Everyone recognizes the F-14 as the star of the 1986 hit movie Top Gun, but few can readily identify the Western fighter that acted as the Tomcat’s nemesis—a role it was perfectly suited for and still performs for the US Navy and Marine Corps daily.
On this episode, retired US Navy Reserve Commander Paco Chierici joins us to describe how the Northrop F-5 began life in the 1950’s as the ‘Freedom Fighter’ but became and is now known as the Tiger II, still flying 60 years later as a capable adversary aircraft. Paco—the mastermind behind the naval aviation documentary Speed & Angels and author of the upcoming novel, Lions of the Sky—not only answers our standard ‘aircraft series’ questions but goes on to tell us about the time he was involved in a mishap in the F-5 that nearly cost him his life.
During the listener question segment, Jell-O and Sunshine opine on why a bachelor’s degree is a requirement to be a military pilot and who would have prevailed had the two of them dueled it out in the skies. Negative G limits, reasons for the Blue Angels’ flight control modifications, and entry-level pay and benefits for military pilots are also covered.
Bumper music by Jaime Lopez. Episode artwork by Janek Krause.