Strifert: I gave Howard Dean a ride in an F-4

F-4 Green Mountain Boys
A twin-set F-4 fighter jet at the Vermont Air National Guard in South Burlington

By Col. Dick Strifert, Vermont Air National Guard (retired)

As a former pilot with the Vermont Air National Guard, I would like to share a personal experience I had with two prominent Vermont politicians: Rep. Margaret “Peg” Garland and Lt. Gov. Howard Dean. 

Two Democrats in the public square.  But, oh, what a difference! I had a personal connection with both of them, but with a very common denominator. That connection? The Vermont Air National Guard, and having given each of them a personal flight.

 When the Vermont Air National Guard was assigned F-4D Phantom fighter jets (1981-1986), I had the distinct pleasure of giving Representative Peg Garland a familiarization flight, and it made perfect sense. She was a prominent and respected legislator, and it was routine to give people in the public eye such flights.  She was the perfect candidate. She had been assigned as a WASP in World War II, and was well qualified to fly.  

As I remember, it was one of the best familiarization flights I ever had the pleasure of flying and sharing with a non-Air Guard member.  She relished everything we did in the air, and it really didn’t matter if it was pulling “G’s”, flying low and fast, or turning and burning. She loved every minute of that experience, and at the time, I believe she was in her 80s. A real trooper.

When the Vermont Air National Guard converted to F-16s in 1986, it was obvious that prominent members of the state government wanted to get in line to get a flight. Senator Pat Leahy was one of the first, but then I had a chance to give Lieutenant Governor Dean an orientation flight.  My, what a difference. We spent a little over an hour flying a routine low-level route to see Vermont at 480 knots. Not anything crazy. The Lt Guv was petrified, and became airsick quickly.  Back on the ground, the green-faced #2 in Vermont ran to the restroom to toss his cookies and sneak out the back door. What a wimp.

I find it strange that this same prominent Dem finds fault with Elon Musk and his attempt to level the playing field of Twitter. Elon crazy?  Consider the source. I do every day.

6 replies »

  1. Motion sickness has nothing to do with manhood. I’m about zero fan of the former governor, but this makes no sense to me, it’s not something he can control.

  2. I used to do lots of flying with corporate pilots as a deputy sheriff in their off time waiting for clients at the airport. I enjoyed most of the free rides but of course nothing like these fighter jets. I enjoyed this commentary also. The point of the story I believe is that Howard shouldn’t be throwing stones like a big I Am. In fact, he is about as arrogant as one can be. No harm was done to Mr. Dean so instead of running out the back door, he should have accepted his bad reaction like a man and maybe cast a joke about his experience. The pilot and author points this out. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving politician. Thank you for your story and service, Col.

  3. Vomiting is now a reason to exclude someone from making a comment? You guys are just making this stuff up, right?

  4. Vermont should have vomited Dean out before he signed the Civil Union bill at the stroke of midnight like an Evil Coward. “Selections” were rigged back then too. The majority of Vermonters are not Marxist people, we’ve been living in a rigged state for a very long time.

  5. Should have let him test a parachute in the ejection seat over lake Champlain.

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