While watching these titans fight for bragging rights, I had a chance to chat further with Penny Joyner. Hers is an interesting story to say the least. With the soft Southern drawl of a country girl, she told me the amazing story of living through the Iranian revolution against the Shah in 1978-79. She’d lived her teenage years in the American enclave in Shiraz. Anyone alive now remembers the taking of the hostages at the American Embassy in Tehran, but she’d been the dependent of a Grumman employee that was assigned to the maintenance of the Iranian F-14 Tomcat fleet. The students had tried to storm the military base in Shiraz where the Tomcats were based and the American military had sent in a C-141 to airlift the American civilians to Ramstein Air Base in Germany. After being told to leave everything, she’d run to the waiting craft, which had been backed up as close to the terminal as safety allowed. Sprinting with the bravery of youth, they’d encountered heavy resistance and American military personnel were doing their best to defend the fleeing civilian employees and their families. After a rather exciting takeoff, she’d been invited up to the flight deck to meet the pilots. This ended with her getting violently airsick and throwing up in the back of the co-pilot’s shirt.
Things were getting more volatile, however, in the competition. “Bogll” was up against “Black Angel” and the two were going head-to-head to advance in the winner’s bracket after some warm-ups that included a rather fierce dogfight between “Falcor” and “Black Angel”, with neither giving any quarter in what was supposed to simply be a preparation match. This gave me the chance to meet with Bob “Lumper” Phillips, a North Richland Hills native who was giving a repeat performance of his previous career.
“Lumper” at Work
A former Air Force ATC and a current ATC instructor, he was the AWACS man, presiding over the mayhem and chaos that was this tournament. He was in the middle of coordinating a match-up of the loser’s bracket, and these matches were all about saving face. We walked into the side room to watch Paul “Rightstuffer” Miller and Carroll “Showtime” Richardson in a duel to the death that had drawn a crowd. Using Showtime’s projector over his homebuilt F-16 cockpit, we cheered and jeered as the two twisted around each other, each desperate to get a bead on the other. It finally ended with Showtime tearing Rightstuffer apart with a lead shot that looked like he’d had a career in duck hunting. Not exactly. Richardson is a former motorcross racer-turned-network cable puller. The final match ended in a 3-0 victory for Showtime, to which Lumper simply said, “Rightstuffer got… stuffed.”