The F-15 Eagle Can Take on Any Enemy (Even Mother Nature)
“That was the first time it dawned on me that flying jets is fun and exciting but also could kill anyone, any day-even me,” Maj. Ben “Evil” Cook, USAF F-15 Eagle driver
The incredible story in this post provides an excerpt of a from-the-cockpit account appeared in the March 2016 issue of Combat Aircraft magazine of what it’s like landing an F-15 Eagle at Keflavik International Airport (KEF), Iceland, in whiteout conditions.
As explained by Maj. Ben “Evil” Cook, a U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-15 Eagle pilot, wintertime in Iceland means cold, snow, ice, bad weather, high winds (upward of 50kt) and darkness (with three to four hours of sunlight a day in the first week of January).
During a deployment to Iceland, Cook (who was a 100-hour, young wingman at the time) and his fellow Eagle drivers found themselves working “in gale-force winds while snow dumped down like monsoon rains. We went through the motions of briefing a 2-v-2 intercept ride, but in everyone’s mind the weather was going to prevent us from flying,” as Evil recalls.
Nevertheless, the time got better and the F-15s took off for the training sortie. According to Cook, after their third intercept, Keflavik approach called them. “Knife 21 this is Keflavik approach.” “Go ahead Kef.” “Yes, sorry to interrupt but the weather here is getting very, very bad. You might want to come home now.” “Knife: fence out, tapes off, cleared radar trail, push 1 aux.”
Soon after Keflavik supervisor of flying (SOF) informed Knife flight that only 10 to 15 minutes remained before the closure of the runway. Cook explains: “Keflavik approach advises us to take vectors to ILS (instrument landing system) runway 11. It is the only runway that they’ve been trying to keep open with the snow removal. […] We have quite a bit of gas-enough to get to our next closest divert base at Stornoway, Scotland, over 1,000 miles to the south-east across the frigid north Atlantic. An ops check revealed that we had too much gas to land safely on what was sure to be a slippery and very icy Keflavik runway.”
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