Monday, July 11, 2022

...Abundance of Caution

 Abundance of Caution.  I've only spoken those words once in my life.  I was a student pilot early in the T-37 phase of pilot training.  The syllabus for the ride I was scheduled to fly that day included "Introduction to Spins and Spin Recovery."  This was generally considered the least favorite mission in the entire syllabus.  One would take an airplane up and intentionally put in out of control, spinning in flat circles with unexpected pitch up and down moments all the while falling out of the sky.  Literally, the  aircraft was no longer flying.  On this flight, I was scheduled with an IP whose callsign was IronMan.  He had been an F-105 pilot with a couple of tours you know where.  

Been there, done that, got all the respect that he deserved.  But...He didn't put up with much BS, you either knew your S*** and executed it properly or you didn't pass the ride.  And...

You reflew it with him!

So, we're in the briefing for the mission.  He asks me to recite the bold faced Emergency Procedure for Spin Recovery.  

Bold Faced procedures are required to be memorized perfectly, down to the punctuation and spacing.  Students would be selected at the Flight Briefing at the start of the flying period (as opposed to academic period) and given a hypothetical flying situation.  Most required bold face.  If the bold face was incorrect (e.g. not perfect), the student would be told "Sit Down!" and he'd be grounded for the day.  

That tended to mark you for further inquiry if you actually "Knew your S***" or were just bluffing.

I manage to recite the spin recovery procedure to IronMan successfully.

Throttles – Idle

Rudder and Ailerons – Neutral

Stick – Abruptly full aft and hold

Rudder – Abruptly apply full rudder opposite spin direction (opposite turn needle) and hold

Stick – Abruptly full forward one turn after applying rudder

Controls – Neutral after spinning stops and recover from dive

Yes, 44 years after the fact, I did that from memory.  Although I confirmed the accuracy here.  (A short post with some additional entertaining commentary, go read it.  I'll wait.)

So, IronMan and I start to talk about the mission and how we'll go about it.  He'll demonstrate the first spin and recovery then it'll be me.

Suffice it to say, I'm nervous.

You might understand why.

Airborne, we set up for the spin.  Ironman has the throttles at about 80% and the nose about 45o high.  The stall warning horn is going off like crazy, the airplane is shaking and finally stalls.  Ironman then steps on a rudder as it stalls to induce yaw.  

My eyes are about as big as basketballs now.

He holds the controls as they are for three complete turns.  

I now have a good idea how long eternity is.

He executes the bold face, the aircraft recovers in a dive and he smoothly pulls it out of that.  Hands it over to me.  We climb back up

I pull the throttles back, nose up, it stalls and pitches down.  I immediately do the bold face and recover.

He snatches the aircraft from me asks me "WTF was that?"  I said, "out of an abundance of caution I thought I'd try an easy one first."

He replied "My Aircraft".  We flew home and landed.  I've busted my first & last ride in UPT.

He said a pilot can and must use caution in performing the mission.  However, accomplishing the mission is his first priority and too much caution is not acceptable.  One is always at risk when flying.

He then went and scratched out the student he was flying with that afternoon and wrote my name in.  

I was peeved.  I'll show this SOB!  We get up in the air.  He asks if I want him to demo another one. 

"NO, sir"

I entered the spin, held it for four turns (I'll show him!) executed the bold face and even managed to recover from the dive without exiting the bottom of the airspace.  Which would have been an automatic Flight Safety Bust.  

Got back on the ground.  Got an excellent on the ride.  Found out later that he'd been key to my getting a fighter out of Pilot Training.

We flew a lot more together in the program.  I learned a lot from him but having an "Abundance of Caution" was not on the curriculum.

Here's a longer version of Spin Training, but does include what it looks like from another airplane.

So, what brought this up, juvat?

Well, we picked DIL up at the Austin Airport yesterday.  Seems She and Granddaughter to be are having difficulties and the ETA might be a little early.  The Doctor recommended she travel early out of an "Abundance of Caution." 

No, Doctor, what you recommended is the exact level of Caution needed in the situation.

Little J, We've got the Stick.  Hang in there.

Oh and "Thank You Lord!"

Yes, that's blue sky out west, the thunderstorm is coming from the other side of the house

LJW/DIL brought with her the first rain we've had since March.


  1. Those videos provide a different meaning to that phrase "Let's take the car out for a spin Hon"..........yah..yah....I know....ground vs air. Ironman saw something when he was up there with you juvat. Enjoy DIL.

    1. I actually enjoyed flying with him (once we'd established boundaries and capabilities). Learned a very important lesson that day and remember (both past and future tense of that verb) it frequently.

  2. SP: Ooh! That was great! Can we do another?!!!
    IP: Next time we go up, you don't smoke for at least 2 hours prior to your lesson (Cessna 150). Your brain's starved for oxygen. I'm gonna tell your colonel you've been sniffin' the nitrous.
    SP: OK! OK! Promise, I won't smoke for 24. And I don't sniff nitrous, my assistant would rat me out. But let's do another. Please! Please. That was really great!

    1. Yeah, there wasn't a lot of excited chattering in the flight room that morning. And that was the start of the "sorting out" who's getting what. The "Heavy" guys pretty much self identified. Fighter vs. Trainer was a bit more touchy. That's where I think IronMan helped me out. For which I am eternally grateful.
      But, Boron, you ain't wrong!

  3. Spins, ah gee, no thanks. But I hope whoever is the pilot I'm flying with knows all that emergency stuff!

    Rain is good.

    Prayers for LJW/DIL and the newest member-to-be of the tribe.

    1. Thanks, Boss. If they're military pilots, I'd say the chances are almost guaranteed. Every military aviator I've talked to had a similar training process. Specifics might be different (e.g. landing on a Boat? Who wants to do that? Unless you need to of course!) but the techniques were very similar. Stress on the ground is much better than stress in the air.

      Thanks, Handover appointment is tomorrow. We'll see what they have to say then.

  4. Sooo...that looks terrifying.

    "Abundance of caution" is one of those words which I have found (in general) that senior people get to use and junior people do not. "Out of an abundance of caution..." says the senior staff member, and everyone nods sagely. "Out of an abundance of caution..." says the junior member, and suddenly everyone thinks the envelope is not being pressed hard enough. Really, it is precisely as you relate. I wonder if it is because senior members have more of an idea of operational capacities, or they do not like being overstepped in terms of risk assessment.

    There, is, of course, always room on the prayer list Prayers up.

  5. THBB,
    I'm pretty sure you're right on the Senior/Junior usage delineation. However, IMHO, every time I was in a decision meeting with Senior Staff present, and that statement was used, it was used by someone referred to as a "Shoe Clerk". That was not a flattering term. Shoe Clerks tended to look out for themselves and their attitude towards others was "What can you do for me, Today?" Translating "Out of an abundance of Caution" from Shoe Clerk-ese is "No, the risk might negatively impact my career". Saw that at several different levels from Squadron to Wing, to Unified Commands and then at the Pentagon.
    THBB, you get one guess which one had the highest percentage of Shoe Clerks?

    Prayers are always appreciated, Thanks.

  6. Juvat, good on you for the blessing of rain. Just north and a little east of you we're still stuck at less than 4" year-to-date. But we're one day to closer to getting a good wet down.
    First demonstrated spin, when I was student pilot in a Cessna 150 was exciting when the plane stopped flying, the spin started, after the number of requirde turns instructor recovered. My turn, entered the stall, made the successful recovery and passed that of my least popular maneuvers but a necessary one to have in the tool kit.
    Cletus Valvecore

    1. Cletus,
      Yep, solidly in the "You don't need it, til you need it, then you need it BAD!" category.
      Got up early this morning and took the dogs for a walk. Looked like we got a bit more rain over night. There was actually damp soil on the property. Yesterday evening's rain got absorbed in less than a nanosecond (I believe).

  7. I did spins in a cloth covered Citabria. And I felt right at home. It's a maneuver, just a little different than any other in my tiny experience. I think part of the dread, it feels like you are out of control. Lots of life is like that. If you KNOW you have to keep your head, you are more likely TO keep your head. That really rooted in deep. When things are out of control, that pops up and helps me keep my wits.

    Glad the family stuff appears to be on schedule. And congrats on the rain. We got a little the other day, put us just over two inches this year. But lately, the 107 degrees is overwhelming my a/c. I start sweating about 1400 and don't stop until 2200..... sitting in front of it. It's blistering hot out there. The Texas Sage is blooming next door. That usually means rain.

    Please God, break this heat and send some rain.

    1. STxAR,
      Yeah the heat index for the last week has topped out over 100 degrees every day. Yesterday was 105. Hang in there. On an upbeat note, the combination of insulation and AC in my new woodshop is working pretty well. Got the interior wall siding in place and the goal for this week is to get it hung. Once that's done, we'll get some lads to move the benches and other heavy stuff into place and then the fun restarts!

    2. StxAR, I was feeling sorry for myself with less than 4" of rain ytd, till I read your post of just over two inches ytd. Now I'm embarrassed that I was complaining. But, like us, you're one day closer to getting wetted.
      Amen to "please G-D, break this heat and send some rain".

    3. Cletus, my rain gauge blew away a while ago, so I have no idea what the cumulative rain is. My current gauge is two months ago, my field of hay was dark green. Yesterday, pre-shower, it was brown. Today,it's a greenish brown.
      Amen on the Amen.

    4. The Farmers' Almanac says Hot Summer followed by Very Cold Winter, and an early winter at that. Which is the way the cycle tends to work.

    5. Beans,
      Hopefully, that's not the case. I'm able to tolerate Very Hot, less so Very Hot and Humid. But, my time in Korea cured me of any desire for Very Cold Winters. The old adage that you can put on more and more clothing, but only take off so much doesn't hold true with me and cold. Well the first half of that doesn't anyhow.

    6. Juvat, guy who leases our creek bottom for hay production threw in the towel for 2022. Lack of rain and cost of fertilizer made the decision for him.
      Hope Beans Farmers' Almanac is big time wrong about very cold upcoming winter. We did that in 2021, and a shorter cold spell in 2022...not a fan of cold weather, basic training bivouac in snow February 1960 cured that. Not sure how Dad went through Battle of the Bulge and kept from freezing. Spent some time in S.A. sand pile...heat is uncomfortable, sand storms not pleasant, but beats trying to put on all the clothes I own and still be cold.

    7. Cletus,
      Yeah, my guy called yesterday asking about our hay. Not real hopeful, unless we get quite a bit more rain.

      Agreed about heat vs cold. Done both, prefer former.

  8. That was fun. I liked spinning the T-37, but I had forgotten the BOLD FACE for it. You were not supposed to do it on your own and I followed that rule. I do remember the spin recovery for the T-38 -- Raise handles, Squeeze Triggers. Prior to UPT, I had only had a demo spin in an aerobatic C150 when I got my ROTC flight training.

    You just gave me a glimpse into the dividing line between Instructor/Fighter and Other. Looking back at some things that happened in late T-38 training, I was in the gray area. The decision was made when only 10 out of 60 positions in my class would be awarded Instructor/Fighter slots. The other 50 went to larger crew aircraft. At least I didn't get a BUFF, a tanker or some other air-land only mission aircraft. I love the C-130!

    1. BillB,
      Yeah, there was a close call for me also in getting the fighter. The T-38 Sq CC wanted me as an IP. I was told that a couple of my IP's told him not only no but *expletive deleted* no. For which, I thank them. That was a momentous fork in the road in the way life turned out.

  9. Wow!! I got dizzy just watching those videos!
    "Out of an abundance of caution"--is that sorta like "in my professional nursing opinion" which is a preface for someone to disagree with medical instructions/directions that the (junior resident newbie) doctor has just given which are complete crap and WILL lead to a lawsuit from the patient if said directions were ever carried out by the nurse?

    Prayers up and on-going for DIL and 2nd grandkiddo.

    I am afraid to complain about how dry we have been here on the east coast as it was sooo very wet last year. But as I am at the beach (CT seashore) for the next few days with Dad, Mom, and sisters, I'm gonna enjoy the sunshine, and nice temps--not even too humid!!
    So I'm going to work on my tan. Although I see we should get some precipitation Tuesday nightish...

    1. Suz,
      Nah, I don't view those statements as somewhat alike. Out of an Abundance of Caution...Is more of "I'm afraid to make this decision" while "In my professional nursing opinion" is more of "You D**B A**! You're gonna kill someone that way" But politely of course.
      I could be wrong.
      Prayers are always appreciated. As I said we'll know more tomorrow.

      Enjoy the beach. Stay cool!

  10. Back in the day as a General Aviation pilot I was always on the abundance of caution side. With an instructor did spin training in a Super Cub. No problem until he made me do one on instruments only. That was "interesting" as the aircraft was needle, ball and airspeed only. I had a chance to fly with a Colorado Air Guard pilot. At the time they were flying the F-100. The best stick I've ever been with. You fighter pilots are the best. (But verge on bat shit crazy)

    1. WSF,
      Bat Shit Crazy is a qualifying requirement. A dose of Caution (very small dose) increases the chances of receiving retirement pay though.
      I never got a ride in the Hun, but I have heard that its Stall/Spin characteristics were VERY INTERESTING! If recovery was successful, the crew chief usually had to buff helmet marks off the canopy. One of my defining "I wanna be a Fighter Pilot" was at Webb AFB TX in the late '60s. A UPT class had just graduated and the tradition was to have all the aircraft that class had been assigned to as static displays at the base. When the Hun driver, took off he flew out of sight, then came back around and did a high speed sneak pass. Unfortunately, for the glass section of the Civil Engineer Squadron, he got slightly, ok more than slightly above something called the Mach.
      Thought it was the coolest thing ever done by anyone on Earth. I was pretty much alone in that opinion at least for anyone more than 15 years old.

    2. Confirmed by witnessing Fighter Pilots and some Bomber Pilots, Hustler (B-58) Pilots are even more crazy. And tend to have worse choice in non-uniform attire. Way too worse. What is it about HPs that cheap and shiny on-sale shirts attracts them so much?

    3. What???? Squadron Formal Party Shirts worn to Formal Dining-ins are not the coolest attire on the face of the planet? I still own 4 different versions. Just looking for someone to host a Dining-In.

    4. In the 68FIS at Itazuke AB, we had a gaudy, red and gold plaid sport coat. The material design had been in the Squadron since WW II when the 68th flew the Twin Lightning. One of the VERY FIRST things you did when you arrived was get measured for and order a coat and cummerbund. I still have mine, even though it has shrunk over the last 59 years.

    5. LtFuzz,
      I think my arrival schedule at Kunsan was: met at the MAC terminal, transported to the Squadron to drop off flight gear and orders, driven downtown to the Squadron Tailor and measured. Only then was I allowed to check in to the BOQ and take a nap. I was told that I was to be at the O'Club bar NLT 17:30 that evening to be introduced to the squadron (80TFS officially "Headhunters" unofficially official "Juvats").
      Suffice it to say, it was a long evening. Thankfully it was Friday so I had a day or two to get acclimatized.
      Off subject, the river cruise contract has been signed between the winemaker and the cruise line. Mrs J will be sending emails with more detailed info shortly.

  11. They don't even teach spin control anymore in GA... sigh

    1. OldNFO, I've heard that the spin recovery for an (undamaged) GA aircraft is "let go of the controls", the aircraft given enough altitude will recover itself. Which is good, I suppose. I'd still like to have options though.

    2. Long ago, had a fellow student friend in Grad School that called me up one Sat AM. He'd take me up flying if I would drive him to GFK airport. Halfway there, he asked how my stomach was. "OK, Why?". He was taking a commercial test next week and wanted someone with the instructor's weight in the right seat of the Cessna to practice his stalls and spins. Must have done a half dozen. After the first one, it was sport (have you ever noticed that a little "X" starts to appear on the ground at the likely impact point?...

    3. Don,
      Yep, it's the part of the ground that isn't moving only getting larger! The sign there says "Here lies Joe. He didn't pull out in time!"

  12. Ah... Spins... Yet another reason for Beans to never ever ever ever try to pilot a small craft, especially considering I have problems walking in a straight line on a good day.

    1. Well, I can guarantee that if you could get on the ground fast enough after a spin, you would have problems. Sadistic Instructors would have students close their eyes, put the aircraft into a spin then tell the student to recover the jet. That would test if the student was following the "Turn Needle" part of the bold face.
      Course the downside of that instructing technique was the increased potential for the student to lose his lunch in the IP's lap. Turn about is fair play.

  13. Almost the exact same bold-faced procedures for recovering from a stall/spin in the Mighty War Hoover, which I too remember like it was yesterday. Throttles- idle, Flaps/Speedbrakes - Retract, Stick- full forward with the turn needle, Rudder- full opposite turn needle, when recovery is indicated- controls neutralize. That's one of those that will probably be with me forever. Hope your GD2B arrives on time. I have 2 kids who arrived far too early (10 and 5 weeks respectively)- not recommended if at all possible.

    1. Tuna, Thanks, We'll certainly try to follow your advice. Better picture tomorrow.

  14. Prayers brought before the Lord.
    What's with spins? You haven't hit the ground yet so you must be flying (sort of). I've spoken here of flying with the 8TFW DO at George. He used to like me to be his IP in the Phantom. He LOVED the aileron in ACM. Not good. You can figure it out in the context of these posts.
    Lord, I hated spins.

    1. LtFuzz,
      Did a few "No Chute" landings did you? My Flight Commander when I was going through F-4C RTU at Luke was a GIB. As soon as I got qualified in the jet, he became my backseater and instructor. The first time we were doing defensive BFM and I broke into the bandit, I thought there was a flight control problem and knocked it off. Once we went through that drill, He asked why I'd knocked it off. I replied "The stick doesn't go left or right, we've got a flight control problem."
      "No Lt, you've got an aeronautical understanding problem. The stick NEVER goes right or left at high G."
      Turned out he'd had to jump out of one that went into a spin low enough to prevent recovery.
      I never made that mistake again, including in the E model which supposedly was more spin resistant.
      Fortunately, the Eagle corrected all those quirks and ailerons were once again approved for use.

  15. We could use rain here in South Central Wisconsin. We keep getting it, but it is in cloudburst, that run off before soaking in. We need a day long drizzle, a " Farmer's Rain ".

    I like your pilot stories.

    1. StB,
      Unfortunately, other than yesterday, we haven't been getting even cloudbursts. The 15 minutes we got yesterday, when I went to feed the horses about 30 minutes later, was completely gone and the soil was dry to the touch. So, yeah, a long, slow, steady Farmer's rain would be much appreciated.

      Thanks, I like telling them 😏


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