HOW TO BE MARRIED TO A MARINE FIGHTER PILOT--A Marine Corps pilot's wife: F-4s, F/A-18s and aviators from my perspective.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Aviation Brief XXIII: Landing

1.    Take turns coming into the break to land.
2.    Open canopy with canopy lever when entering fuel pits; in case of fire, get out quickly.
3.    Hot refuel.
4.    Taxi to flightline.
5.    Wait while plane captain chocks airplane.
6.    Wait until plane captain signals, ‘Cut engine’
7.    Cut engine.

8.    Get face curtain pin out of pin bag and put it in to ‘safe’ seat.
9.    Climb out of plane and on to deck.

Aviators brief hops so the unexpected is expected. All involved know who comes into land first--usually the flight leader. An emergency such as bingo fuel might change that, but other routines prepare for anything not routine.

The canopy is opened before going into the fuel pit because the risk of fire exists and someone somewhere wasn’t able to get out of a burning plane on the ground.

The plane captain chocks the plane then signals to cut the engines because it helps to have hands and eyes on the ground to do and see what the strapped into the seat cannot.

The aviator turns off the engine and makes sure the one very important pin safes the ejection seat from ejecting an aviator too close to the ground. Good to have control of your own life and power.

In marriages we need to brief each other on the expected and be prepared for the unexpected.   Who’s the flight leader? Are there any emergencies? Are there fires in the fuel pit? Do we need to make sure the plane doesn’t run over our plane captain?

I confess I tend to take care of a lot of our life missions. Somedays I believe I briefed the hop as the flight leader only to realize Andy didn’t get the brief. He wants to take care of everything. Tension.

Except when he doesn’t. Sometimes he wants someone else to take charge. Tension again.

 When it’s tough--the kids are misbehaving, the money’s tight, work is frustrating--then I want him to take charge and he wants me to be the flight leader and lead the way to a safe landing. I want to be refueled without fires and explosions. I want someone else to chock my plane and let me know I can cut the engine. So does he.

The hard part is making sure we don’t just brief each other once--like 36 years ago when we married and I thought he was the next best thing to a god on earth. We have to keep briefing and re-briefing and looking out for our wingman.

We all want a safe landing and to be able to climb out of the high-performance fighter jet that is our life on to solid ground.

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