Chapter Two Thousand Forty-Eight
3rd March 1971
Over Patagonia near Tucu Tucu, Argentina
It had become instinctive reaction whenever they got notified of a radar lock from long distance. Dive for the deck and turn sharply at a right angle to hopefully break radar lock and force the Sperling missile to go active and maneuver to intercept. Reinaldo had no idea if it worked or not having never actually encountered a Sperling yet. That changed in a hurry as the radar on the missiles went active as he dove for the deck, jettisoning his wing tanks and firing off chaff in an effort to not get killed. He and Pancho broke in different directions and lost all coordination as soon as that happened.
Reinaldo had been working with the Chilean pilots, trying to impress upon them von Richthofen’s maxim, the Squadron lived and died as a team. He had finally gotten through to them using language they understood, Fútbol. They all understood that it didn’t matter how good an individual player was if the rest of the side was crap. That was what the Squadron was, a side. The problem was then getting them to understand that in the air because the way that they fought was World War One style every man for himself. The saving grace had been that their Argentinian counterparts were not a whole lot better but that hid a huge problem that Reinaldo was faced with at that very moment. There was a Squadron out there that lived and breathed the words of Boelcke and von Richthofen for decades. They were the only ones armed with Sperling missiles.
As Renaldo came out of a bank, he saw several long contrails across the sky, curving right towards him. Punching the afterburner, the Super Tiger raced along the ground at treetop level, if there were any trees in this country. Reinaldo heard the shrill alarm as he was locked by search radar again. Glancing in the mirror, he saw that he had not one but two Orkans on his six. He rolled into a hard turn, banking two his left, nearly blacking out as he was crushed into his seat. The alarm went silent as he broke the lock and the two planes overshot him.
Looking over his shoulder as he banked back to his right, Reinaldo saw that the two planes were engaged in a high turn in an effort to reacquire lock on him. Pulling his plane into the hardest righthand turn his could manage, shuttering as it nearly stalled. Reinaldo fired the two Sidewinder missiles under his wings as soon as he heard the buzzing of them locking onto the two Orkans. He didn’t wait around to see if either of the Sidewinders managed to get a hit. He raced west towards a ridge he saw in the distance. In the mirror he thought he caught a glimpse of the two Orkans firing flares and engaging in radical maneuvers to evade the missiles he had fired.
It was then that Reinaldo’s mouth went dry as he saw a third Orkan, this one painted almost entirely black, appear in the mirror just as it fired yet another missile. He yanked back the throttle, causing the engine on his Tiger to spool down go cold as he thumbed the button to release flares of his own. As the missile ran astray, Reinaldo hit the throttle trying to gain speed before he hit the ground. Looking up through the canopy, he saw the Orkan, its wings fully spread as it rolled towards him trying to get an angle. He could only envy the ability of the German plane to do that as he tried to counter. Both planes entered horizontal scissors as the Orkan pilot was trying for a kill and Reinaldo was trying to stay alive in a situation that was not to his advantage. Breaking away, Reinaldo raced for the ridge and climbed over it, rolling upside-down as he reached the crest, he pulled his plane into a hard curving trajectory as he went down the other side and rolled into a hard turn that took him north up a mountain valley with an alpine lake running up the middle. The idea was to put the ridge between himself and the Orkans. To his complete shock, he saw that the black Orkan had matched him move for move. It had been thought that few planes in the air could match a Super Tiger in a drag race, especially if there was a turn at the end of the track as such. The Orkan pilot had somehow managed it.
With sickening dread, Reinaldo watched as green tracers leapt out of the nose of Orkan and he heard a loud CLANG! The controls of the Tiger went completely to mush, and the General Electric turbojet engine made disturbing noises as it came apart. Frantically, he grabbed the handles of the ejection seat and was blasted out of his stricken plane. As the parachute was yanked open, jerking him a stop, he thought he saw the long trail of smoke as the Tiger spiraled out of control and slammed into a mountainside. Hitting the water of the lake he had seen Reinaldo was shocked by how cold the water was; even in what was a warm day early autumn. Looking towards the distant lakeshore, Reinaldo was trying to figure out how to get there without freezing to death when an aluminum boat with a small outboard engine pulled up beside him.
“Are you alright?” The old man who was piloting the boat asked and was shocked when Reinaldo expertly climbed aboard without tipping it.
“Thanks” Reinaldo said as he lay in the bottom of the boat, wondering which side of the border he was on.
“What sort of soldier are you?” The old man asked.
“Sailor actually” Reinaldo replied, happy that he had managed to get out alive.