In the mid-eighties we were experiencing a higher than normal rate of T-38 wheel brake wear. The T-38 typically lands at 130 knots, about 150 mph. That’s if you are actually “on speed.” Without anti-skid, and operating at high ambient temperatures, this put a great deal of wear on our brakes.
At Randolph Field, on Runway 14L, we had a taxiway adjacent to the tower, about 2/3 down the runway. This is depicted as “A4” on the field diagram below.
During the summer a lot of us would “get on the brakes” a bit to turn off on A4 – to cut down on the taxi time back to parking. If you landed ‘on speed,’ within the first hundred feet of runway, it usually wasn’t a problem. The problem came when guys landed ‘long,’ then really got on the brakes to make the turn off. This would usually “smoke the brakes,” causing them to warp and be rendered unserviceable.
At first our DO, our Director of Operations, put out the word not to attempt to make “A4” if we landed either too long or too “hot,” with too high of a ground speed. Okay, makes sense. No problem. Except for that “10%” – the 10% that never seems ‘to get the word.’ We continued to have some guys who ignored the DO’s guidance, and we continued to have warped brakes. So then DO prohibited guys from turning off at A4!
A lot of guys really had problems with that as often they were at taxi speed as they approached A4 upon landing. And the policy annoyed me also – we were all being “punished” because of the actions of a few. Isn’t this always the case?
Then one day Tommy came in to land. Tommy was one of my IPs in Check Section. On this particular day Tommy landed on speed, at “brick one,” and was at taxi speed as he approached A4. The Tower upon seeing this, gave him permission to clear (the runway) at A4. Tommy’s reply was something like, “I’d like to, but my DO won’t let me,” and he continued to the end.
I wouldn’t have known anything about the incident had I not been invited in for a “cold cup of coffee.” This is where you are invited in by your boss for a cup of coffee, and by the time he finishes chewing your ass, the coffee is cold! Crap! Oh well…
After that, I took a perverse sense of delight in landing on speed, and slowing to taxi speed by A4 – without ‘smoking the brakes!’ It could be done. Then if offered “A4,” I would just rely, “Unable” – and taxi to the end… My passive-aggressiveness on steroids. Oh well…