FIRST "Q" RIDE
by Paul Spangler
A lot of the following TINS is sorta fuzzy since it is an obvious
besmirchment on an otherwise more or less mediocre flying career and my
saner fixed wing brain has repressed a lot of the more gruesome and ulgy
Date: August something 1978
Place: UCLA (upper corner of lower Alabama)
Purpose: No good one that I could see at the time--nor since then
Activity: First flight in a Huey in the qualification course.
Background: Got out of flight school in Dec of 70 and had flown four
straight years, ground assignment and then a flight job for about 16
months prior to getting orders to Germany for an OV-1 assignment. The
Army at the time wanted everyone dual rated, SO I was going through the
"Q" course even though I was not going to a RW assignment. Perfect!!!
The first flying day of the "Q" course, me and my stick buddy (Danish
AF F-104 driver) and the IP (Ex-W3 named Smith) found our assigned
aircraft, stumbled through the preflight, somehow got strapped in and
flew around for a while. Stick buddy was flying first and he couldn't
keep the huey within 100 yards of the right area code---how could anyone
be that poor a pilot I thought.... The IP let him try each control
seperately, then a couple at a time, then --shit--the airplane went all
over the place and I knew I was going to die strapped in the backseat of
Somehow me and the aircraft survived that hour and a half....we landed
at the stagefield beside the road to Ozark, refueled and took a break.
IT WAS NOW MY TURN!!!!!!!
By this time I was "slightly" dreading actually having to manage all of
this strange stuff--especially sitting in the wrong side of the airplane
anyway---but I reasoned that I had almost 3000 hours of flight time, had
just gone through a bunch of check rides getting requalified in a couple
of airplanes at Ft.Hood--so how damned hard could it be anyway???????
Smitty took me through the starting procedures--piece of cake--not
nearly as difficult as the RU-21J or P-2V, and all I had to do was pull
on the "up thingie" and point the stick where I wanted to go. Hmmnnnnn,
how do I taxi without any wheels?
Smitty took the aircraft controls and got us out of the traffic pattern
and then handed it over to me at about 500 feet. A little erratic, but
it smoothed out as I chased the 1000 feet altitude up and down a minute
or two. Damn was this thing sensitive--what is wrong with this stupid
We find an open field and Smitty goes through the "embarass the shit out
of the smart assed FW pilot" routine with me just as he had with my
stick buddy. I am sure, in retrospect, however that that particular
bird had an impending control failure which caused my difficulty in
controlling it like I was capable. This theory was further reinforced
by the fact that everytime I had the controls, the "control failure"
would loom up again--when Smitty had the controls, the aircraft would
Time to practice landings---we reentered the pattern at (CRS the name)
that same airfield and we received clearance to land at the first
maltese cross, lane such and such. Entered the pattern -- no sweat-had
been there done that hundreds of times before. Left base, reduce power,
begin descent -- no sweat-had been there done that hundreds of times
before. Turn to final, line up on lane such and such -- no sweat
again. Point the nose at five degrees below the intended landing area
and put down the gear and flaps--whoops, wrong Dash 10............
"PULL THE GAWDDAMNED NOSE UP BEFORE WE CRASH!!!!" was Smitty's gentle
reminder that I might have a teensy too much nose down trim in--wrong
Dash 10 again....(What the F*** is WRONG with this stupid airplane--it
won't glide, it's going all over the place and at this speed we are
going to stall out any minute)---MORE POWER.......
Stick back, stick down, rudder, er pedal in--shit WRONG pedal--you let
off power and give it RIGHT pedal?????? Airspeed is down to 70
Kts--shit, MORE power...........Maltese cross is about 200 yards
away--more nose down so I can flare at the last minute and touch
ZOOOOOOM!!!!! Went by the landing area at 14 inches of altitude and
about 80 kts!!! Smitty is laughing his ass off, the tower is asking us
what out intentions are and my stick buddy is whiter that he ever was in
the middle of their Artic Winter. Smitty takes the contols ( the
aircraft's impending contol failure mysteriously disappears again) and
says that wasn't all that bad--most people go by it much faster the
Paul D. Spangler
City Manager and Helicoper Ace
City of Bristol, Virginia