Friday, March 10, 2006


While I read Jeremy Zawodny's blog for Yahoo/Technical insights, he also blogs about aviation and something like this pops up:F-16 Bird Strike Video (by Jeremy Zawodny)

Heck of a video. My Dad is a retired Army Aviator and it's amazing the amount of training you have to go through so that you can be cool and do the right thing under all sort of circumstances when things go wrong.

Small story: I needed to go to freshman orientation at my new college. I lived in Texas and my school was in Alabama. My Dad had a friend who loaned us his very nice plane to make the trip. Life is good. Look at all of those pretty lakes below us as we climb up and up to get on the flight plan.

At some elevation, the engine dies. No sputtering, no fight. Just shuts off. It was very quiet. My body and mind shifts suddenly to the most serious state of existence I've about ever had. I lose total interest in the Coca-Cola in my hand.

After a very long couple of seconds, Dad calmly reaches over and flips a switch. The engine is going again.


Huh, indeed. We go for a bit more and the engine cuts off again. Once more, Dad leans over and flips a switch and the engine starts going again. At this point, my serious mind has switched to scoping out big lakes for a water landing.

"If it does it a third time, we'll go back," my Dad says.

'Oh, hell,' my inner voice says, 'God gave you a break. God even gave you a second break. God might be too busy giving people who aren't pushing their luck to give you a third break.'

The engine cuts off again.

In a way, it was a relief. For that moment of time that I waited to see whether the engine would start again I at least knew we were heading back. The engine did start again and we went back to the Huntsville airport and procured a different plane.

The problem? The plane's owner pretty much used it for puddle-jumping around the area and really hadn't had it up at a high elevation for a long time. At a certain altitude, the fuel-pump failed and no more gas for the engine.

My Dad was flipping the switch to engage the electric fuel-pump to get the engine going again. His training kicked in automatically and it was no big deal. For him.

All was well and we made our trip and back in the other plane. That was one of the big three adventures I remember flying around with my Dad (there were actually four but I slept through one of them). All in all, he was as cool as a cucumber and I never got beyond seriously concerned.

Though I never finished that Coke.

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