May 25, 2005
Journal of Tommy Bowden’s Trip to McEntire ANG Station
Q: “What does your wife think of this?” A: “She increased my life insurance yesterday.” Q: “How do you expect it to be up there?” A: “Where’s Captain (Rick) Noble? His nickname scares me a little bit, `Slammer.'” Q: “Do you have any places you want to visit?” A: “Yeah, there are a couple of recruiting stops I need to make. I’ve got some calls out telling people to open up their windows around 3:00 and I’ll buzz em.” Q: “Isn’t your pilot today a Clemson graduate?” A: “Yes. I’m hoping he was an A-student.
1:30 PM — Pre-flight briefing.Captain Noble goes over the flight plan, communication andemergency procedures. The flight cannot break the sound barrier,making the top speed around 600 miles per hour. The flight will beapproximately one hour and will go to Clemson, the South Carolinacoast, then back to McEntire Air Force Base. After takeoff the F-16will climb 10,000 feet in 10 seconds and arrive in Clemsonapproximately seven minutes later. “We can do whatever you want todo,” Noble tells Bowden. “Most people have enough around 5 or 6Gs,but we can do more if you want to.” A G is the weight of gravity.An F-16 can go up to 9Gs, or nine times the weight of gravity.2:00 PM — After making a call to his other pilot,wife Linda, signing more autographs and making one last bathroomstop, Coach Bowden puts on his full flight gear and heads to therunway. 2:15 PM — Photo shoot with members of themedia. 2:45 PM — Pre-flight check in the cockpit,Members of the media cleared off the runway. 2:58PM — Flight Demon 51 takes off and immediately climbs10,000 feet while pulling 6 G’s. “We’ll know how much he can takeby their flight pattern,” says Col. Coln “If they come in with anice easy landing in less than an hour, he’s had enough.”4:18 PM — Twenty minutes later than scheduled,Demon 51 returns and buzzes the tower before circling around toland. 4:25 PM — Coach Bowden sets two feet backon the ground and is immediately swarmed by media. “You come inwith a great respect for the military and you leave here aftertoday with more respect for what they do and what they’veaccomplished,” he says.
Q: “Did you try to strike Williams-Brice Stadium?” A: “I pushed the button but they were firing blanks.” Q: “How boring will the plane ride home be now?” A: “We’re gonna have to upgrade our service. Maybe if we can get 10 wins we’ll get one of these jets.”
Captain Noble also speaks with the press. “He took everything I gave him and asked for more,” said Noble. Coach Bowden is then presented with a pin for pulling 9Gs
4:50 PM – After more pictures and autographs,Coach Bowden gets out of his flight suit and back into civilianclothes. He returns the two small bags unused. He and CharlieBussey present Clemson hats and shirts to members of the 169th, whoin turn present the coach with a document certifying hisachievement. 5:10 PM — After some final picturesand autographs, Coach Bowden boards the school plane. 5:20PM –Plane takes off headed back to Clemson 5:50PM — Passengers and crew land at Oconee County Airportand Coach Bowden heads home for the day.
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