Saturday April 19, 2014

Opinion – Fly high

Missing man.

Since starting out on this writing caper, I’ve built up and constantly revised my daily reading list. Bloggers and news services have come and gone or have become more or less relevant.

But one of the constants has been Neptunus Rex, the blog and pseudonym of retired US Navy F/A-18 pilot, Capt Caroll ‘Lex’ LeFon.

I never met Lex, but after reading his work for more than five years, I felt I knew him well. I certainly didn’t always agree with him either, I suspect our political leanings were at opposite ends of the spectrum. But he wrote well … very well and his insights into the world of naval aviation were second to none. My thirst for knowledge of all things Hornet was often quenched by his ramblings. He also wrote from the heart and, much like AA’s own Owen Zupp, his passion for aviation shone through and constantly took me back to why I got into this game in the first place.

So it was with shock that I logged on to his blog on Thursday morning to discover he had been killed in a crash near NAS Fallon in Nevada on Wednesday.

Sometime after his retirement Lex had taken a job with US company ATAC flying F-21 (IAI Kfir) fighters in the dissimilar air combat training role for the US Navy’s TOPGUN school at Fallon. It is somewhat ironic that the day before his death he had experienced a streamer – a blown out drag chute – on landing at Fallon and had had to execute a go-around (read about it here). He wrote about it as if it were just another day at the office, although one suspects the reality was somewhat different.

I’ve always held aviators in the highest esteem, more so fast jet pilots, and I consider myself very fortunate to call many of them friends. But the fact that Lex could also put into words so eloquently what few of us ever get to experience made him just a little bit special.

US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said it well on the US Naval Institute website: “I mourn the passing of a great naval aviator, a professional analyst of all things naval, and a soulful and compelling writer of poetry and prose.”

Andrew McLaughlin

Comments

2 Responses to “Opinion – Fly high”
  1. Dennis Hall says:

    Captain Carroll ‘Lex’ LeFon on Bloggers’ Embark, May 2009

    By

    Dennis Hall

    March 9, 2012

    For over 20 years, I have volunteered my time outside of my business Avere Group (AvereGroup.WordPress.com) to nominate civilians to our military public affairs officers (PAOs) for their individual considerations of the nominee to participate in military training maneuvers. The Public Affairs Officers select nominees for invitations.

    During 2008, Guy Kawasaki allowed me to nominate him for an exhilarating embark to an aircraft carrier underway in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego and Mexico. I nominated him to the Public Affairs Officer for the Commander – Naval Air Forces – Pacific, based at Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado Island near San Diego, California. Soon thereafter, the Navy selected him for his first embark, to and from the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier. About a month later, he flew to and from the USS Stennis by way of a Navy C-2 Greyhound transport, a large twin-engine turboprop aircraft that can hold sixteen passenger, plus luggage, and mail. He landed or ‘trapped’ upon the moving flight deck stopping due to the tail hook grabbing the carrier’s arresting cable. After touring for a day and night, the next day he again boarded the C-2. He was catapult launched off the bow for his return flight to shore.

    Upon his return, he wrote an incredible blog posting, and soon thereafter, he came up with a great idea … how about sending out ‘a whole planeload of bloggers out to sea!’

    On October 8, 2008, we gathered with Bill Reichert at his Palo Alto offices of Garage Technology Ventures to discuss his idea. Guy put forth several names. I then a day later pitched the idea to the Navy calling it Bloggers’ Embark; they loved it, and told me to line up 15 participates, as the Navy already invited retired Navy Captain Carroll ‘Lex’ LeFon who blogged as Neptunus Lex to accompany us to sea. Guy Kawasaki and I delivered a mix of eight women and eight men. We embarked to the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier during May 29-30, 2009 and Chris Pirillo on June 1-2, 2009.

    Carroll ‘Lex’ LeFon provided us invaluable insight during our embark. He was most personable in describing life aboard ship. He detailed how during his deployments, he might not get mail from home for a month at a time, and that he tried to forecast out actions on the homefront, then was curious as to the true outcomes. He was most animated, engaging, and immensely educational about the Navy and naval aviation.

    You may read Guy and my blog postings at the following:

    http://averegroup.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/bloggers-embark-start-up/

    http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2009/06/24-hours-at-sea-on-the-uss-nimitz.html

    Both postings provide links to each of the other bloggers-podcasters’ posts.

    Sincerely,

    Dennis Hall
    Founder
    Avere Group
    ContactDennisHall@gmail.com
    AvereGroup.WordPress.com
    @AvereGroup

  2. spotted reptile says:

    I read Lex regularly for the past five years. He became a ‘friend’ even though we had never met. He even helped me out when a personal incident became public, and too hard for me to handle. He was a gentleman, a gifted pilot, and a truly blessed writer of all things military and otherwise. Hard to believe he’s gone. Harder still to believe that the extraordinarily talented Lex came up against a foe too great for him to overcome.

    RIP Lex. You were an original.