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RIP BlkPny

webmaster

The Grass is Greener!
pilot
Site Admin
Contributor
VAL-4(2)lightatackron4patch.jpg BlkPny was an amazing contributor to this site, with a wealth of knowledge, stories, and love for aviation to pass on to others. I always loved reading his stories, wit, and his enthusiasm for being a Naval Aviator. Thank you for sharing with us, and I am so sorry for your family's loss.

For those that might not have crossed paths with BlkPny on the website, here are some of his posts of humor, wisdom, and joy for the success of his son and daughters. I wish I would have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting him in person, and sharing some beers and tall tales.

Fair Winds BlkPny!

John

OV-10A_VAL-4_Vietnam.jpg

The joy of Carrier Qualification for him and his peers...
When I went through, everyone carrier qualled no matter which pipeline you were going through, jets, props, even helos. In VT-5, we flew T-28's out of Saufley Field, which was also home to all Navy primary flight training in T-34's. We would practice our FCLPs at Barrin Field, and half of our class would fly out to bounce, while the other half would drive out. The first bunch would land, the second bunch would jump in the planes and bounce, then fly back to Saufley, and the first bunch would drive their cars back. To us, this was high-level logistics.

We flew out to the Lexington on a beautiful, clear day. VT-5 CO led the flight. The take-off and join-up was bizarre, every man for himself. On the way out I remember thinking how outrageous it was that we were actually getting paid to do this. When we finally saw the boat, I realized why.

The actual pattern work and traps were a blur. I remember the noise of the trap, and the sense of falling as I launched over the bow. The best part, however was coming home. The CO called the tower to announce "clearance to land with six of the Navy's newest carrier-qualled pilots". We were so amped up, of the six of us, we had a total of nine wave-offs. We just couldn't seem to settle down and land correctly.
His humor for those of us who sought the coveted Wings of Gold...
This is obviously the chance of a lifetime for all of you Ensigns and 2nd Lts just starting flight school. By the simple act of purchasing this work of German automotive art you are guaranteed jets.

But wait, there's more! Since this is the actual vehicle driven by a real, live US Marine Corps attack jet pilot, you will, upon earning those coveted wings, be authorized to park in the squadron CO's assigned parking spot. Once.

Let the bidding frenzy begin.
Surviving OCS!
In AOCS, during one of our last Personnel Inspections, DI W. R. Schuette stopped in front of one of us, slowly looked to his left and right, and reached up to the candidate's collar insignia, small anchors worn on each side, and he turned one over, something he'd never done before.

"One gig" he roared. "Back of anchors dirty."

The entire class let out a slow groan.

He took a step back and assumed the stance he affected when about to make one of his pronouncements; ramrod straight, left foot slightly forward, left hand on his junk.

"Any man who doesn't clean the back of his anchors, doesn't wipe his ass!"

Words to live by.
Advice on telling stories at reunions with your old squadron mates!
OK, here's what happens at these reunions.

Squadron members drift in, and get a drink. They begin to recognize old friends. You are surprised at how old they got. You didn't. As the evening wears on, and the drinks flow;

1. "That" night got darker.
2. The weather got worse.
3. The ground fire got heavier.
4. The ceiling got lower.
5. You got braver.
6. Those Tom Selleck mustaches looked good.
7. That young lady in Hong Kong liked you for your personality.
8. All that stuff you bought in Hong Kong was a good investment.
9. Everyone believes everyone else's sea stories.

Enjoy your reunion with the best and truest friends you'll ever have. You guys certainly earned it.
Been there ... done that. Vietnam.
Watching a flight of two Phantoms put in a napalm strike will always be one of three iconic images I have of Viet Nam. Watching them come in low and flat, and watching the cans tumble into the foliage was an incredible sight. I can't imagine what the experience was like for the guys on the ground who they were supporting. I'll bet that, there for just a second, they thought they saw God. Or Hell.
Its not "Low Level" unless you can see the guys you're shooting at. Extra credit for coming back with mud splatters on your a/c.
Brings back memories.

Every once in awhile in Viet Nam we'd have a young soldier or SEAL wander in to our bunker or our trailer, looking lost a little scared. He'd ask about who was flying a certain night, and shot for a certain call sign.

We'd ALWAYS do everything we could to identify the pilots and get them together with the grunt. If you could ever experience this get-together, or even witness one, you would never again complain about scrambling during a thunderstorm in the middle of the night, or trying to find the target when its darker than the inside of a cow, or trying to calm down the guy on the radio who's pinned down and is convinced he's going to die.

At that moment, you would appreciate what it means to be a Naval Aviator.

Then, we'd make it a point to abduct the kid and make him our honored guest for a few days, telling his command that he was our charge for awhile. Probably even take him for a ride.

Good times.
I can't tell you how strongly I feel about this subject.

In the mayhem and confusion that is combat, you guys will very often find yourselves a little bit unsure of your exact target and location. In Viet Nam, I had the advantage of ALWAYS being in direct radio contact with the guys on the ground we were shooting for. if something was not right, we knew about it immediately, never filtered through a FAC or a controller. In fact, on the very rare occaisions when there was an AF FAC present, and he tried to control us, he was politely invited to hold a few kilometers away and watch the magic show.

Talking to the guys directly also allowed us to confirm, reconfirm, and discuss the nature of the target, as well as let the grunts make the final decision as to how close they were willing to let us work. If they were in deep shit or being over-run, we would be allowed to work alot closer than if they were taking random fire from a tree-line. Their call.

The very most important thing to always remember, however, is that no matter what info you are given, or who gives it to you, the ultimate resposibility rests with you. When something like this happens, all blame will be placed directly on you. They always blame the pilots.
When you get right down to it, unless you have troops in contact, there are very few targets worth hitting if you, personally, are not absolutely positive you have it right. Sometimes passing on a target and letting the next guys get more info on it is the better thing to do.
In Viet Nam Tuesday was Malaria Pill day. Big jar of the pills would be sitting in the chow hall.

Most of us didn't take them, but the guys who did quickly found out that they really loosened your bowels. After a long 4-hr cover flight, as an a/c taxied in they would radio the bunker and ask for a lineman to meet them with a bucket of water and a rag. Protocol required the offending pilot to clean up the mess himself, still in his soiled flight suit, with all the line crew looking on and taking pictures. I always prefered to risk malaria.....
Scariest Flying
In the bunker on scamble duty in VN. In the middle of the night got a Scamble One, SEALs in contact. Field was closed due to weather, so we got to pick our runway. Launched in a T-storm, stayed low under clouds. As we thought we were getting close, asked Iron Dick (SEAL call sign) to shoot so we could see tracers. Found them, then corkscrewed up to 2000 ft to pop a flare, then back down under the clouds. Got off to the side, flew a racetrack pattern, and fired our rockets at an upward angle to loft them to the target, hoping there weren't any real tall trees where we were flying. RTB, but since field was closed, no tower or nav aids. Flew until we found the Bassac Mekong river, flew down it until we hit the base, landed, got new planes, and went out again. Second time was easier. Had mud and vegetation on three of the four planes. And, by the way an all-LT(jg) flight. Too stupid to know better.
I don't think we ever got above 150' that night.
Youth + Stupidity + Ordnance = Great Memories
Why its GOOD to be in Naval Aviation!
Being a young and dumb jg, you ask the Skipper if you can take an enlisted guy along on an airstrike because "What the hell, I've got an empty back seat". He looks at you for a long moment, then says, "OK, but tell him not to touch the ejection seat handle, and tell him to make sure he brings his camera along." After that, all the plane handlers are your personal slaves.
Getting scrambled by a SEAL team that's surrounded by sleeping bad guys. Being asked to place 5-inch rockets 5 meters in all directions from their smoke, and being able to do it without hurting a single good guy.
Letting them buy you a beer a few nights later.
Pride in his daughters and son and sharing that with us...
When my daughter winged and my son winged, it was really meaningful for me to pin on my original set of wings. At the time(s), however, they were both single. Had either one been married and wanted a spouse to pin on the wings, it would have been fine with me.
As an easy compromise, have the spouse pin on the dad's original set of wings. Covers all the bases.
Almost three years ago I posted a thread titled "A Big Day", reporting that I had just pinned my original wings on my daughter.

A few days ago I was honored to pin those same, 40 year old wings on my son. Needless to say, I am obnoxiously, disgustingly proud. One Navy and one Marine Naval Aviator.

My old squadron mate (and still best friend) just beat cancer, my dog likes me more than he likes my wife, and my wife doesn't especially like either of us very much. Neither the dog nor I really give a damn. Life is good.

I'm putting those old wings away for perhaps another generation.
Just got back from pinning my wings on my daughter. The same wings that were pinned on me in Corpus 37 years ago. She then turned and formally comissioned my son as a 2Lt in the Marines.

My daughter gets winged, my son gets comissioned (with an air contract), my younger daughter is going to the most liberal university in California (and still has a sense of humor), I have more hair than my old squadron-mate (and still best friend), my dog's not pregnant, and my wife ignores me.

Man, life doesn't get much better than this.

:)
 
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Catmando

Keep your knots up.
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
Oh, this hits hard. I didn't know. Thank you, Flyfastnow for posting.

When in Vietnam, we were in awe of what those guys - HAL-3 & VAL-4 - did. Over four decades later, I was again impressed again with BlkPny here on AW. We never met personally, but we were brothers. God bless. Requiescat in pace! And put in a good word for me.
 

HercDriver

Idiots w/boats = job security
pilot
Super Moderator
What a fantastic career and life BlkPny had/led. Wrote some of the best posts on this or any other forum I frequent; always funny, self-effacing, well-written and worth a read. What a great example of a Naval Aviator.
 

FlyFastNow

Blonde
pilot
I am having a very difficult time with my dad's sudden passing. He inspired my life and career and I feel lost. I do appreciate, so much, the outpouring of support and kind words about my dad. It truly does show that those wings we wear on our chests aren't just about flying; it's more about commonalities, camaraderie and brotherhood (sisterhood?). Nothing is more apparent by the flood of posts on this thread and the notes in my inbox. None of you ever personally met my dad, but you KNEW him-- you knew him from Airwarriors and you knew him from the wings he wore on his chest.

I have been tossing around the idea of leaving the aviation community, both due to personal reasons and frustrations with the directions of the community. I don't know what I am going to do, and with my dad gone, I feel more lost than ever. One thing is for sure, no matter if I stay or go, I'll always be a member of an elite club, and perhaps most importantly, I'll always have people to go have a drink and BS with, and you all have helped prove that. Thank you all so much.
 

Gatordev

Well-Known Member
pilot
Site Admin
Contributor
I am having a very difficult time with my dad's sudden passing. He inspired my life and career and I feel lost. I do appreciate, so much, the outpouring of support and kind words about my dad. It truly does show that those wings we wear on our chests aren't just about flying; it's more about commonalities, camaraderie and brotherhood (sisterhood?). Nothing is more apparent by the flood of posts on this thread and the notes in my inbox. None of you ever personally met my dad, but you KNEW him-- you knew him from Airwarriors and you knew him from the wings he wore on his chest.

I have been tossing around the idea of leaving the aviation community, both due to personal reasons and frustrations with the directions of the community. I don't know what I am going to do, and with my dad gone, I feel more lost than ever. One thing is for sure, no matter if I stay or go, I'll always be a member of an elite club, and perhaps most importantly, I'll always have people to go have a drink and BS with, and you all have helped prove that. Thank you all so much.
I meant what I said in my email. If you want to talk, feel free to give me a call. As you know, I COMPLETELY understand your frustrations within the community, but don't make the decision on emotion alone if it's still something you're interested in.
 

Recovering LSO

Suck Less
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
I am having a very difficult time with my dad's sudden passing. He inspired my life and career and I feel lost. I do appreciate, so much, the outpouring of support and kind words about my dad. It truly does show that those wings we wear on our chests aren't just about flying; it's more about commonalities, camaraderie and brotherhood (sisterhood?). Nothing is more apparent by the flood of posts on this thread and the notes in my inbox. None of you ever personally met my dad, but you KNEW him-- you knew him from Airwarriors and you knew him from the wings he wore on his chest.

I have been tossing around the idea of leaving the aviation community, both due to personal reasons and frustrations with the directions of the community. I don't know what I am going to do, and with my dad gone, I feel more lost than ever. One thing is for sure, no matter if I stay or go, I'll always be a member of an elite club, and perhaps most importantly, I'll always have people to go have a drink and BS with, and you all have helped prove that. Thank you all so much.
And when folks jump and down and yell that the culture of Naval Aviation (at least the one they believe in) is dead - please point them to this post.

I've been around this site (in one name or another) since 2002. This is one of the greatest posts that has ever been contributed. FlyFastNow has clearly shown why there's more to this business than flight hours, traps, and FITREPs. If you think we're broken, read her post as many times as it takes to fix yourself.
 

bert

Enjoying the real world
pilot
Contributor
I am having a very difficult time with my dad's sudden passing. He inspired my life and career and I feel lost. I do appreciate, so much, the outpouring of support and kind words about my dad. It truly does show that those wings we wear on our chests aren't just about flying; it's more about commonalities, camaraderie and brotherhood (sisterhood?). Nothing is more apparent by the flood of posts on this thread and the notes in my inbox. None of you ever personally met my dad, but you KNEW him-- you knew him from Airwarriors and you knew him from the wings he wore on his chest.

I have been tossing around the idea of leaving the aviation community, both due to personal reasons and frustrations with the directions of the community. I don't know what I am going to do, and with my dad gone, I feel more lost than ever. One thing is for sure, no matter if I stay or go, I'll always be a member of an elite club, and perhaps most importantly, I'll always have people to go have a drink and BS with, and you all have helped prove that. Thank you all so much.
Do you have a little time before you need to make your decision, or do you have a PRD coming up? If you have the chance to wait a little bit on the decision to let yourself go through the grieving process it might help in deciding what you want to do next. (And take the time to find folks you trust - both those who have stayed and those who have left - to talk through your choices with).

It doesn't lessen the pain from your loss, but your Dad's obvious pride and happiness in his family really came out in his posts. Be safe and best of luck.
 

Old R.O.

Professional No-Load
None
Contributor
Nice touch with a VAL-4 Bronco on the headline space at the top of the page. It's rare that one person's posts can affect so many in such a positive manner.
There's a hole in Air Warriors now that can never be filled in the same way again. Fair winds and following seas.
 

Renegade One

Well-Known Member
None
Nice touch with a VAL-4 Bronco on the headline space at the top of the page. It's rare that one person's posts can affect so many in such a positive manner.
There's a hole in Air Warriors now that can never be filled in the same way again. Fair winds and following seas.
Seconded…with respect.
 
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