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How Searchers Are Like Fighter Pilots, Albeit Not Very Good Ones...
01-14-2019, 01:23 AM, (This post was last modified: 01-14-2019, 01:23 AM by LurkerMike.)
#1
How Searchers Are Like Fighter Pilots, Albeit Not Very Good Ones...
Forrest has a certain level of training and experience in many of the areas involved in planning a treasure hunt that most of us not only lack, but are not even aware of.

Modern warfare is augmented by laser designated targets, drones and other CIC (command and control) aircraft platforms, GPS, and a host of other technological systems. But the options available in Vietnam differed little from WWII with the biggest advancement and change in aviation being turbines and fans displacing pistons and propellers.

Let us consider the era in which Forrest Fenn flew fighter/bomber jets defending our great nation:

Military pilots, and ground attack pilots, in particular, must master map reading, aerial photography interpretation, and navigation skills to find, identify and target planned objectives.

Ground attack pilots must have excellent spatial intelligence to rapidly, if not instantly, assess, recognize, orient and accurately identify preplanned ground targets at closure rates of several hundred miles per hour. This is required to translate targets that were identified by maps and photography prior to the mission to the actual landscape rushing past the pilot below.

Failure to correctly identify the target(s) jeopardize the mission and may require multiple passes to find them. Each pass exposes the aircraft and pilot to an exponentially increasing risk of taking ground fire as the element of surprise of a first pass strike is lost.

Close air support (CAS) missions raise the bar considerably. Where a ground attack mission typically allows the pilot some time to study maps and photography of the target area and target, a CAS mission typically does not.

Consider that a ground attack mission might be diverted in midflight to a CAS mission, especially if the onboard ordinance load would be useful in suppression of enemy action against the friendly ground forces being attacked. Or, a CAS mission may begin with CAS aircraft positioned to loiter in an area on an “on-call” as-needed basis.

The point here is many if not most CAS missions do not have the exact target identified or known to the combat pilot until he or she is already in the air. CAS targets are typically identified by friendly troops on the ground who may have no concept for how the target will appear to the pilot.

While smoke may be used by ground forces, usually to mark the friendly positions to identify “do not bomb here” locations and as a reference to base direction and distance to identify the desired target area, smoke designation is not foolproof nor is it always available.

So what we have is a pilot flying along getting a CAS call with a vector to divert to where his/her ordinance is needed, and often needed desperately.

While on that vector, usually direct communication will be established with the ground forces where they will, often while taking intense enemy fire with the rush of life and death emotions that may confuse or even panic them, try to explain with words the location they are requesting the pilot to drop ordinance or rake with gunfire.

This may be in an area the pilot has never seen before, in person or on a map. The ground troops may be confused, yelling or unable to hear over the firefight, or suffering any number of other reasons that make communication difficult.

Here are a couple of samples of what that sounded like on a good day:

https://vietnamwar.govt.nz/audio/air...-audio-extract

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXYLM6-edTk

My point here is that it is likely because he flew so many combat missions, that Forrest did both planned ground attack missions as well as the occasional emergency unplanned CAS mission.

Deciphering what the ground pounders were saying where they wanted munitions directed on the enemy is akin to solving the poem.

And locating the spot they wanted that ordinance to land is little different than placing your BOTG to find the chest.

If you are still with me, let’s look at some of the aspects to planning a strike mission on a target that an air attack planer must consider.

Probably first on the list would be to identify the type and quantity of ordinance necessary to achieve the desired result on the target. Additional quantities should be considered for insurance purposes in the event that not all of the strike aircraft make it to the target and/or not all of the ordinance hits the target or functions properly.

Then the number and type of aircraft needed to complete the mission would probably come next. How many strike aircraft would seem the easiest to determine, but the flight ready number of aircraft available can crimp your style here. The more complex the aircraft, generally the more maintenance hours are required per flight hour. Many aircraft may be down for maintenance when you need them.

Other asset aircraft that might need to be considered could include CAP (combat patrol) aircraft to fly a high cover aerial superiority role to protect the strike bombers in the event they are bounced by bogies (enemy fighter aircraft). Also, tanker assets might need to be considered for any foreseen or unforeseen in-flight refueling needs.

ECM (electronic countermeasures) aircraft known as “Wild Weasels” back in the Vietnam era might be needed to jam the enemy’s tracking and targeting radar to suppress SAM’s (surface to air missiles) and radar guided AAA (anti-aircraft fire).

Perhaps the most important element in any combat mission planning is the planning is the SAR (search and rescue) asset(s) contingency to rescue any downed pilots as soon as possible.

Any and all of these assets to be employed in the strike package would need to be coordinated with those individual separate units for the plan to have any hope of being successful.

Other considerations besides where known enemy threats to the strike package exist would include things like alerting or avoiding friendly defenses and things like where friendly artillery units might be firing fire missions. All things that could cause you to have a very bad day must be considered.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this planning comes the actual route the strike package will fly. Not just direction, but altitude as well. Perhaps the route will not be a direct route and the strike package will fly in one direction to feign an attack on a fake target only to turn to surprise the enemy by attacking the real target.

Additional elements might be employed as decoys that break off in another direction, again to mislead and fake out the enemy so the enemy will have less defensive resources to employ at the real target and/or less time to employ them.

Or a strike package may be set up to appear to like something it is not to deceive the enemy. The greatest aerial deception ever was “Operation Bolo” in Vietnam devised by Robin Olds, a double ace Forrest knew, flew with and has spoken of in high regard:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E85VbXDNVE

This is by no means a comprehensive list of what would go into any specific mission planning, but hopefully, enough to impart the complexity required that would go into planning strike and other types of Air Force missions.

Forrest Fenn would almost certainly have been involved in this kind of planning during his service in our Air Force. Having gained training and experience flying a variety of missions and later planning or contributing to the planning of them certainly puts Forrest Fenn at a distinct advantage for devising and designing his Chase. He was certainly no armature at this type of complex in-depth planning, which of course explains a lot.

This is why I believe Forrest Fenn taking 15 years to write the poem was just the tip of the spear. Imagine all of the years he had to plan every detail, employ every diversion, and add every contingency. I believe very few if any of us searchers would be capable of even coming close to matching his level of planning expertise. We are simply outclassed by Forrest in this, his, arena.

The only thing that makes the Chase even possible to solve is that while making it challenging and adventurous, Forrest did intend for it to be solved by someone who worked hard enough to earn it.

So in summary, I think it is not unreasonable to consider that Forrest planned the Chase similar to how he would have planned Air Force strike missions. And in that case, we would be operating much like his fighter pilots, albeit not very good ones.

We have figuratively flown countless thousands of sorties and RTB'ed (returned to base) without having identified the target and achieve the mission objective. But I shall continue to fly, not because I expect to ever be successful in accomplishing the mission goal, but because I just love to fly this kind of aircraft with the sense of purpose Forrest has given us.

Tally Ho! Fellow searchers!

Godspeed, good luck and happy hunting! Be safe out there!
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01-14-2019, 09:13 AM,
#2
RE: How Searchers Are Like Fighter Pilots, Albeit Not Very Good Ones...
LurkerMike,
That was good writing. It looks as thou you were born with Pin in hand , while some of us struggle to write our name.
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01-14-2019, 10:04 AM,
#3
RE: How Searchers Are Like Fighter Pilots, Albeit Not Very Good Ones...
Lurker. I think you nailed it.
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01-14-2019, 12:32 PM, (This post was last modified: 01-14-2019, 12:33 PM by LurkerMike.)
#4
RE: How Searchers Are Like Fighter Pilots, Albeit Not Very Good Ones...
Thanks.

I've overcome a lot and I continue striving to improve in all things.

I'm definitely not a natural writer. I can't spell beyond four or five letters, probably because I'm mildly dyslexic and I have moderate ADD. But I'm pretty good with computers so spell checkers and programs like Grammerly go a long way to correct my mistakes.

What I have found is that writing prose is much like writing music. You can write great songs, but if you sing and/or play the notes off-key, they will not connect with people and they will miss the message of the song.

And you can have a perfect pitch voice and/or play an instrument with precision for every note, but if the composition does not stir the listener's emotions, this too will fall flat.

So both writing prose, like writing and performing music, requires the intended message to be conveyed in a way that an audience can connect to. In other words, it is a combination of both message and delivery that is needed.

Looking at the number of people who have attempted to solve Forrest Fenn's poem, it should become obvious that he did an incredible job of delivering a very mysterious message to a wide audience of both fans and critics.

Even his greatest detractors are so moved by The Thrill of the Chase they just can't let it go without being compelled to make their opposition to it known, shouting from the rooftops by various means that it is a hoax, trick or other deception.

If they really believed that, they would be like a very rare real Athiest who wastes no time arguing or debating religious belief and trying to "save" others by "converting" them to Atheism. People who do this are in fact actually trying to convince themselves of what they want to believe is fact. They are conflicted with inner doubts about their own beliefs they are seeking to resolve.

A great song doesn't just cause us to feel one or two emotions, but several. A great song resonates inside us because it plays our emotions like notes from an additional instrument that only we can "hear" and feel. For many, The Chase is like a great song.

There is much to appreciate and admire about Forrest Fenn. And just like his poem, he's incredibly deeper than one would suspect at first glance.
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01-14-2019, 03:39 PM,
#5
RE: How Searchers Are Like Fighter Pilots, Albeit Not Very Good Ones...
There is also " much to appreciate and admire about you" such as your writing abilitys for example. It's difficult for me to imagine such Letters of the pin would come from such a big burly man as yourself.

Please, keep on truckin , maybe someday we can all learn to be a long hual trucker.

The best to you my friend.
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01-14-2019, 06:49 PM,
#6
RE: How Searchers Are Like Fighter Pilots, Albeit Not Very Good Ones...
Watch 1:30 to 3:40 in this video to see a “Danger Close” CAS mission in Afghanistan with American lives depending on the success of the fighter/bomber pilots:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ts7TQno6Ko

It’s often a strange, but very small world of apparent coincidence sometimes...

I know Major Ray “Hollywood” Fowler as “Little Ray.” I did not know him that well personally growing up in the same home town because he was around 10 years younger than me. But I know his family well and worked for his uncle crewing on one of cousin’s asphalt oval track racecars back in the day. Another cousin of his ran promods. I occasionally ran up on Little Ray riding his dirt bike in the same woods I rode mine and around town here and there.

Little Ray could have easily grown up to be a spoiled rich kid, the kind that Forrest has talked about. But as we see, Little Ray grew up to be “Hollywood” Fowler, a man I have the utmost respect for. I have not seen him in some 30 years so I don’t know why as a “Georgia Boy” he served in the Alabama ANG 100th, the “Red Tails” unit no less. But my guess is he may have sought that unit because of its rich WWII history.

Here is another article about Little Ray, I mean “Hollywood” flying a restored FW-190 and other warbirds:

http://warbirdsnews.com/warbird-articles...-days.html

Like Forrest, Major Hollywood sure seems to love to fly.

Does anyone know Forrest’s call sign?
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01-14-2019, 07:01 PM,
#7
RE: How Searchers Are Like Fighter Pilots, Albeit Not Very Good Ones...
(01-14-2019, 06:49 PM)LurkerMike Wrote: Does anyone know Forrest’s call sign?

Everyone knows it. Although I'm a little unclear as to whether those military call signs are fixed or if they change from day to day. But the only call sign I've ever heard associated with Forrest is: Litter 81 . That one has been discussed for years.
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01-14-2019, 07:11 PM,
#8
RE: How Searchers Are Like Fighter Pilots, Albeit Not Very Good Ones...
(01-14-2019, 07:01 PM)John Brown Wrote:
(01-14-2019, 06:49 PM)LurkerMike Wrote: Does anyone know Forrest’s call sign?

Everyone knows it. Although I'm a little unclear as to whether those military call signs are fixed or if they change from day to day. But the only call sign I've ever heard associated with Forrest is: Litter 81 . That one has been discussed for years.

Always sounded like a joke to me.
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01-14-2019, 07:17 PM, (This post was last modified: 01-14-2019, 07:22 PM by John Brown.)
#9
RE: How Searchers Are Like Fighter Pilots, Albeit Not Very Good Ones...
(01-14-2019, 07:11 PM)Beavertooth Wrote:
(01-14-2019, 07:01 PM)John Brown Wrote:
(01-14-2019, 06:49 PM)LurkerMike Wrote: Does anyone know Forrest’s call sign?

Everyone knows it. Although I'm a little unclear as to whether those military call signs are fixed or if they change from day to day. But the only call sign I've ever heard associated with Forrest is: Litter 81 . That one has been discussed for years.

Always sounded like a joke to me.

It was not a joke. Spend some time searching and you can find that was, on at least one mission, his official call sign. But my understanding is that military call signs change from mission to mission. I'm not clear on any of this and I never will be because I don't think it matters.

(01-14-2019, 01:23 AM)LurkerMike Wrote: Let us consider the era in which Forrest Fenn flew fighter/bomber jets defending our great nation:

A major stretch to claim that Fenn defended our nation during the Vietnam war. Vietnam was unlikely to ever attack the US. Here is what Forrest had to say on the matter. "Wars can have a far-reaching sting. To die for some coat-and-tie ideas in Washington is to put a high price on someone else's opinion."

I will grant you that he did defend our nation while sitting alert in Europe with an atomic bomb under his wing.
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01-14-2019, 07:25 PM,
#10
RE: How Searchers Are Like Fighter Pilots, Albeit Not Very Good Ones...
(01-14-2019, 07:17 PM)John Brown Wrote: It was not a joke. Spend some time searching and you can find that was, on at least one mission, his official call sign. But my understanding is that military call signs change from mission to mission. I'm not clear on any of this and I never will be because I don't think it matters.

You assume that his buddies would not pull a joke on him?
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