Some People Get Two Warthogs
Is that an A-10 Warthog (Thunderbolt II, in officialdom's terms)
in that toy box? Sure is. Lt. Chad Carlton's usual toy is an A-10,
too; but his is a bit larger. And he sits inside it. So where did
the little toy come from?
"Somebody at the show just walked up and gave it to me.
They say the difference between men and boys is the price of
their toys. But somebody gave Carlton (above) the one for
free, and they actually pay him to fly the other, however hard he
may find that fact to believe at times. You see, Carlton is an A-10
pilot with the Air Force (sorry, we didn't ask him if he was
Active, Reserve or Guard).
We caught up with him at the Embry-Riddle Florida Skyfest two
weekends back. He was one of scores of military pilots -- the
lion's share of them Riddle grads -- in town to meet and impress
classmates, pitch undergrads, and show the flag. The pilots seemed
to love having an audience that asked (mostly) intelligent and
informed questions about their hardware.
Along with the A-10, a perpetual crowd favorite, the military
showed the F-15E Strike Eagle, the F-16 Falcon, the F/A-18 Hornet,
an S-3 Viking, all the training planes in the inventory, and
support aircraft such as the KC-135 Stratotanker.
The connection to the past was maintained with aerobatic
performances from Fowler "Big Dog" Cary in the Vintage Thunderbird
T-33, and Lee Lauderback in Crazy Horse, a TF-51 Mustang
If you have the right stuff, the military services have the keys
to some of the most challenging, exciting and prestigious machinery
that ever took to the skies. If you don't, well, there's always the
Elite Forces A-10 Thunderbolt II. With Action Figure.
"Look at this," Carlton said. "Is this the coolest toy or what?
Look at the little pilot. This is the coolest toy ever."
And indeed, it was a pretty cool toy. A boy (or tomboy) with a
toy like that might never want to grow up. Unless, of course, the
prospect of a bigger toy loomed.
Chad Carlton posed for a picture for us. "Put on your Warthog
face!" --but then he had to leave.
"Sorry, can't hang around," the young man said. "I've got to get
back to the jet." And he tucked his toy under his army and trotted