Oh Beauty!

We had these two “Tweet” (T-37) pilots at Vance who were heading over to their auxiliary airfield one morning to set up shop.  We used auxiliary airfields in Air Training Command (ATC) to alleviate high traffic loads at our home fields.  So these two guys are flying over to open up the operation for the day.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, there was a “game” they played on their way into the airfield.  Essentially is was: once the throttles were retarded, you couldn’t advance them, and once a “drag device” (gear, flaps, speed brakes) was extended, you couldn’t retract it.  The idea was to see how far out, at 5,000 feet, you could begin the “game,” and “glide” in for a landing.  Swell…

So, this one morning, we (in Safety) get this call – that there’s been an “accident” at Kegelman Field, Vance’s auxiliary airfield.  A Tweet had landed 19 feet short of the runway.  Our first concern was for the safety of the pilots.  They were ‘fine.’  So, we – our accident response team – all headed out to Kegelman.

It really wasn’t that long before we learned of “the game.”  My first thought was, YGBSM!  (You Gotta Be Shittin’ Me!)  The Tweet engine takes about 17 seconds to spool up from idle to full power in flight!  Then, as I walked around the crippled jet, all I could think of was, “Oh, Beauty!”

It had been 4 1/2 years since we had had a T-37 accident.  There was an award at the time, for going 5 years without an aircraft accident.  This accident did not have to happen.  I feel fairly confident today, in calling these two guys, “morons!”  Actually I did also, at the time…

Our Wing Commander wanted to shoot “golden BBs” into their chests; I wanted to load the gun!

After it was all said and done, I began to wonder if this accident was really their “fault?”  Or, did the Civil Engineers build the runway 19 feet too far south?  Nevermind…

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One Response to Oh Beauty!

  1. Gregg says:

    Bob, thanks for the story. You always evoke many more memories with your vignettes. I remember doing night burner closed patterns at Griffiss AFB, and seeing 1.2 AOA in the final turn(other T3 pilot flying). Always a fine line in aviation between success and Oh Shit. Gregg

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