Monday, 11 June 2012

I had an encounter with an A10 Tank Buster - blog 22

I had an encounter with an A10 Tank Buster

As you will see, here I am mixing farming with the military US air force.

As  a pr-amble,
 I had never ever met a soldier currently serving the British Army, we live and farm out in the countryside and the only soldiers we ever see are the ones on parade  such as during the recent Jubilee celebrations on TV.
So, just recently I was privileged to meet a young man James P.  he had recently finished a tour of duty in Afghanistan, and now just returned to his base in Germany 10.06.12 after some weeks of leave back home. I was telling him about this encounter I had with these three A10 tank Busters and he was showing us a photo album of the work they were doing out in Afghanistan, showing all too graphical the dangers they faced every day out there on duty. His story and pictures, needed no words, and only now it has brought home to us how much we appreciate the difficult and dangerous work they do.
 It makes my blog pale into insignificance, however here goes. and thank you James and show this your mates, it may make them laugh out loud at my bit of a fright. ----

A few years ago, while ploughing in one of our furthest field, I had an encounter with a United States  A10 Tank Buster, or should I say three of them.

It was the time of the Gulf War, and some American war planes were on training exercise in the UK before being sent on duty giving air cover the troops out in the Gulf. Each day around mid morning three of these aircraft came over at high speed at around a thousand feet, banking and turning so as not to fly directly over outlying villages or towns.

They were like nothing I had ever seen before, being a very distinctive shape and outline, it had twin fins one at each end of the rear wing, and two engines saddle bag fashion half way along the fuselage. They followed each other perhaps a half mile apart, the sudden noise from the first one, particularly if I was driving or looking the other way, it was enough to frighten anyone, then I knew to expect the next, and the third one.

It was the third day when I was working in that same field when I noticed them coming in the distance over the horizon, approaching very rapidly, then when about a mile or so away I realized that they were flying directly at me. Not over me, not round or down on side or the other, but directly at the tractor.

In my mind they had locked their radar, or sights, and aiming at me in the tractor as if it were an enemy tank. I stopped the tractor and in effect froze; it was no use me weaving at four miles an hour to avoid the rockets which could have been deployed in those last seconds. Then when about quarter mile away the pilot must have pulled back on his stick and swooping up from lower than normal, passed directly over the tractor, the following two did exactly the same. It must have given them great satisfaction to have had a "sitting duck" part way through their manoeuvres on which they could practice.

It left me sitting in the cab shaking like a jelly, and could not believe what I had witnessed; what with the noise of the jets over head and what might have happened if one of them had actually produced a friendly fire incident. On the main news that night it reported that A10's were being deployed to the Gulf from their base in Britain.

The exercises continued for another week then all of those aircraft must have flown off on their mission abroad. I have not ever seen another one of those aircraft since other than on the news programs, so if I in my small way had helped those pilots, good luck to them, they will never know me and I will never know them, but I thank them for keeping their fingers off those triggers, and left me to go home for my dinner, shaken but safe.

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)