Military aircraft – fast cross-country pit stop?

F35 hotpits take at least 15 minutes, if refueling.

this must have been only a pilot swap ?
Could have been an unwell pilot, or more like a pilot using the jet as his personal taxi…

As for “maintain position” while in flight, is there a definition of what that meant ? Maybe it was airport specific ?

It probably depends on when you were there; from the end of WWII through sometime in the late 80s/early 90s, it was strictly a Texas ANG/NASA base- it was “Ellington Air Force Base”. The NASA component is very large; it’s the primary airfield for the Manned Spaceflight Program at Johnson Space Center (which is just up the road). It’s where Neil Armstrong crashed the LLRV, in fact.

Sometime after that, the City of Houston bought it, and it became a commercial airport that’s used for cargo- the ANG still has a presence (I think there’s a drone squadron based there), but they don’t own the place anymore. My guess is that in the early 2000s, it still had F-16s stationed there, but was a commercial airport.

Actually… on further research, it was an active duty base until 1959, then a reserve base until about 1984, at which point the City of Houston bought it.

It still has a large military component- beyond the 147th Attack Wing/111th Attack Squadron of the Texas ANG, the Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopters fly out of there for the Houston/Galveston area, and there are Army National Guard and Reserve installations, Marine Reserve, and Navy Reserve installations there as well.

Agree w ~15 minutes to refuel. Maybe 10 at best.

In an F-16 a pilot swap requires an engine shutdown. Which is quick. The restart is a bit longer. So still 10-15 minutes.

Color me mostly mystified by the OP’s recollection. Parts make sense, but not the ~5-minute duration. And if they were off the runway on a side taxiway for whatever servicing, why not let the Cessna land during that process?

I almost suspect this is a slightly garbled memory where the Cessna was told to orbit briefly while the jets landed and cleared the runway for whatever service they got. Then the Cessna proceeded around the pattern once and the jets departed, perhaps triggering a second brief orbit for the Cessna on a subsequent pattern. Now 20 years later the “movie” has been compressed from two separate orbit events to one.

Just speculating here, and not meaning to attack the OP’s integrity. Just pointing out the fallibility of human memory.

I can’t be sure of what the radio communication and instruction was, as it was all pretty new to me at the time and the instructor took over immediately and knew what to do! However, it was pretty clear that we suddenly had to change our course. I don’t remember hearing any communication between the fighters and the tower on the open ATC channel either. Could they have been on a different frequency, or just said very little as it was routine for them?

This is one of the more clear parts of my memory of this event - I’m certain we did not overfly the runway or do another circuit while this was going on! We certainly stayed downwind of the runway in the vicinity of the base leg. I’m much less certain about the timing - it could have been 5 minutes or 15 minutes I suppose? Although you are right that 15 minutes would be a long time to “hold” in that small area.