“Roger that, and you can pick up the squawk…”

Gary G. was a senior captain when I got to Vance in 1975.  He had been a Forward Air Controller (FAC) in Vietnam before becoming a T-38 IP.  Gary had kind of a ‘cynical demeanor’ but in a humorous way.  I never saw him use his humor in a harmful manner – but he sure could get his point across with it!

One day Gary was out in the area when the jet he was flying had a T-5 Amp, on one of his engines, let go on him.  The T-5 Amp was a device on each engine that controlled engine temperature by opening the nozzles to keep the temperatures within their operating range.  They only came into effect above 95% rpm (I think).  It was not a ‘big deal,’ but something that you didn’t want to continue the mission with.  So on this day, Gary calls for a return to Vance, then calls into the squadron to tell them what is going on.

Now, at the time, when we experienced an ‘anomaly’ with the jet we could declare either an Emergency or a Precautionary, depending upon the severity of the problem.  This would give us preferential treatment for recovery, if necessary.  So, now Gary calls the Supervisor of Flying (SOF) to advise him that he is returning to base with this T-5 amp issue.

The SOF in turn, asks Gary if he is declaring either an Emergency or a Precautionary.  Gary was a bit perplexed by the question as it really didn’t warrant either.  So he told the SOF that he wasn’t declaring anything to which the SOF replied that he (the SOF) was declaring a Precautionary for him!

Gary was somewhat taken aback.  He had never heard of anything like it.  So, he then told the SOF, “Roger that, you can pick up the squawk then!”  Meaning: the SOF could turn his transponder to the ‘precautionary setting!’  Gary was justifiably upset that the SOF was attempting to ‘fly his jet.’

I thought Gary was ‘spot on’ with his retort…


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