From back in the day, courtesy of my old Radar operator… 🙂

Sir, I am DJ Johnson and I would appreciate it if you could tell me what It takes to be a fighter pilot in the US Navy. What classes should I take in high school to help the career I want to take later in my life? What could I do to get in the Academy?
DJ Johnson

Anybody want to help this poor kid from Xxxxxxx?

“Charlie Oscar”

A worldly and jaded P-3 Pilot, LCDR X, rose to the task!!

Dear DJ,

Obviously, through no fault of your own, your young, impressionable brain has been poisoned by the superfluous, hyped-up, “Top Gun” media portrayal of fighter pilots. Unfortunately, this portrayal could not be further from the truth.

In my experience, I’ve found most fighter pilots pompous, back-stabbing, momma’s boys with inferiority complexes, as well as being extremely over-rated aeronautically. However, rather than dash your budding dreams of becoming a USN pilot, I offer the following alternative:

What you REALLY want to aspire to is the exciting, challenging, and rewarding world of Maritime Patrol. And this, young DJ, means one thing….the venerable workhorse, THE P-3 Orion! I can guarantee no fighter pilot can brag that he has flown a mining run at 300 ft above the water, at 300 knots, while trying to calculate a means of justifying an emergency divert to Pattaya Beach, Thailand, avoiding shipping, and yelling at the TACCO, all while eating a box lunch, with the engineer in the back taking a piss and the navigator puking in his trash can! I tell you, DJ, Maritime Patrol is where it’s at!

Where else is it legal to throw hazardous material out of the aircraft, and not even give a crap what Greenpeace and the other tree huggers think! No where else can you crawl in the back of the aircraft and take a nap because you are so hung over that focusing your eyes takes to much effort!

And talk about exotic travel? When P-3’s go somewhere, they GO somewhere (usually for 6 months, unfortunately). This gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture enough to give any natives a bad taste in their mouths for the USN and Americans in general, not something those jet jocks can do from their airport hotel rooms! As far as recommendations for your course of study, I offer these:

Take a lot of math courses. You will need all the advanced math skills you can muster to enable you to calculate per diem rates around the world, and when trying to split up the crew’s bar tab so that the co-pilot really believes he owes 85% of the whole thing and the NAV believing he owes the other 20%.

Health sciences are important, too. You will need a thorough knowledge of biology to make those educated guesses of how much longer you can drink beer before the tremendous case of the shits catches up to you from that meal you ate at that place that had the belly dancers in some God-forsaken foreign country whose name you can’t even pronounce!

Social studies are also beneficial. It is important for a good Patrol Plane Commander (PPC) to have the cultural knowledge to be able to ascertain the exact location of the nearest titty bar in any country in the world. Then be able to convince the local authorities to release the RADAR operator, after he offends every sensibility of the local religion and culture.

A foreign language is helpful, but not required. You will never be able to pronounce the names of the NAVAIDs in Italy, and it’s much easier to ignore them and go where you want to anyway. As a rule of thumb: Waiters and bellhops in France are always called “Pierre”, in Spain it’s “Hey, Pedro”, in Puerto Rico it’s “Juan”, and in Italy, of course, it’s “Mario.” These terms of address also serve in other countries interchangeably.

A study of geography is also paramount. You will need to know the basic location of all the places you’ve been when you get back from your deployment and are ready to stick those little pins in that huge world map you’ve taped to your living room wall, right next to that gigantic wooden giraffe statue and beer stein collection.

Well, DJ, I hope this little note inspires you. And by the way, forget about that Naval Academy thing. All P-3 guy’s know that there are waaay too few women and too little alcohol there to provide a well-balanced education. A nice, big state college would be a much better choice.

Good luck and see you on the Data Link! (if it works!)

Meant as humor, but a lot of ‘truth’ in this one too… Of course I’m NOT saying this just because I was a Mustang… Nope, not at all… 🙂


‘Humor’… — 13 Comments

  1. AND – you don’t need a g-suit in a P-3. Everyone knows that a g-suit ends up shrinking your genitalia.

  2. Nice! Reminds me of our company…
    As a matter of fact, (with your kind permission and appropriate attribution) I’d like to commandeer this, file off the serial numbers, change some names and slap on a little paint and circulate it among our traveling staff…

  3. Oops…coffee on the keyboard again. Damm, that’s funny with a lot of “facts” mixed in.

  4. Don’t leave us hanging. Was DJ so inspired by the response that he ended up as a PPC? Or did he turn to the dark side and enlist in the Air Force instead?

  5. Skul- You’re welcome!

    Murph- 27… 🙂

    LL- Nope, no G-suit required!!!

    TBG- Feel free, and no attribution required! 🙂

    Opus- LOL

    Bill- That it is… 😀

    Ed- Bore holes over the ocean chasing ‘phantom’ submarines… 🙂

    Woody- Yep there is!

    Tim- I did know a DJ Johnson that became a PPC and later a squadron commander, don’t know if it was the ‘same’ one… 🙂

    Brighid- Feel free!

    BP- Nope, I went NFO after 11 years enlisted…

    WSF- There ‘might’ be a bit of that… LOL