Mostly, Red Flag missions had been flown out of Nellis AFB, Las Vegas Nevada. But, it had been such a huge exercise, that the USAF decided to deploy our unit in the high desert area to the west of the air combat training area of Area 51 in Nevada. Our airplane had become the darling of the forward air controller oriented US Army. We could ‘kill’ a tank with our 30mm cannon at slant ranges in excess of 10,000 feet, at only 300’ above the ground. Usually, we would be in closer, but to wreak such terrible destruction on what ground troops thought was protected gunnery had a devastating effect on morale.
So, since the Army wanted us with them and in support of the war games, we flew along side Army Cobra helicopters in search and destroy.
I had just taken off in tactical formation with my wingman and we were flying a low altitude profile. I had put my wingman in 4-6000 foot line abreast formation so we could guard each other’s rear area or 6 o’clock. Maneuvering every 4 minutes to look for air threats, we had flown low altitude across the desert for about 40 minutes when we arrived on target.