by Paul Spangler
One fine Spring day at Ft. Huachuca in 1985, I was sitting in my office
with my feet up on the desk just admiring the view of the mountains
behind the post. The only thing I had to do for the entire day was to
decide just which unit within the Intel Center and School that I would
go terrorize next (I was the School IG at the time.)
The phone rang, interrupted my contemplations, and my secretary said
that it was the CG's secretary and that I had better be in his office
five minutes ago. Usually when summoned thusly by the two banger that
is my rater AND my senior rater all rolled in one, some assorted nitnoy
shit was hitting the fan and I could look forward to yet another
lengthy, messy, but usually interesting, IG investigation. WRONG!!!!
(We pause for this background info....)
The Intel school, the school at Rucker, INSCOM, and DA had all been at
odds as to just who was in charge of SEMA (Special Electronic Mission
Aircraft) aircraft anyway. All of those entities thought they were the
HMFICs of SEMA. Rucker had sent people (Tommy Steiner was one) from
combat developments and BG Rudy Osteovich had made several trips to
Huachuca to try to sort out what belonged to which place.
(Back to the story)
MG Weinstein, the CG, had been my senior rater while I was assigned to
the 66th MI Group in Europe before I came to Huachuca; and when he took
over the school about three months after I had gotten there, decided
that it was, in his words, a worthy payback for all the times I had
tried to kill him while I was flying him around on his visits to Germany
for him to appoint me to be his school's IG. So I was that for the next
2 1/2 years.
To make a loooonnnnngggg story short, I was being reassigned to Combat
Developments at the Avn Center & School to be the liasion/project
officer for SEMA at Rucker. Weinstein and MG Don Parker had worked it
out--according to MG Weinstein's version of the story anyway. Shit, I
couldn't even SPELL combat developments, much less try to figure out how
to navigate in those lofty circles.
To make it appealing, they had found/manufactured a FW flying slot in CD
for me and I would get a "commander's evaluation" checkout / refresher /
instrument renewal in the OV-1 before I left Huachuca.
Fast forward to the final checkride.......(for you doubters, of course I
did well in the previous flights in the syllabus.)
The OV-1s at Huachuca, unlike the trainer versions at Rucker, were
full-up mission birds and were heavy aircraft when loaded with full
internal fuel and drop tanks. Taking off from an airfield about 5300'
MSL in the summer didn't help either.
The two IPs/SIPs that flew me throughout the refresher had announced "to
the world" that this was going to be their only opportunity in their
careers to fuck with an IG properly.....Of course, being my usual modest
self, I didn't give them any shit back. Fun time....
Final instrument ride was a zoo!!!!! Started off with a couple of
numbnuts ILS/GCAs followed by some aerobatics. Then under the hood for
unusual attitude recoveries ( you can get in some really wierd attitudes
in a fully aerobatic aircraft and a sadistic IP)
THINGS STARTED HAPPENING.......
speed breaks, No wheel breaks, and nosewheel steering is pitiful) You
have to reverse the props after a high speed touchdown, and then jockey
the prop levers to align yourself down the runway and slow down with the
Well by this time, my legs are hurting ( it is a BITCH to keep the Hawk
straight and level with a single engine with the gear down and a lot of
power on the good engine. Not only do you push for all you're worth
with the leg the corresponds to the working engine, you hook the toe of
your other boot under the other rudder pedal and pull to keep it from
rolling. Lots of torque on those big paddle bladed props.)
We are more or less in the proper area code on this approach and we are
falling out of the sky like a huge brick when, due to my RLO training, I
make an on-the-spot decision and announce to the IP that he now has the
"Whaaaaat?" he inquited politely.
I didn't say anything.
"Are you flying the aircraft? he asked.
I didn't say anything.
"Do you have the controls? he asked, a couple of octaves higher.
I didn't say anything.
"OK, I got it," he said. "Just what is going on anyway?
I said--"I can't hear you, I ejected five minutes ago." "You should have
ejected also, this aircraft is a piece of shit."
He cracked up and when we got on the ground, went to the club to impress
others with tales about just who had scared the other one the most.
Paul D. Spangler