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Remembering paradise

I read your article on Johnson Island ['Paradise Lost," February '01]. It looks a little different now than 1959-60. At that time, it was less than half the size it is now and a truly remote assignment (no females). We were an emergency landing strip, and we had emergency landings. At that time, we had about 100 Air Force, 15 Coast Guard and 15 civilians. Duty was light, and we got a lot of sun and, diving time. It was almost paradise.

J.M. Duff, etired Air Force

Midwest City, Okla.

Manual stability?

The peeling back of layers to fly the F-16D VISTA manually as described by Col. Steve Cameron ["Simulator lets students pilot variety of aircraft," February '01] is quite impossible.

The F-16, like several other high-performance fighters is an inherently unstable aircraft. The F-16 was designed using relaxed static stability.

The NASA Web page ( 11-6.htm) describes the control system of the F-16 as the incorporation of "relaxed static stability." This means that the inherent longitudinal stability is reduced, to a level traditionally thought to be unacceptable, by moving the aircraft center of gravity to a point very near the aerodynamic center of the aircraft. Tail load and associated trim drag are reduced by this process. Compensation for the loss in inherent aerodynamic stability is provided by a combination electronic-hydraulic stability augmentation system that senses uncalled-for departures from the intended flight condition and injects corrective signals into the flight control system."

Staff Sgt. Chris Edwards

Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

Editors note: Staff Sgt. Edwards is correct about the aircraft's relaxed static stability, but lie's Incorrect in his assertion that It cannot be controlled for even brief periods. A typical pilot would indeed lose control soon, but not before learning the lessons that the school is trying to teach. What VISTA allows pilois to do is plug the stick directly into the flight controls with some level of gain and some amount of stick force and movement, and then try to do all the things that the flight control system was doing. This allows them to see the warning signs of impending loss of stability while airborne, potentially preventing a problem in flight tests later.

Good times and bad times

I just read the article about Altus Air Force Base, Okla. ["Family Secret," March '01]. I myself have "done my time" at Altus. Two years. I would just like to know where exactly Tech. Sgt. Scott Hicking purchased his furniture. My husband and I also purchased furniture while living at Altus, and I don't remember them skipping the credit check and offering to let us "pay what we can, when we can." There are not that many furniture stores in town. And unlike your opening paragraph, I didn't leave kicking and screaming; I was more than ready to leave. I had done my time and was ready to move back to civilization.

Staff Sgt. Shannon Simon

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio

Altus Air Force Base was my first permanent duty assignment in 1969. I have been an Air Force reservist for 23 years as well as a civil servant for seven years, and I recently had the opportunity to return to Altus. I was amazed at how new everything was. The only thing left of the base I remembered was my old dormitory, and it was being torn down! I also had the opportunity to meet an Altus acquaintance whom I had not talked to in 28 years! Back in 1969 we thought we had been condemned to the middle of nowhere, but time has softened that impression, and I will always remember the good times and good friends I had at Altus.

Bill Gravely

Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.

Pits award

I was very glad to read about "Pits" being awarded the Medal of Honor ["Redemption for a Patriot," March '01]. From the first time I read about his story, I thought to myself, "Why wasn't he awarded the Medal of Honor before?" I'm sure he's one of many enlisted airmen who originally, didn't get the recognition they deserved for their valor. All jabs in the Air Force are important, but for an enlisted member to be on the front lines is rare when compared to other services. I believe these people deserve special recognition and our thanks.

Robert O'Neal

Fried berg, Germany

I was moved by the story of Pits' bravery in Vietnam. I am a Korean vet and was with the 8th Air Force, Strategic Air Command. I didn't see combat, although several in my squad volunteered with me, but we were turned down due to our position. My deep-felt thoughts and prayers go to his family. He certainly deserves our country's thanks and remembrance.

retired Staff Sgt. Leno Judice

DuBois, Pa.

Bravo! I knew Bill Pitsenbarger in high school. We both graduated in the class of 1962 from Piqua Central High School. Although our paths never crossed again after graduation; Bill's ultimate sacrifice serves as an inspiration for all of his classmates. We are very proud of him, and we miss him.

Dr. Michael S. Houser

Hanau, Germany

Curacao comments

In 29 years of service to the Air Force, I haven't been compelled to write and comment on any of your fine articles. However, I must ask you for recognition of the members of the 49th Materiel Maintenance Squadron (Bare Base) at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. We set up the "tent city" you mention in both of your articles on Curacao ("Drug Sweep" and "Hello, Old Friend," February '01]. That city was built and operational within eight days of our hitting the ground in June 1999, using a small team of seven bare basers. With help from our bilingual contracting counterparts (mentioned in your article), we constructed the forward operating location with our usual quiet fortitude.

We arrive at a location when it's still just a location. As with Curacao, we turn it into a bare base In short order and then leave so others can accomplish their missions. We continue to assist In Curacao providing electrical, structural, air conditioning and engineering support as needed. By now, hundreds of tenants have passed through Curacao, working In the house we built. We continue to support the counterdrug mission worldwide, and most other expeditionary undertakings. It would have been nice to receive a mention.

Rob Coward

Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.

A correction to your side article "Taking Care of Our Force in Curacao" [February '01]. The Detachment 5, 612th Air Operations Group, commander identified in the article was myself, Lt. Col. David Alexander, not Bruce Alexander.

Lt. Col. David Alexander

Colombus Air Force Base, Miss.

Flag display

Regarding the "Flag Flap" letters In the February Air Mail, I just have to say, shame on Staff Sgt. Nikkl Berry and Senior Master Sgt. Michael Shih for bashing Senior Airman Jessica Wilson's method of displaying the American flag in the privacy of her dorm room.

Berry was "angered" because he felt Wilson was inappropriately using the American flag as a window curtain. Berry stated, quoting the Promotion Fitness Examination, that "The flag is not to be used as a drapery of any sort." What the PFE means Is that the flag should not be hung with folds or pleats, but should "always fall and hang freely." Do not confuse drapery with window curtains.

Shih stated Wilson's display of the American flag as a window curtain was "disrespectful." I'm sure that Wilson's intention was to display patriotism, not disrespect.

I believe the only thing she is guilty of regarding flag display is she displayed the union on the viewers' right. But instead of criticizing Wilson for proudly decorating her dorm room with our Stars and Stripes, we should be praising her -- as I think just did.

Master Sgt. Mark A. Schueren

Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii

VA spokesman

Great reporting on Chuck Norris ["Chuck Norris Named 'Veteran of the Year,"' February 01]. 1 have always been a big fan; it's great to have him as the spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs. It's great to know that Chuck Norris is on our team; he will undoubtedly represent us well!

Master Sgt. Thomas Klerstead

Keflavik, Iceland

Tuskegee forces

Nice article regarding the Tuskegee airmen ["Life on the Line," February '01]. Too bad you placed them in the "Army Air Corps," which ceased to exist in July 1941. From then until September 1947, it was the "United States Army Air Forces."

retired Senior Master Sgt. Arden P. Andrews

Little Rock, Ark.
COPYRIGHT 2001 U.S. Air Force, Air Force News Agency
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:May 1, 2001
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