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a full-time Guard unit, and with one of the largest flying squadrons in the
U.S. military, the men and women of the 114th Fighter Squadron (Oregon Air
National Guard), Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Oregon, are in a class by
themselves, and I relied on them for much of the information on air defense
fighter procedures and for a vital orientation in the F-16A Fighting Falcon ADF
(Air Defense Fighter), which was a real thrill for this ex-bomber crew dog.
Thanks to Colonel Donald “Scott” Powell, commander; Captain Sandra Kaufman,
Chief of Public Affairs; Captain Ken Muller; and to all the other instructors
and pilots I met with, for your generous support and assistance.

my old friends of the 119th Fighter Group, 178th Fighter Squadron “Happy
Hooligans,” North Dakota Air National Guard (whom I wrote about in many other
stories as the fighter unit that gets jumped by one of my high- tech bomber
“battleships”), pull alert at Kingsley Field, and I had many opportunities to
speak with them and learn firsthand about fighter intercept procedures. Thanks
to Lieutenant Colonel Tom Tolman, commander of Det One, and his pilots and
crews for a tour of their facility and their help in understanding the air
interceptor game.

to the pilots of the 194th Fighter Squadron, California Air National Guard, at
March AFB,
, for their help in learning firsthand about life as an air defense
pilot. Also at March Air Force Base is the Southwest Air Defense Sector
Operations Command Center (SOCC), commanded by Colonel Russ Everts and Colonel
Pat Madden, SOCC Director, and I thank them and their staff for the time they
invested in me to tell me about air defense sector operations.

information on ground-based air defense operations, I relied on the U.S. Army
Air Defense Artillery School,
Fort Bliss
, commanded by Brigadier General J. M. Garner. Thanks to First
Lieutenant David Reardon and Sergeant First Class Rich Glynn, of base Public
Affairs, for putting together a terrific research itinerary for my visit.
Thanks also to the men and women of the 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigades,
especially LTC Larry Johnson, commander of 3-6th ADA (Patriot), U.S. Marine
Corps Captain Brian Yeager, Hawk systems instructor; Mr. James Pool, Patriot
systems instructor; First Sergeant Lanham and Sergeant Hayes, Stinger and
Avenger instructors, and Sergeant First Class Kilgore and Sergeant Brown,
Stinger simulator instructors. Thanks also to 11 th ADA Brigade at
, especially LTC Ben Hobson, commander of
(Patriot), and Captain Valerie J. Meadows,
commander, 2LT Staggs, Sergeant Ken Macchus, Sergeant Ray Gorman, Sergeant
Talbot, and Sergeant Rory Reed of F Battery, 3-43rd

information on airborne surveillance operations in the E-3 Sentry AWACS
(Airborne Warning and Control System) radar plane, thanks to the men and women
of the 552nd Air Control Wing, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City, OK,
especially the commander, Brigadier General David J. Oakes; Captain Mike
Halbig, First Lieutenant Tim White, and Staff Sergeant Chris Haug, Public
Affairs; Captain Jerry Krueger, 964th AWACS; and Major Steve Lisi, First
Lieutenant Mike Ruszkowski, and Staff Sergeant Mike Savage, 963rd AWACS, who
showed me a bit of what integrated air defense is like during Tinker’s CORONET
SENTRY 94-1 air supremacy exercise.

information on the Federal Aviation Administration and air traffic control
center procedures, thanks to Tony Longo, Assistant Manager for Training,
Federal Aviation Administration, and Glenn W. Coon, Jr., Training Instructor,
for a great tour of Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center and for explaining
the intricacies of domestic air traffic control, emergency procedures, and
terrorism issues. Thanks also to Barry Maxwell, Debbie Yarborough, and David
Jolly for a great tour of the air traffic control tower and FAA facilities at

to Lieutenant Diane Ramsey, Sacramento Police Department, and Dr. Jim Poland,
Ph.D., criminal justice professor and terrorism expert, California State
Univer- sity-Sacramento, for their help in understanding the organization of the
U.S. government’s antiterrorist forces.

thanks to flight instructor, aircraft broker, and good friend Bob Watts, Jr.,
president of Capitol Sky Park, Sacramento, California, for helpful information
on civil aircraft purchasing, licensing, and transport operations, and for all
his long hours accompanying me to all the military bases we visited as he
checked me out in the Piper Aerostar 602P. It was a first-class way to travel
thanks to this first- class gentleman. Thanks also to Chip Manor, Media
Relations Director, Martin Marietta Corporation; and my good friend and fellow
AirLifeLine pilot Jim Rahe, and his wife, Lin,
, for their suggestions and assistance with this story.

very special thanks to my hardworking and very patient executive assistant,
researcher, and friend Dennis T. Hall, for helping me develop this story, for
ideas and research on stock-option investment strategies used in this story,
and for all-around maintaining a pretty good sense of humor while dealing with
all my typical harried author’s nonsense. Few authors work in a vacuum, and I’m
lucky to have Dennis’s help and advice.


This book is dedicated to the hundreds of
volunteers who coordinate missions and fly every day for AirLifeLine, a
national charity medical air transportation service based in
They fly needy medical patients free of charge to receive treatment, and I
dedicate this especially to its founder and president, my friend Tom Goodwin.
Thanks to this great organization, I’ve been able to give back so much to the
people of this great country who have given so much to me.


Author’s Note


story is a work of fiction. The persons and events used herein are a product of
my imagination. To understand the difficult and dangerous world of air defense,
I enlisted a lot of assistance from the real-world persons and organizations I
describe. I thank all those who took the time to help me, and I hope I’ve done
you proud. But the final result, however true-to-life and technically accurate,
is fantasy.

hope it all
a fantasy.

CA April 1994



Real-World News Excerpts


REPORT, Executive Committee on Terrorism, National Security Council (June
1979): ... The resolution of a serious domestic incident might conceivably be
beyond the capabilities of available civil police forces. The use of specially
trained and equipped military forces might be necessary in order to restore
order and preserve human life.

The FBI and other civil authorities have a substantial capacity to deal with
terrorism situations, and the use of military forces would be necessary only in
extreme cases of highly sophisticated, paramilitary terrorism operations in the

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Federal Aviation Administration Order 7210.3K,
September 1993
para. 6-lb(4) and para. 6-5a — The air traffic manager shall take whatever
steps are necessary to ensure that the Presidential flight, airplanes,
helicopters, and entourage are given priority. . . . Honor any request of the
pilot concerning movement of the Presidential aircraft if it can be fulfilled
in accordance with existing control procedures ...

STREET JOURNAL, 2 December 1993: ... In a bizarre case of mayhem and apparent
market manipulation, Mr. Ramiro Helmeyer [of Caracas, Venezuela] is charged
with heading a group that carried out a flurry of terrorist bombings in order
to profit from the resulting decline in the price of Venezuelan stocks and
publicly traded government debt...

Some speculate that Mr. Helmeyer and his alleged confederates might have been
political terrorists, who engaged in market speculation in order to finance
their activities ...

TELECOM NEWS via Phillips Publishing,
December 3, 1993
: Acquisition officials from the Department
of Justice’s Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and NASA are briefing
potential private-sector telecommunications and information services partners
in separate meetings . . . The partners are being asked to provide
ultrasophisticated telecommunications and information services networks for
politically sensitive missions mandated by the

was told by the White House that it would support a “sweeping” antiterrorist
strategy throughout the federal government. . . that could help identify
“potentially dangerous” foreign immigrants . ..

26 December 1993
(reprinted with permission from Burrelle’s
Information Services): ... It’s called GPS—global positioning system: 24
orbiting satellites launched by the Pentagon that transmit mapping and
targeting information with an accuracy never before known. It’s free for anyone
to use, and the scariest use would be in what the military calls the “poor
man’s cruise missile,” which could enable any Third World nation, any madman,
any terrorist, to send a missile right down the smokestack of the Pentagon . .


Nothing is too high for the daring of
we storm heaven itself in our folly.








you are about to see,” the talk-show host began, “is a videotape of what is a
historic but tragic occurrence—the last time since World War Two that territory
of the United States of America has been attacked by a foreign power. Our guest
today says this can and will happen again, and he should know. You will see a
videotape log of the control room of an American drug-interdiction station,
located just off the east coast of
. Roll the tape.”

studio audience was deathly silent as the monitors came to life.

“Attention, all platform personnel, this is
the command center. We have received notification that the aerostat radar unit
Grand Bahama
has just come under attack and has been destroyed by hostile aircraft. I am
placing this platform on yellow alert. Clear the flight deck and prepare for
aircraft launch and recovery. Off-duty crew report to emergency stations. ”

were about ten people in a large room of computer consoles and radar screens, a
room resembling a smaller version of
Control at the
Men and women were on their feet, expressions of confusion and fear visible on
their faces. “Take your seats and watch your sectors, ” an officer was
shouting, his voice visibly shaking. He was obviously the senior officer,
returning to a console slightly raised above the others. “Get your life jackets
on but continue monitoring your sectors. Do it!”

quickly moved back to their consoles, working with quiet efficiency, but the
tension in the command center was obvious.

acknowledge, ” came the voice of one of the female controllers. “You are
exiting the entry corridor and approaching restricted airspace. Turn left to
heading three-five-zero immediately. ”

your target is at
, nine miles. You are cleared to engage.
Suggest left turns to evade. Seagull One is at your
four o’clock
five miles, on auto intercept. ”

launching alert fighters in support. We’ve got one F-16 designation Trap-01,
thirty miles out and closing at Mach one-point-two. ”

it, ” the senior officer could be heard saying, “keep making warning calls.
Tell him he’s about to be blown out of the sky. ”

?” The senior officer’s head jerked toward the speaker.

twenty-one to intercept and identify that bastard, ” the officer named Michael
responded quickly, as if startled into answering. “Tell the F-16 to break off
the attack and stand by. ” A few seconds later, they heard a loud, sharp boom.
Heads visibly rippled across the command center at the sound. “I want a
standard intercept, light signals, and warning flares. Get on his ass, get a
light in his cockpit, but don 7 attack until he sees your
follow me
lights. Is that clear? Get beside him, twenty-one. Close
to gun range. Try a warning shot..."


shots are for losers,” the guest interjected.

don’t understand that, Admiral,” the host said. “You’ve got to be absolutely,
positively sure. Can you do that from a radarscope?”

you break the law, if you violate restricted airspace, you should suffer the
consequences,” the guest responded.

first, ask questions later, eh, Admiral?” the host asked.

would have saved lives in this case.”

another, it may have wasted innocent lives.”

don’t buy the argument that we should be prepared to let a hundred guilty
persons go so that we make sure one innocent life is saved,” the guest said.
“The fact is, the innocent rarely are involved—we just end up letting the
guilty go. It’s time we stop this insanity.” No one replied, but heads in the
audience were nodding in agreement.

host saw himself losing control of his audience to his guest’s arguments—this
audience wasn’t quite as liberal as he wanted. He made a mental note to speak
with the producer about this. “Let’s continue with the scene, shall we?” he
said quickly, and the attention turned back to the replay.

“He’s heading right for the platform—he’s
too close ... I’ve got a missile lock, ” another excited voice being
transmitted over a radio shouted. “Am I clear to engage?”

your fire. Get beside him. Make him turn away. ”

going to hit. Am I clear to engage? Am I clear to fire?”

a different voice boomed over the radio, a frantic, completely terror-filled
voice: “Don ’t shoot, don’t shoot, can you hear me, don’t kill me! ”

him turned away from the platform, Angel, ” the senior officer shouted.

turning right, heading zero-four-zero, climbing . . . well clear of the
platform, ” The audience could see shoulders slumping in relief all across the
control center— in fact, the audience's shoulders relaxed as well. But just a
few moments later, they heard the same female radar controller call out, “I've
got two targets bearing zero- seven-zero, ten miles, altitude five hundred
feet, speed four Jumdred knots, closing on us fast. One more up high, near the

a high-pitched male voice: “Mayday, mayday, mayday, Trap-01, five miles
southwest of the Hammerhead One platform, I am under attack. I am hit. I am

planes... no, I count four, four planes just appeared out of nowhere . . .
coming at us at high speed . .. no ID ... attack profile."


videotape stopped abruptly.

The audience was stunned into

“Of course, we all remember what
happened then,” retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Ian Hardcastle said to
the studio audience as Phil Donahue stepped to his marie to make his guest
introduction. “The U.S. Border Security Force air operations staging platform
called Hammerhead One was hit by two cluster bombs and two Argentinean- made
antiship cruise missiles. Forty-one men and women lost their lives.”

“The videotape you just saw was
taken inside the command center of a U.S. Border Security Force platform in the
ocean between the
, when it was attacked and destroyed by exiled Cuban military comman-
der-tumed-drug-smuggler Agusto Salazar a few years ago,” Phil Donahue said to
the camera by way of introduction. “My guest is no stranger to danger, or to
controversy. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Admiral Ian Hardcastle, former Coast
Guard admiral, former commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District in
, and former commander of the U.S. Border
Security Force.” The andience applauded politely, perhaps cautiously. Ian
Hardcastle’s reputation had definitely preceded him, and few persons could
really say they had a firm fix on his views or motivations.

retired from twenty-seven years of government service, but now he’s waging a
one-man crusade to, as he said in the Op-Ed page of the
‘stop the hemorrhaging of
’s self-defense capability,’ ” Donahue
continued. “You’ve seen him on the cover of everything from
shouting it from the rooftops:
is in danger because we’ve led ourselves to
believe we’re safe. The enemy is the shadowy, faceless world of terrorists,
something of which
has not had any real experience. Are we
really in danger or is this the sour- grapes tirade of a frustrated
drug-interdiction guru who found his frontier-justice programs slip out of
control? Your calls and comments for our special guest, the champion of
’s pro-military hawks, Ian Hardcastle. Stay
with us—we’ll be right back.”

audience followed the prompts from the stage director and the overhead lights
and dutifully applauded.

raced away to get his makeup touched up, and Hardcastle was left alone on
stage, so he stood up to stretch.

was tall and lean, with gray hair, a bit longer than he wore it in his Coast
Guard days, swept gracefully back from his forehead. “Character lines” were
deeply etched around his narrow blue eyes, giving him a hawklike visage to
match his politics. He wore lightly tinted glasses now, a concession to the
hard years of a former Marine Corps and Coast Guard officer finally catching up
with him. He wore a dark suit that looked a size or two large for his thin,
wiry frame, which only served to accentuate his rather fanatical Captain
Ahab-like presence. He looked fearsome, but was a riveting personality.

age sixty, was a retired Coast Guard rear admiral. He was a Marine Corps
officer during
in a bomb-disposal unit, and ultimately the stresses of the job and war
turned him to drug dependency. Upon finishing detox, his commission was
transferred to the Coast Guard, where he began a long and distinguished career,
rising to become district commander of the busiest Coast Guard district in the

1990, because of his efforts, Hardcastle was placed in operational co-command
of a joint Coast Guard-Customs Service border security/drug-interdiction unit
called the U.S. Border Security Force, colloquially known as the Hammerheads
(after a 1920s-era Coast Guard alcoholsmuggling interdiction unit). The
then-Vice President of the
United States
, Kevin Martindale, was one of its biggest
supporters. Although it was responsible for many successful operations, the
unit was under constant criticism for not adequately doing anything to stop the
flow or the market for illegal drugs, and for its military-style weapons,
aircraft, and tactics used against civilians. The Hammerheads were under
intense pressure during the Presidential campaign to curtail their
offense-oriented tactics, and were disbanded in 1993 under the new

retired in 1993, but became very active on the lecture and political-pundit
circuit as a conservative political activist. He associated himself with a
large conservative political action committee called the Project 2000 Task
Force, which sought control of both the White House and Congress by the year
2000. Although his expertise was widely sought by many in
and nationwide, and although he was
considered an effective, believable, and popular get-tough speaker,
Hardcastle’s views were often considered too reactionary and extreme for
political office or for a major government appointment.

personal life was also considered too politically distasteful. He successfully
overcame a severe period of posttraumatic shock and depression from his tours
, but that episode in his life, although far in the past, was always
dredged up by critics, especially when Hardcastle was on one of his broadcast
tirades about an issue that he felt strongly about. Others worried about his
on-again off-again affair with alcohol. He was divorced and had repeatedly lost
regular visitation rights to his minor children. More interestingly, he had a
few rather liberal ideas, including legalization of some drugs and stricter gun
control, that made him unpopular with far-right conservatives.

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