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Ready For Takeoff - Turn Your Aviation Passion Into A Career

The Ready For Takeoff podcast will help you transform your aviation passion into an aviation career. Every week we bring you instruction and interviews with top aviators in their field who reveal their flight path to an exciting career in the skies.
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Now displaying: July, 2017
Jul 31, 2017

For twenty-four years Mark Hasara operated one of the Air Force’s oldest airplanes, the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker. His career started during the Reagan Administration, carrying out Strategic Air Command's nuclear deterrent mission. Moving to Okinawa Japan in August 1990, he flew missions throughout the Pacific Rim and Southeast Asia. His first combat missions were in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As a Duty Officer in the Tanker Airlift Control Center, he planned and ran five hundred airlift and air refueling missions a month. Upon retirement from the Air Force, Mark spent seven years at Rockwell Collins in engineering, designing and developing military fixed and rotary wing aircraft cockpits. Mark became a full-time author and defense industry consultant in 2014.

Jul 28, 2017

It was 30 July, 1972. Operation Linebacker was well under way.  Typical missions north of Hanoi would have us refueling over Laos and making “right turns” to attack targets northwest of Hanoi, or refueling feet wet and making “left turns” to attack targets northeast of Hanoi. In mid-July, some genius at Seventh Air Force figured out that we could surprise the gomers by ingressing using left turns from feet wet to attack targets to the northwest: all the SAMs (surface to air missiles) would be pointing the wrong way!

We weather cancelled on the same mission for about 10 days in a row. If there had once been an element of surprise, it was gone by the time we actually executed the mission on 30 July.  To make matters worse, COMSEC on the radios was less than perfect.  While we were on the tanker, someone from one of the escort flights asked, “Are you guys planning to ingress over Kep?” So much for theelement of surprise!

I was number Four in Walnut flight, four F-4D’s from the 8th TFW at Ubon Air Base, Thailand. Jim Badger was my back seater on his first mission to Pack 6, the area around Hanoi, at that time the most heavily defended area is history. Our new squadron commander, Sid Fulgham, was Walnut One, leading his first four-ship flight.  As we entered the target area, we dodged nine SAMs, and then attacked the target and exited to the East.

When we got feet-wet, Walnut One called for a fuel check. It was then that I realized that I was in deep trouble. I checked in with less than half the fuel of the other aircraft in the flight. There was a long pause, and then lead said, “Walnut Four, say again”. As I read my fuel again, it finally hit me how bad my situation really was. We were now somewhere over the Gulf of Tonkin and a long way from our post-strike refueling track.

Walnut Three, our deputy flight lead, was a highly experienced F-4 driver, instructor and Weapons School grad who was checking out the new flight lead. He came on the radio and said, “Walnut Lead, this is Three. Request permission to take the flight”. To his great credit, Lead knew that the mission was more important than ego, and passed the lead to Three. Walnut Three, the new flight lead, sent us over to Guard frequency, and transmitted, “Mayday, mayday, mayday. This is Walnut flight. We need an emergency tanker”.  Almost immediately Purple 28 responded. Walnut Three got his radial and distance from Red Crown, a TACAN located on a navy ship out in the gulf. He signaled for me to move to the lead for flying, so I wouldn’t need to jockey the throttles to stay in formation, and he assigned me a heading. He then calculated a heading for the tanker to fly to rendezvous with us. Walnut Three then told me to slow down and start ashallow descent to conserve fuel. I pulled the throttles back and started a half-nozzle descent.

At this point I was somewhere outside the airplane, about ten feet above, looking down on an F-4 being flown by someone who looked an awful lot like me. Inside the airplane, robot George wasflying.  Jim was reading the Preparation for Bailout checklist, and Robo George was answering with short, clipped responses that would have made the Apollo astronauts envious. Only I wasn’t DOING anything. I was in total negative panic. Jim read “Stow all loose objects” and I answered “Stowed”. Only later did I realize that I had left my camera strapped to my CRU-60 connector, an invitation to smash my face in during an ejection.

While robo George was flying the airplane on a steady heading and totally oblivious to everything else that was going on, Walnut Three was getting updates on Purple 28’s position relative to Red Crown and giving him headings and altitudes to fly. At one point he gave Purple 28 a 180-degree turn to our heading. Shortly after that, real George took over from robo George, looked up and saw a tanker right in front of us, doing a toboggan refueling descent. Somehow, I was in “contact” position. I opened the refueling door and had a sudden realization that a lot of people had performed extraordinary airmanship to get me to this point. What if I became more of a hamfist than usual and couldn’t refuel? As I was struggling with my sudden self-doubt, I felt a “clunk” and heard fuel rushing into my airplane. I was getting fueled! I looked down at my fuel gauges for the first time since robo George had taken over. I had 0 on the tape and 0030 on thecounter. Roughly 2-3 minutes fuel remaining at the time refueling started. While I was on the tanker I heard another F-4 bail out one mile in trail of a tanker due to lack of fuel.  We lost several aircraft that day.

After the flight, my low fuel state was chalked up to my being pretty much a hamfist, and the aircraft was released to fly again the next day. It just so happened that Jim Badger was in the back seat of that aircraft again on another Pack 6 mission. This time his pilot was Blaine Jones, one of the most experienced F-4 jocks in the wing. They came off the target with low fuel state again!  Poor Jim thought that EVERY Pack 6 mission would be like this! Finally maintenance decided to really investigate what the problem was with the airplane, and found a malfunction with the air data computer scheduling the inlet ramps improperly.

Walnut Three and Purple 28 saved my life 45 years ago. Not many pilots could have put all the pieces together to make it work out the way Walnut Three did, with no time left to spare. I know I couldn’t even today, after flying almos continuously for over 50 years.

When I look into my children’s, and my grandchildren’s eyes, I think about how this could have ended so differently. I could have been forced to bail out over shark-infested enemy waters, with death or capture equally as likely as rescue. And I owe the last 45 years to the unknown crew of Purple 28 and to J.D. Allen, the pilot of Walnut Three.

Jul 24, 2017

Brian Webb specializes in teaching church mission teams how to travel safely around the world with a biblical perspective on safety and security. In 2011 Brian was the sole recipient of the National Training Award and received the national award for Outstanding Achievement in Training from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Air Operations.

In addition to managing a covert operations program, Brian also served as the national program manager of the agency's Primary Aviation Survival School as well as Chief of the Standardization Training Branch and he continues to work as a survival instructor.

Brian was a professional pilot by trade and a former airline pilot who made his way into law enforcement.  In 2013 he retired as a pilot and Federal Agent for the Department of Homeland Security.  He is considered one of the world's leading experts in international narcotics smuggling and airborne counter terrorism operations. In this capacity he managed covert operations throughout the US and foreign countries for 20 years.

 
 
Jul 21, 2017

In the movie Pushing Tin they made it look like fun.

It probably inspired many people to think that jet blast was fairly harmless. For starters, in the movie, the actors were most likely (simulated) being tossed around by the aircraft wake, not the jet blast. 

The wind speed 200 feet behind an aircraft at takeoff power is equivalent to a Category V hurricane!

Jul 17, 2017

Dr. Tony Kern is the Founding Partner and CEO of Convergent Performance, LLC., a veteran-owned small business in Colorado Springs. Convergent was formed in 2003, and is specifically dedicated to reducing human error and improving performance in high risk environments such as aviation, military operations, surgical teams, law enforcement, and oil and gas. Tony is one of the world’s leading authorities on human performance in time constrained, error intolerant environments, and has lectured on the subject around the globe for over two decades. Dr. Kern has received multiple awards for his work, including Aviation Week & Space Technology 2002 Laurels Award for Outstanding Achievement in Government and Military, the University Aviation Association’s John K. Lauber Safety Award (2015), and the Flight Safety Foundation-Airbus Human Factors in Aviation Safety Award (2015). While Tony is grateful to have won these and other awards, it’s a completely different honor to have an award named after you. In 2015, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) announced the creation of the Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation award, and at the NBAA National Safety Forum in 2016, NBAA President Ed Bolan announced the first 19 award recipients. Dr. Kern has authored eight books on human performance, including the award-winning “Plane of Excellence” trilogy (Redefining Airmanship, Flight Discipline, and Darker Shades of Blue; McGraw Hill 1995, 1997, 1999). Broadening his approach beyond aviation, his “Empowered Accountability” series (Blue Threat: Why to Err is Inhuman and Going Pro: The Deliberate Practice of Professionalism; Pygmy Books 2009, 2011) creates a 21st century guide to extreme professionalism. His newest book (The Ghost of Nathan Hale; North Slope Publications 2016) remains in line with Dr. Kern’s passion for identifying and reducing threats. In it he details how declining public trust in government is an existential threat to America and the world itself, and provides strong motivation and a step-by-step path for restoring the integrity of government. A prolific writer, Tony is also a featured columnist and Contributing Editor for Skies and Vertical 911 magazines. In addition, Dr. Kern has been interviewed regarding his methodologies by the Fox Business Network, Bloomberg TV, the Discovery Channel, National Public Radio, NBC Nightly News, and 48 Hours with Dan Rather, among others. Despite his three graduate degrees, Dr. Kern does not consider himself an “academic.” He has deep operational roots in the U.S. Air Force as a Command Pilot and Flight Examiner in the B-1B bomber, as well as diverse senior staff and leadership experience, including service as the Chairman of the U.S. Air Force Human Factors Steering Group, and Director and Professor of Military History at the USAF Academy. Upon retirement from the Air Force in 2000, Dr. Kern served as the National Aviation Director for the U.S. Forest Service, where he directed the largest non-military government aviation program in the world in support of federal wildland fire suppression. Tony is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute and the U.S. Federal Government Senior Executive Service Development Program. Tony has dedicated his adult life to helping individuals and organizations reduce error, mitigate losses, and optimize their performance, but still finds time to enjoy his personal hobbies of hunting, fishing, sports of all kinds, and writing. He currently lives with his wife of 29 years and their seven dogs in Woodland Park, Colorado.

 

Jul 14, 2017

A traffic collision avoidance system or traffic alert and collision avoidance system (both abbreviated as TCAS, and pronounced tee-kas) is an aircraft collision avoidance system designed to reduce the incidence of mid-air collisions between aircraft. It monitors the airspace around an aircraft for other aircraft equipped with a corresponding active transponder, independent of air traffic control, and warns pilots of the presence of other transponder-equipped aircraft which may present a threat of mid-air collision (MAC). It is a type of airborne collision avoidance system mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization to be fitted to all aircraft with a maximum take-off mass (MTOM) of over 5,700 kg (12,600 lb) or authorized to carry more than 19 passengers. CFR 14, Ch I, part 135 requires that TCAS I is installed for aircraft with 10-30 passengers and TCAS II for aircraft with more than 30 passengers.

TCAS is based on secondary surveillance radar (SSR) transponder signals, but operates independently of ground-based equipment to provide advice to the pilot on potential conflicting aircraft.

In modern glass cockpit aircraft, the TCAS display may be integrated in the Navigation Display (ND) or Electronic Horizontal Situation Indicator (EHSI); in older glass cockpit aircraft and those with mechanical instrumentation, such an integrated TCAS display may replace the mechanical Vertical Speed Indicator (which indicates the rate with which the aircraft is descending or climbing).

TCAS involves communication between all aircraft equipped with an appropriate transponder (provided the transponder is enabled and set up properly). Each TCAS-equipped aircraft interrogates all other aircraft in a determined range about their position, and all other aircraft reply to other interrogations (via 1.09 GHz). This interrogation-and-response cycle may occur several times per second.

The TCAS system builds a three dimensional map of aircraft in the airspace, incorporating their range (garnered from the interrogation and response round trip time), altitude (as reported by the interrogated aircraft), and bearing (by the directional antenna from the response). Then, by extrapolating current range and altitude difference to anticipated future values, it determines if a potential collision threat exists.

TCAS and its variants are only able to interact with aircraft that have a correctly operating mode C or mode S transponder. A unique 24-bit identifier is assigned to each aircraft that has a mode S transponder.

The next step beyond identifying potential collisions is automatically negotiating a mutual avoidance maneuver (currently, maneuvers are restricted to changes in altitude and modification of climb/sink rates) between the two (or more) conflicting aircraft. These avoidance maneuvers are communicated to the flight crew by a cockpit display and by synthesized voice instructions.

A protected volume of airspace surrounds each TCAS equipped aircraft. The size of the protected volume depends on the altitude, speed, and heading of the aircraft involved in the encounter. The illustration below gives an example of a typical TCAS protection volume.

Jul 10, 2017

Chuck Gumbert, The Turnaround Specialist™, has utilized a wealth of life and business experience, as well as a knack for overcoming challenges, to guide numerous clients to success. One of Chuck’s first major challenges—overcoming the debilitating effects of polio at age 2—did not stop him from eventually participating in high school athletics and later becoming a fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy, graduating at the top of his class. His drive for accomplishment, led to him climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and becoming a nationally recognized business leader, entrepreneur, speaker and mentor.

Chuck has been heavily influenced by historic leaders in both business and the military—most notably motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, Darren Hardy, business leader, author and speaker Jeff Hayzlett and General George S. Patton.

Chuck has applied his core principles and proven business Success Model in the business world, advising corporate leaders and their teams how to achieve predictable and consistent success. A true leader in an ever-changing America, Chuck is known for his high integrity, pristine character, drive and ability to “get the job done” – no matter what the circumstances. He has the unique ability to quickly diagnosis complicated problems and breakdowns within an organization, rally the troops to get everyone on board working towards a common goal and launch a solid success strategy for improved and accelerated performance.

 

Jul 7, 2017

Flown West

I hope there's a place, way up in the sky,
Where pilots can go, when they have to die-
A place where a guy can go and buy a cold beer
For a friend and comrade, whose memory is dear;
A place where no doctor or lawyer can tread,
Nor management type would ere be caught dead;
Just a quaint little place, kinda dark and full of smoke,
Where they like to sing loud, and love a good joke;
The kind of place where a lady could go
And feel safe and protected, by the men she would know.

There must be a place where old pilots go,
When their paining is finished, and their airspeed gets low,
Where the whiskey is old, and the women are young,
And the songs about flying and dying are sung,
Where you'd see all the fellows who'd flown west before.
And they'd call out your name, as you came through the door;
Who would buy you a drink if your thirst should be bad,
And relate to the others, "He was quite a good lad!"

And then through the mist, you'd spot an old guy
You had not seen for years, though he taught you how to fly.
He'd nod his old head, and grin ear to ear,
And say, "Welcome, my son, I'm pleased that you're here.
"For this is the place where true flyers come,
"When the journey is over, and the war has been won
"They've come here to at last to be safe and alone
From the government clerk and the management clone,
"Politicians and lawyers, the Feds and the noise
Where the hours are happy, and these good ol'boys
"Can relax with a cool one, and a well-deserved rest;
"This is Heaven, my son -- you've passed your last test!"

The tradition of throwing a nickel onto the grave of a fighter pilot started a long time ago. About a hundred years ago, the Salvation Army would beat a drum to collect money to help alcoholics. A song cam about with the chorus "throw a nickel on the drum, save another drunken bum".

During the Korean War, an F-86 pilot named William Starr modified the song: "Throw a nickel on the grass, save a fighter pilot's ass". Oscar Brand recorded it along with numerous other Air Force songs in 1959 in his album The Wild Blue Yonder.

Nickel on the Grass

Chorus

Oh, Halleliua, Halleliua

Throw a nickel on the grass--Save a fighter pilot's ass.

Oh, Halleliua, Oh, Halleliua

Throw a nickel on the grass and you'll be saved.

 

I was cruising down the Yalu, doing six and twenty per

When a call came from the Major, Oh won 't you save me sir?

Got three flak holes in my wing tips, and my tanks ain't got no gas.

Mayday, mayday, mayday, I got six MIGS on my ass.

 

I shot my traffic pattern, and to me it looked all right,

The airspeed read one-thirty, I really racked it tight!

Then the airframe gave a shudder, the engine gave a wheeze,

Mayday, mayday, mayday, spin instructions please.

 

It was split S on my Bomb run, and I got too God Damn low

But I pressed that bloody button, and I let those babies go

Sucked the stick back fast as blazes, when I hit a hight speed stall

I won’t see my mother when the work all done next fall.

 

They sent me down to Pyongyang, the brief said "no ack ack"

by the time that I arrived there, my wings was mostly flak.

Then my engine coughed and sputtered, it was too cut up to fly

Mayday, mayday, mayday, I’m too young to die.

 

I bailed out from the Sabre, and the landing came out fine

With my E and E equipment, I made for our front line.

When I opened up ration, to see what was in it,

The God damn quartermaster why he filled the tin with grit.

Jul 3, 2017

In 1954, after 18 months of flight training, Chambers was designated as a Naval Aviator. His first fleet assignment was to an air-antisubmarine warfare squadron, VS-37, where he flew the Grumman AF Guardian. Transitioning to the light attack community, he later flew the A-1 Skyraider with VA-215 and then, following postgraduate education, transitioned to jet light attack aircraft, flying the A-4 Skyhawk with VA-125 and VA-22. He then established VA-67 (later VFA-15|VA-15) as its first commanding officer, flying the A-7 Corsair II.

From 1968 to 1971, Chambers flew combat missions over Vietnam from the USS Ranger and the USS Oriskany. In 1972 he was promoted to captain and placed in command of the USS White Plains, a combat stores ship.

In April 1975, while in command of the aircraft carrier USS Midway, Chambers was ordered to "make best speed" to the waters off South Vietnam as North Vietnam overran the country to take part in Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of U.S. and South Vietnamese personnel. At the time the carrier was in Subic Bay Naval Base with the engineering plant partially torn apart.

On April 29, 1975, South Vietnamese Air Force Major Buang-Ly loaded his wife and five children into a two-seat Cessna O-1 Bird Dog and took off from Con Son Island. After evading enemy ground fire Major Buang headed out to sea and spotted the Midway. The Midway's crew attempted to contact the aircraft on emergency frequencies but the pilot continued to circle overhead with his landing lights turned on. When a spotter reported that there were at least four people in the two-place aircraft, all thoughts of forcing the pilot to ditch alongside were abandoned - it was unlikely the passengers of the overloaded Bird Dog could survive the ditching and safely escape before the plane sank. After three tries, Major Buang managed to drop a note from a low pass over the deck: "Can you move the helicopter to the other side, I can land on your runway, I can fly for one hour more, we have enough time to move. Please rescue me! Major Buang, wife and 5 child."

After consultation with the USS Midway Carrier Task Force CO, Admiral William L. Harris, Chambers issued the order to allow the plane to land on the Midway's flight deck.[7] The arresting wires were then removed, all helicopters that could not be safely or quickly relocated were pushed over the side and into the sea. To get the job done he called for volunteers, and soon every available seaman was on deck, regardless of rank or duty, to provide the manpower to get the job done. An estimated US$10 million worth of UH-1 Huey helicopters were pushed overboard into the South China Sea. With a 500-foot ceiling, five miles visibility, light rain, and 15 knots of surface wind, Chambers ordered the ship to make 25 knots into the wind. Warnings about the dangerous downdrafts created behind a steaming carrier were transmitted blind in both Vietnamese and English. To make matters worse, five additional UH-1s landed and cluttered up the deck. Without hesitation, Chambers ordered them scuttled as well.

 

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