“The Patrick Eight”

(Submitted by Rat)

The saga began with 8 IPs from an unnamed UPT base located in NE Mississippi hitting the road for the weekend on a T -38 four ship continuation training cross country. They launched out on a Friday afternoon . Seven of the eight were all out of Stan/Eval, Chec Section, and Wing Scheduling. The other was a line IP and my BIP. Everything was going great fine until Sunday afternoon when the 4 ship of Talons arrived on initial arrived at Patrick AFB, FL.

Seems they were on initial line abreast – a formation we didn’t ever fly in ATC. Then they pitch out, in opposite directions! Lead and 4 together followed in 8 seconds by 2 and 3. ‘The plan’ was to then fly opposite direction final turns, rejoining on final for formation landings.

So, Lead extends his perch just a little to give them a bit more time on final to stabilize and 2 delays his turn even further. Their subsequent turns and rejoin on final worked as briefed. Not so much for the second element, 2 and 3.

2 delays his turn to final for spacing on the first element. Then 3 extends even further – too far actually. As a consequence 3 rolls out ‘significantly’ behind 2. Wanting the formation to “look good,” he taps burner to gain airspeed for closure, and picks up way too much “smash” (airspeed). Instead of going around, he overshoots 3 on short final and lands long and Hot! When he gets on the brakes, he blows with tires and grinds down the wheels, closing the runway. It was at this very moment he picked ups he callsign, “Tires!”

Obviously, the chain if command didn’t see any humor in all this and they all the pilots lost their jobs. However , most recovered and went on to good follow-on assignments.

(Of Note: At the time, I was a T-38 Flight Safety Officer at HQ/ATC. The unnamed UPT base in NE Mississippi was one of my bases of responsibility to monitor. So I took the Incident Report when it came in. It took a couple cups of coffee to understand everything – What happened? How did it happen? Why would anyone do that? In their statements one of the 8 mentioned that he could not understand how it happened – he said the maneuver had worked perfectly the day before at another base! You just shake your head, and get another cup of coffee…)

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