Cold War Era

F-4 pilot recalls when during a “snake check” down a jeep trail he had to do a 6-G pullup to avoid a pickup truck. He was accused by his neighbor of running him off the road with his Phantom II.

The Phantom II

McDonnell initially created the F-4 Phantom II for the US Navy in 1958 to provide defensive “top cover” for the fleet, however, the F-4 went on to serve with the Air Force, Marines, and 15 other nations around the world. It has served as an interceptor, a fighter, a bomber, a close-support attack aircraft, a reconnaissance aircraft, an air defense suppression platform, and as a target drone. As of 2022, four air forces are still flying the Phantom, 64 years after the first F-4 flew.

When the F-4 was used in the fighter-bomber role, its pilots were trained to fly the Phantom II at very low level.

David Storm, former USAF F-4 Phantom II pilot, told to The Aviation Geek Club;

‘In the late ’70’s I was in Stan/Eval (Flight Evaluation) in the F-4 wing at Nellis. When giving crews their Tactical Flight Eval, they would plan a low-level mission to the range. I would take off early and hide out in the mountains and desert and try to attack them to check their visual lookout.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-4E Phantom II 32nd TFS, CR 68-446

F-4 pilot Snake Check

‘As happens with any fighter, they occasionally were late or had to abort which left poor me with an F-4 full of gas and 3/4 of the state of Nevada to play. It was a good chance to practice ridge crossings, “ultra” low level flying, and such. There were wild horses to chase and an occasional RV to avoid. One day doing a “snake check” down a jeep trail as low as I could go, I came over a little rise and was eyeball to eyeball with a pickup truck. 6-G pullup and hope he made it home with clean underwear!

‘Second half of the story – I came home one day and my neighbor was outside to meet me. He was the State Brand Inspector for Nevada – yes, they had one. Most of his duties were up on the BLM land / Nellis ranges investigating cattle rustling. He accused me of running him off the road in my F-4, which happened quite often to him.’

Storm concludes;

‘I assured him that I know his official green Chevy pickup very well and would certainly avoid him.’

Photo credit: Unknown

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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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  • Really, some civilian thought that he knew the exact identification markings of the aircraft you were assigned to fly that day, and thus could call you out for your reckless irresponsible flying? Interesting..

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