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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: 2022
Sep 19, 2022

Enlisted airmen who work in some of the Air Force's most difficult jobs will receive from $900 to $5,400 less annually beginning next month as the service faces financial challenges that affect the ranks.

Hundreds of service members will see cuts to their Special Duty Assignment Pay, known as SDAP, in fiscal 2023 -- which starts Oct. 1. Those monthly payments, ranging from $75 to $450, were an extra incentive "to compensate enlisted service members who serve in duties which are extremely difficult," according to budget documents.

"The Air Force saw an overall reduction of over $3 million to the FY23 SDAP budget based on fiscal constraints," service spokeswoman Laurel Falls told Military.com. "Due to the reduced funding levels, SDAP rates for 44 functional communities saw reductions."

In the fiscal 2023 budget, the Air Force is asking the federal government for 30,845 airmen to receive the more than $90.2 million worth of Special Duty Assignment Pay.

It's a lower figure than the last two years, being cut by $1.5 million and around 500 airmen, according to budget documents.

For 2022, the Air Force asked for 31,334 airmen to receive $91.7 million; in 2021, the service asked for 30,967 airmen to receive $90.8 million in Special Duty Assignment Pay.

The Air Force is facing a $3 million shortfall to the Special Duty Assignment Budget for 2023, according to the service. Air Force Headquarters held a meeting this past November to address the problem prior to crafting the 2023 budget, Falls told Military.com.

To avoid the cuts, lawmakers would have to reinstate the Special Duty Assignment Pay difference in the 2023 budget proposal before it's approved by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden. The military's annual budget could be finalized later this year.

Dozens of Air Force career fields will be affected by the cut to Special Assignment Duty Pay. One of those is recruiters.

Air Force Recruiting Service recruiters are set to lose their $75 in special duty pay each month for fiscal 2023, which would add up to nearly $900 a year in lost wages.

Losing the pay could be a blow to recruiters' morale as they face difficult challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, economic inflation and a shifting workforce. Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, the head of the Air Force Recruiting Service, promised recruiters he would push for the extra pay to be reinstated in the next fiscal year.

The general "recognizes the unique challenges Air Force recruiters and their families experience and he is working to have the monthly $75 payment restored in the future," spokesman Randy Martin told Military.com

Here's a list of all the Air Force's special duty pay that would be reduced in fiscal 2023, according to budget documents:

  • Recruiters
  • Basic Military Training instructors
  • Human Intelligence debriefers
  • Combat Controllers
  • Pararescue operators
  • Command chief master sergeants
  • First sergeants
  • Defense Attaché Office (DAO) liaisons
  • Nuclear Enterprise airmen
  • Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) agents
  • Air Traffic Control (ATC) supervisors
  • Postal and National Defense Advisory Commission (NDAC) enablers
  • Tactical Air Command and Control Party (TACP) operators
  • Enlisted pilots and weapons directors
  • Parachute instructors and those with test parachute program
  • Flight attendants
  • Mission system specialists
  • Load masters
  • USAF Honor Guards
  • Special Reconnaissance operators
  • Phoenix Raven Security Forces defenders
  • Forward Area Refueling Point enablers
  • Flying crew chiefs
  • Defense couriers
  • Airmen who support various commands
  • Enlisted airmen who work with special government agencies
  • Public affairs airmen assigned to recruiting squadrons
  • Air transportation airmen
  • Airmen assigned to special classified Air Force projects.

PJ Roy Benavides:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/i3nncd4sxaM

Combat Controller John Chapman

Sep 19, 2022

Enlisted airmen who work in some of the Air Force's most difficult jobs will receive from $900 to $5,400 less annually beginning next month as the service faces financial challenges that affect the ranks.

Hundreds of service members will see cuts to their Special Duty Assignment Pay, known as SDAP, in fiscal 2023 -- which starts Oct. 1. Those monthly payments, ranging from $75 to $450, were an extra incentive "to compensate enlisted service members who serve in duties which are extremely difficult," according to budget documents.

"The Air Force saw an overall reduction of over $3 million to the FY23 SDAP budget based on fiscal constraints," service spokeswoman Laurel Falls told Military.com. "Due to the reduced funding levels, SDAP rates for 44 functional communities saw reductions."

In the fiscal 2023 budget, the Air Force is asking the federal government for 30,845 airmen to receive the more than $90.2 million worth of Special Duty Assignment Pay.

It's a lower figure than the last two years, being cut by $1.5 million and around 500 airmen, according to budget documents.

For 2022, the Air Force asked for 31,334 airmen to receive $91.7 million; in 2021, the service asked for 30,967 airmen to receive $90.8 million in Special Duty Assignment Pay.

The Air Force is facing a $3 million shortfall to the Special Duty Assignment Budget for 2023, according to the service. Air Force Headquarters held a meeting this past November to address the problem prior to crafting the 2023 budget, Falls told Military.com.

To avoid the cuts, lawmakers would have to reinstate the Special Duty Assignment Pay difference in the 2023 budget proposal before it's approved by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden. The military's annual budget could be finalized later this year.

Dozens of Air Force career fields will be affected by the cut to Special Assignment Duty Pay. One of those is recruiters.

Air Force Recruiting Service recruiters are set to lose their $75 in special duty pay each month for fiscal 2023, which would add up to nearly $900 a year in lost wages.

Losing the pay could be a blow to recruiters' morale as they face difficult challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, economic inflation and a shifting workforce. Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, the head of the Air Force Recruiting Service, promised recruiters he would push for the extra pay to be reinstated in the next fiscal year.

The general "recognizes the unique challenges Air Force recruiters and their families experience and he is working to have the monthly $75 payment restored in the future," spokesman Randy Martin told Military.com

Here's a list of all the Air Force's special duty pay that would be reduced in fiscal 2023, according to budget documents:

  • Recruiters
  • Basic Military Training instructors
  • Human Intelligence debriefers
  • Combat Controllers
  • Pararescue operators
  • Command chief master sergeants
  • First sergeants
  • Defense Attaché Office (DAO) liaisons
  • Nuclear Enterprise airmen
  • Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) agents
  • Air Traffic Control (ATC) supervisors
  • Postal and National Defense Advisory Commission (NDAC) enablers
  • Tactical Air Command and Control Party (TACP) operators
  • Enlisted pilots and weapons directors
  • Parachute instructors and those with test parachute program
  • Flight attendants
  • Mission system specialists
  • Load masters
  • USAF Honor Guards
  • Special Reconnaissance operators
  • Phoenix Raven Security Forces defenders
  • Forward Area Refueling Point enablers
  • Flying crew chiefs
  • Defense couriers
  • Airmen who support various commands
  • Enlisted airmen who work with special government agencies
  • Public affairs airmen assigned to recruiting squadrons
  • Air transportation airmen
  • Airmen assigned to special classified Air Force projects.

PJ Roy Benavides:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/i3nncd4sxaM

Combat Controller John Chapman

Sep 12, 2022

The minimum age to obtain an Airline Transport Pilot certificate is 23, which means that it is possible that new airline pilots were as young as two years old when the attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred. The world changed forever on that day, and it's worth looking back at the airline industry before, during and after the attacks.

Although Secretary Rice stated that no one could have foreseen such an attack, in my Doctoral dissertation I documented 13 attempts to fly aircraft into buildings as terrorist attacks prior to the attack on the World Trade Center.

Prior to the attacks, the airline industry had a cavalier attitude toward hijackings. Instructions to pilots were to "comply".

After the attacks, flight crews were operating by the seat of their pants. Until the implementing of fortified cockpit doors, pilots improvised on securing cockpit doors. It was easier for inward-opening doors, but everyone was resourceful.

Finally, fortified doors were installed, but it was clear to everyone that secondary barriers were required, and they still have not been mandated. Ellen Saracini, widow of United Airlines pilot Victor Saracini, has been advocating for secondary barriers for over 20 years.

https://youtu.be/zV3iLanISlw

The Federal Flight Deck Officer Program allowed armed pilots to occupy airline cockpits.

As an interim measure, some pilots were armed with tasers.

In the past nine months, 81 known terrorists have been apprehended at the southern border.

Sep 5, 2022

Art Ziccardi learned to fly as a teenager after participating in Civil Air Patrol for four years. He attended an aviation college and accumulated thousands of hours as a SFI while there. He later obtained a Master's Degree and held several jobs in aviation until getting hired by United Airlines in 1969.

During the airline downturn he was 4 pilots from the bottom of the seniority list during the extended United pilot furlough, and when he retired at age 60 he was 4 pilots from the top of the seniority list.

After retiring from United he was a B777 flight instructor at Cathay Pacific and a B777 pilot for Jet Airways in India.

He is now an author, and has published the first of many aviation-themed novels.

Aug 29, 2022

Abel Castillo worked his way up to 1500 hours as a CFI and was hired by a regional airline, rising to the position of Captain on a Regional Jet. His goal was to advance to a legacy airline, and he had just been hired by another, better-paying, regional airline. He had completed all pre-employment documentation and was given a five-day window to complete his pre-employment drug screening.

He showed up for the drug screening on his way to catch a flight home to see his daughter. Unfortunately, he could not produce the required volume of urine required for the test. He drank more water and tried again, but again came up short. He advised the testing facility that he needed to catch a flight and would return in a few days during the drug test window. The facility reported that he had "refused" the test, and his nightmare began.

The FAA immediately revoked all of his flight certificates and he was terminated from his airline job. He must now wait up to two years before attempting to regain his certificates by taking written and practical tests for Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot, Instrument, Multi-engine and Airline Transport Pilot certificates. He gets to keep his flight hours.

Abel hopes that sharing his experience can help other pilots avoid this experience.

Aug 16, 2022

I turned off my Big Ben alarm clock at 0230, the usual wake-up time for our Linebacker mission. When the scheduling board simply indicated “Special”, we knew it would be a 0400 mass briefing at Wing Headquarters for a bombing mission over North Vietnam. We wouldn’t know our target until the mission briefing. The schedule was normally posted at the end of each day’s flying, and the previous day I had seen my name listed for the number four position in Jazz Flight for today’s Special. My Weapon Systems Officer would be Bill Woodworth.

F-4 pilots quickly become creatures of habit mixed with ritual, and I walked the short distance to the Ubon Officer’s Club to have my standard breakfast: cheese omelet, toast with butter, and coffee. I had successfully flown thirty-one Counters – missions over North Vietnam – and I wasn’t about to change anything without a pretty compelling reason. A few weeks earlier, the Thai waitress had misunderstood me when I had ordered, and brought me a plain Omelet. I politely ate it, and the mission on that day was the closest I had come – up until then – to getting shot down.

After breakfast, I walked to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing Headquarters building, and performed my usual routine of stopping by the Intel desk and checking the Shoot-down Board. The Shoot-down Board was a large Plexiglas-covered board that listed the most recent friendly aircraft losses, written in grease pencil. We could tell, at a glance, if any aircraft had been shot down the previous night, the call sign, aircraft type, and survivor status. There were no friendly aircraft losses over North Vietnam to enemy action in the previous day.

That was not surprising. The Special for the previous day had been canceled when the strike leader, my Squadron Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Brad Sharp, crashed on takeoff when his left tire exploded at 160 knots. He aborted, taking the departure end barrier, and his aircraft caught fire when pieces of the shredded tire pierced his left wing fuel tank. Brad’s emergency egress was delayed when he got hung up by his leg restraint lines. As he sat in his seat, seeing the canopy melting around him, his WSO, Mike Pomphrey, ran back to the burning aircraft and pulled him out, saving his life. As Mike dragged him to a drainage ditch 100 yards away to hunker down, the ejection seats, missiles and, eventually, bombs cooked off. Ubon’s only runway was out of commission, and the entire Linebacker mission, for all bases, was canceled. Overnight, the runway at Ubon was repaired, and our mission was on for this day.

The mission briefing was in a large auditorium. The Wing Commander led the Mission Briefing, followed by an Intel Briefing and Weather Briefing. Slides were projected onto the screen to show the targets on a map of North Vietnam, then reconnaissance photos of the individual targets for the strike flights. Jazz Flight’s target was POL (Petroleum, Oil, Lubricants) storage near Kep Airfield, north of Hanoi. During the briefing, we all received our mission line-up cards, showing our Estimated Times Enroute (ETE), fuel computations, strike frequencies, and flight de-confliction information.

A mass strike over Route Package Six, the area of North Vietnam covering Hanoi, Haiphong and points north, required a massive orchestration effort. The run-in directions, Time Over Target (TOT), and egress plan for each of the sixteen four-ship strike flights, plus all of the same information for support flights, such as MiG-Cap, were designated to exacting specifications.

After the mass briefing, we assembled in our respective squadrons for our individual flight briefings. When I walked into the 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, my first order of business was to check the Flight Crew Information File Book. The FCIF was a book that had last-minute changes to procedures and other instructions for aircrews. After reading the latest entries in the book, each crewmember would initial his FCIF card and turn the card over in the vertical card file so that the green side of the card was facing out, instead of the red side. That way, the Ops Officer could instantly see if all the crews were flying with the most current information.

The briefing for Jazz Flight lasted about 45 minutes. Our Flight Lead briefed engine start and check-in times, flight join-up, frequencies, tactics, and our munitions load. Today we would each carry two 2,000-pound Mark-84L laser-guided bombs. After the briefing we waited our turns for the most important part of the preflight.

The building that housed our squadron had not been designed for a mass launch of 32 crewmembers all needing to use the latrine at the same time. It was a three-holer, and everyone always badly needed to use the facility before a mission up north. It was a major bottle-neck to our individual plans.

After that essential stop we went by the Life Support section to leave our personal items, such as wedding rings, wallets and anything else we wouldn’t need for the flight, in our lockers. The only thing I would carry in my pocket was my ID Card and my Geneva Convention Card. And, of course, I had my dog tags around my neck. Then we would pick up our G-suits, helmets, survival vests and parachute harnesses and board the “bread truck” for transportation to the flight line, with a quick stop at the armory to retrieve our .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolvers. Our Thai driver always had a cooler stocked with plastic flasks of cold water, and we would grab several and put them in leg pockets of our G-suits. I also grabbed several piddle packs.

The F-4 did not have a relief tube, so we carried piddle packs. The piddle pack was a small plastic bag with a 2 inch by 6 inch sponge inside and a spout at one end. When you used this portable urinal, the entire assembly would expand to about the size of a football. This flight was scheduled to be a bit longer than the standard mission, so I grabbed three piddle packs.

There were two ways to get to Pack Six from Ubon: right turns and left turns. With right turns, the missions are about 45 minutes shorter. Head north over Laos, refuel on Green Anchor, make a right turn at Thud Ridge and proceed to the target. Left turns takes us to the east coast of Vietnam, and proceed north “feet wet”, then make a left turns toward Vinh to strike our targets. Today we would make left turns.

We launched off at dawn and headed into the rising sun. Our route of flight took us east across Laos to DaNang, then north to the Gulf of Tonkin, then northwest to our target in the area of Kep. Our refueling would be along Purple Anchor as we headed north for pre-strike and south for post-strike.

One of my rituals during every refueling, in between hook-ups, was to break out one of the water flasks, finish off an entire pack of Tums, and fill one of the piddle packs. Using the piddle pack in the seat of the Phantom was easier said than done. It required a bit of maneuvering.  I handed the jet over to Bill, my WSO, as I loosened my lap belt, loosened the leg straps on my parachute harness, and unzipped my flight suit from the bottom. Then I did my best to fill the piddle pack without any spillage. Our route was already taking us feet wet, and I wasn’t looking forward to becoming feet wet in any other respect.

Bill flew smoothly, and I finished my business with no problem, and took control of the airplane again for our refueling top-offs. We conducted our aerial ballet in total radio silence as our four airplanes cycled on and off the refueling boom, flying at almost 400 knots, as we approached the refueling drop-off point.

When we finished refueling, we switched to strike frequency and headed north-northwest to the target area. Typical for a Linebacker mission, strike frequency was pretty busy. There were “Bandit” calls from Disco, the Airborne Early Warning bird, an EC-121 orbiting over the Gulf of Tonkin. And SAM breaks. And, of course, the ever-present triple-A (Anti-Aircraft Artillery)that produced fields of instant-blooming dandelions at our altitude. We pressed on. In the entire history of the Air Force, and the Army Air Corps before it, no strike aircraft has ever aborted its mission due to enemy reaction, and we were not about to set a precedent.

Weather in the target area was severe clear, and Flight Lead identified the target with no problem. We closed in to “fingertip” formation, with three feet of separation between wingtips.  “Jazz Flight, arm ‘em up.”

We made a left orbit to make our run-in on the designated attack heading. Then a left roll-in with 135 degrees of bank. My element lead, Jazz Three, was on Lead’s right wing, and I was on the far right position in the formation. Our roll-in and roll-out was in close fingertip position, which put me at negative G-loading during the roll-out.

During negative-G formation flying, the flight controls work differently. I was on the right wing and a little too close to Element Lead, so I needed to put the stick to the left to increase spacing. Totally unnatural. At the same time, I was hanging against my lap belt, which I had forgotten to tighten when I had finished my piddle-pack filling procedure. My head hit the canopy, as dust and other detritus from the cockpit floated up into my eyes. But I maintained my position.

We rolled out on the correct run-in heading, and reached our delivery parameters right on profile. Five hundred knots at 20,000 feet. Lead called our release.  “Jazz Flight, ready, ready, pickle!”

We all pushed our Bomb Release “pickle” buttons on our stick grips at the same time, and eight 2000-pound bombs guided together to the target that was being illuminated by the laser designator in the Lead’s Pave Knife pod, guidance performed by his WSO.  Immediately after release, we performed the normal 4-G pullout. And I was instantly in excruciating pain. I screamed out in pain on our “hot mike” interphone.  “Are you okay?”  Bill called.  “I think I’ve been shot in the balls!” I screamed.

Then, I realized what had happened. I had carelessly neglected to tighten my lap belt and parachute harness leg straps after relieving myself during the refueling. My body had shifted, and my testicles had gotten trapped between the harness and my body. With a 4-G pull, my 150-pound body was exerting 600 pounds of pressure on the family jewels.

As soon as I knew what the problem was, I unloaded the aircraft to zero Gs, to try to readjust myself. But I was still headed downhill, and Mother Hanoi was rushing up to me at 500 knots. And I was getting further out of position in my formation. So I gritted my teeth and pulled.  When we got onto the post-strike tanker, I adjusted myself, but the damage had been done. I was in agony all the way back to Ubon.

As soon as I landed, I went to see the Flight Surgeon and told him what had happened. He told me to drop my shorts and show him my injury. “Wow! I’d heard you guys had big ones, but these are even larger than I expected.”  I looked down, and saw that my testicles were swollen to the size of large oranges. The Flight Surgeon put me on total bed-rest orders, telling me I could only get out of bed to use the bathroom until the swelling subsided. While I was flat on my back, waiting for the pain to subside, I couldn’t get that stupid old joke out of my head, the one where the kid goes into a malt shop and asks for a sundae with nuts, and the clerk asks, “Do you want your nuts crushed?” And the kid has a wise-crack answer. All of a sudden, it didn’t seem so funny.

After about five days I was feeling much better.  The Flight Surgeon had offered to submit my injury for a Purple Heart, but I declined. For starters, my injury was not due to enemy action, it was due to my carelessness. And I wasn’t too keen on standing in front of the entire squadron at my next assignment while the Admin Officer read the citation to accompany the award of the Purple Heart. “On that day, Captain Nolly managed to crush…”. No thanks!

A few months later, the Flight Surgeon showed up at our squadron.  “You’re famous, and made me a famous author,” he beamed, as he held up the current issue of Aerospace Medicine magazine. In the article, he recounted how a 27-year-old pilot had experienced a strangulation injury to his testes that came very close to requiring amputation.

Castration!  “There was no use in telling you and making you worry, when there was nothing we could do for you other than bed rest, and wait to see if you healed,” he commented.

Well, it’s been 41 years now, and I’m at an age where I don’t embarrass as easily. More important, I sired three healthy children several years later, so the equipment works just fine, thank you.  Lots of guys have great “There I was” stories of their time in Vietnam. I racked up 100 missions over the north, and had some exciting missions.  This mission was not the most exciting, but was certainly the most memorable.

Aug 9, 2022

The 18th Tactical Fighter Wing based at Kadena ABOkinawa maintained two Squadron of McDonnell F-4C Phantom II aircraft from November 1972 until May 1975.

On 6 November 1972, the 18th Wing dispatched the McDonnell Douglas F-4C/D Phantom II fighters of 44th Fighter Squadron and 67th Fighter Squadron to the Ching Chuan Kang Air Base until 31 May 1975, to assist Taiwan's defense against aerial threats from China.

The following are the units that the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing once stationed at Ching Chuan Kang Air Base in Taiwan

  • 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Tail Code: ZL) (6 November 1972 – 10 April 1975) (F-4C/D)
  • 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Tail Code: ZG) (6 November 1972 – 31 May 1975) (EF-4C, F-4D)

In March 1973, the number of US troops stationed at CCK was about 5,000.

16 September 1973 - A 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron F-4C aircraft crashed during a temporary duty assignment in Taiwan; the crewmembers safely ejected.

15 October 1973, an EF-4C 63-7462 of the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron crashed shortly after takeoff from CCK AB.

On 13 November 1973, the 374th TAW was reassigned to Clark AB Philippines.

On November 15, 1973, the 6217th Combat Support Group was reactivation.

On 1 September 1974, the 6217th Combat Support Group was renamed the 6217th Tactical Group.

On 10 April 1975, the 44th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing withdrew from Ching Chuan Kang Air Base in Taichung, Taiwan, total of 24 McDonnell F-4C/D Phantom II fighters and 450 pilots and ground crews to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.

In May 1975, the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron was withdrawn from CCK AB, Taiwan, with the final squadron of 18 F-4Cs departing for Kadena Air BaseOkinawa, between 27 and 31 May.

From 1 June 1975, Due to the withdrawal of F-4 fighter jets, the 6217th Tactical Group was reorganized to the 6217th Air Base Squadron, and CCK AB had been placed in caretaker status.

On 31 July 1975, the number of US troops stationed at CCK AB was 571.

From 1977, the number of US troops stationed at CCK AB has been reduced to 100.

On 1 January 1979, the US normalized relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC). on 25 April 1979, which resulted in the lowering of the national flag by US Air Force personnel and their withdrawal from the base.

Jul 26, 2022

Preliminary evidence suggests the crash of a China Eastern Airlines Corp. jet in March may be the latest such tragedy, a person familiar with the investigation said. If confirmed, that would make it the fourth since 2013, bringing deaths in those crashes to 554.

So as aircraft become more reliable and pilots grow less susceptible to errors, fatalities caused by murder-suicides are becoming an increasingly large share of the total. While intentional acts traditionally aren’t included in air-crash statistics, they would be the second-largest category of deaths worldwide if they were, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. By comparison, 1,745 people died as a result of pilot error, mechanical failures or other causes on Western-built jets from 2012 through 2021.

“It’s scary,” said Malcolm Brenner, a former human-behavior investigator with the US National Transportation Safety Board who worked on the probe of the 1999 EgyptAir Flight 990 crash, which was found to be an intentional act. “It is a major cause of concern. It’s one the industry needs to address.”

So far, however, these rare but deadly acts have defied simple solutions. While improving mental-health care is a priority, those who have chosen to kill themselves and scores of others at the same time on jetliners mostly didn’t reveal any clues beforehand to coworkers, friends or family.

And because of the taboo nature of suicide, the cases create unique political and cultural challenges, at times leaving such events shrouded in mystery or open to dispute. The probe into Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s disappearance over the Indian Ocean in 2014 found it was likely flown there on purpose, for example, but the Malaysian government’s report contains no information on who may have done so or why.

The risk of dying on an airliner has declined significantly in recent decades as a result of innovations in safety equipment, aircraft reliability and pilot training. After 5,005 people died on Western-built jets from 2001 through 2010, the total fell to 1,858 the next decade, according to data compiled by Boeing Co., AviationSafetyNetwork and accident reports. The odds of being on a plane involved in a fatal accident was about one in 10 million, according to Boeing.

But deaths attributed to pilot suicides bucked that trend, actually moving upward, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. If the China Eastern crash is confirmed as the latest such suicide, it will mean that deaths due to intentional acts have exceeded all other causes since the start of 2021.

So far, Chinese authorities have revealed few specifics about what led the China Eastern jet carrying 132 people to crash March 21. The flight, a Boeing 737-800 from Kunming to Guangzhou, was cruising at about 29,000 feet when it suddenly dove at high speed, according to Flightradar24 data. Surveillance videos show it hurtling nose-down toward the ground. 

Government authorities and Boeing haven’t announced any potential safety issues with the plane since then, suggesting no systemic faults have been uncovered. Preliminary information from the jet’s crash-proof data recorder indicates that someone in the cockpit initiated the dive, said a person familiar with the probe who wasn’t authorized to speak about it. The likelihood the crash was intentional was earlier reported by the trade publication Leeham News and Analysis as well as the Wall Street Journal.

China’s embassy in Washington didn’t respond directly to questions about whether the crash was intentional. Investigators are conducting the probe “in a science-based, meticulous and orderly manner” and will release information “in a timely and accurate fashion,” the embassy said in an email.

As with any crash investigation, it can take months or years to conduct the tests and analysis needed to pinpoint a cause and rule out even the most remotely possible system failures.

In addition to the Malaysian plane lost with 239 people aboard, a Lam-Mozambique Airlines jet with 33 people went down in Namibia in 2013 after the captain locked the copilot out of the cockpit. In 2015, a Germanwings GmbH copilot also locked out the captain before slamming into the side of a mountain in France with 150 aboard.

Four other intentional crashes occurred on airlines around the world prior to 2013, killing another 389 people, according to AviationSafetyNetwork and accident reports. The incidents don’t include terrorist acts, such as the planes that crashed on Sept. 11, 2001. 

After the Germanwings crash, which French investigators found was caused by a copilot suffering from mental-health problems, US and European aviation regulators expanded programs to give air crews access to more psychological treatment and encourage them to come forward without fear of losing their jobs.

Surveys of airline pilots have shown that about 4% to 8% have contemplated suicide, which is roughly the same rate as the population at large. Far fewer people actually attempt to carry it out -- and the handful of successful pilot murder-suicides on airliners is infinitesimally small by comparison.

Airline pilots must pass periodic medical exams to maintain their licenses and have been reluctant to report depression or other mental illness for fear of losing their livelihood, said Quay Snyder, a doctor specializing in aviation medicine who is co-leader of the US Aerospace Medical Association’s mental health working group. The association has joined with regulators, airlines and unions to create peer-to-peer counseling and other programs to allow pilots to receive treatment while retaining their licenses.

Safety Measures

But a panel advising the US Federal Aviation Administration in 2015 found there was “no convincing evidence” that screening for suicidal tendencies would prevent incidents such as Germanwings. 

“It is quite difficult to predict who is going to commit a murder-suicide,” Snyder said. 

Other possible ways to prevent pilot suicides run counter to long-standing safety or security measures. 

The sophisticated locks on cockpit doors that allow pilots to keep out other crewmembers were put in place to prevent hijackings. French authorities recommended against changing the door designs in the wake of the Germanwings crash, saying changes could undermine security.

One idea -- adding automated limits on a pilot’s actions in the cockpit -- would require a dramatic shift in the philosophy of aviation safety. 

“I’m a firm believer in the pilot who’s on the flight deck being the ultimate person or device in charge of the aircraft,” said Benjamin Berman, a former airline pilot who also worked as an accident investigator. “I don’t see technology supplanting that role. But that leaves the pilot in control, allowing him or her to do whatever they want.”

Multiple Pilots 

Even the simple solution to always have at least two people in the cockpit, which was recommended by European regulators after Germanwings, is no guarantee that someone bent on bringing down a plane couldn’t do it. While details of what happened aboard the China Eastern jet remain unclear, it had three pilots in the cockpit -- a captain, copilot and trainee -- according to Chinese media reports. 

For now, aviation groups are calling for expanding pilot access to mental-health treatments while acknowledging that routine psychological care might not make a difference in the extreme murder-suicide cases. 

“It’s so rare,” said David Schroeder, a former FAA psychologist who along with Snyder leads the Aerospace Medical Association’s mental health efforts. “That’s the difficulty. How do you try to predict that? How do you intervene when almost all flights are not like that?”

943 total fatalities:

1982 JAL 350 24 fatalities

1994 Royal Air Muroc 630 44 fatalities

1997 Silk Air 185 104 fatalities

1999 Egypt Air 990 217 fatalities

2013 LAM Mozambique Airlines Flight 470 33 fatalities

2014 Malasia 370 239 fatalities

2015 GermanWings 9525 150 fatalities

2022 China Eastern Airlines Flight 5735 132 fatalities

From NPR:

People experiencing a mental health crisis have a new way to reach out for help in the U.S. Starting Saturday, they can simply call or text the numbers 9-8-8.

Modeled after 911, the new three-digit 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is designed to be a memorable and quick number that connects people who are suicidal or in any other mental health crisis to a trained mental health professional.

"If you are willing to turn to someone in your moment of crisis, 988 will be there," said Xavier Becerra, the secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, at a recent press briefing. "988 won't be a busy signal, and 988 won't put you on hold. You will get help."

The primary goal of the new number is to make it easier for people to call for help. Lawmakers and mental health advocates also see this launch as an opportunity to transform the mental health care system and make care easily accessible everywhere in the United States. The Biden administration has invested more than $400 million in beefing up crisis centers and other mental health services to support the 988 system.

 

Jul 11, 2022

Matthew Lohmeier is author of the bestselling book Irresistible Revolution: Marxism’s Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military.

His book Irresistible Revolution was published in May 2021, at which time Matt was a respected active-duty commander in the newly formed US Space Force. For publishing and speaking about his book, then-Lieutenant Colonel Lohmeier was relieved of his command and subjected to an Inspector General investigation launched from the Pentagon. He subsequently joined the nation’s biggest media personalities to discuss the proliferation of Marxist-rooted critical race theory (CRT) in the military and its divisive impact on the force and mission. Matt separated from active duty on September 1, 2021, and is now a highly sought public speaker and private consultant on matters of Marxist ideology and tactics, CRT, the betterment of military culture, and the preservation of our liberties.

A 2006 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Matt began his active-duty military career as a pilot, flying over 1,200 hours in the T-38 as an instructor pilot followed by flying the F-15C. After flying, he cross-trained into space operations and gained expertise in space-based missile warning. Matt promoted two years below the zone to lieutenant colonel, graduated at the top of his classes earning him the distinguished graduate (DG) award at four different Air Force schools, and served as aide-de-camp for a four-star general for one year. In October 2020, he transferred into the United States Space Force and was placed in command of a space-based missile warning squadron in Colorado.

Matt has two master's degrees—a master’s in military operational art and science, and a Master of Philosophy in military strategy from the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS), considered by many the Defense Department’s premier strategy school. He lives with his wife and children in Idaho.

Jun 27, 2022

On May 3, 2019, Miami Air Flight 293, a Boeing 737 that took off from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, attempted to land at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. The jet overshot the runway and eventually settled in a shallow part of the St. Johns River.

There were seven crew members and 136 passengers on board the plane at the time of the crash. Of that, 21 people received minor injuries and three pets were trapped inside the plane's cargo hold. 

On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board released its full report on the crash.  The report cites weather as a big factor but cited other factors as well.

In the moments before the flight was set to land at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, the flight suddenly changed its path due to the inclement weather, according to the NTBS report. However, the change led the flight through the center of the storm cell.

At the time of the crash, there was heavy rain, thunderstorms and wind at about 8 knots, or around 9 mph. Wind gusts reached as high as 16 knots, or about 18 mph, according to the report. These factors also caused low visibility of about three miles.

Captain Gabriel Cosentino, 55, was at the controls and had worked for Miami Air since March 2008, the report says. He had 7,500 hours of flying time prior to the crash. In an interview with investigators, he said he had flown into NAS Jax between five to ten times.

Cosentino also told investigators, "There was no concern about the weather, as the flight route took them west of it," the report says. 

He added he, "...did not remember the weather report received from the approach control," and called the landing, "pretty smooth," according to the report.

Cosentino has not been involved in any other accidents or incidents with Miami Air and was never disciplined for his prior job performance, according to the report.

First Officer Claudio Marcelo Jose La Franca, 47, and was fairly new to the company. He was hired in October 2018 and began training in January 2019, according to the report. He also had about 7,500 hours of flight experience prior to the crash.

In his interview, he told investigators, "...that there were thunderstorms developing," and he, "...recalled last seeing the airspeed at 100 knots and they were getting close to the end of the runway and not slowing," the report says.

It was his first flight to NAS Jax.

The report also reveals one of the two evacuation door slides failed to inflate as did one 46-person life raft. There were four life rafts on board.

The investigation finds the life raft's inflation hoses were not connected and states a review of the maintenance procedures where the parts were last tested is needed for a risk assessment.

Jun 20, 2022

Serving his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman August Pfluger represents 29 counties in Texas’ 11th congressional district, including the cities of San Angelo, Llano, Brownwood, Granbury, Midland, Odessa, and much of the Permian Basin—the top-oil and gas producing region in the Nation.

A seventh-generation Texan, Congressman Pfluger grew up in San Angelo and graduated from San Angelo Central High School. He followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and answered his Nation’s call to serve—graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy and defending this country in uniform for nearly two decades as a decorated fighter pilot commanding hundreds of airmen as well as serving in the Pentagon and NATO. Pfluger also served as an advisor to President Trump on the National Security Council and is a Colonel in the Air Force Reserves.

In Congress, Representative Pfluger is a strong advocate for national security, promoting our farmers and ranchers, protecting the unborn, energy prosperity, and securing our borders. He is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Committee on Homeland Security, where he serves as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism. He is also a co-leader of the Texas Ag Task Force and a member of the Republican Whip Team.

Congressman Pfluger is a conservative Republican, a proud husband and father, and a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. He and his wife Camille live in San Angelo with their three young daughters, Vivian, Caroline, and Juliana.

Jun 14, 2022

On May 18th I was at the peak of health. Prior to my instructional period at the United Airlines Flight Training Center, I went to the company exercise room and pumped out my usual 30 reps of bench press with my bodyweight, then taught ground school and simulator for 8 hours. Like usual, I wore a mask full-time, although the mask requirement had been lifted for several months.

In my opinion, the Training Center is a great petri dish to spread Covid and other illnesses, since almost all trainees have traveled by plane within the previous week, and could easily be asymptomatic carriers. Listen to The Covid Flight From Hell for more information on the potential for airline travel exposure.

On May 20th I was feeling very tired, and felt like a bad cold was coming on. I was up all night coughing, and at 0230 sent an email to the United Scheduling Department advising them that I would not be able to come to work for my 0700 instructional period. On May 21, I took a Covid test and the results were positive. I immediately quarantined from the rest of my family and contacted my family doctor, who prescribed a 5-day course of Paxlovid. At the end of the five days, I was feeling much better, and tried to resume a normal schedule.

I over-did it! My immune resistance was greatly weakened, and the Covid virus that was circulating in my body caused a resurgence of the illness, much stronger this time. And this time I could not take any medication, since Paxlovid is not approved for break-through Covid cases.

I have finally tested negative, and am really physically weak. I've learned my lesson, and will not overdo any work until I am fully recovered.

May 30, 2022

For today's podcast we are presenting the audio from an outstanding film written and narrated by previous RFT guest Major General John Borling.

May 23, 2022

My name is Gabe Evans, and I’m running for Colorado House District 48. I’m a Christian, Colorado native, husband, father, and own/operate a family farm in southern Weld County. I love my country and state. That’s why, after earning a BA in Government from Patrick Henry College, I served for 12 years in the US Army and Colorado Army National Guard as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot and company commander. I also spent over 10 years as an Arvada police officer, sergeant, and lieutenant. During those careers, I completed a combat deployment in the Middle East, responded to multiple disasters and emergencies in Colorado, and worked closely with federal, state, and local governments. Unfortunately, my ability to fulfill my oaths has been handcuffed by the failed policies of the radical Leftists who control our state. Crime is out of control. The cost of living has skyrocketed. School kids are increasingly subject to political indoctrination while actual academic performance is ignored. That’s why I’m running for State House District 48. I’ll fight to hold criminals accountable, empower law enforcement and citizens to work together to improve community safety, and protect civil liberties. Reducing the cost of living starts with encouraging domestic energy production, agriculture, and empowering the free market. I’ll tirelessly defend those things. Finally, I know that parents (not the government) are the best people to make education and health decisions for their kids. I’ll zealously support families and parental choice. I want to put my 22 years of experience to work for you and make Colorado a safe, affordable place to live, work, and get an education. As your neighbor I promise to listen to your voices and represent your concerns. Will you join my team? Together we can stand up for common sense, the Constitution, and pass on freedom, security, and prosperity to the next generation of Coloradans! 

May 16, 2022

In Demystiflying, Kine Paulsen tells you what you need to do in order to become a pilot by going inside of the minds of more than 200 pilots. Paulsen deciphers the meaning behind even the most basic pilot terms and concepts to encourage everyone to give flying a try. This is pilot 101 for anyone who doesn't speak pilot. The book is for those of us who didn't grow up hanging out at the airport or flying flight simulators.

This book is for you who are considering pursuing your pilot license, who might be curious what it is like to be a pilot or you may have already logged some hours. Or maybe a gift to someone you're close to who has talked about getting into the cockpit, but not sure how to. If you're already a pilot, it should be exciting to reflect on how much you had to learn in order to get to where you are today. This book is not meant to replace any educational tools, but simply to motivate and inspire.

Paulsen did not spend her childhood dreaming of being a pilot, but chance had it she started her pilot journey in her mid-20s. Like many before her, she was overwhelmed by the amount of information, money issues, and scheduling aspect and stopped after only flying for a few hours. When she started years later, she was looking for a book to ease back in the process hoping she could learn some technical terms, procedures and read about other pilots' challenges. She found many great resources, but confused by the jargon she found herself even more intimated to get back at it.

Her personal obsession with understanding the aviation world turned into Demystiflying, an entertaining book to prepare anyone for the first meeting with the cockpit. She was excited to learn that most pilots question whether they are cut out for the challenge. That others also got confused at first. And was surprised by how exciting pre-1940 aviation history books were.

In researching her book, Kine interviewed these pilots who were prior guests of the Ready For Takeoff Podcast:

Patty Wagstaff

Erika Armstrong

Carl Valeri

Kim Campbell

Jason Harris

Pierre-Henri Chuet

Tom Cappeletti

Sharon Preszler

Jessica Cox

Liz Booker

Peter Docker

Randy Brooks

May 11, 2022

Operation Linebacker launched on May 10, 1972. It marked the first bombing of Hanoi in North Vietnam since the end of Operation Rolling Thunder in November 1968. I was a ground spare, waiting to launch in the even that any of the strike F-4 aircraft from Ubon Royal Thai Air Base aborted, either on the ground or in the air.

I sat in my fully armed aircraft and waited for all of the strike aircraft to launch, then conttinued to wait until they had all reached the airborne pre-strike tanker aircraft, then I de-armed and taxied back to the parking revetment. And then I waited for my brothers to return. A few hours later, they all did. ALL of them.

The next day, May 11, 1972, was my turn to fly, as Number Two in Dingus Flight. (Later, strike aircraft carried tree call-signs - Maple, Elm, Walnut, etc. - but at this point in the operation we used call signs from the VCSL - Voice Call Sign List.) 

During the pre-flight briefing, Wing Commander Colonel Carl Miller made an announcement: “Yesterday, we had a close call. One of our aircraft mis-ID’d an aircraft and fired at one of our aircraft. Lucily, he missed, but we can’t have that again. Effective immediately, the Rules of Engagements are changed. All MiGs are silver. You MAY NOT fire at a camouflaged aircraft. If I hear that you fire at a camouflaged airplane I’ll ship your ass home the minute you land. Any Questions?” None of us had any questions. It was pretty clear. MiGs are silver.

On this day, like the previous day, our Wing Commander would lead the strike. The Commander of the 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, my squadron, would be the lead of Dingus Flight. I was put in the Number Two position because I was still a fairly new pilot, an “FNG”, and the Number Two position was a place where the flight lead could keep a close watch on the FNG. Our target would be the Bac Mai Airfield.

We took off as the sun rose, headed north over Laos for our refueling, and proceeded toward our target. My back-seater was First Lieutenant Johnny Wyatt. Johnny was an “old head”: he had been on the strike over Hanoi the previous day, so he knew what to expect. We ingressed the target area in spread formation, approximately 1000 feet between aircraft. I was on Lead’s right. Just as Lead rocked us in to close “fingertip” formation for our bomb run, Johnny screamed at me.

“We got a SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) at four o’clock! Break right!”

I had no idea what a SAM looked like in flight, and I didn’t see it. “I don’t see it.”

“It’s a f@#cing SAM! BREAK RIGHT!”

When easy-going Johnny is screaming, I knew it was serious. I broke hard right. Shortly after that, the SAM exploded right where I would have been.

Listen to the podcast for the rest of the story!

May 9, 2022

From LinkedIn:

4500+ hour professional pilot (instructor / evaluator / maintenance test), educator, and aviation/leadership/organizational management consultant built on a foundation of 21 years as a fighter pilot in the US Air Force (F-15E Strike Eagle).

Highly proficient in the use of basic & advanced information technologies to help plan, brief, execute, and debrief aviation-oriented solutions to even the most challenging aviation business problems.

Most Current experience:
+ Chief Pilot of Part 91 private business flight program
+ Lead Fixed Wing Pilot of Part 135 air ambulance program at Children’s Hospital Colorado
+ Affiliate Faculty at Metro State University of Denver, Aerospace Sciences Department
+ Consultant in air transportation planning, organizational leadership, and process improvement.

Depth and breadth of aviation & non-aviation experience as:
+ Executive leadership/management advisor & coach
+ Team and organizational leader
+ Program & project manager
+ Educator & trainer
+ Standards & compliance evaluator

International experience.
+ Aviation consultant and trainer in over twelve countries in
> Europe
> Africa
> West Asia (Eastern Mediterranean & Arabian Gulf regions).
+ Roles included
> Aviation planning/briefing/executing/debriefing training-team leader
> Multi-national aviation-related cross-functional conference project manager
> National defense consultant.

Lauded for ability to rapidly observe, analyze, and synchronize new information in order generate innovative solutions/improvements through:
+ Well-developed diplomacy and consensus building skills
+ Leveraging of highly effective process review & improvement techniques
+ Optimization of team diversity by focusing individual strengths toward a common purpose
+ Coordination of disparate individual efforts to achieve effective synchronization

Passion for helping organizations enhance individual and team relevance in an increasingly competitive globally-connected environment.

Apr 25, 2022

Directed by Louisa Merino (Managing to Win: The Story of Strat-O-Matic Baseball) and produced by Melissa Hibbard (The Glass House) and Oscar winner Ed Cunningham (Undefeated), the film tells the remarkable story of a World War II fighter pilot from New Jersey who flew the last combat mission over Japan.

On August 14, 1945, fighter pilot Jerry Yellin flew the last combat mission of World War II to attack airfields near Nagoya, Japan, carrying with him instructions to continue the assault unless he heard the word “Utah,” a code signaling the Japanese surrender, which never came. It was Yellin’s 19th mission over Japan.

Yellin returned home to a dark life of survivor’s guilt and daily thoughts of suicide. Married with four sons, he was forced to face his ‘enemy’ once again when his youngest son moved to Japan and married the daughter of a Kamikaze pilot. Through deep agonizing and soul-searching reflection, the two fathers eventually open their hearts and their arms to each other.

By the time of his passing in 2017, Yellin had become an outspoken advocate for veteran mental health and co-founded Operation Warrior Wellness, a division of the David Lynch Foundation that teaches veterans TM to better cope with the effects of PTSD.

Producer Ed Cunningham said: “Jerry’s journey from the depths of post-war depression to his late life transformation, which included him tirelessly advocating for peace and Veteran’s care, will inspire and resonate with everyone who sees this film. Add in the unbelievable twist of his son marrying a Kamikaze pilot’s daughter and the friendship the two fathers developed late in their lives, and this is a story we felt had to be shared.”

The movie is being released on home ent platforms this year.

Apr 18, 2022

There were more than 400 people on board the Boeing 747-400 that unexpectedly rolled into a left bank in Russian airspace over the Bering Sea, forcing pilots to maneuver to keep the airplane from rolling over and diving into the ocean.

 

The senior captain on that airplane was John Hanson, who helped maintain control of the plane and fly it while also trying to determine what was wrong with the plane and how to make adjustments.

Landing in Russia would not be ideal, and the decision was made to change course to Alaska.

Hanson, a Northwest Airlines captain, was recently honored for helping to prevent this potentially catastrophic aircraft accident and saving hundreds of lives Oct. 9, 2002. He was presented with the Superior Airmanship Award by the Air Line Pilots Association, International during the association's annual Air Safety Forum.

 

Although the situation above the Bering Sea that day could have been a scene out of an action-packed movie, the difference with the actual event was that there was no super hero -- there was teamwork, Hanson said.

"Teamwork got us through this thing," Hanson said. "I'll take compliments for the landing, but I'm more proud of being a team leader."

Hanson has flown for Northwest Airlines for 35 years and during that time has never experienced a situation in the air that has been so dramatic.

"That malfunction -- the manufacturer said it could never happen," Hanson said. "We had no procedure to follow."

What the crew found out later was that a mechanical malfunction resulting from equipment blowing apart caused the problems.

"Experts in structures have since analyzed the parts -- they can't find the cause," Hanson said. "Obviously, it blew apart."

There is no suspicion of foul play, Hanson said, but was rather a "freak deal."

Working with Hanson during the ordeal was another captain and two co-captains -- the plane had two sets of pilots since the flight from Detroit to Tokyo was so long. Hanson credits his co-captain with a quick recovery "that probably saved the plane."

Hanson was reading in his bunk in a private room for the pilots when the malfunction occurred.

"We were in smooth air and suddenly there was a violent shift," he said.

There were no windows in the room. Hanson quickly put his uniform on to go assess the situation. When he arrived in the cockpit, the pilots were fighting to control the plane, he said.

The cockpit operating manual was open and the pilots were desperately trying to find information on the problem.

 

Hanson and his co-pilot starting going through the manual as well but they could find no information that pertained to what was happening. An emergency situation was declared and the decision was made to head back to Anchorage.

Because of their location, communication with the ground was difficult and contact was made through San Francisco to Minneapolis using what Hanson calls the "old fashioned type of radio." A conference call was held to discuss the problem.

"We needed to work as a team and put all our heads together," he said.

As senior captain, Hanson decided he should be the pilot who landed the plane, and after discussion with the other pilots he took over the controls. The pilots actually had to take turns handling the plane since managing the controls required strength and stamina because of the malfunction.

To counteract the highly technical problem, pilots manually applied pressure to a foot pedal. At this point, the pilots were still not sure about the exact nature of the mechanical failure.

"I would have given $1,000 for a rear view mirror to have just looked at the tail," Hanson said.

A subsequent National Transportation Safety Board investigation revealed that the lower rudder failed in left hard over position at 17 degrees of travel, which was full deflection for their airspeed in cruise flight. It remained fully deflected for the rest of the flight.

 

The decision was made to fly at a lower altitude where the air is not as thin, Hanson said, and they did not have to operate as "close to the edge." They went down to 28,000 feet but could not go lower because of the mountains.

 

Early in the crisis it was decided to make the flight attendants part of the team, and information was shared regularly with them. They were told by the pilots that being able to land safely was in question, and once the plane was landed it might not be able to stay on the ground because of the problem.

The lead flight attendant received the information about the problem so plans could be made for an emergency landing.

Hanson then brought the plane down to 14,000 feet over Cook Inlet, where there was communication with Anchorage about the emergency landing. Hanson said they were low enough for thick air but high enough to recover if necessary.

"Since we didn't know the nature of the problem, we wanted to slow down and extend the flaps very gradually," he said. "We all decided on this plan. We picked the inlet over land to have more room for recovery instead of being over the mountains."

He and the other pilots had talked extensively about which runway to use based on what was happening with the plane, the wind and other factors.

"All the pilots talked about the advantages and disadvantages, he said.

During the landing, Hanson said the plane came in just a little bit faster than normal. He told the flight attendants it would be a "firm" landing. The pilots were also nervous the rudder would give bad directions to the plane's nose wheel.

"As it turned out, it was a fairly smooth landing," he said.

The flight attendants were told people could remain seated -- there was no need to evacuate. Since people on the ground had seen that the wheels and brakes "had been bright red" the plane waited in a remote spot to cool down.

 

The only awkward moment on the ground was that customs was not prepared to handle 418 people coming in so it took awhile to get everyone off the plane, Hanson said.

After leaving the plane, Hanson went to look at the rudder where the problem had occurred.

"We looked up at this huge rudder hard over to the left and we just shook our heads -- wow, what an evening," Hanson said.

Another 747-400 was sent to Anchorage to transport passengers to Tokyo the next day, and though the pilots were told they did not have to go up again, all of them did.

"Every single passenger also got on," Hanson said.

The pilots involved with the incident have since made a training video that is being used for crews. It demonstrates that not all emergencies are in the book.

Pilots at this level through their years of experience are a valuable source of information, he said, and involving people from the first moment allows them to be able to help.

The Hollywood version of this story would have one pilot acting as the hero, but "in real life, heroes are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances," Hanson said.

Hanson has been flying since he was in his teens, and before he had even graduated college he was hired as a commercial pilot. Despite lucrative offers from airlines, he balanced college and eventually graduate work while flying.

Hanson turns 56 this month and regulations require he retire when he is 60. When he retires as a commercial pilot, Hanson said he will continue flying as a hobby, particularly antique airplanes.

Hanson said a truly successful career involves no "emergency" moments such as he had one year ago. Exciting moments for him, he said, are beautiful sunsets viewed from the plane, and traveling over the Canadian Rockies and Alaskan Wilderness.

 

Apr 4, 2022

3 March 1991, UA585, a 737-200Adv crashed on approach to Colorado Springs. The aircraft departed from controlled flight approximately 1,000 feet above the ground and struck an open field. After a 21-month investigation, the Board issued a report on the crash in December 1992. In that report, the NTSB said it “could not identify conclusive evidence to explain the loss of the aircraft”, but indicated that the two most likely explanations were a malfunction of the airplane’s directional control system or an encounter with an unusually severe atmospheric disturbance.

8 Sep 1994, US427, a 737-300 was approaching Pittsburgh Runway 28R when ATC reported traffic in the area, which was confirmed in sight by the First Officer. At that moment the aircraft was levelling of at 6000ft (speed 190kts) and rolling out of a 15deg left turn (roll rate 2deg/sec) with flaps at 1, the gear still retracted and autopilot and auto-throttle systems engaged. The aircraft then suddenly entered the wake vortex of a Delta Airlines Boeing 727 that preceded it by approx. 69 seconds (4,2mls). Over the next 3 seconds the aircraft rolled left to approx. 18deg of bank. The autopilot attempted to initiate a roll back to the right as the aircraft went in and out of a wake vortex core, resulting in two loud "thumps". The First Officer then manually overrode the autopilot without disengaging it by putting in a large right-wheel command at a rate of 150deg/sec. The airplane started rolling back to the right at an acceleration that peaked 36deg/sec, but the aircraft never reached a wings level attitude. At 19.03:01 the aircraft's heading slewed suddenly and dramatically to the left (full left rudder deflection). Within a second of the yaw onset the roll attitude suddenly began to increase to the left, reaching 30deg. The aircraft pitched down, continuing to roll through 55deg left bank. At 19.03:07 the pitch attitude approached -20deg, the left bank increased to 70deg and the descent rate reached 3600f/min. At this point, the aircraft stalled. Left roll and yaw continued, and the aircraft rolled through inverted flight as the nose reached 90deg down, approx. 3600ft above the ground. The 737 continued to roll, but the nose began to rise. At 2000ft above the ground the aircraft's attitude passed 40deg nose low and 15deg left bank. The left roll hesitated briefly, but continued and the nose again dropped. The plane descended fast and impacted the ground nose first at 261kts in an 80deg nose down, 60deg left bank attitude and with significant sideslip. All 132 on board were killed.

More information

From 737 Systems Website:

The main rudder PCU contains a Force Fight Monitor (FFM) that detects opposing pressure (force fight) between A and B actuators. This may occur if either system A or B input is jammed or disconnected. The FFM output is used to automatically turn on the Standby Hydraulic pump, open the standby rudder shutoff valve to pressurize the standby rudder PCU, and illuminate the STBY RUD ON, Master Caution, and Flight Control (FLT CONT) lights.
The standby rudder PCU is powered by the standby hydraulic system. The standby hydraulic system is provided as a backup if system A and/or B pressure is lost. With the standby PCU powered the pilot retains adequate rudder control capability. It can be operated manually through the FLT CONTROL switches or automatically. (Refer to Chapter 13, Hydraulics, Standby Hydraulic System)
An amber STBY RUD ON light illuminates when the standby rudder hydraulic system is pressurized. The standby rudder system can be pressurized with either Flight Control switch, automatically during takeoff or landing (Refer to Chapter 13, Hydraulics, Standby Hydraulic System) or automatically by the Force Fight Monitor. The STBY RUD ON light illumination activates Master Caution and Flight Control warning lights on the Systems Annunciation Panel.

Mar 29, 2022

On Tuesday, March 29, 2022, communities around the U.S. will pay tribute to Vietnam veterans and their families on National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

U.S. involvement in Vietnam started slowly with an initial deployment of advisers in the early 1950s, grew incrementally through the early 1960s and expanded with the deployment of full combat units in July 1965. The last U.S. personnel were evacuated from Vietnam in April 1975.

Approximately 9 million Americans served during the Vietnam era (Nov. 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975). More than 6 million are still alive.

The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 established March 29 as the day to pause and commemorate, remember, recognize and honor Vietnam Veterans, former Prisoners of War, those listed as Missing in Action and their families.

March 29 was chosen for several reasons. It was on this date 49 years ago that the last combat troops departed Vietnam. It was also on this day, nearly half a century ago, that Hanoi freed the remaining prisoners of war the Republic of Vietnam was willing to acknowledge.https://39238b20c00c2e3c88c8778205f8a4e8.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

As part of the national observance, the Vietnam War Commemoration is interviewing Vietnam Veterans and their families and archiving these oral history interviews on the commemoration website and via the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. To learn more about this program visit www.vietnamwar50th.com or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VietnamWar50th.

Our previous Vietnam veteran guests:

Steve Ritchie

Lee Ellis

Doc Weaver

Bill Driscoll

Steven Bennett

Larry Freeland

Ralph Wetterhahn

Manny Montes

Vic Vizcarra

John Borling

Charlie Plumb

Robert Shumaker

Smitty Harris

Randy Larsen

John Morrissey

Ric Hunter

Charles Doryland

Jim Badger

George Hardy

Robin Olds

Russ Goodenough

Don Mrosla

Ed Cobleigh

Dave Scheiding

Don Shepperd

Patrick Brady

John Fairfield

Lynn Damron

Lawrence Chambers

Bob Gilliland

Brian Settles

Mark Berent

Dick Jonas

Merrill McPeak

John Swanson

Dale Stovall

Walt Fricke

Bill Straw

Son Tay Raiders

Lance Sijan

Mar 25, 2022

Medal of Honor Citation:

While on a flight over North Vietnam, Capt. Sijan ejected from his disabled aircraft and successfully evaded capture for more than six weeks. During this time, he was seriously injured and suffered from shock and extreme weight loss due to lack of food. After being captured by North Vietnamese soldiers, Capt. Sijan was taken to a holding point for subsequent transfer to a prisoner-of-war camp. In his emaciated and crippled condition, he overpowered one of his guards and crawled into the jungle, only to be recaptured after several hours. He was then transferred to another prison camp where he was kept in solitary confinement and interrogated at length. During interrogation, he was severely tortured; however, he did not divulge any information to his captors. Capt. Sijan lapsed into delirium and was placed in the care of another prisoner. During his intermittent periods of consciousness until his death, he never complained of his physical condition and, on several occasions, spoke of future escape attempts. Capt. Sijan's extraordinary heroism and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.

From Into the Mouth of the Cat: The Story of Lance Sijan, Hero of Vietnam:

On the night of November 9, 1967, Sijan was ejected from his crippled fighter-bomber over the steep mountains of Laos. Although critically injured and virtually without supplies, he evaded capture in savage terrain for six weeks. Finally caught and placed in a holding camp, he overpowered his guards and escaped, only to be captured again. He resisted his interrogators to the end, and he died two weeks later in Hanoi. His courage was an inspiration to other American prisoners of war, and he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

From Leading With Honor:

Chapter 9 page 117-118

Before my deployment to Southeast Asia, Air Force 1st Lt Lance

Sijan and I had been dormmates and golfing buddies. At Son Tay camp,

I learned that his plane had gone down one day after mine. Badly

injured, he survived in the jungles of Laos for 46 days before being

captured. His remarkable story was not a surprise. Throughout our

training he was always keen about his professional development. Lance

stood out in survival school because he appeared to be the most highly

motivated learner, both in the classroom and on the mountain trek.

As Ron Mastin (1st Lt USAF) flashed Lance’s painful story across the

camp to our building, I put the pieces together. I remembered our first

winter of captivity, when my cellmates and I had listened helplessly

as someone in a cell down the hall deliriously cried out for help. I summoned

the officer in charge, and a few minutes later Fat in the Fire

opened the peephole in our door. “Please, will you help this man?”

I pleaded. With a serious look on his face he replied, “He has bad head

injury. Been in jungle too long. Has one foot in grave.” He slammed the

peephole shut and left.

Of course, in the isolated cells of Thunderbird, we had no way of

knowing who was dying. Two years later, I realized that we had been

audible witnesses to Lance’s last valiant struggle to survive. After the

war, we learned more details of Lance’s heroic actions to evade, escape,

and endure. His courageous efforts to resist, survive, escape, and return

with honor were so notable that he was awarded the Congressional

Medal of Honor (posthumously). One of the Air Force’s most prestigious

annual awards for leadership is named the Sijan Award.

Mar 21, 2022

Jennifer-Ruth Green continues to serve her fellow citizens in the United States Air Force Air Reserve Component and is now running to represent her fellow Hoosiers in Congress.

A battle-proven leader, a trailblazer, and a selfless servant, Jennifer-Ruth Green is a candidate for Indiana’s First Congressional District. Her continued experience of over twenty years of military service and her non-profit work throughout Northwest Indiana has prepared her to fight on behalf of the Region in Washington, D.C.

Born to Vivian and Paul R. Green Jr., Jennifer-Ruth “Romper” Green is the youngest of six children.  At eighteen years old, Jennifer-Ruth followed in her father and grandfather’s footsteps and joined the United States Air Force.

After graduating from the USAF Academy in 2005, Jennifer-Ruth began her Air Force career in aviation and then transitioned to serve as a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. She deployed to Baghdad in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM where she served as a mission commander for counterintelligence activities. After her deployment, Jennifer-Ruth assumed the role of Deputy Chief for a nuclear command post.

After twelve years of full-time military service, Jennifer-Ruth transitioned to the US Air Force Reserve Component and chose to make Indiana home.  Currently, she serves as the Chief Information Officer/Commander, 122d Communications Flight, Indiana Air National Guard. She is the first African-American, or Asian, woman selected to serve in this position in the history of the Fighter Wing.

 

 

Locally, Jennifer-Ruth serves her community in Northwest Indiana as an educator, and is the founder of MissionAero Pipeline, a non-profit reaching at-risk youth that seeks to transform lives, inspire STEM careers, and set students, as young as 5th grade through college, on a path of learning in the aerospace industry.

Jennifer-Ruth has been a trailblazer throughout her career. While attending the USAF Academy, Jennifer-Ruth was inspired by Lt. Col. Lee Archer, USAF, an original Tuskegee Airmen, and earned her pilot’s license. Now as a civilian, Jennifer-Ruth is a Certified Flight Instructor, commercial pilot, and one of fewer than 150 African-American professional female pilots in the US.

 

 

Jennifer-Ruth earned a B.S. in Asian Area Studies from the United States Air Force Academy, an M.Min. from Golden State Baptist College, and a B.S. in Aeronautics from Liberty University. She is currently enrolled in Air War College, studying strategic leadership across military operations, in joint, interagency, & multinational environments. She is a graduate of Air Command & Staff College. She is a regular speaker at aerospace/STEM events, loves traveling, and has visited all seven continents. Jennifer-Ruth lives in Crown Point, Indiana, and is a proud aunt to fifteen nieces and nephews.

Mar 14, 2022

Al Malmberg is a 50-year radio veteran who currently hosts The World of Aviation radio program.

(AM-1280-The Patriot)  Other than this one hour a week show, Malmberg is enjoying retirement and doing lots of flying off a private strip in Colorado.  He enjoys MCing The Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame Banquet each year in the Twin Cities.

Al was on the air for 17 years on WCCO radio in the Twin Cities.  Concurrently, Malmberg was the regular fill-in host on "Overnight America" on the CBS Radio Network. 

He also hosted the nationally syndicated Radio program, The Al Malmberg Show on The Business Radio Network.

Malmberg has been married to his wife, Kathy for 50-years. They have two sons and six grandchildren.

Mar 7, 2022

Oshkosh — It was a homecoming of sorts for Caroline Jensen on Thursday. When she arrived at EAA AirVenture, it was with a bang.

Actually, it was a low rumble followed by a deafening screech that prompted spectators to stick fingers in their ears as Jensen and her five teammates soared through the skies over Oshkosh to prepare for their performances this weekend.

The Air Force major, fighter pilot and Wisconsin native is the third woman and the first mother to fly in the Air Force Thunderbirds flight demonstration team.

"For me, this is a dream come true — who wouldn't want to perform at Oshkosh? It's kind of like playing at Carnegie Hall," Jensen, 37, said in an interview outside her No. 3 plane shortly after arriving at Wittman Regional Airport.

Born in New Richmond, Jensen grew up in River Falls and got hooked on flight when she saw a plane flying in the clouds in a TV movie at the age of 5. She watched the Thunderbirds perform in Eau Claire when she was 13, sparking her dreams of one day becoming an Air Force fighter pilot.

She didn't get her first flight until she was 15 — in a single-engine Cessna 172. Her second and third flights were to and from the Air Force Academy for swim camp and her fourth was to basic training after she had been accepted as a cadet.

The daughter of a Marine helicopter pilot in Vietnam, she graduated from the Air Force Academy with a bachelor's degree in English and spent 10 years on active duty and the past five years as a reservist. She's the first female reserve officer to fly with the Thunderbirds

Before joining the famous flight demonstration team, she was a T-38 instructor and assistant flight commander for Air Force Reserve Command's 340th Flying Training Group at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.

She met her husband in glider school while they were at the Air Force Academy. He's now a commercial airline pilot and stays home in Las Vegas with their 5-year-old son while Jensen is on the road 220 days a year. With both parents pilots, it's no surprise their son has a propeller next to his bed, a Braniff Airlines poster on his wall and a bookcase in the shape of a plane tail.

When she finishes this season in the Thunderbirds, she'll head to Washington, D.C., to be a congressional liaison for the Air Force.

One reason there are so few female Thunderbird demonstration pilots is because only 7% of America's fighter pilot forces are female, Jensen said.

"To be on the team, you have to be at the right place in your career with the right set of skills, a family who's supportive and the desire to do it. So there's a lot of things that have to happen for any pilot who wants to be part of the team," she said.

She has spent quite a bit of time in the cockpit — it is, after all, her office — with 3,100 hours as an Air Force pilot, including 200 hours of combat in F-16s in Iraq.

Jensen was at Disneyland with her family, standing in Cinderella's castle, when her cellphone rang in 2012. On the line were all 12 officers from the Thunderbird team calling to congratulate her. Most pilots spend two years in the Thunderbirds but because the military's flight demonstration teams were grounded last year due to sequestration, the entire team stayed together for an additional year.

She flies the No. 3 plane on the right side of the diamond, sometimes as close as 18 inches from the lead plane at speeds up to 450 knots. It's not for the faint of heart. In some of the maneuvers, Thunderbird pilots feel as much as 9 Gs on their bodies and fly as low as 300 feet from the ground.

This weekend AirVenture air show spectators will see Jensen and the rest of the Thunderbirds perform loops and rolls as they zoom as low as 500 feet over the crowd in their white F-16s adorned with red and blue stars and stripes. Her favorite maneuver is when the four planes in the diamond split off from each other in four directions.

So is it nerve-wracking or comfortable flying in such tight formation?

"It's both," she said, adding that the pilots practice their show far away from each other and gradually move closer.

"It's all very controlled. I know exactly what (the lead pilot) is going to do, he knows exactly what we're going to do. There are commands we go through and we've literally done them hundreds of times," she said. "It's very deliberate, very rehearsed and very safe."

This is the first visit by the full Air Force Thunderbird flight demonstration team to EAA AirVenture and because the "aerobatic box" — the air space above the grounds — is bigger than for other air show performers, convention organizers are moving spectators 150 feet back from the normal flight line. Also, residents and businesses inside the aerobatic box must leave for a few hours while the team performs.

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