Chuck and all,
Yes the WIFF as a said I flew the WIFF with Yuke Smaby. Don’t remember the specifics of the maneuver other then the purpose of the demo was to show you that if the two aircraft and pilots were in sinc with each other and they both understood the aerodynamic interaction between the jets, that “any” attitude could be achieved successfully in contact. It was a confidence and teamwork maneuver. I remember that we did get just a bit past the 90 degree bank on one of the series of maneuvers. The WIFF was a dynamic process, not just one big turn. It was a series of lazy-chandelle type maneuvers (without the 180 degree turn reversal) that started out small and increased with each reversal until the target attitude was achieved or sometimes exceededhence the name WIFF. This concept was re-enforced on the subsequent CFIC MITO sortie where we had to do a 12 second MITO with the tanker and achieve a contact shortly after flaps up – below 2000 feet – on the departure, then fly contact through the climbing turn on the CID. Also I remember Yuke abusing me hard on the night sorties when we re-fueled and had to maintain contact thorough many turns, climbs and descents over and over again. I remember never being so tired and wrung out post flight. I also remember some harsh thoughts I had for my instructors every time the tanker turned and started climbing or descending. At the time I didn’t understand the purpose of the pain only that it was painful. As on my last BoB this level of training and the detail involved was to prepare us for any mission and any situation in the future.
Mine came just three months after returning from CFIC. We ended up in IRAQ short on gas and carrying a load of new weapons on converted cruise missile pylons… yes a WESP. The drag was more then expected, hence that’s why we where short on the gas big time .enough so we needed an extra refueling to make it to the post strike base. We asked the AWACS and we got a snap vector to a group of tankers holding south of the border. Well snap vector was not part of the SAC lexicon and neither was the anchor refueling that we where headed for. I don’t think any one in SAC could spell anchor let alone fly it with the jets in the configuration we had. Oh bye the way did I mention it was at night and the tankers were orbiting right in the only cloud deck in this part of the world. Well Andy and Bob worked their magic and got us close enough behind the tanker to make visual contact. I can’t remember how many times we had to chase the tanker around the orbit with radar before we got close enough to see them. I do remember that every time we made an orbit, chasing the tanker, the fuel gages got lower and lower. We were already well below what we needed to get to the post strike. When we finally got contact the vis in the clouds was to the point we could not afford a disconnect and pre-contact position. We would not have been able to get back. I remember a feeling of relief when the gas started pouring in to the tanks until the crazy turns started as we went around and around. It took every bit of concentration I had to stay connected. Then out of the soup, an F-4 showed up on our wing in full afterburner yelling on guard to “GET THE BUFF OFF THE BOOM NOW!”
I guess he snap vectored to the biggest return he had on his radar which was the two of us with only fumes left. We had enough gas to afford a little break but not enough to get were we needed to go.. so I backed off the boom. No way could I afford to loose sight of the tanker and go through the blind man’s bluff rendezvous again so I opted to slide to the right on the tanker wing then back off to the F-4’s wing position to wait our turn, again. A few more turns in this formation and the F-4 took a disconnect, rolled inverted off the end of the boom, and disappeared into the night soup with not even a thank you. We slid back into contact and started suckling again. By this time I was exhausted. We had already been airborne long enough to see the sun rise and set and it was already near sunrise again. We discussed our low fuel state with the whole formation of tankers (we were a three ship with Russ Bennet and Gary Konnert on our wing) they agreed to drag us towards the post strike base while we were refueling. I remember being filled with gratitude for the gesture and told them we owed our first borne or what ever they wanted.
The whole point of the story is that we were prepared for this by the blood and sweat at CFIC. The confidence and skills that it took to do what none of us had ever done before, under the most adverse scenario you can think of, was forged by the tough curriculum at CFIC. This curriculum – including the WIFF – was the creation of men who had their turn in the meat grinder and understood the need for blood sweat and tears during training to forge aircrew who had the confidence and skills to do anything.