“Ruckus flight, cleared for takeoff,” rumbled the steady voice of the tower controller.
“Roger, Ruckus cleared for takeoff,” I responded.
As we finished our checklist, with a silent hand signal to the wingman, we simultaneously lowered our canopies. Next, we armed our seats, changed our radios to tactical frequency, and turned on our Identification Friend or Foe set (IFF for short). Our lights came on together, and we taxied in formation onto the runway.
Lining up, I gave the signal to my wingman, #2, to advance power. He nodded acceptance of the command. With a final check of the instruments and another silent signal with our heads, we released brakes together. After another quick check of the wingman and the runway ahead, we accelerated down the runway.
We reached safety check speed, and I began raising the nose slowly by pulling back on the control stick. Almost immediately, we broke free of the bonds of gravity and began our climb. I tapped my helmet with a head jerk back which signaled to the wingman to raise the gear and the flaps……