From The Mountain
Mark J. Tidwell
The weather sure did take a turn for the better through parts of February. I compared this year’s trends with my recollections from last February and found a sharp contrast. Last February we stayed socked in with cloud cover and with snow on the ground for a considerable part of the month.
We’ve already got Easter flowers bloomed around the homestead. They’re not in heavy, full bloom yet. There are enough flowered out to make one long for spring. After one of those of seventy degree days and little rain shower, the swamp chorus frogs began to make some noise as well. I was driving home one night about ten o’clock and the roadway was full of hopping frogs leaving the ditch lines. A lot of them were hopping their last as radial tires ended their pre-spring frolicking.
A little bit faster than a speeding frog was another interesting sight I experienced the other day. I was out in the deep woods along some high cliff lines overlooking a large expanse of country. I heard the unmistakable whoosh of what I thought was a fighter jet nearby. I was treated to an awesome sight as three F-16 fighters streaked up a valley, shot overhead and disappeared over a far distant mountain range.
It was a gorgeous day out, with long range visibility. The jets appeared and were gone within just a few seconds though. The sound of their powerful jet turbines lingered through the hollows long after they were way of sight. What a feeling that must be. To be the best trained pilots in the world, flying the best equipment, must make for an awesome experience threading through mountainous terrain at such speeds.
It had been quite a while since I had seen any fighter jets pass over our area. The big, twin-rotor Chinook helicopters are an often seen sight over the Jellico area though. They fly low over Pine Mt. I suppose on training missions. Many even come over at night. The lumbering green outfits sure look and sound menacing, especially with those big refueling probes that stick out below the cockpits like a big jousting spear.
When I was a kid, lots of F-100 Super Sabres and F-4 Phantoms used to fly over this area. I really used to enjoy seeing them dart over the mountains. Within the last few years, I witnessed several B-1 Bombers come down along Pine Mountain. Sometimes they’d have their swinging wings extended, other times they’d be angled back for maximum speed. At any rate, such a display of military hardware is awe-inspiring. My hat is off the pilots of our armed forces and the crews that keep um’ in the air.