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That Time A Marine Mechanic Took A July 4th Joyride In An A-4M Skyhawk
Some people celebrate the Fourth of July with beer, barbecue, and fireworks. Others prefer more unconventional forms of celebration — like stealing a $14 million subsonic attack aircraft and taking it out for a spin in the skies above California.
That's how Marine Lance Cpl. Howard A. Foot Jr. spent America's birthday on July 4th, 1986, when the then-21-year-old mechanic clambered into the cockpit of an A-4M Skyhawk at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station and took off on the joyride of his life.
Despite never having flown a fighter jet before, Foote managed to pull off a pretty badass flight, as the fantastic aviation reporter Tyler Rogoway described it for Foxtrot Alpha:
As news reports at the time recount, Foote flew out toward San Clemente Island, executing loops, rolls, and high-speed maneuvers before turning back to MCAS El Toro after about 45 minutes to attempt a landing. This time, the runways were all very well lit and the base was buzzing with activity due to his “borrowing” of the jet.
After several landing attempts, the Skyhawk maintainer put the A-4M down safely and was quickly detained after exiting the cockpit.
There was little doubt that the whole stunt was extremely dangerous, but it was also an amazing accomplishment although Foote was no novice to flying. He was an accomplished glider pilot who set world records at a very young age.
This wasn't a youthful prank, like, say, riding dirty through the streets of Virginia in an M577 Armored Personnel Carrier. Rather, Foote's airborne antics were a last-ditch effort to, as Los Angeles Times put it, "[fulfill] his lifelong dream of being at the throttle of a fighter jet, albeit a stolen one."
The previous February, Foote had apparently suffered an aerial embolism during an attempt to set a glider altitude record — and just a few days after he was informed by military doctors that the incident would preclude him from ever sitting behind the throttle of a Marine Corps fighter jet, he absconded with the Skyhawk.
A U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Douglas A-4M Skyhawk (BuNo 160249) of Marine Attack Squadron VMA-124 taking off from Naval Air Station Oceana, VirginiaU.S. Navy/Bruce Trombecky
Foote was discharged from the Marine Corps, but all charges against him were dropped. This was likely thanks to his close relationship with retired El Toro chief Gen. William A. Bloomer, a mentor of Foote's who had encouraged him to participate in the gliding challenge that dashed his dreams.
And while we're not exactly sure what Foote is up to now, the Los Angeles Times catch-up with him some 15 months after the incident revealed a man eager to get back in the air.
"I'm waiting to hear if the Israeli Air Force will take me," Foote, then a pilot for a charter airline, told the Los Angeles Times in 1988. "And if that doesn't work out, I'm going to see if I can fly for Honduras. I've heard they recently got some Skyhawks."
Here's to you, Foote, for celebrating America's birthday the way God intended: by fulfilling your dreams, consequences be damned.
We salute the retired Air Force officer who commandeered a limo to save historical artifacts as floodwaters engulfed Offutt AFB
As floodwaters from the raging Missouri River began to engulf buildings and runways at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska in March, one retired officer was racing through the headquarters of the 55th Wing on a unique rescue mission: to save as much as the Wing's history as he could.
(Reuters Health) - Voice analysis software can help detect post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans based on their speech, a study suggests.
Doctors have long understood that people with psychiatric disorders may speak differently than individuals who do not have mental health problems, researchers note in Depression and Anxiety. While some previous research points to the potential for distinct speech patterns among people with PTSD, it's been unclear whether depression that often accompanies PTSD might explain the unique voice characteristics.
In the current study, voice analysis software detected which veterans had PTSD and which ones did not with 89 percent accuracy.
With the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion into Normandy, France coming June 5, a group of veterans are planning a reenactment jump as part of the celebration.
But they'll be jumping with an item not on the packing list of World War II U.S. soldiers — or at least not the official one: bourbon.
Marine veteran Rep. Seth Moulton has officially jumped into the 2020 presidential race, promising to speak extensively about patriotism, service, and national security as part of his message.
Mouton, who deployed to Iraq four times, is currently a congressman from Massachusetts. He told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on Monday that he has long valued service to the country.
"That's why I joined the Marines," Moulton told Stephanopoulos. "It's why I ran for Congress to try to prevent what I saw got us into Iraq from happening again, and it's why I'm running to take on the most divisive president in American history."