Jacking Around
by "Hognose"

I remember when I was in Ranger school, the AC-130 was going to go ahead
of our platoon and clear danger areas for us. But there was a slight
problem... they couldn't find us (a 46-man platoon). So we showed an IR
chemlite. No joy. We could see the AC droning overhead, to and fro. We
tried a plain chemlite. No joy. Then an IR strobe -- surely they could
see that? Nope. Finally we went to the regular, white-light strobe. Shot
our night vision all to hell but the USAF still couldn't find us. The
pilot could see the clear strobe but then when they went overhead and it
passed out of his sight the SENSO couldn't pick it up.

Maybe they skipped the circle the hangar and calibrate phase. Maybe he
left the lens cap on in his preflight inspection. All I know is that
after an hour of jacking around with the damned aeroplane we got off to
a late start, and had to clear the danger areas manually, by human and
eyeball. Made for a strenuous night, or as the RI told me, it builds

This would have been late November or early December of 1982. Since then
GPS has taken a lot of the random surprise factor out of working with
the USAF -- you all know that old feeling when you check canopy, look
around and no DZ, just 150-ft pine trees from horizon to horizon...
"this is gonna hurt."