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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: Category: Aviation
May 22, 2023

During the Vietnam War, with two years of college, Tom Speer was facing the draft. Out of curiosity, he visited a Marine recruiter and saw a photo of an F-4 and was hooked. The recruiter sent him to take numerous tests - which he aced - and he signed up to be a Marine Aviation Cadet. He had a bit of incentive when he received his draft notice!

 

Tom attended Navy/Marine flight training and was selected to fly jets. He was dogged in his pursuit of flying the F-4, turning down other jet offers until he prevailed. After F-4 training he was sent to Chu Lai, South Vietnam for his combat tour.

 

Returning from Vietnam he finished college and flew F-8s in the Marine Reserves, retiring as a Colonel. At the same time, he flew for Eastern, and honored the strike.

 

Following Eastern, he was hired by United Airlines, and was selected to manage the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) project, flying 747s at high altitude for NASA scientific research.

 

Tom now flight instructs on Beech 1900 aircraft.

May 5, 2023

Captured by Love shares the real love stories of 20 Vietnam War POWs. Some had wives who started a movement that changed American foreign policy. Others came home and had to start over, while five single men met the loves of their lives. Despite their unique differences, all these couples have been happily married 40 to 65 years.

You’ll be swept up into some extraordinary tales such as:

• Carole boldly gave her husband’s POW-MIA bracelet to John Wayne―he wore it for years!
• Pan Am stewardess Suzy wore a bracelet for POW Bill Bailey, whom she did not know. But she prayed for him daily, and miraculously met and married him when he came home.
• After eight years in prison, one POW said to his wife in his first phone call upon his release, “Hi Jane. It’s Tarzan.” You will laugh and cry when you learn why.

Former POW Lee Ellis and love expert Greg Godek take you on a dramatic journey of faithfulness, passion, excitement, resilience, and practical love lessons from these couples.

Apr 4, 2023

Sully Sullenberger: "I'm very glad that the Federal Aviation Administration has ensured the safety of the traveling public by wisely denying the waiver request by Republic Airways to cut in half the pilot experience requirement.

U.S. airlines have attained an extraordinarily good safety record, with no fatal crashes in more than 13 and a half years."

Sorry, Sully, not true. An Atlas Air B767 flying for Amazon crashed on Feb 23, 2019, killing the three crew members. The first officer, who caused the crash, had 5073 flying hours. He had falsified his flying history and lied about failing seven check rides.

The 2009 Colgan Air crash that was the impetus for the 1500 hour rule was caused by a captain with a history of three proficiency check failures at Colgan.

In July 2017 Air Canada Flight 759 had two pilots with more than 1500 hours each. They missed crashing into several aircraft on a taxiway, clearing the closest plane by 14 feet. If they had crashed, the death toll would have eclipsed the Teneriffe crash. The crash was averted by a United Airlines pilot telling them they were lined up on a taxiway.

In December, B777 UA1722 took off from the Kahului Airport at 14:49 local time, where it was met with stormy conditions. Looking at data provided by FlightRadar24.com, the aircraft reached 2,200 ft approximately a minute after departing. However, it quickly began descending just north of the island's Baldwin Beach Park. At 14:50, the calibrated altitude of the aircraft was just around 775 ft as the aircraft dropped over the waters along the coast of Maui.

From CNN Business:

Five recent near-collisions on US runways, including one more this week in Boston, have prompted federal safety investigators to open multiple inquiries and a sweeping review.

Boston

Air traffic controllers stopped JetBlue flight from running into a departing private jet as it was coming in to land on the evening of February 27 night in Boston. The FAA is investigating the incident.

The two planes involved in the apparent close call at Boston Logan International Airport came within 565 feet (172 meters) of colliding, according to Flightradar24's preliminary review of its data.

According to a preliminary review, the pilot of a Learjet 60 took off without clearance while JetBlue Flight 206 was preparing to land on an intersecting runway," the FAA said in a statement.

"JetBlue 206, go around," said the controller in Boston Logan's tower, according to recordings archived by LiveATC.net. The FAA says its air traffic controller told the crew of the Learjet to "line up and wait" on Runway 9 as the JetBlue Embraer 190 approached the intersecting Runway 4 Right.

"The Learjet pilot read back the instructions clearly but began a takeoff roll instead," the FAA said in a statement. "The pilot of the JetBlue aircraft took evasive action and initiated a climb-out as the Learjet crossed the intersection."

Burbank

Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board said that a crew of a landing Mesa Airlines CRJ900 "executed a pilot-initiated go-around" as a SkyWest Embraer E175 was taking off from the same runway. A go-around is a routine measure to abort a landing on the approach. The NTSB says neither airplane was damaged and nobody on board was hurt.

LiveATC.net recordings from the time of the incident chronicle confusion over whether the SkyWest flight was off the runway at Bob Hope Burbank Airport in California. It's unclear how close the two planes came to a collision.

"Is he off the runway yet?" asked one unidentified voice. "We're going around," responded the crew of the Mesa flight.

"The Mesa pilot discontinued the landing and initiated a climb out," said a FAA statement, which is also investigating the incident.

"Meanwhile, the SkyWest aircraft continued with its departure, which prompted an automated alert to sound on the flight deck of the Mesa aircraft," the FAA said. The controller instructed the Mesa crew to turn to a course that took it away from the other aircraft."

Austin

Southwest passenger jet and a FedEx cargo plane came as close as 100 feet from colliding on February 5 at the main airport in Texas' capital, and it was a pilot -- not air traffic controllers -- who averted disaster, a top federal investigator says.

Controllers at Austin's airport had cleared the arriving FedEx Boeing 767 and a departing Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jet to use the same runway, and the FedEx crew "realized that they were overflying the Southwest plane," Jennifer Homendy, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told CNN.

The FedEx pilot told the Southwest crew to abort taking off, she said. The FedEx plane, meanwhile, climbed as its crew aborted their landing to help avoid a collision, the FAA said.

Honolulu

On January 23, there was an incident at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport involving a United Airlines 777 jet and a smaller, single-engine cargo plane at the Hawaii airport.

The United jet improperly crossed a runway, while the cargo aircraft was landing, the FAA said. At the closest point, the aircraft were separated by 1,170 feet.

The cargo aircraft involved in the incident is a smaller Cessna 206 turboprop operated by Kamaka Air, which ferries goods between the Hawaiian islands. The airline did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NTSB announced the investigation the day after Billy Nolen, the acting FAA administrator, directed his agency in a memo to "mine the data to see whether there are other incidents that resemble ones we have seen in recent weeks."

New York - JFK

On January 13, a close call between an American Airlines and Delta Air Lines flights sparked alarm.

The crew of a Delta Boeing 737 aborted its takeoff, ultimately stopping within 1,000 feet of the taxiing AA's Boeing 777, the FAA said. No one was hurt in the incident, which took place around on a Friday evening.

Air traffic controllers had "noticed another aircraft crossing the runway in front of the departing jetliner," the FAA said in a statement. "According to a preliminary analysis, Delta Air Lines Flight 1943 stopped its takeoff roll approximately 1,000 feet before reaching the point where American Airlines Flight 106, a Boeing 777, had crossed from an adjacent taxiway."

According to Delta, its flight -- a 737-900 bound for Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic -- had 145 customers and six crew members on board.

Audio recordings detail swift action by an air traffic controller kept the airplanes from colliding as they drew closer.

"S--t!" exclaimed the controller from the tower of John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday night. "Delta 1943 cancel takeoff clearance!"

All of these crashed were averted by - predominantly - devine intervention. Sully's successful outcome was clearly the result of devine intervention that had the Hudson River devoid of the normal plethora of ferries and boats. The aircraft did not suddenly sink even though the Ditching Switch was not used.

Here is another opinion about the 1500 hour rule.

Mar 8, 2023

From Air Line Pilots Association:

In September 2016, Capt. David Whitson (United) was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a condition in which white blood cells that manage the body’s immune system form abnormally. The then B-787 first officer was treated at the Texas Oncology–Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas, Tex., where he spent an initial 30 days undergoing tests and chemotherapy.

“I had a mutation called FLT3 that put me at high risk for not reaching remission and also in a high-incidence category for relapse even if remission was achieved,” he recalled, adding, “My best shot was to have a bone marrow transplant, also called a stem cell transplant. Without it, I had a 5 percent chance of survival.”

Whitson was released from the hospital for a brief break. During this period, doctors conducted a bone marrow biopsy and discovered that the pilot’s cancer was in remission, a condition necessary to achieve before a bone marrow transplant could be conducted. Whitson and his doctors quickly found a donor.

“It was hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that a complete stranger would be willing to give me bone marrow stem cells and potentially save my life,” he acknowledged. Whitson endured additional rounds of chemotherapy and a full-body radiation scan to ensure his body was ready and on Dec. 21, 2016, received the transplant. Within several days, his new immune system was up and running.

Thirteen days after the transplant, Whitson was released from the hospital. He noted that prior to the transfusion of stem cells his blood type was B+, but today it’s O-. In addition, the DNA in his blood is different from that in his body.

Whitson encourages everyone to donate blood. “I needed more than a dozen blood and platelet transfusions during my treatments,” he said. The United pilot also urges those interested to join the national bone marrow registry at bethematch.org or www.dkms.org. “There’s a lack of diversity within the registry, and minorities are greatly needed,” he shared.

“Every day is a gift,” Whitson remarked, who credits ALPA’s Aeromedical Office for advising him and helping him jump through the necessary hoops to acquire his special issuance medical certificate and return to the cockpit. He also gave a nod to his medical benefits, noting, “I was on long-term disability for more than two years, and my medical insurance was excellent. Thank you, ALPA!”

Jan 14, 2023
  • I'd like to tell you about a great new podcast called Air Traffic Out Of Control.
  • The show brings you curated ATC recordings that are funny, interesting and downright unbelievable.
  • The show publishes a full episode every Wednesday and short 'fly by' episodes throughout the week.
  • Check out Air Traffic Out Of Control wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts

As we start a new year, I'm reviewing my goals for 2023.

Goals should be SMART:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant

Time-bound

My goals for 2023:

Increase podcast frequency

Shop out script

Launch speaking business. Mentors:

Hurler Weaver

Jason Harris

Waldo Waldman

Lee Ellis

Nicole Malachowski

Jessica Cox

Dave Carey

KC Campbell

Complete novel Guns Away

Complete Crash and Learn

Write memoir

TEDx talk

 

 

 

 

Dec 23, 2022

The cornerstone of courage is optimism.

In 1992, at the end of the Cold War, Steven Myers became the first American since Charles Lindbergh in 1931, to pilot an aircraft into the Russian Kamchatka peninsula. There he formed one of the first post-Soviet era joint ventures - a pioneering, expansive, business enterprise with the potential to transform the lives of the people of the Russian Far East.

Steve's remarkable true story recounts the dramatic adventure, courageous entrepreneurship, and intrigue in the creation of a breakthrough business in a remote corner of the world, a wonderous place few people have been to or know anything about.

The underlying theme of the story is the clash of two vastly different cultures: Americans, with go-for-broke, entrepreneurial “can do” attitudes, and Russians with a long, painful history of constraining rules, risk aversion, and fear.

After years of hard work, just as the enterprise is about to achieve breakthrough success, an unexpected warning by US government agents alerts Myers that his life is in danger if he continues with his business activities in Russia. How he reacts, and what he does next, provides a gripping, dramatic climax to the story.

A timeless exploration of human conflict, determination, and power, this audiobook will inspire adventurers, aviators, entrepreneurs, business leaders, politicians, and diplomats to push past their fears and take command of their dreams. After all, “the cornerstone of courage is optimism”.

Steve's website is www.stevenmyers.com.

His article describes being the oldest Captain upgrade paired with the youngest First Officer on the B777.

An article Steve recently wrote for Fear of Landing.

Nov 19, 2022

Dave Carey was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in 1942. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1960, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on June 4, 1964. Carey next attended flight training at NAS Pensacola, Florida, and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1966. After completing A-4 Skyhawk Replacement Air Group training he served as an A-4 pilot with VA-163 at NAS Lemoore, California, and deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CVA-34) from 1966 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on August 31, 1967. After spending 2,022 days in captivity, LCDR Carey was released during Operation Homecoming on March 14, 1973. He then returned to flying status and served as Operations Officer, Maintenance Officer, and Safety Officer with VF-126 at NAS Miramar, California, from 1974 to 1979, followed by service as Commanding Officer of Fleet Composite Squadron 7 from 1979 to 1981. His next assignment was as Commanding Officer of VF-126 at NAS Miramar from July 1982 to 1984, and then as Commanding Officer of the Naval Amphibious School, Director of the Navy's Leadership and Management Effectiveness Program, and Lead Facilitator in the Leadership and Management Seminar for Prospective Commanding and Executive Officers at Coronado, California, from 1984 until his retirement from the Navy on January 1, 1986. Since his retirement from the Navy, Dave has been a professional speaker, consultant, and trainer. He is the author of the book "The Ways We Choose, Lessons for Life from a POW's Experience".

Nov 7, 2022

As a Captain, John F. Barton Jr. has been a Captain on the Boeing 767-300/757 and 737 Aircraft. He taught as an instructor the Boeing 777 aircraft, at the United Airlines Training Center from 1997 till 1999, He began his flying with a Major International Airline as a Boeing 727 first and second officer. His most recent position is Captain on the new Boeing 737-900 aircraft flying out of San Francisco.

Captain John F. Barton Jr. was chosen by his airline Flight Operations to “Captain” the historic chartered flight (prior to taking office) of President Barack Obama and family on January 1, 2009 from Honolulu international airport to Chicago International. Only the Obama family, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and daughter, Secret Service, and limited press were on the flight. Captain John F. Barton Jr. has dedicated his life to the political fight for American jobs in the aviation sector, and has worked with the DOJ, Congress, and Senate to achieve these goals.

In 2012, Captain John F. Barton Jr. helped work the timeline in Washington, D.C. with Senators, and Congressional representatives, and committees on the Hill to expedite negotiations under the RLA. He developed a plan with Captain Heide Oberndorf to accomplish this task. They then worked closely with Patton-Boggs to accomplish this task; specifically Jon Yarowsky (Former Senior policy Advisor to President Bill Clinton); navigating the cumbersome RLA for collective bargaining. Together through networking they helped secure a contract in less than eight months through out of the box thinking and utilization of Congress.

Nov 2, 2022

Roger Johnson is a Captain with a major airline and a former Fighter Pilot in the USAF. He has been flying for 48 years and has flown throughout the world.

He is the second generation of being trained and operating in the civilian, military, and airline realms of aviation with his father giving him his initial flight instruction when he was 15 years old. As a summer job while in college he towed banners up and down the South Jersey Beaches in a Super Cub and then entered the USAF after graduating from college. He went on to fly F-4s and F-16s for 14 years. Concurrently, while flying F-16s in the Air National Guard, Roger began flying for the airlines in early 1988. He was hired as a Flight Engineer on the venerable B-727 and then, after a year, went to the back of the DC-10. In !993 he was trained as a First Officer on the MD-11 and based in Anchorage, AK. After flying the MD11/10 for 16 years, as both a F/O and Captain, he was qualified as a Captain on the B-777 in 2009. In 2017 he decided to checkout in the B-767, whereupon he also flew the B-757. As of this writing he continues to fly the B-767 on domestic US routes of intra-Europe.

Roger has been an instructor in the F-4 RTU, training new recruits in the aircraft and then went on to instruct in the prestigious USAF F-4 Fighter Weapons School. He also was a longtime instructor in his airline, 23 years, training crews on both the MD-11/10 and B-777. He was a FAA Designee on the MD-11 and a Standards Check Airmen on the B-777.

Though his professional life has been rewarding, his personal life has reads like a Shakespearian tragedy. He has been married and divorced a few times, has five grown children, though one of them past away at 17 months years old due to an automobile accident.

His hobbies include, SCUBA diving, snow skiing, and working out in the gym.

He has a strong, non-judgmental or self righteous Christian Faith.

Finally, both of his sons, are pilots; His oldest flying F-18s in the Marines and his youngest working on his ratings in the civilian pipeline.

He has spoken on several podcast/radio interviews and is available for speaking engagements.

Oct 27, 2022

Operation Linebacker, the code name for the new interdiction campaign, would have four objectives: to isolate North Vietnam from its sources of supply by destroying railroad bridges and rolling stock in and around Hanoi and north-eastwards toward the Chinese frontier; the targeting of primary storage areas and marshalling yards; to destroy storage and transshipment points and to eliminate (or at least damage) the North's air defense system. With nearly 85 percent of North Vietnam's imports (which arrived by sea) blocked by Pocket Money, the administration and the Pentagon believed that this would cut its final lines of communication with its socialist allies. China alone shipped an average of 22,000 tons of supplies a month over two rail lines and eight major roads that linked it with North Vietnam.

On 10 May Operation Linebacker began with mass bombing operations against North Vietnam by tactical fighter aircraft of the Seventh Air Force and Task Force 77. Their targets included the railroad switching yards at Yên Viên and the Paul Doumer Bridge, on the northern outskirts of Hanoi. A total of 414 sorties were flown on the first day of the operation, 120 by the Air Force and 294 by the Navy and they encountered the heaviest single day of air-to-air combat during the Vietnam War, with 11 VPAF MiGs (four MiG-21s and seven MiG-17s) and two Air Force F-4s shot down.[45] Anti-aircraft artillery and over 100 surface-to-air missile firings also brought down two U.S. Navy aircraft (one of which was flown by aces Duke Cunningham and William P. Driscoll).

By the end of the month, American aircraft had destroyed 13 bridges along the rail lines running from Hanoi to the Chinese border. Another four were destroyed between the capital and Haiphong, including the notorious Thanh Hóa Bridge. Several more bridges were brought down along the rail line leading to the south toward the DMZ. Targets were then switched to petroleum and oil storage and transportation networks and North Vietnamese airfields. There was an immediate impact on the battlefield in South Vietnam. Shelling by PAVN artillery dropped off by one-half between 9 May and 1 June. This slowdown was not due to an immediate shortage of artillery shells but rather to a desire to conserve ammunition. U.S. intelligence analysts believed that PAVN had enough stockpiled supplies to sustain their campaigns throughout the autumn.

The intensity of the bombing campaign was reflected by the sharp increase in the number of strike and support sorties flown in Southeast Asia as a whole: from 4,237 for all services, including the RVNAF, during the month preceding the invasion, to 27,745 flown in support of ARVN forces from the beginning of April to the end of June (20,506 of them flown by the Air Force). B-52s provided an additional 1,000 sorties during the same period. The North was feeling the pressure, admitting in the official PAVN history that "between May and June only 30 percent of supplies called for in our plan actually reached the front-line units." In total, 41,653 Linebacker missions dropped 155,548 tons of bombs.

In addition to interdicting the road and rail system of North Vietnam, Linebacker also systematically attacked its air defense system. The VPAF, with approximately 200 interceptors, strongly contested these attacks throughout the campaign. Navy pilots, employing a mutually supporting "loose deuce" tactical formation and many with TOPGUN training, enjoyed a kill ratio of 6:1 in their favor in May and June, such that after that the VPAF rarely engaged them thereafter. In contrast, the Air Force experienced a 1:1 kill ratio through the first two months of the campaign, as seven of its eventual 24 Linebacker air-to-air losses occurred without any corresponding VPAF loss in a twelve-day period between 24 June and 5 July. Air Force pilots were hampered by use of the outdated "fluid four" tactical formations (a four-plane, two element formation in which only the leader did the shooting and in which the outside wingmen were vulnerable) dictated by service doctrine. Also contributing to the parity was a lack of air combat training against dissimilar aircraft, a deficient early warning system, and ECM pod formations that mandated strict adherence to formation flying. During August the introduction of real-time early warning systems, increased aircrew combat experience and degraded VPAF ground control interception capabilities reversed the trend to a more favorable 4:1 kill ratio.

Linebacker saw several other "firsts". On the opening day of the operation, Navy Lieutenant Duke Cunningham and his radar intercept officer, Lieutenant (j.g.) William P. Driscoll became the first U.S. air aces of the Vietnam War when they shot down their fifth MiG. On 28 August, the Air Force gained its first ace when Captain Richard S. Ritchie downed his fifth enemy aircraft. Twelve days later, Captain Charles B. DeBellevue (who had been Ritchie's backseater during four of his five victories) downed two more MiGs, bringing his total to six. On 13 October another weapons officer, Captain Jeffrey S. Feinstein, was credited with his fifth MiG, making him the final Air Force ace

Oct 18, 2022

by Robert L. Sumwalt

It's no secret. When a flight crew's attention is diverted from the task of flying, the chance of error increases. Over the years there have been dozens of air carrier accidents that occurred when the crew diverted attention from the task at hand and became occupied with items totally unrelated to flying. Consequently, important things were missed. Things like setting the flaps prior to takeoff, or extending the landing gear before landing. Things like monitoring altitude on an instrument approach, or using engine anti-ice for takeoff during a blinding snow storm.

In 1981 the FAA enacted FAR 121.542 and FAR 135.100 to help curb the number of these accidents. Commonly known as the "sterile cockpit rule," these regulations specifically prohibit crew member performance of non-essential duties or activities while the aircraft is involved in taxi, takeoff, landing, and all other flight operations conducted below 10,000 feet MSL, except cruise flight. (Click here to go to FAR 121.542 and 135.100 .)

It's unrealistic to expect a crew to fly together for several days and never discuss anything except items related to flying the aircraft. In fact, experts have demonstrated that in order to be most effective, crews need to talk -- even if it is just merely "get to know you" sort of chat. The sterile cockpit rule is a good rule because it clearly defines when it is time to set aside non-essential activities and tend strictly to the task at hand -- that of safely operating the aircraft.

In spite of the existence of the sterile cockpit rule over the past decade, pilots have continued to have accidents and serious incidents that perhaps could have been prevented. For the most part, disobeying the rule is not intentional. It just happens. But as this review shows, the consequences of non-compliance can be very serious. Truly, the sterile cockpit needs to be cleaned up.

This reviewer used the ASRS database to find specific examples of problems related to non-compliance with the sterile cockpit rule. We carefully reviewed 63 reports that had been previously coded by analysts as having some relevance to the sterile cockpit rule. Here is a synopsis of the problems that we found that could be attributed to sterile cockpit violations:48% were altitude deviations

14% were course deviations

14% were runway transgressions

14% were general distractions with no specific adverse consequences

8% involved takeoffs or landings without clearance

2% involved near mid-air collisions due to inattention and distractions.

The Culprits

The way in which the sterile cockpit rule was broken in each report was tallied and analyzed. Some reports contained more than one culprit. Many of the reports contained acknowledgments like this:

  • "If we [had] adhered to the sterile cockpit, this situation probably would not have occurred." (ACN 118974)

Following are the four most common reasons for non-adherence to the sterile cockpit rule:

Extraneous Conversation

The most habitually cited offense was extraneous conversation between cockpit crew members. Cited one First Officer:

  • "Although VMC on the approach, the new special weather was... [indefinite ceiling, 200 obscured, visibility 1-1/4 mile in ground fog], snow falling and some snow on the runway...I was flying and Captain viewing PIT stadium and various sights out the window, chatting incessantly...Captain then reviewed procedures for short ground roll on snow covered runways and returned to miscellaneous conversation." The crew believed that they then landed without contacting the tower and receiving landing clearance. After some serious soul searching, this reporter continued "...the potential for disaster scenarios should be apparent...The bottom line: lack of professionalism. Captain habitually rambled from push back to block-in through a four day trip. This was the first of two incidents on the same day...Below the line: lack of courage. F/O and F/E were not willing to ask the Captain to please shut up so we could fly the airplane." (ACN 102595)

The Captain of an air carrier aircraft admits to conversation not pertinent to flying duties:

  • "...Both the F/O and I became distracted because of a conversation that was started before the level-off. At 4300 feet our altitude alert system went off...Our sterile cockpit procedures should have eliminated this problem if properly followed." (ACN 168474)

Five reports detailed extraneous conversation with jump seat riders. The ability to ride on an air carrier's jump seat is quite a valuable privilege, but it is important that the additional cockpit rider not be allowed to create distractions. A look at two of these reports:

  • "While descending into a broken deck of clouds, unannounced traffic appeared at 12 o'clock and less than a mile, climbing up our descent path. In my best estimation we were on a collision course. I immediately, without hesitating, instinctively pushed the aircraft nose down and to the right to avoid impact. The Captain was engaged in a conversation with [somebody] on the jump seat." (ACN 167026)

And in the other ASRS submission:

  • "This very senior Captain was about to leave on a Scuba diving trip and talked nonstop to the female jump seat rider upon discovering she was also a diver...This [altitude deviation] could have been prevented entirely if this particular Captain...[had paid] attention to his job and observe[d] some approximation of the sterile cockpit below 10,000 feet." (ACN 119289)

The connotation "extraneous conversation" does not always have to imply just those persons on board the aircraft. Look at how extraneous chatter with air traffic controllers introduced problems for these crews. Air traffic controllers, take notice:

  • "We turned base to final. Tower talked about mutual acquaintances and local weather. On final, at about 2500 MSL, we realized we lined up for the wrong field...First mistake: getting involved in conversation with [the] Tower operator..." (ACN 108035)

And in another incident:

  • "At the outer marker...with thunderstorms in progress, reported wind shear and heavy rain ...the tower insisted on knowing if our gate was open. We told him we were too busy to find out, he persisted with claims of needing to know where to put us on the ground once we landed. We attempted once to try to contact the company but failed due to frequency congestion... We were distracted by the tower's request for non-pertinent info during the sterile period... This [practice]...(of the controller needing to know if a gate is open at the most intense and critical phase of flight) must not be continued. It is an unsafe practice and deters us from conducting a safe flight." (ACN 114244)

Distractions from Flight Attendants

Distractions caused by flight attendants visiting the cockpit or calling on the interphone were noted in almost one quarter of the reports in our data set. This was our second highest source of deviation from the sterile cockpit rule.

  • "As aircraft approached Runway 18, Flight Attendant 'A' entered cockpit with coffee for the crew. Crew attention momentarily diverted...Aircraft penetrated hold line approximately six feet for Runway 18...Small single engine aircraft on final for Runway 18 was instructed to go around by Tower...Probable cause of this was short taxi distance to hold line and crew's interruption by [the] Flight Attendant." (ACN 149054)

In another incident, the crew was surprised when they lined up with the wrong runway -- and doubly surprised when they noticed they were in an unplanned formation with a jet landing on the same runway!

  • "...Flight Attendant came into the cockpit and asked what gate we were going into as we had a passenger with a wheelchair going to another flight...I advised approach we had our traffic [in sight]. Approach now cleared us for what I thought was a Runway 26L visual approach, call tower at the outer marker. As we proceeded to Runway 26L, which was the closest runway to our arrival side,..I looked over [at] my First Officer and out his side window and saw the [other jet] at our altitude, approximately 100 feet away...I'm sure that, with the Flight Attendant interruption, I heard what I expected to hear, 'cleared to the left runway.' " (ACN 98883)

Non-Pertinent Radio Calls and PA Announcements

Several reports we examined indicate that problems arose when non-pertinent company radio calls and PA announcements were made below 10,000 feet. Remember, below 10,000 feet if it's not directly related to flight safety, it's in violation with the sterile cockpit rule.

  • "Beautiful day making approach into familiar station, Captain elects to make a PA announcement to passengers while flying the aircraft. Resulting distraction of the passenger announcement [caused us to over-shoot]... altitude 500 feet." (ACN 54741)

While being vectored in a busy terminal area, the Captain in the following report called on the company radio frequency to notify maintenance about a minor cabin discrepancy. As the reporter soon discovered, his absence from the ATC frequency caused an overload with his First Officer. Several ATC radio calls were missed. The controller growled a little, they lost their landing sequence, and the pilot's pride was hurt. But a valuable lesson was also learned.

  • "...My thinking, however irresponsible it was, was that I should call maintenance with this item to save us time on the ground...I realize that the incident and this report is the result of very poor cockpit management on my part...It was most unwise and unfair of me to put the work load I did on that Controller and the First Officer...I hope I have learned the importance of giving my undivided attention to Approach Control, as opposed to reporting maintenance items [while flying below 10,000 feet]." (ACN 92145)

Sight-seeing

Nowhere does Webster's define "sight-seeing" as an activity that is essential to the safe operation of aircraft. When sight-seeing is conducted by flight crew members below 10,000 feet, not only is it potentially dangerous, but it is illegal, as well. Two reports demonstrated that a cockpit full of sight-seeing crew members is an ASRS report looking for a place to happen -- possibly even an accident.

  • "Assigned the PORTE SID from SFO. I missed the 4 DME turn point due to preoccupation with a [special purpose aircraft] below and to our right, landing at NAS Alameda. The Captain (flying) missed it too...Bay Departure queried us and advised us to maintain visual separation from [another aircraft] off OAK, paralleling us below and about 2 miles to the right. Preoccupation with the visual environment caused us to neglect the IFR procedure." (ACN 189397)

In another incident report:

  • "...Descending through 5000 feet to my assigned altitude of 4000 feet. The Captain discontinued his running commentary of the sights...to state that we were only cleared to 6000 feet." (ACN 83932)

Recommendations and Considerations

The sterile cockpit rule was designed to help minimize many of the problems that we just annotated. Judging from these reports, a safer operation can be achieved by simply abiding by the rule's guidelines.

In the Beginning

A good time to establish the desire to maintain a sterile cockpit environment is before beginning a trip. In briefing cockpit and cabin crew members the captain can politely say, "I think the sterile cockpit rule is really important, so we'll adhere to it. Okay?"

Setting the Standards

During the preflight briefing the captain should also inform the flight attendants how they can determine if the flight is above or below 10,000 feet. Many companies have already established procedures for this, such as a "10,000 foot PA announcement," or a call to the flight attendants on the interphone. However, these procedures require one crew member to be "out of the loop." And as evidenced by literally thousands of ASRS reports, the potential for problems (such as misunderstood clearances and altitude deviations) increases when a crew member is out of the loop. Some airlines have installed a cockpit-controlled "sterile cockpit light" that can be illuminated when descending below 10,000 feet and extinguished when climbing above 10,000 feet. For those who develop company procedures, consideration should be given to developing something that doesn't create its own set of distractions. With the increased use of two-crew member cockpits this consideration is increasingly important.

Unexpected Entry

Unexpected calls or cockpit entry by flight attendants during the sterile cockpit period can be distracting and potentially dangerous. It is recommended that the Captain, during the pre-departure crew briefing, emphasize the importance of the sterile cockpit rule and request that flight attendant calls or entry during this time be undertaken only for reasons of great urgency. As one reporter resolves:

  • "The next time a flight attendant enters a sterile cockpit, I will immediately ask if there is an emergency." (ACN 109249)

High Altitude Airports

Another reporter offered a good suggestion involving high elevation airports, where 10,000 feet MSL for the sterile cockpit boundary may be too low.

  • "The First Officer and myself were involved in a conversation with the company pilot riding jump seat. Although I subscribe to the sterile cockpit rule below 10,000 feet, I failed to realize that, due to Denver's high field elevation, 17,000 feet MSL would have [been] a more appropriate time to discontinue our conversation and be sure that our affairs were in order...Unfortunately, because of our conversation, I failed to slow to 250 knots until passing Kiowa...The main reason I am filing this report is that I was habitually using 10,000 feet MSL for focusing my attention on the terminal/approach procedure and maintaining a sterile cockpit. A better method would certainly be 10,000 feet AGL or 40 to 50 miles from destination." (ACN 65327)

Low Altitude Flight

This reporter, a commuter pilot who often has cruise altitudes below 10,000 feet MSL, offers a similar worthwhile suggestion following an altitude deviation.

"I believe this situation occurred because our cruise altitude was 8000 feet, and we were accustomed to conversation and other activities along the route and were not observing the 'sterile cockpit' environment. Would suggest that, in these flight circumstances where cruise altitude is less than 10,000 feet, crews make a specific DME mileage their beginning for 'total concentration-sterile cockpit' procedures." (ACN 173707)

No person about to undergo major surgery would think too kindly of the surgical team who failed to sterilize themselves and their operating instruments before the operation. After a series of air carrier accidents and serious incidents, the traveling public feels the same way about their crew members. Keep the sterile cockpit "clean." Your fellow crew members and passengers are hoping that you will.

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! 

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