Mirage pilot interview, Part 4: The tricky art of intercepting B-52s

86023541630612e31026414751524bc3.jpg

Now a crack aerobatic pilot, Gonzalo O’Kelly was once one of the best fighter pilots in the Spanish air force. During his time in the Ejército del Aire he flew the Mirage III, a formidable and beautiful fighter of French origin. In the fourth part of our Mirage special he shares his most surprising intercept.  

Mirage III versus B-52

“In four years and more than 800 flight hours, there were a lot of notable flights, but the one coming to the mind was, perhaps, a very demanding sortie that I flew in a huge air defence exercise that included USAF. Two Mirages with my friend Lieutenant Maestre and myself, were scrambled to intercept two enemy aircrafts flying high with a northeast track, south of Madrid. Manises AB is placed east of Spain so they were flying approximately towards us.

In our first communication with our interception controller, he told us two traces were flying at 45 angels! (45,000 feet, so they were not hiding at all), and flying extremely slowly at about 200 kts IAS. 

We were surprised because we had never engaged such a conspicuous target, and never one so high and slow, but up we went, climbing in afterburner, and  reached 45 angels in about 10 minutes.

The second surprise (a nasty one) was that we had to maintain military power to stay at that altitude and speed (250 kts IAS). Flight controls and throttle had to be handled very carefully, or we could lose altitude or speed or both…and any sudden movement of throttles could lead to a compressor stall.

Support us and in live in airworthy condition with our beautiful 2018 calendar

The third surprise was that we had radar contact with the targets when they were 25 miles away, very unusual for the old Cyrano II.

But the biggest surprise was having a tally-ho with two ponderous big B-52Es, (with radar-guided twin 20-mm cannon in the back), flying wide abreast. They were about 10 miles leaving a trail of black smoke behind them.

Boeing_B-52F_takeoff_with_AGM-28_Hound_Dog_missiles.jpg

We had them in our 1 o’clock, so I decided to get closer and turn right towards their 6. When I was about 1 mile, the closest B-52 made a high bank turn towards me — which I was unable to follow because of my slow speed so I had to go down and accelerate again. My wingman did the same while approaching the second B-52.

It was easy for them turn like that at such an altitude, with those tremendous wings, but not for us.

So down we went, accelerated and set afterburner to climb again. This time we approached from behind them but then our radar warning lit up showing we had been locked on by their rear cannons. So we immediately broke, and headed down again. More afterburner, another climbing and this time we closed on them from their 3 o’clock. Of course they made their defensive 60º bank turns towards us, but this time we made some nice gun camera snapshoots with the pipper right between their wings.

After flying over them, we joined in close formation with their leader and flew with them for a short while to pay them our respects (a very short time indeed because we were a bit beyond our Bingo fuel). I’ll never forget that enormous aircraft turning hard towards me, it was terrific.”

Want to see more stories like this: Follow my vapour trail on Twitter: @Hush_kit

Thank you for reading Hush-Kit. Our site is absolutely free and we have no advertisements. If you’ve enjoyed an article you can donate here. 

Have a look at How to kill a RaptorAn Idiot’s Guide to Chinese Flankers, the 10 worst British military aircraftThe 10 worst French aircraft,  Su-35 versus Typhoon10 Best fighters of World War II top WVR and BVR fighters of today, an interview with a Super Hornet pilot and a Pacifist’s Guide to Warplanes.Want something more bizarre? The Top Ten fictional aircraft is a fascinating read, as is The Strange Story and The Planet Satellite. The Fashion Versus Aircraft Camo is also a real cracker. Those interested in the Cold Way should read A pilot’s guide to flying and fighting in the Lightning. Those feeling less belligerent may enjoy A pilot’s farewell to the Airbus A340. Looking for something more humorous? Have a look at this F-35 satire and ‘Werner Herzog’s Guide to pusher bi-planes or the Ten most boring aircraft. In the mood for something more offensive? Try the NSFW 10 best looking American airplanes, or the same but for Canadians. 

Advertisements

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s