Military Aviation

F-16 Fanboy who Became A-10 pilot explains why he would never trade its Warthog for a Viper

‘All through high school, and then all through pilot training, I wanted to fly the F-16. Agile, multirole, and downright sexy, the Viper was what I set my sights on. Then assignment night came, and I walked away with the A-10,’ Lynn Taylor, former A-10 Pilot.

Conceived in the early 1970s by a small but vocal group of engineers and defense analysts known as the Lightweight Fighter Mafia, the F-16 was designed as an alternative to fighter aircraft that had grown increasingly heavy and unmaneuverable.

It was sleek and fast, but by the 1980s, the F-16 was tasked to take on more missions, including bombing targets and close air support.

So, more powerful weapons and targeting systems were added without diminishing the F-16’s unparalleled agility, transforming the Viper into a true multirole aircraft.

‘All through high school, and then all through pilot training, I wanted to fly the F-16. Agile, multirole, and downright sexy, the Viper was what I set my sights on,’ Lynn Taylor, former A-10 Pilot, remembers on Quora.

‘Then assignment night came, and I walked away with the A-10.

‘Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to think about that.

‘Then I went through A-10 training.

‘Then I flew the Hawg operationally.

‘Now, if I had the chance to go back and do it all over again, and had my pick of the litter…

‘I would pick the Hawg as my first choice, no matter what else you put in front of me.

‘Yeah, there are more sleek looking aircraft. And there are jets with more thrusties. There are fighters without anything close to the energy management issues the Hawg has. And they have cool gadgets and fancy computers. And a radar (can’t forget the radar). And a useful autopilot (the A-10’s is craptastic). Oh, and a parking brake. (Seriously, how hard would it have been to install a friggin’ parking brake? *sigh*)

‘But, despite all of its faults, the Hawg is amazing. As long as you manage your energy well, it’ll turn on a dime and give you change.’

Taylor continues;

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‘In addition to being crazy maneuverable, it’s an incredibly stable and accurate weapons delivery platform. One year we had a new Wing Commander who insisted that we’d have a Turkey Shoot (bombing competition) between the A-10 and F-16 fighter squadrons on base every year.

‘We had exactly one.

‘In every event, the Hawg squadron won first, second, and third place.

‘Every. Event.

‘And they didn’t even let us use The Gun.

‘Speaking of which… The Gun.

‘There is nothing else like it in the world. Firing it is truly indescribable.

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‘Then there’s the close air support mission.

‘Ya know… being a guardian angel is a pretty cool job. Dangerous, to be sure, but still pretty cool.

‘In addition to feeling a sort of kinship with the boots on the ground, there’s a visceral satisfaction to the instant feedback of bombs on target. Or bullets. Or rockets. Or missiles. Or popping up over a mountain ridge line, followed by firing off a missile from five miles away, then the Gun at two miles, followed by bombs inside a mile, followed by more bullets while exiting the target area.

‘I don’t remember meeting an A-10 crew chief who didn’t like the jet. It’s designed to be rugged, with redundant and interchangeable systems. Yeah, it’s old, but it’s relatively simple.’

Taylor concludes:

‘All I know for sure is that we Hawg drivers were sure proud of our steed, and we absolutely loved the mission.

‘And, we didn’t much care what anyone else thought about either one.’

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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