Flipping Off Pete…

One afternoon the squadron commander asked me to come into his office after I got down from a flight.  I was the Operations Officer at the time; the number 2 guy in the squadron.

“Why are you pissed off at Pete S.?” he asked.

“I’m not pissed off at Pete S.” I replied.

“Well, he said you ‘flipped him off,'” came his retort.

For the very life of me, I had no clue what he was talking about.  He must have sensed this, and went on, “Pete said you flipped him off as you passed the RSU (Runway Supervisory Unit.)  Then it dawned on me – I did, ‘flip off’ Pete off – only I didn’t know it was Pete.

I don’t know why I ‘flipped off’ Pete; just seemed like the thing to do at the time.  Some men just do that; and I must be one of them.  We were taxing out, it was a gorgeous day, and the RSU guy, obviously Pete, just happened to look over.  So, what the Hell?  It happened.

After assuring our blessed “Dear Leader” that I wasn’t pissed off at Pete, I sought him out to tell him myself.  He was okay with it, and nothing more was made of it.  Did I modify my childish behavior?  Not a chance; haven’t yet.  It’s just (another) character defect of mine.  One I am not willing, to give up, yet.

I really didn’t know who was in the RSU at that time; don’t think it would have mattered anyway.  As it turned out, Pete was one of our “good guys.”

I first met him when he had to monitor a Check Section ground evaluation for a student going through our program.  The kid getting the check was a guy who really didn’t want to be an IP.  He had a girl friend back at Base X, and was just kinda going through the motions of the eval.

These evals were 2 hours long, with a 10-minute break in between.  At “half time,” Pete came up to me and asked, “Why haven’t you smoked this guy yet, Sir?  He is really stupid!”  Although I very well could have, this was a “sensitive case,” and I had to continue.  But it was good to see a new guy with a good head on his shoulders.

Many years later, I had an opportunity to take a check ride with Pete myself.  He was an evaluator at Northwest Airlines, and I was having my very last check ride in the A-320 simulator.   The check ride went pretty straight forward and with about a half-hour left, Pete asked me if there was anything I would like to do.

I had always wanted to try a “dead stick” landing in an airliner; and approach and landing without engines!  So, Pete set me up about 30 miles from the field, 90 degrees off runway heading – to make it challenging – and cut me loose, without operating motors.  What fun, and a lasting memory I will always cherish.

Half way down final approach I just happened to look down and see my hands on the throttles.  Why?  Had to chuckle to myself with that one!  So I removed my hand, and continued the approach to an acceptable landing – on speed, about 1,500 feet down the runway.  Of course the check ride ended there – no power to taxi in!

So, why did I “flip off” Pete?  No idea, just seemed like the thing to do, at the time…

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