The Hawk is my favorite of all of the DCS light jet trainers, and now that the EFM has been added, the L-39, as good as it is, probably will be collecting some virtual dust. The truth is that I probably enjoy a more traditional, dare I say NATO, aircraft with a more recognizable instrument panel and systems
In the late 70s/early 80s, dad was based at Ramstein AFB as the head of logistics and maintenance for TAC in Europe. Sounds impressive, but this was typical sort of posting that the Air Force hangs on fighter pilots whom have attained too much rank to remain operational. I guess that there are only so many Chuck Horners.
Anyway, to frame the era, Baader Meinhof was still active, and the poor officer whom inherited dad’s post shortly after he transferred lost his legs courtesy of an IED placed in the baggage compartment of a Volkswagen Beetle/Kafer parked outside of the HQ building at Ramstein. Many civilians worked on base and in those pre Jihad days, security was probably not what it should have been. In that attack they wounded 18, but would come back in '85 to kill two in another bombing. Ramstein is also notable for the infamous Frecce Tricolori accident in '88.
One of the passions that I shared with my father was Formula One, and in the summer of 1980, he invited me over to drive up to Hockenheim for the German GP. This GP is tragically known for the pre-race fatal accident that claimed Patrick Depailler. That event did little to dampen the fans enthusiasm, and for me it was a rare treat to see my favorite driver of the era, Nelson Piquet.
On race day during a break between a lessor formula and the F1 contest, the crowd was entertained by a thrilling air display by the Red Arrows. Resplendent in their bright red Hawks, a recent upgrade from the Gnat, they put on what dad laughingly characterized as a particularly aggressive airshow. "We would never be able to fly into the stadium and below the tops of the grandstands like they are.” said he. True enough they would dip into the stadium from the beginning of the finishing straight and roar low over the grid and out of the stadium at turn 1. My father, who had a very good relationship with Germans and the Luftwaffe in particular, would later retell the event by remarking that more than once, “The crowd would coward in their seats while being terrorized by RAF.” All good fun and when it was over, there were lots of chuckles going around where we sat in the middle of the first turn. To my eyes and in the UK vernacular, it was bloody spectacular!
Security, racing safety, airshow regulations, and officer behavior have all “evolved”. But, I will never forget those sights and sounds, and always have a fondness for bright red Hawks and the men who flew them that day in the summer of 1980.