By lex, on May 17th, 2009
The right guy for the moment:
(USAF) Staff Sgt. Bartek Bachleda knew something was amiss almost immediately after the jetliner left Chicago.
He’d looked out the window and saw what he thought was a fuel leak. He’d know, because he’s a boom operator with the 909th Air Refueling Station based at Kadena Air Base in Japan. That’s where he was headed. He was one of 300 people aboard the flight bound for Narita.
Still, he wanted to be sure, so he kept close watch on the situation. After an hour, he was convinced the plane had a serious problem. He alerted the flight attendant, who appeared unconcerned. He started filming the leak. No one knew it at the time, but the plane was losing 6,000 pounds of fuel an hour. He showed the flight attendant the video.
I’d like to think that the flight crew would have noticed an atypical burn rate before the flight got to MidPac.
I’m an optimist, that way.
No need to ask.
He’s a booom. Operator.
Update: Wow. Talk about a back-breaking transition.**
Flying above the Gulf of Mexico in the early afternoon, Maj. Booth Johnston steered his F-16 Fighting Falcon upward at better than 500 mph.
The 9-G turn pushed Johnston, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 200 pounds, into the fighter’s seat, a sensation not much different from hundreds of other times during his 2,500 hours in F-16s.
Then something snapped.
Near the top of Johnston’s spine, the disk between the fifth and sixth vertebra suddenly popped out of place, pinching the nerves that connect his brain with his feet and hands.
And just as suddenly, Johnston was fighting for his life. Barely conscious and in excruciating pain, he struggled to maintain control of the plane.
Ended up landing the jet, waking up in a hospital and transitioning from Vipers to Predators.
** 09-05-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.