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Scariest Day/Night Flying

phrogpilot73

Well-Known Member
A message in another thread prompted me to start this thread. It got me thinking, and thought perhaps we could educate the youngin's with our salty wisdom... After all, it's not just their IP's blowing smoke up their ass. So, what is your scariest day or night experience flying? NO - pregnant midget strippers while on cross-country in a C-130 don't count. ;)

I actually have two...

First deployment, brand new HAC and the CO wants us to do NVG CQ's on the TransLant home. Low Light (you know, the kind of low light that is only around the ship), no visible horizon, ship at its pitch and roll limits. I brief that we're going to hit the instrument pattern and come back at the end to do two landings each pilot (so we meet the letter of the law WRT CO's intent). I come back to land, and proceed to do the dance of death over the spot for 5 minutes before slamming it into the deck. Thought I was ok, but when my copilot took his turn and turned towards the ship, and was below the flight deck, I realized that I was done for the night. Called for the catch and kill and took the ass chewing from the CO for coming back early. That was the only time that I felt a terrifying urge to get out of the aircraft immediately. Although it is closely tied with the time the same CO turned off AFCS during an instrument check in actual IMC conditions...

Second deployment, salty WTI flying with another salty WTI. Mission was to insert an R&S team to do a bridge survey west of Al Asad. Again, Low Light Night and the imagery analyst guys told me "hard packed sand" for the LZ. First approach to the zone - can't judge my groundspeed 'cause it's so friggin' dark and end up blowing past it. I see a road, so I decide to land there. End up putting only one main mount on the road, and as I start to lower the collective and cyclic realize that I'm now falling forward and rolling left. Scream like a six year old girl, pull till I hear the horns and come around for attempt #2. Shoot the approach realizing I don't have the contrast to do a visual approach, so I'm doing 90% of the approach between the radalt, HHSI and Ground Speed. Finally come in to land, and find out that it's the nice talcum powdery sand. I brown out just as the crew chief calls blind, scream like a five year old girl, pull till I hear the horns and realize that the engines didn't spool up in time. WHAM! Bounce the main mounts off the deck and I'm airborne again - ready for try three. Shoot the approach a little faster than the second try, but slower than the first. End up putting the wheels on deck with something close to 20 knots of forward airspeed and stand on the brakes 'till she stops. Give the controls to copilot, let him fly back to the airfield, and smoke a full pack of cigarettes within 10 minutes of landing. The interesting part of this story was that we were being escorted by 2xF/A-18's in the overhead and after we called that we had inserted the team they responded with "Wow, looks like you guys were working hard down there..."
 

feddoc

Really old guy
Super Moderator
Contributor
Ah, memories of a CC flight to an airshow in Grand Junction.

I was in the back of a -60, 3 day XC to an airshow for special needs kids in Grand Junction. On the way back home we did an unplanned and unbriefed course change to fly over some Utah mountains. Good weather for awhile. Then it started snowing. Sucker holes galore. THEN I heard the distinct, although slight, change of sound coming from the main rotor blades. A quick review of aero and a glance outside told me that it was possible our rotors were icing over. Scared the junk out of me, especially after the HAC, over 3500 hours, told me later he got vertigo.
 

MasterBates

Well-Known Member
Heres one,

GOMEX, about 200 south of PCOLA on COMPTUEX workup for my H2P cruise. Had just flown a double bag (7.2 logged) SSC mission (RADAR and VID).

On return transit to the ship, they drive into a fogbank and cannot get out. CV is 50 miles away, we have 900lbs in the tank when we discover ship is in fogbank. We have no other ready decks nearby, so we try to get the ship to drive out, no luck.

Shot the approach, with the lights on the ship shining thru the fog. We break out (more like can see through) at .2 miles in a creep. HAC has the leans, and had been flying with the ball out. He passes me the controls, and then we go IMC 100yd behind the fantail. Gas is down to 650#. Land or swim. LSO is conning by sound. HAC has progressed to full-blown vertigo, I am getting the leans REAL BAD.

Re-aquire the wake at about 50 yds and drive it in. I pick up the HARS bar about the time I am crossing the stern (Cruiser).

It does not agree with my internal gyro or AC gyros. Now I have leans bordering on vertigo.

Probably was the ugliest trap in lamps history, I landed with the probe on the back of the trap, and slid forward and locked in. HAC was giving info the best he could, but he was nearing puking. I was too scared to puke.

We shut down, I got out of the bird and puked.
 

hscs

Registered User
pilot
Copilot making a landing in northeast Kuwait during a CSAR-ex on a lowlight night. No contrast and ended up landing with right drift and 10 kgs. We were on two wheels for a couple of seconds.
 

Catmando

Keep your knots up.
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
Totally dark, night FCLP's at NALF San Clemente, going in and out of fog banks. Got called once by the LSO for "rough power at the 180," I was that spooled-up. :eek:
 

A4sForever

BTDT OLD GUY
pilot
Contributor
^ San Clemente and the Channel ... some of the worst FCLP and night CQ that I can remember as well .... especially on a 27-C deck ...

I was scared too many times in the military to relate specific examples without becoming a bore .... :) .... was even "scared" a few times in the airlines .... but one that most of you can relate to:

Reentering the field high-speed (250 KIAS waivered - typical) solo in an A-4 VFR @ NAS Dallas from the Brownwood MOA with radar following/monitors, basically following the TACAN aproach corridor/altitudes up the 180 degree radial until I was at the initial
with radar following to the VFR break (what could be safer, right???) ... leveled around FAF 1200' .... light puffy scattered clouds only about 300' high but spreading as far as the eye could see over the whole area .... suddenly at my 10 o'clock a white civilian twin-something appeared moving left to right in/out of the clouds --- right through the NAS approach corridor --- heading SE for Addison airport or at least in that general direction --- we missed each other by less than 10-15' vertically --- I could hear his engines as he flashed below me --- through my helmet, canopy and all ..... then he was gone, in and out of the clouds and heading to the SE and away from me.

If we had hit one another --- it would have been over in a flash.

I started yelling @ approach to ID him or skin paint him or track him or something ... they never did see him and never called traffic ... I would have went after him had I not been out of gas and/or the clouds not present ... I landed ... taxied in, dismounted, and started to shake.

God ... why did I quit smoking cigarettes ... ??? :)

The proverbial near miss .... and a near bad day. :)
 

Fly Navy

...Great Job!
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
Have had a couple near misses, never as close as that. My god, can't imagine how that one felt.
 

scoober78

(HCDAW)
pilot
Contributor
suddenly at my 10 o'clock a white civilian twin-something appeared moving left to right in/out of the clouds --- right through the NAS approach corridor --- heading SE for Addison airport or at least in that general direction --- we missed each other by less than 10-15' vertically
Wonder if he even noticed?:confused: WTF.....

I've been amazed how incompentent alot of the civ. aviators are down here in Corpus in just the little time I've been here. We have clearly posted MOA's and course rules and at least 3 times, I've been on them only to have some knucklehead noodling his way through them at 80 KIAS, negative mode C... Makes me wish I was flying this T-34 variant...


Can't get my mind around how coming that close must make you feel...
 

HAL Pilot

Well-Known Member
None
Contributor
Wonder if he even noticed?:confused: WTF.....

I've been amazed how incompentent alot of the civ. aviators are down here in Corpus in just the little time I've been here. We have clearly posted MOA's and course rules and at least 3 times, I've been on them only to have some knucklehead noodling his way through them at 80 KIAS, negative mode C... Makes me wish I was flying this T-34 variant...


Can't get my mind around how coming that close must make you feel...
You do realize that
1. civilian aircraft are allowed to operate VFR in MOAs
2. many MOAs are so large that civilian traffic has to operate in them to get from point A to point B without a 2 hour detour
3. civilian aircraft have no clue about military course rules because they do not apply to the civilians and are not provided to the civilians
4. Mode C is not required for VFR aircraft operating outside of class A, B or C airspace - MOAs are usually class E.
5. The military does not own the MOA airspace. It is shared airspace.

A4s' civilian - incompetent operations in an approach corridor.

You civilians - operating in airspace where they have just as much right to operate as you do.

It is as much your responsibility to avoid civilian traffic in the MOA as it is their responsibility to avoid you.

BTW, over the last 6 or 7 years flying in the Las Vegas class B airspace under the control of either LAS Approach or Nellis Approach I've had 3 near misses. 2 of those were less than 200 feet separation. All 3 were with fighters out of Nellis and all 3 were shown to be the fighters' fault when the radar & radio tapes were reviewed. The closest & scariest was a flight of F-15s that overtook me from above and behind behind. One passed just below my left wingtip, one passed just above my right wingtip, one passed directly in front of my nose. I never saw the fourth, but the radar tapes showed he just missed my tail. I got to practice my unusual attitude recovery in the Twin Otter with 19 screaming Japanese tourist on board. The radar tapes also showed the F-15s at 350 knots ground speed when they passed me at 5000 feet and there wasn't 100 knots of wind. Further they repeatedly acknowledge the LAS approach traffic calls with "in sight" responses. They also broke the Nellis course rules by decending 3 miles early. So civilian pilots are not the only incompetent ones out there.

I have also seen many military aircraft over the Grand Canyon sight seeing in airspace restricted by the FAA to approved tour operators. This airspace (the Grand Canyon SFRA) is well publicized in the FARs and on both VFR and IFR charts. Base Operations at all the military airfields surrounding the Grand Canyon also publish the information about this airspace. I would say that either these military pilots were incompetent in their flight planning or they knowingly broke the FARs and flew in restricted airspace.

You're a SNA in primary. Get your wings and prove your competency. Then throw your stones in your glass house.
 

scoober78

(HCDAW)
pilot
Contributor
Yes...I am aware of the rules you pointed out...but stand by my comments that flying through a heavily used MOA without a transponder, radio, smoke signals etc...isn't smart...Especially when a small change in altitude or track would eliminate the conflict and allow them to see the same thing.

All that said, I definitely overstated my point a bit. I never meant to imply that civilian pilots taken as a whole are boobs, whereas military pilots are the only competent ones...Nor did I intend to misrepresent my experience or myself as anything other than what I am...a very new pup in military aviation with a weee bit o' civilian time. I'm sorry if my opinion offended anyone...not my intention.



Besides...I thought the pic was funny.;)
 

MIDNJAC

is clara ship
pilot
Yes...I am aware of the rules you pointed out...but stand by my comments that flying through a heavily used MOA without a transponder, radio, smoke signals etc...isn't smart...Especially when a small change in altitude or track would eliminate the conflict and allow them to see the same thing.

All that said, I definitely overstated my point a bit. I never meant to imply that civilian pilots taken as a whole are boobs, whereas military pilots are the only competent ones...Nor did I intend to misrepresent my experience or myself as anything other than what I am...a very new pup in military aviation with a weee bit o' civilian time. I'm sorry if my opinion offended anyone...not my intention.



Besides...I thought the pic was funny.;)
In defense of both Scoober's claims as well as general civilian aviation, I just have one thought to add (sorry to take things a little off topic). As a civilian pilot, flying this summer in the Rhino was an eye-opening experience w/r/t MOA's. We did some flying in the Hunter (?) MOA west of Lemoore, and I would never have thought to expect anything like I saw/participated in. I'm sure all of you experienced military aviators can attest to this, but we were doing some serious tactical flying....maybe the maneuvers weren't as violent as they were out at China Lake or R2508, but it still would have been difficult to see-and-avoid us from the perspective of a light civilian aircraft. While civilians have the right to blow through a hot MOA, I don't think that many have the experience to know not to. Just my middie .02 FWIW :D
 

A4sForever

BTDT OLD GUY
pilot
Contributor
scoober78 said:
stand by my comments that flying through a heavily used MOA without a transponder, radio, smoke signals etc...isn't smart...
Smoke signals ... you know ... ???



It was in the approach corridor of NAS DALLAS ... Texas? ... cowboys?... indians?.... you know?? The indians down there frequently use smoke signals instead of cluttering up the radios with needless chit-chat.

Don't they teach you guys ANYTHING anymore ... ??? :)
 

Old NFO

Registered User
None
As a AW, 197X, in a Sea in WESTPAC, bring chased by a GCI site and MIG-25 who was authorized to shoot us down- Proved the P-3 could do 405Kts at 50" AGL with 4 cherries across the board AND we were in and out of the clouds, so vis horizon was for s**t!

Second time, 1975 2 hours west of Cubi at 200' on a MAP flight, #1 Prop fail to feather, oversped and pitchlocked... Severe vibrations (popped most CB's in the acft), FE holding the Mon and Main Busses in by hand, 3 kts above stall and couldn't talk to anybody. We missed a comm report, Cubi though we were down, launched and couldn't find us, as we were crawling back at 6-800 ft, finally made a straight in, slid sideways, then stopped on the runway. Got out, kissed the ground, lit a cigarette and drank multiple beers.

As a TACCO/MC, punching into a Hurricane to save three guys on a raft from a sinking sailboat. Lightning strikes took out fwd radar, INS, all but 1 HF and 1 UHF just after takeoff. Severe turbulence all the way out to the search area, descended to 200' into moderate turbulence, actually found the raft, went back through the front and led a UH-1 from Bermuda out to perform the rescue, then led them home. Huey driver got a well deserved DFC for that rescue, I had one sick crew...
 

HAL Pilot

Well-Known Member
None
Contributor
I'm sure all of you experienced military aviators can attest to this, but we were doing some serious tactical flying....maybe the maneuvers weren't as violent as they were out at China Lake or R2508, but it still would have been difficult to see-and-avoid us from the perspective of a light civilian aircraft. While civilians have the right to blow through a hot MOA, I don't think that many have the experience to know not to. Just my middie .02 FWIW :D
That is why there are restricted areas and there are MOAs. Restricted areas keep civilian traffic away from military aircraft where military aircraft are performing maneuvers that do not allow them to exercise a proper see and avoid doctrine with civilian aircraft. If military aircraft are doing these type of maneuvers in a MOA, it is because their operations were too lazy to schedule/coordinate a restricted area.

MOAs are not military exclusive airspace were never meant to be. To quote from FAR part 1: "A MOA is airspace established outside of Class A airspace to separate or segregate certain NON-HAZARDOUS military activities from IFR traffic and to identify for VFR traffic where these activities are conducted." Many times when flying from Vegas to Ely, Nevada I went through Nellis' MOAs when they were "hot". A call to Nellis Control confirmed that there were 1 or 2 military aircraft over a hundred miles away from me. MOAs encompass hundreds of miles of airspace and are frequently "hot" even though there are only a few or even no military aircraft in them. Many MOAs are so large that it is impractical for civilian aircraft to circumnavigate them. Both military and civilian aircraft have an equal right to fly in MOAs and both are equally responsible for seeing and avoiding other traffic. The military gets no priority or exclusivity.

I never have and probably never will circumnavigate a MOA when flying VFR. It cost me or my employer time and money that is not necessary to spend. It's not a matter of "having the experience not to", it's a matter of having as much right to fly in that airspace as the military. I would counter that military pilots need to have the experience to acknowledge that there is civilian traffic in a MOA and to fly accordingly. If the presence of the civilian aircraft causes a hazard, than the military flight should be conducted in a restricted area.

Yes...I am aware of the rules you pointed out...but stand by my comments that flying through a heavily used MOA without a transponder, radio, smoke signals etc...isn't smart...Especially when a small change in altitude or track would eliminate the conflict and allow them to see the same thing.
If the FAA felt a mode C transponder was required, than the civilian aircraft would have it. By your line of reasoning, why aren't the military aircraft have TCAS? If they had TCAS they could probably see any conflicting civilian traffic and avoid conflicts. Why? For the same reason the civilian might not have mode C - money. Also, how is the civilian to know what radio frequencies the military is using? Is it VHF or UHF? If it is UHF, the civilian does not have it. Further, the civilian may be getting flight following from ATC (Center) and may be using his radio for that. Do you talk to Center in a MOA? Why not, it would be safer if Center assigned you a discreet squawk and talked to you.

A large percentage of civilian pilots transiting a MOA are not sight seeing. They are using their aircraft as a means of transportation and are conducting their flight in the most economical manner. You have just as much responsibility to make a small change in your track or altitude to avoid them as they do to avoid you.

I realize this is a military aviation forum but military aviation has to coexist with civilian aviation. You might not like that bug smasher tooling along at 80 knots while you're blasting through at the speed of light but you have to live with it. The civilian's slower, smaller and less advanced aircraft operating in airspace where he is legally entitled to be does not make him incompetent or constitute bad judgment.
 
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