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Bryan
Hagerty Employee

The Tesla-driving fighter pilot who “sledded into a missile”

I’ve sledded into missiles a surprising number of times. It feels a little cathartic, if not slightly embarrassing, to admit that. When an enemy radar locks onto your fighter jet, a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR; think radar detector) makes some noise to alert you to the fact that you’re being targeted. Much like when you’re speeding and the highway police light you up with a radar gun, it’s not a good feeling—or, um, so I’m told. In a fighter though, ignoring those warning tones means that in lieu of attempting to talk your way out of a speeding ticket, you get called dead in training (frustrating), or actually killed in real life (inconvenient). Sledding into a missile means ignoring all the indications—cockpit warning tones and lights, radio calls from airborne control and/or other fighters, the hairs on the back of your neck—and continuing on your present course. Inbound missiles love non-maneuvering targets; predictable equals easy to kill. There are occasions when this happens in ignorance (broken RWR, for instance), but sometimes it just happens.

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com:

https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/the-tesla-driving-fighter-pilot-who-sledded-into-a-missile/

 

29 REPLIES 29
Matt-o
New Driver

All to real. We experience this all the time driving in and around Boston! These people are all wearing a COVID mask, so you can't recognize them. I actually live in Southern NH, we might wear a mask where and when it makes sense and we never wear a helmet ( even when we fly our jets!! ). Thanks for the article. I will try to improve my SA on an ongoing basis.

Flashman
Advanced Driver

I was wondering when "Josh Arakes” would return; it's been awhile.  By all means, let's have more of him.  He writes well about interesting things and makes almost as many side references as you, JB.   As an aside, I have a buddy who, when on the freeway, pulls behind a semi, follows it, and does what it does until he (or it) exits.  As "Josh" indicates, it's just laziness; he can't be bothered to be involved in his driving.  Easier to merely mimic.  At least he's not usually in the left lane and he doesn't own a Tesla or he'd be an "Autopilot" casualty.

Josh_Arakes
Intermediate Driver

Fascinating driving choices by your buddy.  I can't imagine driving like that!

JoeSixPack
Intermediate Driver

I'm typical, fat, lazy software engineer. Poor reflexes, poor dexterity, never good at any sport, not even video games. 

My wife is former basketball player. Slender, moves great, way quicker than I could ever do.

However, with car, it is total opposite, to the point that I'm sometimes worried for her and kids.  She looks 100 feet forward, no more.  She does not know if she is being overtaken. She's lazy with shifts. She does not know if the car is FWD or RWD, even when she starts to slide in the snow. 

The reason is that she just does not care. For her, a car is a fridge/dishwasher/oven with a nice chair inside. Period. Driving is a chore, much like doing dishes.

My point is: if you do not care about stuff that you are doing, you need permanent training, and permanent motivation (nudges, advices, penalties). Unfortunately, I do not think that it is possible for general population to have permanent driving training/supervision. You have to teach yourself, if you care.

 

Thanks to Mr. "Arakes" for an excellent article. I've asked him to write about "transferable skills" between flying and driving, and he came up with an article about non-transferable skill 🙂

Josh_Arakes
Intermediate Driver

Interesting dichotomy between you and your wife's driving styles.  I disagree though, as I very much think that building SA is a transferable skill between flying and driving.  Understanding the flow of traffic around you, road conditions, etc., is the very definition of SA.  

MoparMan
Detailer

It's my opinion that the main problem is lack of effective driver training. In my state the DMV "driving test" is a joke; no real skills are required to putter around a short course in a parking lot! It seems as if you can "fog a mirror", then you can get your driver's license! The state website has FREE tests online to test your skills and educate one on the rules of the road, but apparently no one utilizes them. With the trend toward appliance like autonomous/autopilot/self driving, and over reliance on nannies, e.g. lane departure, adaptive cruise control, etc. it will only get worse. People today want to depend on the car to do what the driver himself SHOULD be doing, while they pursue other distractions. Touch screen interfaces only exacerbate this problem. I recently spoke with a Tesla owner, and while I was  admiring (the looks of) his car, he made the statement that "he likes it because he can do other things while driving!" It would seem that a growing number of "drivers" are determined to let their SA be handled by a not quite ready artificial intelligence. Though A.I. has and is making great strides, I still feel that one has yet to be developed that can simultaneously handle ANY and ALL of the various inputs received while driving that the human brain is capable of right now.

KBetts
Pit Crew

As drivers, we are no longer a majority of those on the road.  We knew this when over the years IIHS and NHTSA added 800lbs and $10,000 of "safety" stuff to every car.  Low skill, low engaged drivers now roll around in armored vehicles capable of withstanding massive impacts all the while providing them infotainment and communication that has little to nothing to do with driving.  Self-driving cars?   Might as well. 

acpracing
Passenger

Not only is that terrific content, but extremely articulate and well-written. Glad we have big brains and not just cowboys on the sticks up there.  

Josh_Arakes
Intermediate Driver

Glad you enjoyed it!  I've rarely met anyone in my line of work that wasn't very sharp (does that make me the idiot in the room?).

drhino
Advanced Driver

I believe the single biggest cause of “road rage” is inattentive meatheads trundling about.  Left lane bandits are the worst.  I was once ticketed for weaving through traffic on an interstate— I asked why lane discipline wasn’t enforced instead; thereby eliminating the need to weave.  The officer was not on board. 

Josh_Arakes
Intermediate Driver

Some people have no sense of humor! I'm on jury duty this week and made a joke during the selection process that nobody laughed at, though the judge did crack a judge back in his reply to me. Maybe it's more a matter of poor sense of timing, setting, and audience...
win59
Detailer

Great article Josh! If only we had ANY Driver Training. Sigh. I found driving in Europe much less frustrating as they do have real training, or at least some do.

I have a buddy who used to race (badly) at the club level who has an interesting take on the left lane. He drives a big Merc sedan and after entering the freeway with some alacrity, eases into the left lane and then takes up a position about 100 yards behind the car ahead - regardless of that vehicle's rate of knots. This creates a train behind and a constant stream of frustrated drivers swooping past on the right. When i brought this up, his answer was that the large gap and left lane travel meant he did not have to concentrate on driving. He also claims to be able to multi-process..!!

I think our society has become so narcissistic that there is very little consideration to others and an overwhelming obsession with "Me".

Josh_Arakes
Intermediate Driver

Agreed on the driving in Europe comment!  Fascinating that your buddy who used to race cars drives like that, though perhaps that helps explain why he wasn't the best racer!

RobertLLR
Intermediate Driver

LEMO is Mor`on airbase in Spain.  Self explanatory.

Josh_Arakes
Intermediate Driver

LEMO is Moron Air Base, you are correct!  Full disclosure: I've yet to meet anyone with the callsign of LEMO.  There are lots of other insulting names out there, most much less subtle than LEMO.

Mogowner
Intermediate Driver

My driving is normally in Ontario, Canada, where, on the highways, are signs advising the "slower traffic to keep right". The book of road traffic rules here state that one should "keep right except to pass".  The ministry of transport doesn't see the need to address the sadly incorrect signage, which results in a large number of ill-informed jerks that think that just because they are driving at the 100kmh limit, they are not slower traffic, and therefore may cruise from here to eternity in the passing lane. It would be very satisfying to have a vehicle equipped with some of James Bonds modifications to clear the often plugged passing (left) lane.

Josh_Arakes
Intermediate Driver

Words do have meanings
RJ
Intermediate Driver

Excellent writing - thank you, sir.  The oncoming 'self-driving' stuff frightens me, allowing people to do "important stuff" while they should be guiding their potentially lethal weapons down the highway.

cassman66
Pit Crew

On the other hand, my father, who was a WWII fighter pilot, gave me lots of driving instruction when I was about 15.  Some of those tips could get me arrested but, actually have made me a more thoughtful (full S.A.) and efficient driver.  One such bit of advice was, "when you are passing on a two lane road, go as fast as possible and get around the other driver as quickly and as soon as possible."  Makes sense, until you determine that you are going over 90 mph as you slip back into your own lane.  But, even then, it still makes sense and I still do it today.

Rider79
Instructor

It is so much easier with most cars today, to find oneself going WAY over the limit when passing.

Josh_Arakes
Intermediate Driver

What did your father fly, P-51? P-38? Corsair? I tip my hat to him for his service!
RobH
Pit Crew

Great article Josh - really appreciated the content, which is a GREAT lesson for many, but also the descriptive, correct and proper use of English language - bravo!  Book author in your future? 🙂 

 

Agreed on so much of your content and echo the comments from my Canadian brethren from Ontario, the signage needs updating. Most is the same as when I received my license 40 years ago, yet much has changed.  As one who grew up in Ontario, married to one that grew up in BC, when we returned to BC after a stint in and around the GTA, my wife exclaimed, 'Wow, I didn't realize how BAD BC drivers are!'  She did become a better driver racing along the 401, using the collectors to pass four lanes of clogged traffic.  

 

It seems driver teaching of late does include the three lane merge to the fast lane, without any care of the many drivers cut off to carry out the maneuver.  When I used to cover 40,000+km per year, this really bothered me.  Now I cover less than half that distance, so it bothers me less.  However, I still find myself commenting on this poor excuse for following rules... normally using a few choice alliterative pejoratives.... 

Josh_Arakes
Intermediate Driver

Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the kind words! Sadly, while I've driven in many places around the world, I've not yet driven in - or even been to - Canada.
toy83h2ssj53
Pit Crew

On the bus, heading out to the Budapest airport, our driver was driving very carefully, and could have been accused of driving a bit slower than one would expect.  When asked about it, his response was that he had been required to take a driver education course that was extensive and very expensive, and that an infraction of the driving code in Hungary would cost him his license, and that driving was his livlihood. Not wanting to lose his license, and living, he opted to be law obedient.  Not so here in Arizona. Any driver that is asked, will say that they are a good driver. No sense of the duties of driving, the sense that driving is a privelege is lost in the notion that driving is a "right". I believe that we have captured the coveted title of " most red light runners of the country" at this point, with little concern from officialdom. I look at not only lack of driver training, and also speed limits that have been set low, ( maybe result of Fed mandates), but not enforced, so why set them at all. As such, they only represent "suggested" speed limits, and our drivers routinely ignore them. Tailgating is also rampant, and the results are easily shown in the large numbers of cars sporting "customized" front ends and also "customized rear ends. Regarding spacing from the car in front, it is regarded by a real driver as a "space cushion" for incidents that happen in front of the driver, so that he/she has sufficient time/space to stop without being rear-ended by the tailgater behind, if he/she has been watching the rear view mirrors .  The new cars with all the "bells and whistles" are nice, but people need to realize that real driving is a full time job, and these new toys in the car can be a great distraction which should be accepted as such while driving.

Honolulu
Pit Crew

Well THAT went far longer than it should have.

Lemme offer a different perspective, acquired as a 20-plus year veteran of the BMW Car Club of America.  A certain "legend in his own mind" driver, high up in that org, was forever calling out others that drove the limit in the left lane, usually coupling their supposedly poor behavior with something dangerous someone (else) had done.  It was tiresome and inappropriate.

Full disclosure:  I'm a civil engineer. I know a little physics, friction circle, and have been in two total-loss crashes.  These things, if survived, raise your awareness.  Lately and for the last 15 years I've been riding a motorcycle, and by not becoming a red pancake I'd say my SA is moderately good.

You sir have NO RIGHT what.so.ever to demand that the left lane be reserved for those doing xx-over the limit.  This attitude is unjustified, entitled and (can't be printed), and needs to stop.  The limit is the law, and we ALL need a lot more respect for that, particularly in light of the behavior of your soon-to-be jobless CIC.

I've known a few military types, a pilot or two among them, and generally they are highly trained individuals that cling tenaciously to their opinions.  I doubt my suggestion above will have any impact on your attitude, but it might on others, and it's a opinion that needs to be part of this discussion.

Rider79
Instructor

He has EVERY right to demand that those in the left lane move to the right when not passing, especially if traffic is moving faster than they are.  That is the law in my state, and probably in most states.  We certainly do not need to encourage these self-righteous types who care not a whit for others.  I have seen such left-lane hogs get heavily "brake-checked" (not that I advocate that); sooner or later, it may happen to the idiot in this article, and he should not be surprised at the rude awakening.

Josh_Arakes
Intermediate Driver

Thanks for reading the whole thing, sorry you found it overly wordy!  To summarize: Keep right except to pass (as, I believe, the law requires in every state), and be an aware driver (aware drivers are courteous drivers). 

Tinkerah
Instructor

Well of course it could've been shorter but good writing is worth reading. I enjoyed it immensely, sympathize with the frustrations and agree with the points made. Not being as good a writer I likely would simply have pleaded for everyone to be more aware of the situation around them and have some consideration. Short enough I suppose but not nearly as sweet.
503ckd
New Driver

Josh, GREAT read. I hope to see more from you in the future.