Smart is as smart does

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- The Arizona Highway Patrolmen were mystified when they came upon a pile of smoldering wreckage embedded in the side of a cliff rising above the road at the apex of a curve. The metal debris resembled the site of an airplane crash, but it turned out to be the vaporized remains of an automobile. The make of the vehicle was unidentifiable at the scene, but the lab technicians were able to figure out what it was and piece together the sequence of events.

It seems that a former Air Force sergeant somehow got a hold of a Jet Assisted Take- Off bottle. Now, since I am a handsome, high performance, C-130 Herk guy, I am qualified to tell you all about JATO bottles.

Essentially, they were solid fuel rockets used to give the Herk a little more get-up and go for short-field take-offs. The sergeant took the JATO bottle into the Arizona desert and found a long, straight stretch of road. He attached the JATO bottle to his car, jumped in, accelerated to a high speed, and fired off the rocket like it was a bottle of nitrous oxide.

The sergeant was driving a 1967 Chevy Impala. He ignited the JATO bottle approximately 3.9 miles from the crash site. This was established by the location of a prominently scorched and melted strip of asphalt.

The vehicle quickly reached a speed of between 250 and 300 mph and continued at that speed for an additional 20 to 25 seconds. The soon-to-be pilot experienced G-forces usually reserved for fighter pilots in afterburner. The Chevy remained on the straight highway for approximately 2.6 miles (15 to 20 seconds) before the driver applied the breaks, completely melting them, blowing the tires, and leaving thick rubber marks on the road surface.

The vehicle then became airborne for an additional 1.3 miles, impacted the cliff face at a height of 125 feet, and left a blackened crater three feet deep in the rock.

Smart is as smart does, and this guy did not do smart. It doesn't take a rocket scientist or someone with a JATO bottle to do smart. Smart operations need people like us who can see a better way to get something done. Like our host nation Services Squadron Laundry superstar who came up with an inexpensive way to make hangers instead of buying them.

At Incirlik, smart operations must be a joint endeavor, something we do with our mission partners and not apart from one another.

When you think about it, the Defense Economic Cooperation Agreement visit is a joint Turkish and U.S. smart operations team.

They will look at Incirlik through the lens of smart operations and make recommendations for us to jointly improve our operations.

Whether figuring out how to streamline support to flight operations or making a better hanger, the idea is to ask "why we do what we do?" and then ask "is there a better way together?" Smart is as smart does and smart operations ensure freedom's future.