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.
Showing posts with label MCAS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MCAS. Show all posts

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fighter Pilot Rule for Life: Lowkey Information


The first plane my guy flew was a T-34 propeller trainer, the T-2 was his first jet, then the T-2B, a twin engine T-2 jet, the TF-9 jet trainer, and finally in VMFA-333, he flew the Phantom F-4. All of the planes were double-seaters with an instructor or a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) in the backseat ready to tell him when he was doing it wrong. It served a dual purpose to have dual seats. The backseaters kept the valuable plane from terminal damage and also kept the young, brash, and maybe-not-yet-up-to-snuff pilot from terminal damage. A lot of time and money had been invested in both aircraft and aviator.

If a pilot had figured out a way to auger into the ground or lost his S/A or departed from controlled flight, a RIO or instructor would verbally help him get his act together. The best RIOs and instructors kept cool in the lightning storm. The idea wasn't to destroy the young pilot's confidence but to train him up to be a calm, steely-eyed gunslinger with wings and sidewinder missiles. Even after leaving the training command there were many times an extra set of eyes or another brain proved valuable. When worse went to worst, the RIO also had a command-eject capability.

And then in 1983, the new latest fighter arrived at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station: the F/A-18 Hornet, a single-seat, high-tech aircraft that featured computerized instrument panels, nine on-board computers (more now!), and television screens to aid in bombing run accuracy. The training squadrons had two-seat planes, but once finished with the flight simulator training and the instructors, no RIO flew as a backseat driver or failsafe guy.

McDonnell Douglas had a solution. They asked a secretary to record some standard warning messages in a calm, female voice. (Millions of dollars went into research to determine that a female voice was easier to hear in a stressful situation) The F/A-18 Hornet voice warning system was called by the aviators Bitchin’ Betty. In the worst of circumstances, her voice is composed and measured: “Left engine fire. Left engine fire” or “Bingo Fuel. Bingo Fuel.”

Here's what I've been wondering: why does my beloved other ignore my voice in disasters? Could it be that jumping up and down screaming and using tons of !!!! does not make my point better?

So I've been practicing. I keep my voice low and slow. "Honey, you are about to turn left on a red light and I do not think that tractor-trailer sees you," and "You might want to bring your wallet that is on the bedside table before we leave with our luggage to catch a plane to Timbuktu," and "Darling, the ladder you are climbing to put lights on the second story of our house has not been latched properly and is about to collapse."

Not my fault if he does not hear my reasonable warnings. Not my fault, but in a marriage we both suffer the consequences.