Imagine if you will, a beautifully clear, sunny day out at an open jobsite. Guys are working quietly to fix up machines, clean up, and just get things prepped and ready to head home. By most standards, one of the quietest days we’ve had at my fighter ramp. Routinely, the Navy will fly EA-6B Prowlers overhead, and they scream overhead first with what I call a ‘streaking whine’ follwed by a huge WHOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSHHH that tends to piss everyone off. Most of us are pretty used to it, and when we hear one, we tend to look up if for nothing more than to glare at the aircrew who’s making so much damn noise. :mad:
Anyway, around 3:PM local today, we hear the beginnings of the all-too-familiar Prowlers’ engines. But for some reason, this one sounded quieter and didn’t get louder with time. Like a bunch of Pavlovian dogs, we look up. . . and see a missile slowly climbing out and then up from it’s launch site on base, with a ground track maybe 500 meters East of my jobsite. :eek:
In sheer awe of the spectacle (hey, I’ve been here nigh on eight months, and ain’t seen nothing like this yet), I watch this thing first fly out maybe two kilometers from it’s launch site roughly at a twenty degree angle, then pop up to altitude over a total span of maybe thirty seconds. The first thing in my mind is, “What the hell is that?” On the realization of what is transpiring before my eyes, I think to myself, “I haven’t heard any base-wide warnings, but I know this isn’t normal, and that might mean it’s bad.” The knowledge that we’re on the far side of the flightline–far away from any bunkers or any support–means we’re out in the middle of nowhere, pretty much exposed to whatever wants to fall on us. That fact registers, and I begin to watch the missile for a high-altitude detonation which would tell me that it purposefully went out to intercept somethin’ hostile. ‘Self, if that happens,’ I plan to myself, ‘I’d best tell everyone to stop what they’re doing, mount up, and head back into the Command Post, ‘cause something nefarious is afoot. . .’. All this strategizin’ fleets through my mind in the space of maybe five or ten seconds.
But I watch this thing climb. And it keeps going. And going. And going. . . until the smoke trail just kinda disappears. . . No “BOOM”. No spectacular flames. Not even so much as the anticlimactically wimpy “poof”. And that’s it. In the space of sixty seconds, I’ve just watched a (possibly intentional) launch of what I figure to be a Patriot missile: it was slow, and relatively short and stubby, compared to say, a Sidewinder or other “fast” missiles. But no other evidence ever occurred. The birds kept on chirping . . . the wind offered a slight momentary breeze, a small deer bound by the old Soviet creek, and somewhere that famous Indian from the environmental commercial from the 70s shed a tear.
So there ya have it. Now I can say I’ve literally seen a missile launch live and in person. Really, I can’t make this sh*t up, folks. If it were “bad”, I probably wouldn’t be posting just now.
Still alive, still warm and pink, still confused as all hell.