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2013 F/A-18 crash: Out of fuel, out of time and one chance to land
Stars & Stripes ^ | April 12, 2014 | Mike Hixenbaugh

Posted on 04/12/2014 5:47:40 AM PDT by Timber Rattler

The aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower was finally in sight.

The pilot of the F/A-18 Super Hornet hurriedly flipped switches and pushed levers. The aviator in the backseat leaned forward, straining to see the flight deck floating in the distance. The jet’s right engine had locked up, its landing gear jammed, the main fuel tank almost empty.

(snip)

The pilot made some quick calculations. He had 15,500 pounds of fuel in his tanks, enough to return to the Eisenhower and make six passes at the ship.

Landing in nearby Kandahar was a more prudent option, but that would likely have meant several days or more awaiting repairs. The Eisenhower’s air wing commander had decided earlier not to put a maintenance detachment in Afghanistan — a cost-saving measure pilots perceived as a signal they should attempt to divert back to the ship whenever possible.

(snip)

About the story: This report was based on an investigation into the April 8, 2013, crash of an F/A-18 Super Hornet. Names and other identifying details were redacted from the report, which was obtained by The Virginian-Pilot through a Freedom of Information Act request. The report cited questionable decision making by the pilot but did not recommend disciplinary action.

(Excerpt) Read more at stripes.com ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Government; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: carrier; f18; foia; hornet; navair; planecrash; usnavy
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After a bad call by the strike group commander, the aviator and his backseater ran out of fuel just as they were about to land on the Eisenhower and had to punch out, losing the aircraft.

Seems to me that the root of the original chain of bad decisions was the failure to station a Maintenance Det in Afghganistan to save money and to encourage aviators in trouble to try and make it back to their carriers. So, here they lost a $50 million Super Hornet and nearly their lives because of financial shenanigans in Washington.

1 posted on 04/12/2014 5:47:41 AM PDT by Timber Rattler
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To: Timber Rattler
true..and afterall; this IS the Resident "Bathhouse" Barrack 0'Muslim Administration.

2 posted on 04/12/2014 5:57:58 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass (The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun..0'Caligula / 0'Reid / 0'Pelosi)
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To: Timber Rattler

Seems to me that our government’s main mission is to provide defense for our country. It follows that we should have people in place,from the Commander-in-Chief on down,with military experience. This is vital,but doesn’t seem to be the case this time.


3 posted on 04/12/2014 5:59:28 AM PDT by oldtech
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To: Timber Rattler

Two seat Hornet = Marines or a Growler. Carrier aviation is a high risk occupation. Running out of gas is always a pilot error.


4 posted on 04/12/2014 6:01:05 AM PDT by Afterguard (Liberals will let you do anything you want, as long as it's mandatory.)
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To: Timber Rattler

Why doesn’t our govt ever try to save money by, say, cutting handouts to the slimy takers of society - those born on BOTH sides of our southern border???


5 posted on 04/12/2014 6:03:42 AM PDT by C. Edmund Wright (Tokyo Rove is more than a name, it's a GREAT WEBSITE)
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To: Timber Rattler

“The jet had flown more than 400 miles, two-thirds of the way back to the ship, when the aviators noticed another problem.”

Glad their safe. I don’t blame it on anybody. I was a green shirt for a month ... not long by anybodies standard, but I don’t question their decision. If both made it back alive, then It was a good decision in my book.


6 posted on 04/12/2014 6:07:42 AM PDT by Usagi_yo (Islamunism = Facism + Islam : Islamunist = someone that adheres to Islamunism.)
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To: Afterguard

<> Running out of gas is always a pilot error.<>

You don’t know wtf you are talking about.


7 posted on 04/12/2014 6:09:22 AM PDT by Jacquerie ( Article V.)
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To: Afterguard
Running out of gas is always a pilot error.

I highly recommend reading the article. If nothing else, it will save you making a fool of yourself the next time.

8 posted on 04/12/2014 6:12:11 AM PDT by centurion316
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To: Timber Rattler

I couldn’t read the rest of this. You’re spot on.

The incident could have resulted in loss of crew, all consequent to a major command error in logistics, which I can only assume extends all the way up the chain back to the Pentagon since they only assigned blame on the pilot. They simply chose to ignore the problem.

The proof is the lack of disciplinary action.

Why am I not surprised...

Footnote: At least some still care enough
http://www.goatlocker.org/resources/cpo/about/culture.htm


9 posted on 04/12/2014 6:12:53 AM PDT by logi_cal869
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To: centurion316

THat’s not what he’s really saying. He’s saying the pilot might not likely fly a high performance jet for the military anymore. Which is more than likely true. At least that’s how I read his comment.

Unexpected turbulence is sometimes a polite way of saying “he screwed up”. Doesn’t have to be the case, but the Navy frowns upon pilots who lose their aircraft.


10 posted on 04/12/2014 6:18:30 AM PDT by Usagi_yo (Islamunism = Facism + Islam : Islamunist = someone that adheres to Islamunism.)
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To: centurion316

F/A 18’s don’t have any gas.


11 posted on 04/12/2014 6:19:45 AM PDT by Loud Mime (Character matters for those who understand the concept)
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To: Usagi_yo

How many aircraft did John McCain lose?


12 posted on 04/12/2014 6:21:28 AM PDT by Former Proud Canadian (Cruz/Palin 2016)
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To: Jacquerie; Afterguard
<> Running out of gas is always a pilot error.<>

You don’t know wtf you are talking about.

I had a friend with whom I had flown as his co-pilot. He ran out of fuel, tried an autorotation to the sea, hit hard, aircraft broke up and everyone was killed. While on a routine training mission in Okinawa he was diverted to an outlining island for a passenger pickup. When the passenger was boarding the crew chief was heard to say, "Hurry up we are low on fuel".

Classic pilot error, right? Mostly, yes. However, the squadron commander demanded "drill team" precision and punctuality for each aircraft meeting launch and recovery times, even down to requiring the senior pilot on a multi-plane launch to do a countdown to synchronized rotor brake release. The commander's other insistence was that "You will make your 'chock time' (return to base)."

Without that command pressure, probably the pilot would have taken the delay and refueled. Yes, the pilot in command is responsible. However, the command authority has the responsibility to create an environment that promotes wise decisions on the part of the pilots.

Second incident. Another friend was possibly the last US military man killed in the Vietnam war. In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, his helicopter carrier was off-shore receiving the fleeing South Vietnamese helos full of escaping military and civilians.

The Vietnamese Hueys would land and unload their passengers. If there was time, radios and other useful component were yanked out before the Huey was shoved over the side due to insufficient deck space. My buddy was flying "plane guard", orbiting to one side of the ship to rescue anyone in a helo that did not have enough fuel to make it safely to the flight deck.

He had been flying for 12-13 hours, refueling when necessary. Night had fallen and he had tried to refuel again, only to be bumped by an incoming Huey flying on fumes. He continues to orbit, then one time, they did not come around.

Fatigue?
Disorientation at night over water?
Flame out after fuel exhaustion?

Who knows. But please, DO NOT call that "pilot error".

13 posted on 04/12/2014 6:33:20 AM PDT by BwanaNdege
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To: Jacquerie

You don’t know what you’re talking about. Unless the ARB can prove the jet was broken in some way, the pilot gets the blame for running out of gas.


14 posted on 04/12/2014 6:35:42 AM PDT by Afterguard (Liberals will let you do anything you want, as long as it's mandatory.)
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To: Afterguard

Hey numbnuts, read the column.


15 posted on 04/12/2014 6:36:34 AM PDT by Jacquerie ( Article V.)
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To: Jacquerie
This was about a lot more than running out of fuel. The turbulence during re-fueling caused the basket to be ripped off. This disabled the fuel pumps so he couldn't use all his fuel. Diverting to Kandahar was discouraged because of command decisions. He was ordered to divert to another land field too late. Then the pilot squandered his emergency power and couldn't lower his landing gear.

I count two pilot errors, that might have been the result of poor training. I also count two command errors. So, who is at fault? The command authority, the training system, or the pilot?

My take? I am appalled at the command decisions and the lack of pilot knowledge of the aircraft due to lack of training.

16 posted on 04/12/2014 6:37:35 AM PDT by Former Proud Canadian (Cruz/Palin 2016)
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To: Usagi_yo

A good landing is when the pilot and all passengers can walk away.

A great landing is when you can use the airplane again.


17 posted on 04/12/2014 6:38:17 AM PDT by alloysteel (Selective and willful ignorance spells doom, to both victim and perpetrator - mostly the perp.)
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To: Timber Rattler

They should have the team, which is investigating MH370, solve the investigation...


18 posted on 04/12/2014 6:40:35 AM PDT by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously-you won't live through it anyway-Enjoy Yourself ala Louis Prima)
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To: Vendome

Seems the root of the prob was the pilot didn’t want 2 days of maint and lost a zillion dollar aircraft!


19 posted on 04/12/2014 6:48:45 AM PDT by DocJhn
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To: Former Proud Canadian

Enough to be a reverse ace.


20 posted on 04/12/2014 6:58:04 AM PDT by mcshot (..."And this too shall end.")
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To: alloysteel
Landed in San Jose. Plane, it seemed to me hit the ground pretty hard. Asked the pilot if he would classify that as a "hard landing". "No," he said. "That was a firm landing."
21 posted on 04/12/2014 7:07:45 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: Former Proud Canadian
How many aircraft did John McCain lose?

McCain didn't lose any aircraft; he knew where they were all the time. However, he did crash a few, had an accident, and had one shot down while he was on board.

22 posted on 04/12/2014 7:11:20 AM PDT by MosesKnows (Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.)
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To: Loud Mime

Most likely JP4.


23 posted on 04/12/2014 7:19:36 AM PDT by Bulwyf
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To: Afterguard

Read the damn article!


24 posted on 04/12/2014 7:22:34 AM PDT by Bulwyf
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To: Timber Rattler
"....a $50 million Super Hornet and nearly their lives because of financial shenanigans in Washington."

See.......space shuttle......Challenger. Same deal.

25 posted on 04/12/2014 7:25:38 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (Newly fledged NRA Life Member (after many years as an "annual renewal" sort))
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To: centurion316

“Running out of gas is always a pilot error.”

“I highly recommend reading the article. If nothing else, it will save you making a fool of yourself the next time. “

I’m not a pilot nor have any expertise with aviation as I was a mere M-16 operator while working for the Big Green Machine way back in the day. However, having said all this, just want to say that it’s my understanding that jet engines don’t burn gas. Just saying, lol :)


26 posted on 04/12/2014 7:26:51 AM PDT by snoringbear (E.oGovernment is the Pimp,)
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To: Usagi_yo

I understand the professional dings that the guy has taken (assuming that his name is not McCain), but for those that read the article, his questionable decisions were not related to fuel starvation.


27 posted on 04/12/2014 7:31:00 AM PDT by centurion316
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To: Timber Rattler
nearby Kandahar

I'm confused. If he was choosing between landing on a carrier, I would presume that meant he was over the ocean. Yet Kandahar is in land-locked Afghanistan, hundreds of miles from any sea. How could it be considered "nearby?"

28 posted on 04/12/2014 7:36:06 AM PDT by IronJack
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To: Timber Rattler

If a maverick black hole from the Andromeda galaxy sweeps out of the mysterious dark unknown of deepest space and into our Solar System, slamming unpredictably into this pale blue dot of Earth, in the moments before everyone is annihilated, one or more commanders will most likely be asked that most standard of military questions: “What did YOU do to prevent this?”


29 posted on 04/12/2014 7:42:32 AM PDT by Theophilus (.)
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To: BwanaNdege; centurion316
I defy anyone to sit in their seats for 5+ hours under these conditions and do any better. The PC made reasonable decisions, given his situation. This crew demonstrated some superior airmanship attempting to keep their aircraft flying, considering all of the things that happened to them in flight.

I'd be asking some hard questions to the air wing commander about not having assets at KAH to recover his aircraft. Seems like a no brainer to me.

30 posted on 04/12/2014 7:44:03 AM PDT by TADSLOS (The Event Horizon has come and gone. Buckle up and hang on.)
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To: Afterguard
Carrier aviation is a high risk occupation.

I worked with an older guy whose son was a Delta pilot, and had been a Naval aviator for several years prior.

He visited the office quite often, and when asked would say that - no matter how experienced the jet driver - there was always a very great "pucker factor" in carrier landings.

31 posted on 04/12/2014 7:55:43 AM PDT by ErnBatavia (The 0baMao Experiment: Abject Failure)
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To: TADSLOS

I don’t disagree, but the Navy doesn’t usually work that way.


32 posted on 04/12/2014 7:57:13 AM PDT by centurion316
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To: Timber Rattler
The jet had flown more than 400 miles, two-thirds of the way back to the ship, when the aviators noticed another problem. The pumps that move fuel from reserve tanks on the wings into the main tanks are automatically disabled when the refueling probe is extended.

AKA an "aw crap" moment.

33 posted on 04/12/2014 8:04:03 AM PDT by Flick Lives ("I can't believe it's not Fascism!")
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To: centurion316

Yeah, I know.


34 posted on 04/12/2014 8:04:22 AM PDT by TADSLOS (The Event Horizon has come and gone. Buckle up and hang on.)
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To: Former Proud Canadian

“How many aircraft did John McCain lose?”

Four!


35 posted on 04/12/2014 8:57:35 AM PDT by vette6387
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To: Former Proud Canadian
"turbulence during re-fueling caused the basket to be ripped off. This disabled the fuel pumps so he couldn't use all his fuel."

....I think you are right. This is a very complex AC but the fouled refuel probe should have been recognized immediately as a danger ...

36 posted on 04/12/2014 8:59:59 AM PDT by virgil283
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To: virgil283

Yes, and his training would have alerted him to that, if it included this fact. If they didn’t tell him this in training, how is he supposed to know?


37 posted on 04/12/2014 9:05:48 AM PDT by Former Proud Canadian (Cruz/Palin 2016)
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To: Afterguard

Why didn’t you bother to read the article?


38 posted on 04/12/2014 9:11:38 AM PDT by Kirkwood (Zombie Hunter)
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To: Former Proud Canadian
"If they didn't’t tell him this in training, how is he supposed to know?"

..... You got me there, but I can tell you this every plane made has a book on every thing possible to know about that plane. Also all emergency procedures are on laminated cards and are carried by both the pilot and the Guy In Back.

So when the probe failed the G.I.B. should have been going thru those procedures to verify what now works and what does not...[it is easy to second guess them, I do realize they were under extreme stress but you're right the training should have kicked in]

39 posted on 04/12/2014 9:16:52 AM PDT by virgil283
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To: Wonder Warthog

“....a $50 million Super Hornet and nearly their lives because of financial shenanigans in Washington.”

See.......space shuttle......Challenger. Same deal.


Actually, No.

The primary cause of the Challenger disaster was . . . Sheer Bad Luck.


40 posted on 04/12/2014 9:58:21 AM PDT by chaosagent (Remember, no matter how you slice it, forbidden fruit still tastes the sweetest!)
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To: Timber Rattler

I was in KAF in 2009 and we had a Hornet divert there with a malfunction. The USN didn’t have a maintenance detachment there at the time but a team was flown from the ship to fix the jet two days later. Not ideal but then again it was the smart play.


41 posted on 04/12/2014 10:10:23 AM PDT by paddles ("The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates." Tacitus)
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To: Afterguard

The aircraft was from VFA-103, a USN E-model.


42 posted on 04/12/2014 10:11:31 AM PDT by paddles ("The more corrupt the state, the more it legislates." Tacitus)
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To: skinkinthegrass

Really reading that story..its pilot screw up on top of pilot screw up on top of pilot screw up...he really didnt seem to know his aircraft systems and procedures at all


43 posted on 04/12/2014 10:34:20 AM PDT by tophat9000 (Are we headed to a Cracker Slacker War?)
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To: chaosagent

NO! Morton Thiokol’s Allan McDonald had refused to sign the launch recommendation over safety concerns. Prior to that launch, visual evidence had raised questions about the segment seals functioning in lowered temps. His professional judgement was overridden by a Thiokol corporate VP vote influenced by NASA bureaucratic pressure.

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/news/researchernews/rn_Colloquium1012.html

http://articles.latimes.com/1986-02-26/news/mn-390_1_nasa-officials


44 posted on 04/12/2014 10:42:40 AM PDT by Ozark Tom
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To: Former Proud Canadian

I would agree they seem to jerk him around on the late divert. .but rule of thumb if you got a problem land at your closest airfield and land on land not the carrier. The pilot made multiple bad calls with putting him that the coffin corner


45 posted on 04/12/2014 10:42:41 AM PDT by tophat9000 (Are we headed to a Cracker Slacker War?)
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To: virgil283
The inoperative fuel pumps and the emergency power unit usage are two glaring things that, to me, should have been covered in training. As soon as that basket breaks his training should have sent him down a different decision tree. Either it wasn't covered or it didn't take.

Command decisions were awful. You could argue that the fear of diverting to Kandahar that had been instilled in the pilots caused the loss of the aircraft.

Poor training and poor command decisions. Kind of scary, don't you think?

46 posted on 04/12/2014 10:50:32 AM PDT by Former Proud Canadian (Cruz/Palin 2016)
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To: Timber Rattler

Really if you think about is it was a really bad call

He’s near Kandahar when he had the refueling basket stuck on his refueling probe...

..so land...

...pull the dam basket off...

.... retract the probe....

....inspect the aircraft for damage....

...and if none....

....top up and fly home..

And if the aircraft is damaged landing at Kandahar still the better bet as its closer and it’s not the carrier...

Landing a damaged aircraft on a carrier, besides being harder, and puts the carrier and the people on the carrier at risk.

Landing a damaged aircraft on an airfield is easier ...and just put the freaking dirt at risk.


47 posted on 04/12/2014 10:57:55 AM PDT by tophat9000 (Are we headed to a Cracker Slacker War?)
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To: Timber Rattler

I suspect that part of what led to this was a Navy mindset about the reach of carrier aviation. A war in a landlocked country hundreds of miles from the sea where we already controlled a number of airbases would not seem a logical choice for carrier operations, absent an agenda.


48 posted on 04/12/2014 10:58:30 AM PDT by Stingray51
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To: Ozark Tom

Sequence of Shuttle Challenger Disaster

Extremely wet, cold Winter.
Technical problems kept Shuttle on pad longer than usual.
Very unusual freezing weather.
Burnthru on SRB ignition as had happened before.
After a few seconds, gasket flowed and resealed as it had numerous times before.
No more problems until throttle-up.
Highest Upper Air Wind Shear ever recorded buffeted Shuttle and rocked the entire stack just as they went to throttle-up.
SSME gimbaled over to correct.
Rocking the stack opened up the previous burnthru.

First Bad Luck:
Extreme high winds at throttle-Up. Without this, burnthru would probably have not reopened.

Second Bad Luck and Primary Cause:
Burnthru was located on the minority portion of the arc opposite the ET (External Tank). If the burnthru had occurred on the ~ 300 degree arc not opposite the ET, the shuttle would have achieved orbit with no problem. The slight loss of thrust from the SRB burnthru would not have been a problem.

It was only sheer bad luck that the burnthru occurred where it did, no other reason.


49 posted on 04/12/2014 11:12:38 AM PDT by chaosagent (Remember, no matter how you slice it, forbidden fruit still tastes the sweetest!)
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To: chaosagent
"Actually, No."

Actually, yes. The whole space shuttle design that was implemented was a kludge forced on NASA by budget cuts.

The original shuttle concept had both stages recoverable and reusable. No disposable "solid rocket boosters" in that original design at all. All well-behaved, well-known liquid fuel rocket engines.

The Challenger astronauts went to their deaths PRECISELY because of budget cuts.

50 posted on 04/12/2014 11:54:23 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (Newly fledged NRA Life Member (after many years as an "annual renewal" sort))
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