Good Evening Mister Minister Page 6

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Finished, with a half hour to go, I did the customary walkaround in my unzipped flight suit I walked around, admiring the Sukhoi OKB in it’s design. I wiggled each weapon to ensure that they were properly hanging and secure. I checked all firing connections and noticed Gennedy, pouring a glass, a smile on his face. He won this time. I then moved to the rear of the aircraft, looking for anything that would prevent my flight. I sighed. The time was coming, and the butterflies came flying in my stomach again. I went through the checklist as I made sure that nothing could stop me. I was sweaty, perhaps… nah, stay focused Alexsei. I hurried to the washroom, and wiped myself down as best as possible. I still had ten minutes until I was to turn the engines, but that in itself is not a lot of time. Finished, I set a cigarette down on my small desk. I do this to ensure that if I do not get killed on a mission, I will kill myself with this cigarette.

Finished with my ritual, I hurriedly checked my Makarov, ensuring it chambered a round, and verified by sliding the slide back. Satisfied, I hurriedly zipped up the flight suit as I walked fast to the awaiting ladder for my aircraft. Climbing in, I braced myself, then slowly entered it. It was just cleaned, the cleaning solution still a light smell in it’s confined space. I decided to just leave the canopy open until I have to fly. Therefore I will not smell like it when I am finished. Gennedy was there, and I handed him my helmet, careful not to damage the Helmet Sighting System installed on it. Strapping myself in, I did the preflight checks, radio checks. Everything was good. I nodded and Gennedy stepped down, the ladder floating away. After Gennedy’s verbal confirmation I slowly spooled up the engines. While this may be an advanced aircraft, the ALF-31s were not. They are due to be replaced soon, hopefully by the end of the week they say. The characteristic whine emanated throughout the hangar, and when the warning light went away, I folded the wings, carrier fashion. The aircraft does look impressive, even with the wings folded. I slid on the helmet, and verified the connection to the aircraft. It was green.

When the engines were at 65%, Gennedy saluted, and I saluted back. Shortly after I started rolling to the apron at the pre-designated holding position.

“Tower, this is 011, request permission to taxi.”

“Permission granted 011.”

It’s like a field trip, asking your father to go. It was necessary however, given the amount of air traffic that has been going on for awhile. I angled the aircraft. Ten minutes later, I was in my holding pattern. I parked myself as best as possible, then I remembered the hamburger. Why not? I was suddenly hungry, perhaps my stomach churning at the possibility of death. The radio was screaming of Turkish F-16s, and to scramble the aircraft. The Canadians? Yes, they were quire unmistakable. I managed to park quite well, and waited, munching quickly on my hamburger. I thought of the F-16 while I waited. Perhaps Sacha could give them flying lessons? I nearly choked at that thought. Then our pilots might have to sweat! Finished, I wiped some ketchup on my sleeve, momentarily forgetting I had the napkins still. I do not possess a ‘crush’ on that woman. She is attractive yes, but right now it is professional. Too many emotions, and you will get killed. I stay focused on the mission.

“011, you are clear to taxi to runway 24.”

I nodded more for myself than the air controller as I advanced the throttle, and began taxiing. I leave the canopy open because I like the sound of the engines as they propel me along the ground.

To the runway.

Then I heard the sounds of combat on the radio. The F-18s were engaging the F-16s, and shouts of SAMs as well were heard. Looks like I planned my route right. I need to get out of here as soon as possible. So I take the first access runway, turning off the radio. I will get reprimanded for this, but I do need to get out of here as soon as possible.

I do need to get out of here as soon as possible.

I make it to the runway, and then point the aircraft eastward. So then I unfolded the wings, closed the canopy. Turning on the radio, I request takeoff clearance. The controller, perhaps shocked, gives me clearance regardless. Satisfied, I drop the flaps all the way, as well as add some up trim to my configuration. This will do fine, the length will. Then I held the brakes as I advanced the throttle. You need to do this when taking off nearly a quarter of the runway, or you will ruin your aircraft, as well as your career. Then again, I have taken off from the Kuznetsov, this is plenty of space. I let the brakes go, and like the Wolf that is painted on the tail, it leapt forward, gobbling up the runway like a demon let loose. Once past 280km/h I pulled the nose up, and after a few seconds, was airborne. As soon as I cleared the runway, I retracted the gear, and raised the flaps. Constant attention must be exercised or you will crash. I also noticed that the F-16 had detected me. While I am configured for short to long range aerial combat, I do not want to engage fighters, given my fuel load. I would give them a ‘mission kill’, and Major Grachev would not be pleased. Nor would I. So I monitored for a lock tone, or a vector track from Magic 20, the AWACS that is safe to the north of us. None came, and I managed to find some terrain in order to conceal myself.

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