USAF F-15 pilot explains why he had to buy beers after he took off without G-suit during his first scramble.

USAF F-15 pilot explains why he had to buy beers after he took off without G-suit during his first scramble

By Dario Leone
Mar 9 2024
Share this article


In the event of a threat, military forces need to react quickly for safety reasons. Aircraft scrambling is a part of a military aviation technique used to get an airplane off the base as quickly as possible.

In NATO military parlance, it’s a Quick Reaction Alert, or QRA. The US Department of Defense prefers Airspace Control Alert (ACA), but informally almost everyone calls it a “scramble.”

During the Cold War, many NATO air forces had crews stationed in Europe on alert and scrambled whenever their airspace was penetrated.

USAF F-15 pilot explains why he had to buy beers after he took off without G-suit during his first scramble
This model is available from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

Both interceptors and nuclear bomber forces were kept on QRA.

But how much time was required for a pilot “on alert,” to get into his aircraft and get airborne?

USAF F-15 pilot scrambles without G-suit

Jeff Loftin, former USAF F-15 Eagle pilot, recalls on Quora;

When I was in the F-15, when the horn went off we had to run to the jet and launch within 5 minutes. We slept in our flight suits and boots, but most guys kept their G-suit by the door or in the cockpit to be put on as the engines cranked. On my first scramble, I was in such a hurry, I left the G-suit by the door.

36th TFW F-15C Print
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-15C Eagle 36th TFW, 22d TFS, BT/79-051 / 1981

‘That wasn’t a big thing since our role was as interceptors and there was little chance of a dogfight: however, all my maps were strapped onto the legs of the G-suit. So, after our practice intercept, when the flight lead told me to lead us home, I had no idea where we were or how to get home. I bought the beers after that alert tour.’

Loftin concludes;

‘By now, I’m sure paper maps are obsolete. I flew the F-15 from 1981–87 when it was relatively new. We had an inertial navigation system that would basically take us point to point, but it wouldn’t display a map.’

The following video, taken at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, at the height of the Cold War, shows a typical F-15 Zulu Alert Scramble.

Photo credit: Screenshot from video

Share this article

Dario Leone

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.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this article

Share this article
Share this article

Always up to date! News and offers delivered directly to you!

Get the best aviation news, stories and features from The Aviation Geek Club in our newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

Error: Contact form not found.

Share this article
Back to top
My Agile Privacy
This website uses technical and profiling cookies. Clicking on "Accept" authorises all profiling cookies. Clicking on "Refuse" or the X will refuse all profiling cookies. By clicking on "Customise" you can select which profiling cookies to activate. In addition, this site installs Google Analytics in version 4 (GA4) with anonymous data transmission via proxy. By giving your consent, the data will be sent anonymously, thus protecting your privacy. We and our selected ad partners can store and/or access information on your device, such as cookies, unique identifiers, browsing data. You can always choose the specific purposes related to profiling by accessing the advertising preferences panel, and you can always withdraw your consent at any time by clicking on "Manage consent" at the bottom of the page.

List of some possible advertising permissions:

You can consult: our list of advertising partners, the Cookie Policy and the Privacy Policy.
Warning: some page functionalities could not work due to your privacy choices