• Published 26th Mar 2012
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Blue Angel - V-Pony



A Blue Angels pilot is saved from a fiery crash by a most unexpected savior

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Prologue-Pt 1: Clear for Takeoff!

"Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong..."
-Murphy's Law

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March 24th, 2012
NAS Kingsville, Texas
0700 hours

“Ah, good morning, flight team,” Captain Snow, veteran of the Second Gulf War and third year flight lead of The Blue Angels greeted cheerfully through his flight helmet mic. It was the first practice day of a new season; late March. The South Texas sky was nearly cloudless and the breeze was gently blowing in off the coast from the Southeast. The early morning sun gleamed off the bright blue and yellow paint of seven F/A-18 Hornet jets of the U.S. Navy. Perfect weather for flying! He looked down at his jet's gauges and at the HUD, nodding at each positive reading from his instruments before clicking his mic again. “Complete final check-in before commencement. Angel Number One ready.”

“Angel Number Three ready,” barked Lieutenant Bruce, a second year Angel pilot and Snow’s eventual replacement at the end of the season, as Angel pilots served a maximum term of three years before rotating out. Bruce was more than capable and loyal enough to take his place.

“Angel Number Two ready. Urgh, glad ya’ll can’t smell that bagel that ain’t agreeing with me,” joked Lieutenant Gentry, another second year and one of the most random people Snow had ever encountered. But he came highly recommended and once in the air he was all business.

“Stow the idiocy, Gentry,” snapped Lieutenant Junior Grade Cadence, a second year and the first female Angel pilot in their history. Some whispered she was only put there to satisfy the need for politically correct diversity, but Snow knew she was deadly in a jet, and took no guff off of anyone who thought they knew her otherwise. “Angel Four ready for takeoff.”

“Angel Five checking in,” Captain Babcock piped up. “Got a small hesitation in engine number two, but I think it’s just the morning cold is all. She’ll run fine once she’s warm.” Babcock was their oldest member, a veteran of the First Gulf War, and nearing his late forties. But his record was impeccable, and he knew jet engines like most Navy wonks never would. “Ah there we go.” Snow could practically hear Babcock’s smile over the radio as he blipped the throttle. “Angel Number Five is ready for takeoff!”

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After a few long moments of silence, Cadence yelled into her mic, “Hey Volare! Wake up!” Her voice startled their newest recruit, Lieutenant Junior Grade Volare, out of his thoughts in the cockpit of Angel Number Six. He was a mere twenty-three years of age, but he had already acquired nearly eighteen hundred flight hours, absolutely determined to be accepted onto the squad he'd idolized since his youth. But despite his extensive hours, he was still young, and young minds tended to wander. But while some young minds wandered towards women, glory, or what-have-you, his wandered towards something rather unexpected.

He was almost embarrassed to admit it, but he was a closet brony in the Navy, and had been for some time now. He could only imagine the barbs that would be hurled at him if his peers discovered he watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, although he’d heard rumors that Cadence thought the show was amusing.

But it wasn’t really the show’s humor or good lessons that intrigued him. No, it was a certain group of ponies that got his attention: the Pegasi stunt group, The Wonderbolts, and their biggest fan and the most amazing flyer on the show, Rainbow Dash. He was quick to draw the comparisons between The Wonderbolts and the Blue Angels, and even quicker to see the similarities between Dash’s desire to join the stunt squad and his own wish to be part of The Blue Angels; something his own granddad had been part of in the sixties and his father had been a member of in the eighties. Flying was in his blood!

Well Dash, he thought to himself as the other pilots sounded off. Looks like I beat ya to the punch! Who’s awesome now? He patted his flight jacket where he'd sewn a small patch the shape of Dash's lightning bolt cutie mark into the inner lining. It seemed dorky as all hell, but it had given him an extra bit of confidence for a nearly a year now, and then some. Volare smiled at the thought before Cadence interrupted his little moment of pride.

“Er, um, sorry. Angel Number Six air-ready sirs… and ma’am,” he acknowledged the female Lieutenant as she’d demanded he do despite the fact that he was technically her superior-if not in rank than in flight hours.

“Boy, she’s got you whipped!” remarked Major Ernest, a third year squad member out of the Marine Corps and a real redneck smart ass if there ever was one.

“Hey watch it Ernest, or I’ll show you a thing or two,” Volare shot back at the Marine before Snow stopped the nonsense.

“Alright enough chatter! Ernest, are you ready to get this show on the road?”

“Ya mean in the air? Heh-heh yeah! Angel Seven ready to rock ‘n roll! Yeehaaww!” Everyone else rolled their eyes.

Snow tried to facepalm but realized the helmet visor was in the way. Ernest rivaled Gentry in weirdness, but he was a good ol’ boy so to speak, and loyal to his country to an almost scary degree. Snow would deal with him if the time came. Then again, if he was out by year’s end, then he’d be Bruce’s problem. Heh-heh, Ernest would probably learn a few manners the hard way then!

“Alright folks, I wanna take this nice and slow for Angel Six. It’s his first practice with us, and I don’t want you guys doing anything too crazy and wigging him out!” Snow started to drop the formalities a bit. It was probably a bad habit he admitted to himself, but it was something that happened the more the team bonded together.

“Don’t worry Volare,” Cadence cooed into her mic. “I’ll be nice and gentle for your first time,” she cackled loudly, giving Snow a thumbs up through the jet canopy. The other five pilots responded in kind, with Volare picking up on it last but following suit.

Heh, gonna miss this one of these days, Snow thought as he gave the ground control crew a thumbs up of his own. Guess I’ll just have to make this a season to remember!
“Ground Control, this is Flight Lead. My team is ready, over.”

“Roger, Flight Leader,” came the quick response from the control tower flanking the tarmac. “You are clear for takeoff. Give us a good practice over coffee, will ya? Over!”

“Will do!” he said, chuckling as he looked out at his team before turning the nose of his jet towards the end of the runway and touching the throttle, propelling the Hornet towards its destination with the atmosphere. “Follow me single file and we’ll meet at 10,000 feet. Volare, you studied the routine?”

“Yes sir!” Volare confirmed quickly. He was ready for this! He thought back to Dash right before her big race when she performed her first Sonic Rainboom and the determined face she made at the starting line. If it weren’t for the dark flight visor, the other pilots would have seen him making that same face right now; tongue in the corner of his mouth and all!

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“Volare, get control! Oh shit! Pull up, Volare!” Snow barked, circling his plane as he helplessly watched Angel Number Six plummet to the ground, both engines flamed out.

Why, oh why, oh why did I have to get carried away?! Volare fought the stick, trying to pull the jet out of the death dive. How had things gone so wrong so fast?!

Everything had gone smoothly at first, and he'd executed his low transition pitch-up takeoff with perfect precision, keeping his landing gear extended and performing a "dirty roll" before retracting the gear, rolling twice more, and then joining the squad, who were hooting and hollering at him for being "too textbook and stiff." He took the jabs in stride, a huge grin on his face as Snow told them all to simmer down, that it was time to get down to business. Volare was told that for his first day to take it easy, and that although he'd studied the routine backwards and forwards, the Captain preferred for the new member to observe for a time and get used to the Hornet's sensitive, modified controls before really jumping into it. They didn't need any hot-dogging causing an accident.

But then, while flying solo on the port side of a diamond formation in observation, he could have sworn he saw something that very nearly blended in with the blue of the sky go streaking past a cloud to his left at a shallow downwards angle. He thought his mind was playing tricks on him until he saw it shoot out from the cloud and dive into another one.
“Flight Lead this is Angel Six, over!”

“Go ahead Six.”

“Sir, did you see that thing at seven o’clock low? It was hauling ass!”

“…please clarify, Six, over!”

“Sir, are there any other blue planes in the vicinity with air clearance at the moment, over?”

“I don’t have anything on my radar, Six, over!” Snow shook his head for a moment before his radio squawked in his ear again.

“Contact! Contact! Ten o’clock high!” Volare shouted as he spotted the small blue shape again go shooting upwards and around another cloud without emerging from the other side. Instantly, the combat instincts he'd honed for the past four years kicked in and took over. “Tally-ho on possible hostile. Angel Six in pursuit!”

Without asking for permission to engage, Volare tilted the nose of the jet up and shot after the object, despite Snow’s yells to cease and desist. Their Hornets were unarmed, but he’d at least get visual confirmation on whatever that thing was! Volare thought he had enough experience, but in the heat of the moment also forgot that Angel pilots don’t wear G-suits to prevent blackouts.* That was going to be part of today’s practice session, and he had no idea just how much his life would be affected by such a fast and foolish decision.

The shape shot out from behind the cloud and arced over his jet, trailing a colorful blur of a wash behind it. Volare tried to follow the object, but the flight path took his vision right into the sun. He shielded his eyes and cursed, looking around frantically for the object before realizing it was flying right above his canopy! Although it was silhouetted by the sun, Volare could tell it was too small to be a jet. Then it… waved at him? He swore it frickin waved at him before it shot off again and suddenly pulled an impossible maneuver, turning a perfect right angle in midair and zipped behind a cloud, as if daring the pilot to follow him.

“Don’t do it, Volare! The plane can’t take it!” Snow tried to warn, but it was no use. The hot-headed young pilot had his sights fixed and he was going for it! The kid was good and he'd read his record a dozen times before-hand, but the Captain still cursed himself for ever getting talked into letting this hot-shot on the squad. "Shit-fire you crazy son of a bitch!!"

As Volare attempted to whip a tight pursuit arc around the small cumulus cloud at over seven hundred miles per hour and follow the cyan shape, the G-forces of the turn caused him to black out for an instant. His nerveless arms fell forward onto the stick and throttle, slamming the intake shut. This stalled the engines and the plane began to plummet.

He came to moments later to the sounds of every alarm he could imagine in the jet blaring at him. His altimeter warning screeching at him made him realize he was nearly at five thousand feet! The voices of his teammates and commander faded into the roar of the wind as the young Lieutenant fought for control, reminding him of just how quickly things could go pear-shaped when a person left terra-firma. "Mayday! Mayday! Engines one and two are out! Control is nil-argh, dammit!" he cried into the mic as his eyes flicked from his instruments to the ground that was quickly filling his canopy, and back to the numb-feeling flight stick before him.

“Dammit rookie!” Cadence dove her jet after him, knowing that Snow would probably chew her ass for this. Why’d she have to be soft at the worst damn times?! She quickly reached the stricken plane and stayed on his wingtip, barking orders into her radio. “Volare, open that throttle up and give it fuel! Pull the hell up! Use your instincts! Get outta there!” She coached him as best as she could, but as her screaming warning lights told her, she soon had to pull out of the dive herself. Volare was on his own as she craned her neck to stare at the floundering jet with a sick, helpless feeling in the pit of her stomach. Sure the kid was a hot-shot, but nobody deserved it like this...

“Come on, come on, come on!” Volare pulled back on the stick, his shoulder shaking with the effort as he punched the throttle, dumping fuel into the engines, but only succeeded in flooding them, causing them to spew black smoke as he headed towards the ground. He could see that his current trajectory would take him straight into the middle of the airbase, killing who knows how many there. There was only one way to avoid it…

He made the decision without thought, and took his hand off the throttle and grabbed the stick in both hands. He heaved back on the stick to pull the nose away from the base and at least hit the hopefully empty field bordering its eastern perimeter. After a few agonizing moments, the Hornet's nose finally lifted more towards the horizon and out over the empty prairie and marshlands, but he was now too close to the ground to even think about gliding to a safe landing! He had one last option left.

“I screwed up…sorry guys...sorry Dash…” His hand trailed down to the bright yellow ejection seat ring and grasped it firmly. It was now or never. Taking a deep breath, he yanked the ring, popping the canopy open… and then else nothing happened!
It was a malfunction at the worst possible time.

The howling wind tore away his briefly-uttered “Wha”- before his Hornet belly-flopped into the ground, bounced once, and then burst in a ball of fire and shredded metal. As the flames began to eat through his flight suit, he felt everything move in slow motion as his mind struggled to process his final milliseconds. He could tell if he lived there would be much pain to come from the flames, but he was going to die, so his mind didn't think about that. No, the only absurd thought his mind could conjure as the plane ricocheted back into the air was that of Rainbow Dash frowning at him with an almost apologetic look; almost like it was her fault that he was going to die.

There was a sudden ripping sensation about his shoulders, and then he then felt… nothing… no, more than nothing! He heard the wind whistling past his ears and felt himself being whisked away from the wreckage at a speed so fast he could hardly get his eyes to focus. A comforting voice was talking to him, but he couldn’t understand it. He thought he was peacefully going to heaven for a moment, but then he felt more. He felt the pain of the burns from the jet fuel all over his body. He sucked in a breath to scream, but was silenced by a muffled explosion and a sudden extra rush of cold air over his body, temporarily taking away the pain.

He tightly hugged whatever it was that was carrying him faster than he ever thought possible. It was comfortingly soft and smelled like rain. But the high altitude and lack of an abundance of oxygen was getting to him now, and he soon lost the struggle to remain conscious. Before his vision “pin-pointed” out, he saw that same bright patch of cyan, a brilliant prism flash of colors, and then peaceful darkness as the roar of the wind slowly faded away into silence.

"Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect..."
Margaret Mitchell

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*Blue Angels pilots don’t wear G-suits due to the fact that they’d inflate and deflate too much during their maneuvers and interfere with their flight sticks. So they learn to tense their body muscles instead to prevent too much blood flow from the brain at once.

Author's Note:

Because this story was originally begun as a one-shot, this first chapter, I admit, is a bit rough around the edges and full of inaccuracies. However, I'm slowly re-writing this opening chapter and if you'll just bear with me and continue to read, I think you'll find that the quality of the story improves drastically after this. Thanks for your patience and your willingness to embark on this journey of a story. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I've had writing it (and still AM writing it!)

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