded to aircraft commander and instructor fairly quickly. It was not uncommon for me to be the 24 year old 1st Lt instructor, flying with a 22 year 2nd Lt copilot, going into a place like Baku, Azerbaijan, carrying someone like John McCain (true story)
It’s also the plane that probably put me on the ground in the most life threatening situation when I landed in Skopje, Macedonia in 2001 to bring a general in there. We parked within a hundred yards or so of a fully armed Russian Hind Attack helicopter taking off to only go about 5 miles to drop ordinance on the rebels who were attempting to take the airport.
All in all, it was an awesome plane and an awesome experience to begin my Air Force flying career. It also put me in contact with the true beast that I would go on to spend the rest of my AF days with. More on that story to come.