ATAC Home | Thomas "TC" Bennett


"I mourn the passing of a great naval aviator, a professional analyst of all things naval, and a soulful and compelling writer of poetry and prose."
– Ray Mabus, SecNav.

Gifts and cards are being received by the family at the PO Box, the address is:
3525 Del Mar Heights
San Diego, CA 92130-2122

Please send donations to:
LeFon Memorial Fund
PO Box 3100
Merrifield, VA 22109
Note, donations to the fund are non-tax deductible


"So, anyway, there I was below the swirl and bustle of it all. Cruising around down in the weeds at maybe 500 feet. Passing one and then another snow-dusted mountain range. Pinching myself to ensure that I had not fallen asleep in some godforsaken meeting, nor dribbling spittle down my Brooks Brother's shirt.

Joined up with my lead, and came back to the carrier break. Landed uneventfully, taxied home, shut her down. Spent all of ten minutes – maybe twelve – passing along my observations to the bandit lead for his debrief. That wouldn't start for an hour yet, and would last at least an hour, maybe two depending on the breaks. By which time I was already back in my little cell.

Thinking to myself, "I've got the best job ever.""


March 7, 2012
When Lex "left the keys in it" for me to be a guest blogger here about a year ago, we didn't discuss what to do in this occasion. I am at a loss. I did feel the need to provide one place for your tributes and condolences to collect. So here it is.

As Lex would say, talk amongst yourselves.
Very Respectfully,

March 4, 2012
Which, it was right about then that I wondered if I was supposed to put my iPhone into "Airplane" mode before take-off.

Early Go
March 3, 2012
There are very few things to admire about a 0500 brief on a Saturday morning. The Weapons School lost some sorties during the course of the week due to weather, and quality being the measure by which all things are reckoned, they would have to be made up. But still.
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February 9, 2012
I quite like the train actually, especially for a trip like today's, when I was only doing a touch and go in Point Mugu to pick up a jet and ferry her to Fallon.
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800 Jumps
January 25, 2012
I take a little pride in the fact that, thus far at least (knock wood), I have never had to resort to the Martin-Baker penetration approach to landing, although I remain willing to do so in the case of exigent circumstances.
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A Crescent Moon
January 25, 2012
There was a crescent moon tonight over NAS Fallon. Not as who should say a "commander's moon," far less one issued to a retired captain. But a moon nonetheless.
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Night and Day
January 24, 2012
So, your host flew a night hop last night and a day sortie today. The difference between the two was, well: Look at the title.
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January 17, 2012
Well, the video uploading was summat of a bust. Which is a pity, for I put some real time into it, not merely in the recording of the stuff, but in editing and adding motivational music, like. Which was my downfall, in the event.
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Relaxed Stability
January 13, 2012
Two flights yesterday, one day and one night. In the day hop, we joined with two Marine FA-18s to serve as their wingmen for the adversary presentation.
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Day Hop
January 11, 2012
I left my helmet and gloves in the bike's panniers overnight, which I regretted a little when I put them on this morning – they were pretty cold, and I was freshly scrubbed; the combination was uncongenial.
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A Good Ride
January 11, 2012
I had intended to push out from Sandy Eggo at around 1000 yesterday morning, but between one micro-crisis and another didn't get rubber to road until nearly 1230.
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December 13, 2011
Watch Video >>>

December 6, 2011
Our mission was to attack the imperialist, running-dog, bandits attacking our valiant, progressive forces on our sacred motherland in the name of "democracy", "liberty", and "Obamacare."
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Fallon Squiblets
November 30, 2011
Got in on Sunday afternoon. Flew once on Monday, twice Tuesday. Comfortable in the basic cranking of the machine, getting her flying, bringing her back again.
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Catching Up
November 10, 2011
So I haven't had much time to keep apprised with the news. Apart from that dreadful business at Penn State, and you'd have to be a hermit to have missed it.
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Not So Fast
November 9, 2011
The jet was broken when I arrived at the aerodrome. Which it wasn't my fault, she was fine when I left her last night. Summat to do with fuel going where it really didn't orta, and then spilling over the side.
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November 9, 2011
Which it's our birthday, and we plan to spend it at Flight Level 290 ferrying a jet from Fallon to Buckley ANGB, in Aurora, CO. Overnight thither, then on to Newport News via Scott AFB on Thursday.
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Day Hop
November 7, 2011
Which the Yankee Air Pirates were coming for to bomb summat of critical importance to our anti-capitalist People's Paradaisical Republic of Trashcanistan. Which I wasn't in on what, exactly, nor the preparation neither.
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Ground Abort
October 18, 2011
Was to have been a two-hop day, and during the first your humble once again led to and from the battlespace. With a shade less buffoonery than before, so that – hey, presto! – he is now a two-ship lead. Sing halleluiah!
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One Hop
October 14, 2011
So, another DCA hop for your "nugget" host and his seasoned flight lead, a man of some 52 summers and 3000+ hours in the F-15 Ego, not to mention a gret deal of seniority in the company, hizzoner being the chief pilot. Which, he's a good man for a' that.
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October 13, 2011
Which it's a Marine two-seat fighter squadron out of Miramar we're up against, and your host would prefer it had they stayed at home, for it's nobbut a wee, sma' commute from the Crushing Burden of Debt to the air station, not to mention the conjugals that are in it. Still deploy they would, and here we are in Mountain Home, Idaho.
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October 10, 2011
Yesterday's good clean fun – when I wasn't beating up the approach pattern – was an air defense training exercise for one of our SoCal carriers and her strike group. My profile required me to go in low and hot at 500′ and 0.95 Mach.
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Second Hop
October 2, 2011
It'd been a week since last I flew, a combination of adverse weather and aircraft availability thwarting my efforts to amass ten hours of flight time in the airframe, without which I was constrained by weather minima. Needed a dime to fly in the weather, couldn't get a dime because of the weather.
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The Hands Don't Forget
October 2, 2011
Two hops today, adding a whole 3.1 to my previous 4.1. Amazing to think that you can nearly double a month's flight time in a single day, but that's the simultaneous curse and blessing of very small numbers.
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Qual Flight
September 24, 2011
It'd been a solid three days of looking mournfully at the weather, forecast and sky – a pilot's ultimate "weather radar". Listening into the briefs of the qualified guys to try and get a sense of the missions and mindsets. Listen to them grumble about this or that. Smile secretly to yourself, happy to have changed the environment in which such grumbling can occur.
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Who's a Qual
September 23, 2011
This kid. Now it's back on the bike, and down to Sandy Eggo, for to sleep in my own bed, with my own… dachshund.

The Sense of Mastery

September 18, 2011
In the late 80s, when I was a fleet lieutenant with one deployment behind me, we were invited to a presentation by Alexander Zuyev, a Soviet era MiG-29 pilot who defected with his airplane to Trabzon, Turkey. The aircraft was re-patriated, but Zuyev was allowed asylum in the US. He gave a pretty good pitch about the differing mindsets between the air forces of the Cold War adversaries.
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Flight Two
September 15, 2011
The take-off continues to impress, but the holy schnikies sensation is beginning to fade. A better rotation to the fly-away attitude, and up through a 1500 foot overcast out to the sea. A couple of hard turns (one a little too hard, as it turns out – D'oh!), tactical formations and then back into the precision approach pattern for four ground controlled approaches.
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One Slick Whistle
September 13, 2011
So, your first actual flight in the Kfir is in a slick jet: No external fuel tanks, pods or ordnance, not a whole lot of gas, a great grunching 18+ thousand pounds of static thrust installed. Having done three high-speed taxi tests previously, today was the real deal.
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1030 Brief
September 12, 2011
So, yesterday I got in pretty early, having not much else to do, and spent most of the day brushing up on aircraft systems, immediate action emergencies, local course rules (how you get in and out of a military airfield), cockpit familiarization and finally, Garmin 530 system management.
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Getting Warmer
September 10, 2011
So, as previously hinted, it was a hideously protracted drive from Sandy Eggo to Ventura County on Thursday, your correspondent having missed the exit for the CA 73 toll road and bravely soldiering on anyway. Which, the curtain between bravery and idiocy being but a gauzy thing, ephemeral.
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Getting to Know You
August 23, 2011
To learn, really learn a new aircraft is to form a relationship not unlike an arranged marriage. As soon as you find out who your partner to be, the real work begins.
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Micro - Day 2
August 20, 2011
Perceptive readers whose interest lies that way will know that the airframe is nearly identical to the Mirage F5, a low wing, sharply swept delta design made for speed more than endurance.
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Flash Cards
August 15, 2011
There are 286 topics in the master question bank for the Kfir. There are 20 boldface immediate action procedures to memorize.

Training starts Thursday.

Ergo, flash cards.


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Neptunus Lex - Thank You and Farewell
Pardon Him, Theodotus: Neptunus Lex: Carroll LeFon
Guest Post by LCDR Benjamin "BJ" Armstrong: Laughter-Silvered Wings and Chasing the Shouting Wind...

Whisper's Open Thread which, at this writing, has collected 1,257 tributes, comments and condolences.

March 19, 2012
Carroll "Lex" LeFon, ATAC F-21 pilot, retired Naval Aviator, TOPGUN Graduate and prominent military blogger known as Neptunus Lex, was killed in a plane crash on the morning of March 6th, 2012 when his F-21 Kfir crashed at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada; he was 51. Although the investigation is on-going, there is no question that erratic and severe un-forecast weather changes contributed greatly to the accident.
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March 19, 2012
As a naval aviator, Carroll LeFon reached for thousands of stars that brilliantly danced over the earth's curvature.

Later in his distinguished career as technology flexed its appeal and reach on the Internet, the retired Navy captain became a celebrity with his military bloggings written under the name of Neptunus Lex, a fitting nom de plume for a man who dedicated more than half his life to serving his country.
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