Monday, February 2, 2015


So last Saturday, Sarge posts a story about cannon plugs.  Who knew there was that much information available about electrical connections as well as things that plug the holes in the ends of Naval Cannons.  Seriously guys, how the heck do you get "tompkin" out of tampion?

Anyhow, during the course of Sarge's discourse, he alludes to a substance known as FOD and how pilots tended to react negatively to its presence in the cockpit. FOD stands for Foreign Object Damage implying that something has already happened, but I never heard anybody refer to a loose object in the cockpit as FO (Foo?  Foe? it just doesn't work) only as FOD.

Specifically Sarge states  "All that crap on the cockpit floor would have to be cleaned up. Pilots get really annoyed when they roll their aircraft and crap flies up into their faces."

Technically, rolling the aircraft rarely results in crap flying up into the pilot's faces, as when a pilot rolls an aircraft they generally maintain at least one positive G.  This keeps the crap on the floor.  
A One G Roll

However, if one were to maneuver the aircraft in such a manner as to cause the aircraft to experience less than 1 G, say 0 or even negative G, all objects, to include the dust on the floor, in the aircraft will then rise and float before ones eyes.  In the case of negative G, they would be found on the canopy above your head.  
A Zero G pushover

Granted most aircraft are not regularly flown in zero or negative G conditions (the passengers in the back tend to react badly when their cocktails leave the containers). Fighters, however, regularly perform those maneuvers (they're called unloading as in unloading the G). Since most folks flying a fighter also work up a sweat when flying, having a cloud of dust appear when you unload, tends to obscure your vision both by blocking your vision and getting in your eyes.  It also tends to stick to your sweat soaked face.

But it's not the crap in the face that is the cause of annoyance for pilots, it's what else the crap can get into and what it does when it gets into that place.

Now would be the time for the Standard Juvat Caveat, as Sarge calls it.  Heck he even gave it an Acronym and other Bloggers of much bigger blogging prowess than I have even been known to use it.  But I digress, and at least in the case of my first vignette it would not fit.  So....

So, there Dad was..... A T-38 instructor pilot at Webb AFB TX in the late 60s,  He'd been a F-86 pilot in the 50s, then got caught in the "SAC will protect the world" fighter pilot drawdown.  He'd had several tours at Radar Stations in such garden spots as Thule Greenland, Miles City MT and Bismarck ND.  Finally managed to get back to an actual flying job and was now a Flight Commander.

He's riding in the back seat with a new 2Lt in the front on an acro ride.   They've done some of the basic maneuvers and Dad is going to demo a Immelman.  Goes over the top, unloads and rolls the aircraft upright.  Shakes the stick to give control back to the front seater, but something doesn't feel right with the controls.  Tells the student, I've got it. Wiggles the stick and the aircraft rolls ok, Pushes forward and the aircraft dives, pulls back on the stick and he's got very little motion backward.  

He declares an emergency and gets set up for a straight in, but he doesn't have enough stick movement to flare the aircraft for landing, which will make for a long, hot landing.  

Manages to get the aircraft onto the ground using power and the trim button which is able to get the nose up enough to land at a reasonable speed.  

Cause of the incident, a bolt lost in the front cockpit had gotten into the area at the base of the stick where the stick connected to the controls and jammed.

So, There I was.....* On my second operational tour, flying F-4Es out of Moody AFB GA.  I'm now married and a flight lead and will soon be leaving F-4s for an assignment as an Instructor at Lead-In Fighter Training at Holloman AFB NM.

In today's sortie, I'll be leading a two ship in a 1 V 1 BFB BFM ride.  A little air to air, to keep the rust off skills needed by fighter pilots, but not practiced all that often in an Air to Ground unit.  We'll be switching roles during the ride, on offense for one engagement, on defense for the next, until gas runs out and we RTB.

I've successfully defended myself in the first engagement when we (me and my WSO) were on defense.  I've managed to trap his nose in lag and extend out of the fight, so I'm feeling pretty good.  

Set it up again, this time on Offense. I make the "Fight's On!" call and pull into a Hi Yo Yo, preserving my turning room.  He breaks hard, but in a level turn, I come back down to saddle up for a gun shot.  

He starts doing the funky chicken, AKA jinking.

He's doing a pretty good job, but he's not getting rid of me.  I saddle up again and as I settle in, he does a Negative G jink and disappears below my nose.  I reposition again to maintain my 3/9 line advantage and as I do, I hear him call "Knock it off".  I acknowledge the knock it off and as we roll out and get back into formation, I ask him what the problem was, expecting him to mention an Over G.  It was a heck of an effective jink.  (Just as an FYI, exceeding the G limits of the Aircraft even the negative limits is still called an Over G.  Under G sounds wimpy)

Anyhow, I ask him what the problem was and he tells me his WSO had lost something in the cockpit.

  I ask him what, and he responds some money.  I'm confused, Flight Suits are festooned with pockets, all of which are outfitted with zippers.  Which are supposed to be closed.

Anyhow, I tell him why not roll inverted and push and have the WSO grab the money from the canopy.  

He tells me the WSO (a coin collector) had about 200 pennies in his chest pocket and he didn't know how many had fallen out during the jink.  
Lots of things to find hiding places

We plan to do a  controllability check (it's better to find out you've got control problems at 10K' than at 1K'), then set up for a straight in, and full stop..  While # 2 was doing the controllability check, I called back home on the squadron common, and dictated the doofer book entry to the duty officer.  The WSO was greated with a standing ovation on arrival back into the squadron.  

The Squadron Commander extended an invitation to him to assist the crew chief in the removal of any foreign objects from the jet.

I asked the WSO why he had so many pennies in his open pocket.  He said he'd been going through them just prior to the brief and lost track of time.  When he realized the brief was within minutes, he just scooped them up and tossed them in his pocket.  

* SJC  


  1. Another fun and enjoyable read, Juvat!

    That Hoover was a hell of a showman and hell of a pilot. I loved his Shrike demos.

    IIRC, a stray bolt or some such jamming lead's stick was found to be the culprit when the Thunderbird diamond went in back in '81 or '82.

    Did the pennies WSO get a callsign upgrade?

    1. Re: the Thunderbirds. According to Ras, FOD was the formal culprit in the accident. He said that wasn't actually what happened, and although he alludes to it in the link above, in another post/comment he specifically states that it was pilot error citing a credible authority (he may have been on the accident board, I don't remember). I can't find that right now, but will keep looking.

      I'm not sure you'd call it an upgrade, but his nametag was changed to a feminine name for a 1 cent coin shortly thereafter!

    2. I'd never heard about the controversy. This mishap was often cited during fod training and safety standdowns. When I think about it cfit is perhaps a more plausible explanation.

    3. Yeah, I'm pretty sure if lead couldn't pull on the pole, he'd have called for the rest of the flight to break away and there'd at most have been one hole.

      I hadn't heard about it either until I brought it up with Ed. My Google skills seem to be lacking today in finding that post.

  2. I've been saying "roll the jet" in reference to FOD for so long that I no longer even think about it.

    I will start saying "unload the jet" in the future. (Simple physics would have shown me the error of my ways had I stopped to think about it. Which I did not. Obviously.)

    Great post Juvat.

    1. Yeah, terminology starts to take on a life of its own after a while, .e.g. FO vs FOD. One of the worst dustbaths I ever took while flying happened in the back of a 130. Not sure why, but the pilot felt a need to push over to level off. I'm pretty sure the amount of dust that floated up would have made a small desert proud.

      Besides, it gave me the opportunity to show a couple of cool videos. I always get a chuckle out of the floating dog.

    2. I enjoyed the dog video. I've seen it before but that's one that never gets old.

      Not sure how the dog feels about it...

    3. Well, it's either" AWWW Crap, he's doing it again!" or "SuperDog! To the Rescue!"

      Probably the former.

  3. Good Grief. Does that WSO get a Doofus Award of some kind? I remember a post by Lex on the absolute importance of accounting for everything that may have fallen in the cockpit. Like ball point pens.

    Had my own little experience years ago. I was getting instruction in the mighty Cessna 150 with about 10 hours to my credit. The instructor wants me to do a departure stall - full power - pitch up enough that airspeed is dropping, and the stall horn is blaring. Now if you have any sense at 10 hours you want to do as your steed is suggesting, drop the nose and avoid the stall.

    But he kept pushing me to keep the nose up.

    Well, faster than you can read up to here in the sentence that nose drops, my aluminum kneeboard is floating by my nose (I specifically remember that), and the right wing drops.

    All I can see is the ground spinning.

    I was not really controlling the rudders, allowing for the spin.

    In my calmest voice I can muster I tell the instructor that "I think you should take the controls".

    From that time on I absolutely hated to demonstrate stalls.

    Until another instructor taught me that by really dancing on the rudders - watching that ball and keeping it centered, the plane would have a lot more benign stall characteristics.

    And it taught me that a moment''s inattention could mean real trouble - say you are in a landing pattern.

    Guess I am rambling on too much but never will forget that kneeboard floating by my nose.

    1. I wasn't fond of stalls/spins either, but we did enough of them in the T-37 that I got more used to them. That having been said, it's been 30+ years since I last flew the F-4 which had some decidedly spiffy stall/out of control characteristics. To this day, I can recite the out of control bold face procedures verbatim.
      The Eagle was much more benign. In fact I've flown the airplane in a controlled tail slide. It's disconcerting the first time, but you got used to it.

  4. Any new moniker come out of the penny incident? If we left something in the cockpit, we had to buy the guy who found it a soda. They were encouraged to come to the readyroom during debrief and interrupt us to collect.

  5. He did get a new nametag with the feminine name for a 1 cent coin on it. He wasn't happy about that, but he was a numismatist, what could he do? It's not like he was Chuck Norris or something!


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