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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Motto from Krems an der Donau

Exactly one month ago today, as I made my way west from Timişoara and Covasinţ, Romania, toward Fellbach, Germany, I paid a visit to the University of the Danube - Krems, in the beautiful city of Krems an der Donau, Austria.

I arrived about three in the afternoon a bit hungry, a bit thirsty, and dying for a rest room, so my first stop in Krems was at a cafe, where I enjoyed a delicious snack of apple strudel and coffee, along with a glass of water.

Snack eaten, I strolled into the city in search of a bank, for I had not a Euro to my name.  I walked perhaps 500 meters through the heart of this quaint Danubian town.

There is a statue of a man on his knees before a buxom beauty.

Is he proposing?
I believe the story has him begging for forgiveness.

 In the street I met two young men on bicycles who gave me directions to the Arte Hotel, where I ended up spending two most comfortable nights. 

Shirl and I stayed here in 2010, and she well remembers the verdant hill just behind the hotel.
This is the view through the glassed hallway looking toward the University, just across the street.

Turning to the rear of the hotel, one sees the view above.

The Piano
After a most interesting and productive series of meetings at the University, I walked down from the hotel to a pub called "Piano," sat at an outdoor table, and ordered a beer, and a bowl of chili (a dish Shirl had enjoyed on our past visit there).  After not more than three minutes, a young fellow came along and sat one table away, facing my table, and also ordered a beer.  I asked him, "Are you alone?"  He replied, "For the time, yes.  I am expecting my girlfriend after her meeting ends."

Naturally, I invited him to my table, which invitation he happily accepted.  Introducing ourselves, I learned he was Vlad, from Iaşi, Romania.  We ended up spending the evening in conversation (over, maybe, one or two more beers).  The evening ended with a nightcap at the hotel, where he and his Romanian girlfriend, a young veterinarian whose professional meeting had brought them to Krems, were also staying.

The Motto
Are you in the least surprised that I should happen to befriend a Romanian couple in Krems, Austria?  (If you are a faithful reader, of course you are not surprised.)  Which reminds me that I have recently coined a new motto:
Go where you want to go, see what you want to see, and never leave a roadside diner without having made a new friend. - D. C. McDougall, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Julie Andrews and Education (Please turn on sound)

Yesterday, while listening to some songs on YouTube by Julie Andrews, I came upon the video of her 2013 Commencement Address at the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU-Boulder) (See link).  I listened to it, and like it very much.  I recommend listening to her entire speech, but I want to comment on one aspect in particular.  Julie Andrews tells us in her speech to the graduating class that she never completed high school, and never attended a college or university.

Let's hear it for dropouts!  I wonder what percentage of the (so deeply regretted!?) dropouts from our schools and colleges are in fact the more talented students, youngsters who see the absurdity of trying to learn in such environments, and who decide not to waste any more of their lives there.

Now, enjoy this ditty from Camelot!

And also from Camelot, this number, which, if you have ever had a secret love, may have meaning for you beyond the beauty of Julie's bell-clear soprano tones.

(Photos from Bing Images)

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Cessna O-2 Skymaster and "Nail 55"

E-Mail received today from a good friend, Col. William R. (Bill) Benoit, U.S. Army Aviator, (Ret.):

Subject: Fw: O-2s Cessna - How they really got to Viet Nam

Good Story How The O-2s [Cessna Skymasters] Really Got To Viet Nam
It's 1967 or maybe early 1968 and the Air Force has bought a mess of Cessna Super Skymasters and called them O-2s. The Cessna factory at Wichita, Kansas is pumping them out at a pretty good clip and your problem is to figure out how to get them to Vietnam where they are needed. Your choices are:
1. Fly them to the West coast and turn them over to the Army for transport by cargo ship.

2. Take the wings off them and stuff them three at a time into the belly of C-124s and fly them over.

3. Fly them over under their own power with no C-124 attached.

Question: Which method was used? Right! Every single one of those puppies was hand-flown across the Big Pond to Vietnam. That sounds like it might have been a Mickey Mouse operation. Believe me, it wasn't that good.

Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) was running that show and their knowledge stopped somewhat short of knowing anything about ferrying airplanes. The Air Force had a perfectly good organization called the 44th Aircraft Delivery Group which operated world wide and managed the ferrying of all aircraft; except the O-2s.

AFSC contracted with some outfit in San Francisco to deliver the planes to Saigon. The contractor hired a bunch of civilian pilots who couldn't find honest work elsewhere. Since the O-2s were technically "public" aircraft (as opposed to civil or military aircraft) no pilot's license was necessary to fly one, and I'm not sure that all of the pilots had licenses. Some of them were pretty good, but the rest of them were the most god-awful collection of unqualified scruffy-looking alcoholics you ever saw. The dregs of the flying profession.

The deal worked like this. The pilots were given a plane ticket to Wichita, where they got a quickie checkout in the O-2 if they needed one. Then they launched in bunches of four and headed for Hamilton AFB on the west coast of California.

Enroute, they were instructed to carefully monitor and record their oil consumption, which, of course, they did not do. That type of pilot does not monitor and record oil consumption. 

At Hamilton, the Air Force removed all the seats except the left front one. The seats were shipped to Vietnam by air, which is what should have happened to the rest of the plane, too. Extra fuel tanks were installed in the vacant floor space followed by the pilot himself. He had to crawl over the co-pilot tank to get to the left seat.

Next, they installed an oil tank on top of the co-pilot tank followed by a small emergency HF radio on top of that.

Now, the pilot was truly locked in. To get out, he could either wait for someone to remove the radio and oil tank or crawl out the emergency escape window on the left side. Takeoff must have been something to watch.

With all that fuel, the planes were way over max gross weight. They had no single engine capability at all for about the first five hours of flight. If either engine hiccupped, the pilot went swimming. 

The route was Hawaii (Hickam), Midway, Wake Island, Guam (Anderson), Philippines (Clark) and Saigon (Tan Son Nhut.) The Hamilton-Hickam leg was by far the longest; nominally about thirteen hours. The O-2s were carrying fuel for about fourteen and a half hours of flight. Navigation was strictly dead reckoning. The pilots took up a heading based on wind calculations and flew out their ETA hoping to be lost within range of a Hawaiian radio station.

They had no long range navigation equipment. The fuel tanks were disposable and were dropped off as they were no longer needed. The fuel pumps were not disposable and the pilots were instructed to bring them back along with their dirty underwear and the HF radio.

The trip was supposed to take about a week and each pilot carried an airline ticket from Saigon to Wichita to go back and pick up another plane. For this, the pilots were paid $800 per trip with the flight leader getting $1,000.

They planned on averaging three trips a month and getting rich doing it.

How come I know so much about this? Well, I was the Director of Safety at Hickam AFB and every single one of over 300 O-2s passed through my domain and created almost constant headaches. Before this all started, I had no idea what an O-2 even looked like much less any knowledge of the overall ferrying scheme.

The trouble started with the very first flight and began with the extra oil tank. The reason for determining oil consumption on the Wichita-Hamilton leg was to know how much oil to add during the really long legs. There were no oil quantity gages.

Shortly after takeoff from Hamilton, boredom set in and the pilots would give the oil tank wobble pump a jab or two and squirt some more oil into the engines.The O-2 didn't need that much oil. All this did was overservice the engines which resulted in fluctuating oil pressure. The pilots didn't like that at all, so they added more oil which led to more pressure fluctuation.

Meanwhile, they were totally lost and not getting much closer to Hawaii.

Time for the old MAYDAY call on the HF radio. When that call came in, the Coast Guard in Hawaii was running a very interesting seminar on sea rescue in downtown Honolulu. I was attending which is how I found out that we had an O-2 problem. The Coast Guard shut down the seminar and launched their C-130 and a pair of cutters to find the O-2s; which they did.

They herded them to the nearest runway which happened to be the Marine Corps Air Station at Kanehoe on the Northeast side of Oahu. I drove over the mountains to Kanehoe to find out what the hell this was all about.

That's when I saw my first O-2; actually my first four O-2s. Aside from being ugly, they were all soaked with oil overflowing from both engines and they didn't have ten gallons of gas among them. One had flamed out taxiing in from landing.

They had been airborne for 14 hours and 45 minutes. The Coast Guard was really pissed when they learned the full story and was making noises about sending someone a bill for the rescue effort. I must say, I agreed with them.

That silliness continued for three or four weeks with every single flight of O-2s getting into some sort of trouble. At Hickam, the O-2 pilots were fairly easy to find. Most of the time they were draped over the bar at the O-Club; a situation which was attracting the attention of the Officers Wives Club; always a dangerous thing to do.

I went to PACAF Headquarters and told them what was going on and they were absolutely appalled. Civilian misfits ferrying Air Force airplanes across the Pacific to a combat zone? No way! Between us, we began firing off messages to get this idiocy stopped.

AFSC couldn't understand what the problem was and probably still doesn't. Hamilton AFB was taking a lot of heat for participating and allowing them to launch at all. I was agitating about the stupidity of this through all the safety channels.

I think I may have mentioned that when the inevitable accident occurred, they better hope it was out of my area. If I had to investigate it, they were definitely not going to like the report. I was prepared to write most of the report right then before the accident even happened. AFSC backed down and agreed to let the 44th Aircraft Delivery Group run the operation.

The 44th wasn't too happy about that because the civilian pilots didn't seem to take instructions very well. Nevertheless, that brought some organization to the festivities which included things like mission planning, briefings, weather analysis, flight following and escort. The O-2s weren't allowed to fly unless accompanied by a C-47 or C-7 Caribou who could fly at their speed and handle the navigation.

That wasn't much of a problem as there were two or three of those planes being ferried each week to Vietnam. That procedure eliminated most of my problems and things settled down to a routine. The delivery rate to Vietnam was slowed somewhat, but I think more total planes actually got there because of it.

During the entire process, only two planes were lost. One ditched due to engine failure on the Wake-Guam leg. The pilot managed to get out of the plane and bobbed around in his life jacket until picked up by a Japanese cargo ship. The other crashed in the Philippines killing the pilot. I never knew the circumstances.

We had, of course, the occasional problem at Hickam. I remember one pilot who landed nose gear first and managed to snap the gear off completely and ding the front propeller. I went out to see what had happened and got a load of bull**** and a strong whiff of gin from the pilot. The plane (he claimed) was nose heavy on landing and the elevator trim was inoperative. He couldn't get the nose up.

Furthermore, his transmitter was out and he couldn't tell anyone about his problems. I checked the plane and found the elevator trimmed full nose down, but the trim switch and trim tab worked just fine. Just to the left of the trim switch, I noticed that the microphone toggle switch was actually bent backwards.

After several hours of martinis, the pilot was trying to trim using the mic switch. He trimmed the plane full nose down while trying to talk to the control tower on the trim switch. Case closed.

None of these accidents consumed any of my time. I had learned another quirk in the AFSC way of doing business. Appearances aside, the aircraft were not Air Force aircraft and wouldn't be until they arrived in Saigon and were formally delivered and accepted. Since they weren't, technically, Air Force aircraft; they couldn't have an Air Force accident.

The planes weren't registered as civil aircraft, so they couldn't have a civil accident either. They were in regulatory limbo and any accidents were non-events. Nobody cared. That suited me just fine. I had other things to do and I couldn't see how an investigation of stupidity would contribute anything to the Air Force safety program.

Incidentally, how do you suppose they got the O-2s out of Vietnam and back to the United States? They took the wings off, stuffed them three at a time into the belly of C-124s and flew them back. AFSC was not involved which, I later learned, tended to improve almost any operation.

Author contact Info: Richard H. Wood 4563 El Dorado Way, #124 Bellingham, WA 98226

Roger and OUT
Sent from my Raspberry device via the TinCan & String Network

My reply:


I may have told you about my HBS sectionmate Jerry (Nail 55) Dwyer, who flew in Vietnam as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) in an Air Force O-2, after transitioning from RF101 Voodoos.   Jerry commanded the first night FAC squadron in Vietnam, flying out of Thailand, if memory serves.  Jerry came to the MBA program directly from combat, and we spent the first semester calming him down.  He told us he had flown only three day missions, and had been shot down on each.  Each time he was rescued, once by a Jolly Green Giant carrying an ABC cameraman, so he ended up on TV in the U.S.  Once, he had spent six hours on the ground, dodging pursuers, before being rescued.

HH-3E Jolly Green Giant Helicopter
Jerry and I teamed with a U.S. Navy submariner named Lt. Herb Harms to do our "field research project" at USM Corporation in our second year at Harvard Business School. 

Jerry was a great guy, though a wiry, feisty Irishman.  He had a black belt in karate, earned
, he said, not after years of katas, but after he beat five black belts in a row in competition.  I visited Jerry at Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1972 on my first trip to Europe, following my divorce.  Retiring from the Air Force after 20 years, Jerry became president of a company that made aviation fire trucks (or was it refueling trucks), I believe on Long Island.  The last time we spoke, I was new as president at Rochester Shoe Tree Company, and called  Jerry for some advice and comradeship. Jerry died of cancer in about 1994.  We still miss him.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Lowdown on Asiana Airlines

This e-mail came to me today through pilot channels.  I fly internationally quite often, and am sharing it for the benefit of those of my readers who do the same.

Subject: Fw: Pilot Friends - Low-down on Korean Pilots & Crash

Non pilots forgive the technical jargon and read through it to get to the systemic problems that this guy points out.   His experience is exactly what has been rumored for years and why I did not apply for a Sim Instructor job with KAL when I retired from AA.  Our B777 Fleet manager (also retiring) had just been hired to start their training program and was recruiting AA  pilots that had 777 type ratings.  Thankfully NetJets came along instead. If you forward this, please remove my  email address and comments. 
Enjoy your flight on Asiana..

After I retired from UAL as a Standards Captain on the B747–400, I got a job as a simulator instructor working for Alteon (a Boeing subsidiary) at Asiana. When I first got there, I was shocked and surprised by the lack of basic piloting skills shown by most of the pilots. It is not a normal situation with normal progression from new hire, right seat, left seat taking a decade or two. One big difference is that ex-Military pilots are given super-seniority and progress to the left seat much faster. Compared to the US, they also upgrade fairly rapidly because of the phenomenal growth by all Asian air carriers. By the way, after about six months at Asiana, I was moved over to KAL and found them to be identical. The only difference was the color of the uniforms and airplanes. I worked in Korea for 5 long years and although I found most of the people to be very pleasant, it’s a minefield of a work environment ... for them and for us expats.

One of the first things I learned was that the pilots kept a web-site and reported on every training session. I don’t think this was officially sanctioned by the company, but after one or two simulator periods, a database was building on me (and everyone else) that told them exactly how I ran the sessions, what to expect on checks, and what to look out for. For example; I used to open an aft cargo door at 100 knots to get them to initiate an RTO and I would brief them on it during the briefing. This was on the B-737 NG and many of the captains were coming off the 777 or B747 and they were used to the Master Caution System being inhibited at 80 kts. Well, for the first few days after I started that, EVERYONE rejected the takeoff. Then, all of a sudden they all “got it” and continued the takeoff (in accordance with their manuals). The word had gotten out. I figured it was an overall PLUS for the training program.

We expat instructors were forced upon them after the amount of fatal accidents (most of the them totally avoidable) over a decade began to be noticed by the outside world. They were basically given an ultimatum by the FAA, Transport Canada, and the EU to totally rebuild and rethink their training program or face being banned from the skies all over the world. They hired Boeing and Airbus to staff the training centers. KAL has one center and Asiana has another. When I was there (2003-2008) we had about 60 expats conducting training KAL and about 40 at Asiana. Most instructors were from the USA, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand with a few stuffed in from Europe and Asia. Boeing also operated training centers in Singapore and China so they did hire some instructors from there.

This solution has only been partially successful but still faces ingrained resistance from the Koreans. I lost track of the number of highly qualified instructors I worked with who were fired because they tried to enforce “normal” standards of performance. By normal standards, I would include being able to master basic tasks like successfully shoot a visual approach with 10 kt crosswind and the weather CAVOK.  I am not kidding when I tell you that requiring them to shoot a visual approach struck fear in their hearts ... with good reason.  Like this Asiana crew, it didn't’ compute that you needed to be a 1000’ AGL at 3 miles and your sink rate should be 600-800 Ft/Min. But, after 5 years, they finally nailed me. I still had to sign my name to their training and sometimes if I just couldn’t pass someone on a check, I had no choice but to fail them. I usually busted about 3-5 crews a year and the resistance against me built. I finally failed an extremely incompetent crew and it turned out he was the a high-ranking captain who was the Chief Line Check pilot on the fleet I was teaching on. I found out on my next monthly trip home that KAL was not going to renew my Visa. The crew I failed was given another check and continued a fly while talking about how unfair Captain ______ was.

Any of you Boeing glass-cockpit guys will know what I mean when I describe these events. I gave them a VOR approach with an 15 mile arc from the IAF. By the way, KAL dictated the profiles for all sessions and we just administered them. He requested two turns in holding at the IAF to get set up for the approach.  When he finally got his nerve up, he requested “Radar Vectors” to final. He could have just said he was ready for the approach and I would have cleared him to the IAF and then “Cleared for the approach” and he could have selected “Exit Hold” and been on his way. He was already in LNAV/VNAV PATH. So, I gave him vectors to final with a 30 degree intercept. Of course, he failed to “Extend the FAF” and he couldn’t understand why it would not intercept the LNAV magenta line when he punched LNAV and VNAV. He made three approaches and missed approaches before he figured out that his active waypoint was “Hold at XYZ.”  Every time he punched LNAV, it would try to go back to the IAF ... just like it was supposed to do. Since it was a check, I was not allowed (by their own rules) to offer him any help. That was just one of about half dozen major errors I documented in his UNSAT paperwork. He also failed to put in ANY aileron on takeoff with a 30-knot direct crosswind (again, the weather was dictated by KAL).

This Asiana SFO accident makes me sick and while I am surprised there are not more, I expect that there will be many more of the same type accidents in the future unless some drastic steps are taken. They are already required to hire a certain percentage of expats to try to ingrain more flying expertise in them, but more likely, they will eventually be fired too. One of the best trainees I ever had was a Korean/American (he grew up and went to school in the USA) who flew C-141’s in the USAF. When he got out, he moved back to Korea and got hired by KAL. I met him when I gave him some training and a check on the B-737 and of course, he breezed through the training. I give him annual PCs for a few years and he was always a good pilot. Then, he got involved with trying to start a pilots union and when they tired to enforce some sort of duty rigs on international flights, he was fired after being arrested and JAILED!

The Koreans are very very bright and smart so I was puzzled by their inability to fly an airplane well. They would show up on Day 1 of training (an hour before the scheduled briefing time, in a 3-piece suit, and shined shoes) with the entire contents of the FCOM and Flight Manual totally memorized. But, putting that information to actual use was many times impossible. Crosswind landings are also an unsolvable puzzle for most of them. I never did figure it out completely, but I think I did uncover a few clues. Here is my best guess. First off, their educational system emphasizes ROTE memorization from the first day of school as little kids. As you know, that is the lowest form of learning and they act like robots. They are also taught to NEVER challenge authority and in spite of the flight training heavily emphasizing CRM/CLR, it still exists either on the surface or very subtly. You just can’t change 3000 years of culture.

The other thing that I think plays an important role is the fact that there is virtually NO civil aircraft flying in Korea. It’s actually illegal to own a Cessna-152 and just go learn to fly. Ultra-lights and Powered Hang Gliders are Ok. I guess they don’t trust the people to not start WW III by flying 35 miles north of Inchon into North Korea.  But, they don’t get the kids who grew up flying (and thinking for themselves) and hanging around airports. They do recruit some kids from college and send then to the US or Australia and get them their tickets. Generally, I had better experience with them than with the ex-Military pilots. This was a surprise to me as I spent years as a Naval Aviator flying fighters after getting my private in light airplanes. I would get experienced F-4, F-5, F-15, and F-16 pilots who were actually terrible pilots if they had to hand fly the airplane. What a shock!

Finally, I’ll get off my box and talk about the total flight hours they claim. I do accept that there are a few talented and free-thinking pilots that I met and trained in Korea. Some are still in contact and I consider them friends. They were a joy! But, they were few and far between and certainly not the norm.

Actually, this is a worldwide problem involving automation and the auto-flight concept. Take one of these new first officers that got his ratings in the US or Australia and came to KAL or Asiana with 225 flight hours. After takeoff, in accordance with their SOP, he calls for the autopilot to be engaged at 250’ after takeoff. How much actual flight time is that? Hardly one minute. Then he might fly for hours on the autopilot and finally disengage it (MAYBE?) below 800’ after the gear was down, flaps extended and on airspeed (autothrottle). Then he might bring it in to land. Again, how much real “flight time” or real experience did he get. Minutes! Of course, on the 777 or 747, it’s the same only they get more inflated logbooks.

So, when I hear that a 10,000 hour Korean captain was vectored in for a 17-mile final and cleared for a visual approach in CAVOK weather, it raises the hair on the back of my neck.