When the military needs to get down and dirty with the enemy, it usually means a few things have gone wrong. It’s best for the U.S. if fights are conducted at long range where more assets can be brought in to assist, but you need the right moves just in case.
The enemy gets a vote and if they want to fight hand-to-hand, America is willing to oblige. Using the major “weapons of the body” as well as grappling techniques, troops jockey for position and then strike any soft spots they can find, hurting, crippling, or killing the enemy.
Here are 8 moves to help the ground pounders come out on top.
1. Eye gouge- the cringiest move
A perennial favorite, the eye gouge is exactly what it sounds like. Either two fingers are thrust into the eyes sockets or two thumbs. Fingers are aimed to slide in under the eyeballs while thumbs should be aimed for the inner corners of the eye, near the nose. Either way, the goal is to scoop the eyes out or crush them inside the occipital cavity. This is a great move when you’re overpowered and need to inflict pain, fast.
For obvious reasons, the military services require that this be practiced against a dummy or a sparring pad rather than a human.
2. Elbow strikes to the back of the neck
Any elbow strike can do some damage. There’s the low-to-high that strikes an enemy beneath the chin, the horizontal that smashes into a soft spot of the body or face, and then there’s striking an enemy in the base of the skull with an elbow strike.
It requires that the target is doubled over to work well, so this is a great way to finish the fight after a Long Knee or a solid strike to the stomach or groin.
3. The Long Knee move
When a fighter wants to knee the enemy but there’s a little too much space to come up directly, they use the long knee and move forward with their strike. It works even better when they can get a hold of the target and pull them towards the knee. For the most effective move, aim for the soft parts of the abdomen or the groin to really do some damage.
4. Up Knee
If the target tries to move away, feel free to pull harder on their head and transition to the Up Knee, using the knee strike to hit an opponent right in the face. This can also work if the target has bad posture or is leaned over for another reason.
5. Throat punch
The throat punch isn’t just a common internet joke. The Marine Corps lists the throat as a good target for lead hand punches, rear hand punches, and uppercuts. A good punch to the throat can crush the windpipe and even a more modest hit is going to hurt and throw the opponent off balance.
Go straight for the Adam’s apple and remember to follow through.
6. Stomps to the groin or knees- a dirty move, but a good one
It’s all in the headline. If the enemy falls to the ground, a downward stomp can make sure they stay there. Stomping the groin will cause extreme pain and possibly nausea while a solid hit to the knee can disable the joint and make it impossible to stand. Simple move that everyone should know.
7. Ax stomp to the wherever
While the standard stomp is straight down, the ax stomp is a backward swing. This allows the power of the strike to be concentrated in the heel. To add more power, slightly bend the knee of the non-striking leg to gain more downward momentum.
An ax stomp to the face while wearing new boots can easily split skin open and crush underlying bone. Not exactly a sparring technique, but it can finish a real fight.
8. Nutcracker choke
This colorfully-named choke involves grabbing the sides or rear of an opponent’s collar before pulling the hands into the center and crushing the Adam’s apple with the knuckles of the index finger. The tightened collar keeps the opponent from squirming away while the knuckles cut off the target’s airflow.
9. Fish Hook- a weird move that works
Fish hooking is simple. When a target is facing away, reach around and slip fingers into the cheeks and pull hard. This allows the attacker to control their opponents head to a degree, can incite panic in the enemy, and hurts. The attacker should be careful to avoid the enemy’s teeth since this can backfire quickly.
Though military members of all stripes probably have an easy time sleeping in places other than a bed, infantrymen are especially adept at being able to sleep just about anywhere. We’ve ranked the best spots for grunts to catch some Z’s.
1. On a cot less than a foot away from the grunt next to you
2. On the floor of an Air Force terminal before deployment
Congratulations, you’ve just become a parent. In order to survive basic training, you must now not only cover your own ass, but watch out for this guy’s as well. Because if you don’t, your platoon is going to get slapped with mass punishment, and no one wants that. Bryan somehow managed to make it through his young life without developing skills of any kind. He’s the kind of guy who hesitates when you ask him how to spell his own name.
You will watch him struggle to make his bed with his gangly 18-year-old arms and be torn between the desire to help him or to strangle him with his own sheets. But you will help Bryan, because he needs you. And because if you don’t, he will forget his kit, wear white socks to inspection, and make your life a living hell. And who knows, maybe after a few days he’ll start to pick up on things. Totally kidding — you’re probably stuck with this kid for the long haul.
Something Bryan might say: “Hey … hey guys? Can somebody show me how to shave?”
2. Renaissance Richard
The antithesis of Baby-Faced Bryan, Renaissance Richard is a super-smart, talented, and accomplished guy. Unfortunately for you, this also makes him a bit of an annoying a–hole. Richard is usually around 30, and he won’t let you forget how he managed to be the valedictorian at his private college, build his own house, and become a brain surgeon in the time between high school graduation and now.
Richard can do anything — except keep his mouth shut. He’s the guy who makes a big show of “helping” recruits, and letting everyone know how he would do something. No one asked you, Richard. He’s also notorious for crashing your conversations so he can chime in on things like his opinions on Syria, when all you were discussing is what’s for dinner. Rich is a fine recruit, but your drill sergeant will hate him. Why? The same reason you do: he’s a pretentious a–hole. Nobody wants to work with someone who can’t accept rank and needs his ego stroked.
Something Richard might say: “Sure it would be interesting to invade Easter Island, but you need to consider the political ramifications … ”
3. The Dreamer
The Dreamer has wanted to join the military since he first saw “Saving Private Ryan” at an elementary school sleepover. He dreams of not only becoming a great soldier, but the greatest soldier America — and the world — has ever seen. Just a teenager, he’s the guy who gets too distracted by his daydream of running through battle in slow-motion to shine his shoes, and can be heard quoting “Top Gun” and “Band of Brothers” in the DFAC.
The Dreamer’s all talk, and has no real-world experience when it comes to surviving anything more than a Hot Pocket shortage. Because of this, he will often take on tasks that are way too much for him to handle, bringing down your drill sergeant’s wrath on all of you when he fails. Think of him as Baby-Faced Bryan’s annoying half-brother. Eventually he should focus a little more on the task at hand instead of his “military destiny,” but until then you’ll just have to tune him out.
4. Shady Steve
Steve’s a little older than some of the guys in basic training, but you’re never positive what this dude’s age is — and that’s just the way Steve likes it. When pressed about his past, his stories never quite match up, leaving you wondering just what is true (hold up, did he say that he was a parole officer, or was he talking about his own parole?).
You don’t know him at all, but he just seems like the type of guy who decided to enlist because his meth ring went south. One thing you do know for sure is the fact that any outing with Steve quickly devolves into “Hangover”-level catastrophe, so you better steer clear of that. He’s not a bad trainee. And he’s probably not a bad guy — but he’s got your drill sergeant keeping an eye on him, so you probably should too.
5. The Old Dude
This salt and pepper recruit may not actually be that old by civilian standards, but 34 is pretty ancient in basic. And since it took a colonel to approve his age waiver, maybe he should have just stayed home and played Risk instead. Whether he enlisted because the Army’s his last chance to retire before 65 or because of a mid-life crisis is anyone’s guess, but don’t write this guy off right away.
The Old Dude is usually in surprisingly great shape, and that’s because he’s old school. While most of the recruits in their twenties have spent their pre-military lives playing Call of Duty and chowing down on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, he’s been downing raw eggs for breakfast and running five miles a day. Also, The Old Dude has lived a lot longer than you — he’s seen things, and he’s wiser for it. When you need some advice or perspective on life, he’s the person you’ll want to turn to.
6. Gun-Happy Garret
Garret is a simple man. He joined the military because it allowed him to pursue his three passions: shooting, chewing dip, and spitting. Garret does not know that tobacco isn’t allowed in basic. He is furious when he finds out. Garret barely managed to complete his GED, and it shows. You are not confident that he can spell America, and are terrified of the day this neanderthal gets his hands on an automatic weapon.
To your surprise, however, Garret is actually kind of a genius when it comes to weapons. He can disassemble and reassemble his weapon with his eyes closed. He can tell you every part of his rifle and how it works, and help you with your own. Your rifle will never shine quite like his does. He is a weapons savant, and you start to wonder if there’s more to Garret than meets the eye. Trust us, there isn’t. He’s the best mark in the platoon because he spent his childhood shooting mice and raccoons behind a trailer park, not because he’s the chosen one.
7. The Blue Falcon
This guy. This guy is the absolute worst. If you could combine a weasel and that stoner kid from your Spanish class who would constantly beg you for test answers, you’d have something close to a Blue Falcon. The Blue Falcon of your platoon is lazy, disloyal, and just a textbook pain in the ass. Can’t find your extra pair of socks? Did part of someone’s kit go missing? Check the Blue Falcon’s nest. And God forbid you screw up in front of this guy — he’ll rat you out to your drill sergeant faster than you’ll know what’s happening.
The Blue Falcon’s sneaky, so it sometimes takes a while to know who yours will be. But every unit has one, and they will become the bane of your existence.
Something The Blue Falcon would say: “First sergeant, first sergeant! Private Snuffy is … ”
Associate Editor David Nye contributed to this article.
‘Top Gun’ is a classic and arguably one of the most visually stunning aviation movies ever made. Few movies in cinematic history have been as prolific in contributing to the pop culture lexicon, as well. (Who among us hasn’t said, “I feel the need for speed” in random social situations?) And if you ask military aviators who signed up for flight school after 1986 why they did it chances are they’ll list ‘Top Gun’ as one of the reasons.
Paramount had a huge challenge when they decided to make ‘Top Gun.’ Real-life air-to-air combat doesn’t lend itself to the silver screen in that it’s super technical, very chaotic, and generally takes place at ranges that would prevent two jets from being in the frame at the same time. So, of course, writers Jim Cash and Jack Epps, Jr. and the late-great director Tony Scott had to take some liberties to make the dynamic world of fighter aviation into something that might entertain movie-goers.
But, even allowing for that, ‘Top Gun’ has a bunch of cringe-worthy technical errors that cause it to be as much cartoon as tribute. Here’s WATM’s list of the big ones (annotated by the exact time they occur). After reading them we guarantee you’ll never look at the movie the same way again.
(4:23) CATCC controller is sweating. Those spaces on the ship are usually freezing cold to protect the electronics.
(4:26) Bald-headed guy (played by actor James Tolkan) walks in wearing cover, something the crew doesn’t do on Navy ships unless they’re on watch on the bridge. What is this guy’s billet anyway? CAG? Carrier CO? Tomcat squadron skipper? (He’s an 0-5, so that would make him too junior for the first two, but he acts like he’s in charge of everything.)
(4:33) (Not an error but a technical note): MiGs-28s are actually F-5Fs painted black. (Top Gun still uses F-5s as aggressor aircraft.)
(4:45) GCI controller refers to crews by their callsigns: “Cougar and Merlin and Maverick and Goose.” A controller would refer to jets by aircraft side numbers.
(4:56) Maverick and Goose are sweating in the cockpit, which they’d only do if the pilot had the environment control system (ECS) jacked up uncomfortably high and the RIO didn’t bitch at him to turn it down.
(5:00) RIO’s radar presentation shows a 360-degree PPI presentation. Tomcat’s radar only sweeps 65 degrees either side of the nose. (Wouldn’t want a radar that pointed back at the crews. That would be a huge radiation hazard, to put it mildly.)
(6:00) Tomcat’s wings are swept fully aft, which means — at that altitude — that the aircraft is going supersonic or the pilot commanded them into that position, which he wouldn’t do because the airplane doesn’t turn that well in that configuration.
(7:21) Standby gyro is un-caged as Maverick “goes for missile lock” by twisting a nob on the mid-compression by-pass selector — a system that has nothing to do with the Tomcat’s weapons suite.
(8:00) Cougar transmits: “This bogey’s all over me. He’s got missile lock. Do I have permission to fire?” Well, whatever the ROE, the question is moot until you do some pilot shit and actually maneuver your jet into a position to commit a weapon.
(9:01) As far as Maverick’s “4-G inverted dive” (as Charlie later labels it) goes, if the two airplanes were that close the Tomcat’s vertical stabs would be jammed into the MiG-28.
(9:03) The RIO wouldn’t be carrying a Polaroid camera. He’d have a regular “intel” camera, and if he didn’t get good photos of an airplane that nobody had ever been that close to before (as Goose says) then he would have failed in his part of the mission, big time.
(9:59) Merlin taps on a fuel gauge that doesn’t exist in the rear cockpit of the F-14, only in the front cockpit. (The RIO only has a fuel totalizer.)
(10:06) Cougar rips his oxygen mask off to breathe more oxygen, which would be in short supply at high altitude.
(10:12) Cougar has a photo of his wife and baby taped over the airspeed gauge to the left of the altimeter. Meanwhile the vertical speed indicator shows he’s descending at 6,000 feet per minute, which would be an aggressive dive. At the same time the altimeter, which shows he’s at 31, 500 feet, is set to standby with the barometric pressure dialed to 28.32 when it should be at 29.92.
(10:26) ICS comms (intra-cockpit chatter) can be heard in air ops.
(10:48) A ball call (the transmission indicating the pilot sees the Fresnel lens that gives him glide slope information for landing) would not include the pilot’s call sign.
(10:57) Goose has the same non-existent rear cockpit fuel gauge as Merlin.
(10:58) Maverick crosses the ramp with his hook down and then a second later he has the hook up. (It takes several seconds to cycle between fully up and fully down.) Then he pulls the throttles aft to go around, which would reduce engine power, as somebody screams “Cougar!” over the radio.
(11:06) Maverick instantly bolters — in full burner, no less — with the hook down again.
(12:25) Cougar never calls the ball when instructed but gets a “roger, ball” from the LSO.
(12:27) There’s no way Cougar wouldn’t have been waved off based on that wild approach. He gets at least five “power” calls and no “wave off” call. The Air Boss would have had Paddle’s ass after that.
(12:51) Cougar traps, leaves lights on (Case I or Case III approach? Unclear here), and immediately shuts the jet down instead of taxiing out of the landing area. Maverick is still airborne, low on gas, and needs to land but can’t now because Cougar has fouled the landing area and has to be towed out of the wires.
(13:00) Nice stateroom for a squadron CO. (He’s an 0-5, fer crissakes.) Again, what’s this guys’ billet?
(13:58) First glimpse of random patch assortments on flight suits as Maverick and Goose get chewed out by skipper in his really nice stateroom. (And everybody’s sweating.)
(14:19) Ship’s captain/CAG/squadron skipper says, “With a history of high-speed passes over five air-controlled towers.” Not sure what those are but they must be different than ground- or water-controlled towers.
(15:36) Ship’s captain/CAG/squadron skipper says, “You can tell me about the MiG some other time” and dismisses the crew to head for Top Gun, thereby committing professional suicide by not getting the only information that anyone above him in the chain of command would care about that particular day.
(16:06) “Um, tower, there’s some dork riding a motorcycle down one of the taxiways shaking his fist at us.”
(16:59) There is no Santa Claus. And there’s no such thing as the Top Gun Trophy.
(17:46) Slider is a lieutenant (junior grade). That’s too junior for a Top Gun slot.
(18:32) Navy leaders would be reprimanded for encouraging arrogance because the Navy spent money on posters that read “excellence without arrogance.”
(20:02) Goose quips, “Slider, thought you wanted to be a pilot, man; what happened?” So he’s a RIO slamming a fellow RIO for being a RIO? Not likely. And the “RIOs as second class citizens” vibe left the community with the F-4.
(25:52) A hangar isn’t the most conducive place for detailed flight briefs.
(26:29) Charlie briefs, “The F-5 doesn’t have the thrust-to-weight ratio that the MiG-28 has.” Must be because black paint is lighter than other colors.
(26:37) Charlie briefs, “The MiG-28 does have a problem with its inverted flight tanks.” Those must be different than upright flight tanks.
(26:54) Anybody who showed up to a flight brief wearing a cowboy hat would have his or her wings pulled on the spot.
(27:36) Maverick makes a big deal about how the information regarding his MiG encounter is classified and then proceeds to reveal it in front of the entire group with no idea of whether they have clearance or not. Again, they’re briefing in a hangar. Not exactly a SCIF.
(28:42) Jester says, “All right, gentlemen, we have a hop to take. The hard deck on this hop will be 10,000 feet. There will be no engagements below that.” Of course we haven’t briefed any of the other details of this event — including ACM rules of engagement — because Charlie has wasted our time hitting on Maverick, but whatever . . .
(29:53) Smoke effect is actually the Tomcat dumping fuel . . . a stupid idea when you’re about to enter a dogfight.
(30:01) First merge happens very low to the ground over the desert, not exactly a hard deck of 10,000 feet.
(30:51) Goose says “Watch the mountains!,” words never spoken during an air combat maneuvering event with a hard deck of 10,000 feet.
(31:31) Maverick “hits the brakes” by pushing the throttles forward, which would increase power, not decrease it.
(31:49) Jester’s evasive maneuver in the A-4 is an aileron roll – not exactly an effective move in terms of creating the sort of lateral displacement that might defeat an enemy’s weapons solution.
(32:08) Goose says, “We’re going ballistic, Mav. Go get him,” which makes no sense because a pilot has no control over a ballistic airplane.
(33:34) Maverick does a barrel roll after the tower fly-by in full afterburner, a violation of Federal Aviation Regulations to the extreme without an FAA waiver, which he certainly didn’t get at the spur of the moment. That would have cost him more than an ass chewing by Viper. He would have lost his wings.
(35:52) Maverick explains, “We weren’t below the hard deck for more than a few seconds. I had the shot. There was no danger. So I took it.” The hard deck simulates the ground, so basically Maverick is saying, “We didn’t hit the ground for more than a few seconds . . .”
(37:10) Any lieutenant whose fitness report reads “He’s a wildcard. Completely unpredictable. Flies by the seat of his pants” would be done flying, not to mention unqualified for a Top Gun slot.
(38:26) Goose says to Maverick, “They wouldn’t let you into the Academy ’cause you’re Duke Mitchell’s kid.” There are lots of reasons not to get admitted into a service academy — low SAT scores, for instance. Being the dependent of a veteran isn’t one of them; in fact, that status qualifies the candidate for a Presidential nomination.
(39:26) Maverick explains to Charlie during a TACTS debrief, “If I reversed on a hard cross I could immediately go to guns on him.” She replies, “But at that speed it’s too fast.” Um, what are you guys talking about, and what language are you even speaking?
(51:43) Charlie says, “That’s a big gamble with a $30 million plane.” Tomcat unit cost (cost per jet) circa ’86 was $42 million. Maybe she wasn’t including the cost of the two engines, which could have been a subtle dig on his energy management skills.
(55:31) Why is Hollywood eating an orange on the flight line?
(55:45) More dumping of gas going into a dogfight.
(56:30) Crews are surprised that Viper is one of the bandits. They would have briefed with him (in accordance with safely of flight rules).
(57:26) Logic of the engagement is ridiculous. Maverick lets Jester go and then flies in parade formation behind Hollywood who’s saddled in super-close behind the other bandit. Hollywood whines at Maverick not to leave him when he should just shoot the bandit right in front of him, and then Maverick leaves to go after Viper and ultimately winds up getting shot because Goose does a shitty job of keeping their six clear (at 59:23).
(57:49) More fuel dumping.
(58:42) HUD display looks nothing like the real thing.
(59:04) Maverick switches to guns but HUD symbology stays the same.
(1:06:16) Iceman transmits, “I need another 20 seconds then I’ve got him” while flying so close that if he took a gun shot he’d probably FOD his own engines with the debris from the airplane in front of him. What does he need 20 seconds for?
(1:06:56) Goose says “Shit, we got a flameout. Engine 1 is out.” The RIO has no engine instruments in the rear cockpit of the F-14.
(1:07:13) Iceman transmits, “Mav’s in trouble. He’s in a flat spin and headed out to sea.” When an airplane is in a flat spin it is not heading anywhere except straight down.
(1:07:22) Goose reports, “Altitude 8,000. 7,000. Six, we’re at six.” They should have ejected already. NATOPS boldface (immediate action steps committed to memory) procedures read like this: “If flat spin verified by flat attitude, increasing yaw rate, increasing eyeball−out G, and lack of pitch and roll rates: 8. Canopy – Jettison. 9. EJECT – RIO Command Eject.”
(1:07:23) Goose says “We’re at six [thousand feet]” while the altimeter shows 2,200 feet.
(1:07:48) See step 8 above. If Goose had followed procedures he wouldn’t have died.
(1:14:20) A Field Naval Aviator’s Evaluation Board (FNAEB — pronounced “fee-nab”) would not look like a judicial proceeding held in a courtroom.
(1:23:08) Viper tells Maverick about the day his dad died like this: “His F-4 was hit. He was wounded but he could have made it back. He stayed in it. Saved three planes before he bought it.” And Maverick doesn’t respond by saying, “That makes no sense, sir. How does a pilot save three planes after his jet is hit? Why are you bullshitting me?”
(1:23:20) Viper explains, “It’s not something the State Department tells dependents when the battle occurred over the wrong lines on some map,” which ignores the fact that the Pentagon would be pissed if some random State Department dude spoke to surviving family members at all.
(1:26:50) Aviators wouldn’t get orders at the Top Gun graduation. They’d get them via a frustrating process of arguing with their detailers on the phone over the period of a few months.
(1:27:24) Again: What. Is. This. Guy’s. Billet?
(1:28:56) Pilots salute cat officers for launch with oxygen masks off.
(1:29:08) Maverick walks on the flight deck during flight ops without his helmet on.
(1:32:10) Tomcat does an aileron roll right off the cat, which it wouldn’t have the speed to do — not to mention that maneuver would be a gross violation of Case I departure procedures.
(1:33:08) Random lieutenant reports, “Both catapults are broken. We can’t launch any aircraft right now,” which ignores the fact that modern aircraft carriers have four catapults.
(1:34:47) Controller says, “Maverick’s re-engaging, sir.” There’s no way his radar displays would give him any indication of that.
(1:36:41) Ice says, “I’m going for the shot” while at close range behind a bandit, but he switches from ‘Guns’ to ‘Sparrow/Phoenix’ — the long range, forward-quarter weapons.
(1:36:54) Missile magically transforms from an AIM-7 Sparrow into a AIM-9 Sidewinder in flight.
(1:37:48) Maverick shoots a Sparrow in the rear quarter at short range, which wouldn’t work because the AIM-7 needs a lot of closure to guide.
(1:38:02) Again the missile magically transforms from a Sparrow into a Sidewinder in flight.
(1:38:54) Once again Maverick ‘hits the brakes’ by advancing the throttles, which would make the airplane speed up.
(1:39:47) Maverick leads a two-plane fly-by next to the carrier with a wingman that’s been riddled with bullets and most likely has sustained major damage to the hydraulic system that powers the flight controls.
(1:41:14) Iceman says, “You can be my wingman any time,” which ignores the fact that unless he’s the ops officer or schedule officer or squadron CO who signs the flight schedule then he just needs to shut up and fly with whomever he’s assigned to fly with.
(All photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures except as otherwise indicated.)
Military drills for service members is what training camp is for football players and their coaches — learning the playbook on how to maneuver and react to intense combat situations when seconds count and delay is deadly.
Most militaries do the standard maneuvers — target practice on the range, moving through a MOUT town or repelling out of a helicopter on a mock objective. But some countries prefer to go all out to show their toughness.
So here are five dangerous military drills conducted throughout the world.
Each year in Thailand, seven countries partake in the multinational military exercise called “Cobra Gold.” Held in February, this 11-day training includes 13,000 troops from countries like Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.
Cobra Gold promotes foreign military collaboration with events such as humanitarian relief, amphibious assault, and jungle survival. And sometimes that means making use of the wild game that calls the jungle home.
2. Body Smashing
North Korean special forces candidates endure several body-hardening workouts to prove their physical and mental toughness to become members of the “Storm Corps.”
3. The Road to Heaven
The finale of a 10-week pain-filled training program where Taiwanese Marines strive to become frogmen is called the “Road to Heaven.” This initiation consists of low-crawling over 164 feet of sharp rock coral without the use of their arms while conducting various calisthenics along the way.
4. Drown Proofing– a panic-inducing military drill
SEAL trainees must learn to survive in complex water scenarios without sinking or drowning with their hands and feet bounded together. Considered the most grueling training the armed forces has to offer, hopefuls endure days of physically demanding training to become Navy SEALs.
5. Hot Potato
Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army pass around a live grenade before tossing it into a hole. The PLA troopers simultaneously leap away in the nick of time. This drill was created to promote discipline, communication, and teamwork.
See some more military drills that take things a bit too far below!
A regular deployment for our troops down here on Earth gets pretty boring while you’re off-mission. It becomes challenging to find new ways to fill your downtime. Maybe you’ll swing by the MWR and play some video games. Maybe you’ll watch a movie or two — that is until you’ve watched everything on the deployment hard drive twice.
Realistically speaking, the life of a astronaut in space is probably similar. Even the whole zero-G’s thing and watching the Big Blue Marble has got to get boring after a while…
Thankfully, through the power of social media, astronauts can record themselves and upload their shenanigans to the internet for the world (and beyond) to see. No judgment here; whatever takes the edge off while being stuck in the same, tight confinements for nine months at a time…
The great musicians here on Earth have written countless tunes about space and astronauts. These songs are then copied and repeated ad nauseam by that one guy at the party who thinks he can play.
But when David Bowie’s Space Oddity is played by someone who’s actually in space… It doesn’t matter if he’s not on the level of the late, great Ziggy Stardust — it’s awesome on its own level.
Play with toys
There was a challenge a few years back for gifted children to design toys usable in space. The constraints were simple: It had to be fun and not involve plenty of lose pieces that could float around and potentially cause a Homer-Simpson-level disaster.
Since astronauts are generally pretty stand-up people, we can assume they actually accepted the toys and used them instead of letting the kids’ efforts go to waste.
Exercising in zero gravity
As awesome as it is to live in weightlessness for an extended period of time, it can wreak havoc on your body. Your bones will deteriorate and your muscle mass will shrink.
To make sure that their bodies aren’t completely crushed by an inevitable return to normal gravity, astronauts need to exercise a minimum of two hours per day. That’s when things get interesting since they can’t just hop on a normal treadmill or grab some free weights.
Fun experiments (for science, of course)
Although space tourism has expanded in recent years, for the most part, astronauts who were sent up by their respective countries are there to do science. They’ll plan objectives for years, like maintaining the Hubble Telescope in case of emergency or documenting the effects of micro-gravity on an extremely fast spacecraft.
But, sometimes, astronauts get bored writing the same equations and the same formulas only to yield nearly identical outcomes. Sometimes, they just want to see how many zero-G backflips they can do before throwing up. I mean, who could resist a few childish experiments if you spent all those years dreaming of going to space?
For the most part, you have to be pretty nerdy to make it far in NASA’s space program. And there’s nothing nerds love more than some nerdy pop culture.
Astronauts watch everything from Gravity (which I assume they critique like soldiers did The Hurt Locker) to The Simpsons to even Star Wars.
During my embed in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne’s Task Force Rakkasan a few years ago I saw this tacked to one of the plywood walls of the tactical operations center at Forward Operating Base Rushmore in the heart of Paktika Province. These are actual la’iha (laws) put out by (the late) Mullah Mohammed Omar for his fellow Taliban to follow:
MMO is the supreme leader of the Taliban, or “Emir al Mu’manin” (“Leader of the Faithful”).
Taliban will constructively engage tribal leaders and seek to offer support to the local population.
Commanders should, when possible, be reassigned to their ancestral tribal areas.
Captured enemy personnel will be taken to provincial commanders immediately.
Spies cannot be executed without due process, which is also clearly defined.
No Taliban will take bribes.
No Taliban will steal.
No Taliban will kidnap for ransom inside Afghanistan.
No Taliban will use torture on captured persons.
No mutilation, even of corpses.
There will be no more beheadings, only firing squads.
No executions will be videotaped.
No suicide attack will be conducted unless approved by a higher authority.
Any former government official seeking to join the Taliban must kill or capture a high-ranking enemy to prove himself loyal.
Captured enemy money and items must be distributed fairly, not kept for personal gain.
Provincial authorities will be established, creating standardized legal, political, and military structures.
The F-22 is a maneuverable fighter. Here are some videos of the Raptor demonstrating what it can do:
1. Near-vertical climb immediately after a ridiculously short takeoff
The F-22 show starts as soon as the jet leaves the ground. Following a short takeoff the airplane goes straight into the vertical.
BONUS: Flashing the crowd
It’s not an advanced maneuver, but the F-22 generally uses it’s first or second pass along the show line to “flash” the crowd, opening its weapon bay doors to let the crowd see where the missiles and bombs are carried.
2. J-Turn (Herbst maneuver)
The J-Turn is a way of slowing down fast by putting the jet into a controlled stall. The maneuver requires vectored thrust for the pilot to control the pitch of the plane after it stalls. A NASA graphic explains the maneuver step-by-step.
3. Mongo flip
The mongo flip is basically a glorified backflip. Air show aficionados may notice it’s similarity to a “Kulbit maneuver.” The Kulbit is basically the same except the Kulbit is using inertia, gravity, and the flow of air to tumble the plane while the Mongo is a flip controlled by vectored thrust from the F-22s engines. The Mongo Flip is tighter than the Kulbit due to this extra control. If you can’t tell exactly what’s going on in the mongo flip, check out this newspaper graphic that illustrates the mongo flip and the cobra, shown below.
4. Cobra maneuver
The Cobra Maneuver is a classic air combat move made even more effective by the Raptor’s vectored thrust. A pilot being pursued would draw the enemy in close, execute the Cobra and spit the bandit out in front of him, kind of like Maverick’s move in ‘Top Gun’. The F-22 is capable of executing the maneuver to 140 degrees, nearly laying on its back, but always in control courtesy of vectored thrust.
5. Here’s the full show . . .
This video shows a full demonstration of the F-22, showing how demo pilot puts everything together.
Since Desert Storm if the mission involved close air support — especially killing tanks — the A-10 ‘Warthog’ was the jet the infantry loved to see overhead. It’s lethal, it’s agile, and it’s perfect at providing support for troops on the ground. So it’s easy to see why they absolutely love it.
The A-10 “Thunderbolt II” was built by Fairchild Republic in the early 1970s to take on close air support missions — the only military aircraft in history designed specifically for that purpose. (Photo: U. S. Air Force)
The A-10, more commonly referred to as the “Warthog” because of it’s unique look, is not fast for a tactical jet but is very maneuverable due to its large wings. In this photo a Warthog dispenses flares used to decoy heat-seeking missiles. (Photo: U. S. Air Force)
The Warthog features a GAU-8 Avenger nose cannon — the heaviest gun mounted on an airplane — that fires 30 millimeter bullets. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)
Warthogs became the infantry’s close air support platforms of choice due to a wide range of armament, loiter time, and the courage of the pilots who flew them. Here nose art annotates enemy equipment destroyed and number of bombs delivered. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)
The cockpit and parts of the flight-control system are protected by 1,200 pounds of titanium armor, referred to as a “bathtub.” (Source: Wikipedia; Photo: U.S. Air Force)
One of the most powerful aircraft cannons ever flown, the GAU-8 fires large depleted uranium armor-piercing shells at a rate of 3,900 rounds per minute.
Along with the GAU-8 nose cannon the Warthog has multiple hard points on each wing for carrying a variety of weapons including Maverick AGMs and Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missiles.
To reduce the likelihood of damage to the A-10’s fuel system, all four fuel tanks are located near the aircraft’s center and are separated from the fuselage; projectiles would need to penetrate the aircraft’s skin before reaching a tank’s outer skin. (Source: Wikipedia; Photo: U.S. Air Force)
The A-10’s durability was shown on April 7, 2003 when Capt. Kim Campbell, while flying over Baghdad during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, suffered extensive flak damage. Despite a malfunctioning engine and a crippled hydraulic system, Campbell flew the aircraft for nearly an hour and landed safely. (Source: Wikipedia; Photo: U.S. Air Force)
The A-10 was designed to fly from forward air bases and semi-prepared runways with high risk of foreign object damage to the engines.
The unusual location of the General Electric TF34-GE-100 turbofan engines decreases the heat signature for IR missiles, reduces the chances of FOD ingestion, and allows the engines to run while the aircraft is serviced and rearmed by ground crews, reducing turn-around time. (Source: Wikipedia; Photo: U. S. Air Force)
Although it’s inflight refueling capability theoretically could have kept the Warthog airborne forever, the Air Force’s budget priorities have attempted to ground the airplane once and for all in favor of the F-35.
However various Air National Guard factions and congressional groups have pressured the Pentagon to keep the A-10 in service, claiming that the F-35 is less capable than the venerable Warthog. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)
Topical humor has always been a big part of Saturday Night Live history and there have been plenty of military stories in the news to inspire its writers over the last four decades. As the show celebrated its 40th anniversary with a three-hour special that aired on Sunday, February 15th, we’ve combed through the SNL archives and selected the 10 best military-themed sketches.
1. Bruce Willis wants to bring some John McClane-style Die Hard heroics to a Black Ops mission in Afghanistan.
2. General David Petraeus (Will Forte) testifies to Congress about the progress of the surge in Iraq.
3. It’s time to build a coalition to fight Iraq’s nuclear capabilities, but General Colin Powell (Kenan Thompson) seems to have turned into Fred Sanford since his retirement.
4. A TV pitchman (Harry Shearer) explains why you need to spend $50,000 on a Pentagon-approved MacDouglass Drummond wrench.
5. An Air Force fighter pilot (NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon) wins elementary school Career Day over carpet salesman Seth Meyers.
6. Weekend Update’s Seth Meyers examines the Winners Losers in the General David Petraeus/Paula Broadwell/Jill Kelley/General John Allen scandal.
7. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (Darrell Hammond) updates the media on progress after the United States invades Afghanistan.
8. Tired of the Congressional debate about whether to invade Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney (Darrell Hammond) goes all Doctor Strangelove and rides a missile to Baghdad.
9. Test Pilot Mustang Calhoun (Dennis Quaid) is just plain crazy.
10. Two dumb Marines (Kevin Nealon and Dana Carvey) bring spies to the US Embassy in Moscow.
These just skim the surface. There are dozens of military-themed sketches from SNL. Tell us your favorites in the comments below.