By lex, on February 5th, 2009
I’ve shared the tale of Po’ Lazlorus with you, who – apart from his regrettable tendency to wander in Caesar’s fields – had the misfortune of being unpopular with Dad. Mentioned Point Hadji, where the unchained spirit could spook the occasional passer-by. Spoke briefly about poor, benighted Bones, who was unlucky enough to cancel his IFR low-level route in favor of fashioning his own way through the countryside. And who paid the price.
Neglected, I think, to share the tale of another young man of my acquaintance who was the antithesis of Laz in terms of senior officer appreciation, but who appreciated the finer things in life.
Like raging around at low level through a national park.
Flush was yer man’s call sign, or close enough. Summat of a golden boy for the hinges; tall, handsome, aerodynamically adapted and athletic. Lovely family.
Found himself one day in charge of his very own FA-18, no department heads to fishwife him over his comm discipline or formation flying. Saw a lovely valley between two mountain ranges below him. Forested like, as contrasted to the Panamint and Death Valley deserts, whose only redeeming virtues were the nudist colony at Saline Warm Springs.
Dove right in.
Came back with a grin on his face, happy as a pig in waller. “It’s great,” he cried, “beautiful mountains on both side and this crazy valley in the middle. And the best thing of all? Nobody goes there!”
Which was true, of course, on account of the fact it was a national park. Nobody was supposed to go there.
Turns out certain people did go there. National Park Service rangers. Who took a very dim view of Hornet pilots raging around in blower down below 3000 feet. And who had access to a phone line.
Came a phone call to the wing, which went bouncing about to the local squadrons duty officers, who dutifully reported what aircraft they’d had airborne at or about the time a certain FA-18 pilot had disturbed the feng shui of the Sierra National Park.
The spotlight fell upon yer man Flush, who stoutly denied that any aircraft under his actual command had violated park airspace in the least way. The Operations Officer nodded sagely, and asked the Maintenance Officer to pull the mission data recorder from the jet. As a form of insurance.
The MDR records where the aircraft is in space over three second intervals, as well as countless other things like engine power settings, flight control deflections, exhaust gas temperatures and the like. We used to joke that if you were going to be stupid in a jet, it was best to be stupid over the ocean, for if the MDR survived your ejection/crash it didn’t matter that you were single seat and sticking to your story: The jig would be up when the maintenance folks pulled the data.
Things went badly for Flush after the MDR data proved he’d been telling a story. The bloom had come off the rose, like.
Airline pilot now, I believe. Not that, you know: Anything’s wrong with that.