By Tommy H. Thomason

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Well, That Sucks

One of the blogs that I read every day,  one of the few that I provide a link to, and the one I invariably enjoy the most is written by retired Navy Captain, Carroll LeFon, familiarly known as Lex. He had been among other things, the executive officer of TOPGUN, a fighter pilot's fighter pilot who could also write entertainingly and informatively. In the process of creating Strike from the Sea, I had emailed him with a question about dumb-bomb delivery since he had written an illustrated anecdote about the process. He responded promptly and was very helpful in correcting and improving my draft.

After retiring from the Navy, Lex had gotten a desk job but also flew light aircraft on weekends at one of those air-combat flight experience companies. However, it was clear that he missed flying jets. He recently left his cubicle and returned to the cockpit, going to work for ATAC, a company providing adversary fighter services to the U.S. military, among other things. See

He flew the Kfir, an Israeli modification of the Dassault Mirage powered by a J79. The Navy had leased several of these as F-21s to be used to provide dissimilar aircraft air-to-air combat training. These were subsequently turned back to Israel.

ATAC was operating the very similar Kfir C2s that had been retired by the Israeli Air Force. In the past few months in his blog, Lex took us through his experience with checking out in the idiosyncratic little beast and flying it as an adversary: self-effacing, lighthearted, and witty as usual. His joy in being back in the air in a single-seat jet fighter providing realistic training for the crews of Navy ships and tactical airplanes was readily apparent. But reading between the lines, I couldn't help but wonder if this would end badly.

Yesterday, 6 March, it did. He "stepped into the clearing at the end of the path", as he was wont to say about other departed friends and acquaintances, while landing at NAS Fallon, Nevada. He will be missed.