Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's jazz baby

I posted the below in comments of this post by Lex about aircraft ground crew. I respect the humility in his words -- especially coming from a single seat fighter jock. That appreciation and respect shown by Lex for maintainers wasn't always present in guys I supported in the fleet. More than a few come to mind that prolly are best left unnamed.

One squadron skipper in particular comes to mind. He changed his nametag to "God" at one point and expected to be addressed as such in the squadron spaces back at Miramar (Hanger 6 if you care to know). Looking back, north of 50 myself now, I realize now just how young he was even as an O-5. Where we saw hubris, he probably intended humor. But that's another sea story for another day. Rock on Rocco, where ever you are.

Different airframes allow for more opportunities for in flight teching.

As for the tech styles. I compare it to the difference between classical and jazz. One guy can’t do a thing without every note in front of him. The other guy just needs to figure out the key and then he’ll work it out.

Those calls for an IFT to run to CATTC and talk a ‘FO through a systems troubleshoot were both enervating and terrifying. No pressure. No pressure at all. 4th down baby. You got the ball. ha

Twas both an honor and an albatross to be the AT tagged for the job. Usually came down to coaching them on sequence of tripping, resetting, seating and reseating different modules in hopes of clearing the homo-trons that had gone wrong way on the cat shot and plugged the system up.

I found it helped if I closed my eyes and ignored all the pressed and starched operators and watch officers wondering about the greasy greenshirt before them. /heh/

Tubes, tape drives, ferrite core memory, mechanical tuners, trailing wire antennas and wirewrapped motherboards couldn’t always be relied on to behave after a catstroke. Often what was needed was a swift smack of the hand on a daughtercard to wipe a contact clean. Or a reset of a memory module or A&C. That posed a dilemma though. It’s not like you wanted to give a ‘FO permission to get in the habit of hitting the avionics gear. We had enough equipment damaged in flight by overconfident NFO’s troubleshooting.

Hard to believe a guy could actually twist the rivets out of an IFF cabinet Deutsch data buss connector (they pop off, not twist like a Cannon plug) — but stranger things happened. Even harder to believe an officer and gentlemen would let W/C 210 take the fall for the damage and the downing of an a/c pending replacement cabinet from Bethpage (he fessed up to Tech Rep after cruise). So you made your play based on your judgement of the “O” on the radio. Some would get more help and longer leash than others.

Truth is, often I hardly knew where to start coaching the NFO on the radio. This was jazz not classical music. Improvisation was called for. It was hardly the time or place to admit much troubleshooting in flight was just moving as fast as I could and faking it like crazy. Need to let the crew know you understood their sense of urgency and were “all in” for them and the mission. Sometimes there was nothing to do but make a show of a**holes and elbows and pray mightily that my brain would catch up and the good Lord would give me a revelation (PS 18, “By my God I can…).

Just remember it’s jazz not classical. If you miss a note in classical music it’s a mistake. If you repeat it, confidently, it’s jazz. Faking it baby. Fast as I can.

Movement generates thought.

Might be something in that for daily living too...