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.”
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