Glenville

Retired Air Force pilot Swift talks about experience flying the A-10 Warthog over Serbia (with gallery)

Ret. USAF pilot Dan Swift of Saratoga Springs talks about the A-10 30 mm GAU-8/cannon [Gatlin gun] on the nose of the plane on display at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum Saturday.
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Ret. USAF pilot Dan Swift of Saratoga Springs talks about the A-10 30 mm GAU-8/cannon [Gatlin gun] on the nose of the plane on display at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum Saturday.

GLENVILLE Dan Swift, of Saratoga Springs, joined the U.S. Air Force because he wanted to fly, but the F-16 Viper fighter, capable of speeds up to Mach 2, wasn’t on his personal radar.

Instead, the retired colonel had his eyes set on the A-10 Thunderbolt II, also known as the “Warthog.”

“I guess when I first saw the gun, I don’t know what impressed me about it, but I was up at [General Electric] in Burlington on a field trip, I went in and saw the gun,” Swift said. “Holy cow! That’s really something.”

The A-10 houses a 30-mm GAU-8/A cannon, or Gatling gun, in the nose of the aircraft, capable of firing 50 rounds during the first second of trigger action and then 70 per second after.

With a maximum speed of Mach .75, the A-10 was painted green for combat in Europe flying at treetop level, 300 feet up, and was known as a tank killer. The “Warthog” was often painted with teeth on the nose cone, adding to its aggressive nickname.

Swift was Saturday’s guest speaker at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum during its monthly fly-in breakfast. Swift served 15 years in the Air Force, followed by 10 years in the Air National Guard along with overlapping 20 years with Delta Airlines flying Boeing 727, 737, 757 and 767 passenger jets, retiring as a captain in 2019.

On Saturday, the 68-year-old talked about his experience flying the A-10 in combat over Serbia in 1999.

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”21″ display=”basic_imagebrowser”]Swift flew 40 combat missions, starting with the Gulf War in 1991, then Operation Deliberate Force in Serbia in 1995, and the air war over Serbia and Kosovo in 1999.

While painted green early in the lifespan of the A-10, it was painted gray for higher altitude missions during Operation Desert Storm, including flight plans at 20,000 feet.

The museum’s community space was filled with veterans, air enthusiasts and youngsters that were glued to Swift’s accounts of his time flying the A-10.

“I thought the [weapons] package was really cool, how much planning has to go into joint strike groups and different information about the A-10 in general,” 13-year-old Jai Mendleson, of Guilderland, said. “It’s one of my favorite planes.”

The eighth-grader at Farnsworth Middle School in Guilderland attended the monthly fly-in breakfast and presentation with his mom and dad, Manisha and Matthew Mendleson.

“We come to the pancake breakfast a lot, we’re members of the museum and I’ve been to the air shows [here] since the early 1980s,” Matthew Mendleson said. “We try to come here as often as we can, come here to peruse the museum every couple months.”

According to Swift, the A-10 weapons package can include up to 16,000-pounds of mixed ordinance including 500-pound “dumb” bombs with no internal guidance systems, Sidewinder and Maverick missiles, and more.

Swift said the Maverick missile can go through an armored tank, as well as 8-foot thick concrete.

The air war over Serbia in 1999 is credited as the first air campaign that produced a victory without the use of ground forces.

“It’s such a rugged and versatile plane,” Jai Mendleson said after speaking with Swift at the end of the presentation. “It’s very interesting because it can be lethal at 15,000 feet as Dan said with Maverick missiles and then it can be a treetop fighter and has the Gatling gun which is just so cool.”

The 25-year veteran agreed.

“I flew the A-10 for 20 years, I never got tired of it,” Swift said.

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