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An Aardvark Story (Think Goose Not Maverick!) or What in the World is a WSO?

If you want to understand my U.S. Air Force flying career and how I earned the title "Top Gun," you have to take 1 hour and 50 minutes out of your busy schedule to rewatch Tom Cruise's classic film "Top Gun."  I was Goose, not Maverick!

As the first swing wing (variable geometry) fighter and last side-by-side seated fighter/bomber ever flown, the F-111 Aardvark is as misunderstood as it's crew positions!  Developed at the direction of then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara as the "one size fits all" do everything anywhere military jet, it took two of the Air Force's newest and most technologically advanced planes to replace the F-111 when it was retired in late 1990s. The Aardvark's medium range strike/interdiction missions were assumed by the F-15 Strike Eagle and the F-111's supersonic bomber role was taken over by the B-1B Lancer.  In this regard, the F-111 Aardvark was two, two planes in one!  If you think of the F-111 as they airborne equivalent to a 1966 Corvette, you won't be far off the mark.  I know from personal experience that the F-111 can go in a straight line like a bat out of hell (Mach 1.2 at sea level and Mach 2 at altitude) but turns like a sports car built on a truck chassis... I.e. not so fast!

But more than anything else, it was the advent of Terrain Following Radar ("TFR") that made the F-111 into the what the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese military called the "Whispering Death."  TFR that The Besides 

was replaced  When Don't feel bad if you don't understand what an F-111 WSO was