I really liked it when this place was humming, and I’m disappointed at the scarcity of posts these days. Makes you appreciate how hard Lex works to keep us entertained.
I’m gonna try to do my part…
I started this a long time ago, after posting a story about Event Four. I have one request from those in the know: I try hard to make my stuff as technically accurate as possible, but I lost my old ARB book, so I made up a little bit in the body. You will see where it is. This is a true story. The names have been changed OK, so we don’t use names anyway.
It was turning out to be a great day. My flight on event four was awesome. Beautiful day, good flying, Chachi and Gozer split the wins on the 2v2 so the beer bets were all pushes. We finished early, did a fly-by just prior to the event 5 launch starting – motivating for the troops and fun for us too! Boss called me down first and gave me a trap-cat-trap, always a good deal. I got a Fair 3 wire and an OK 2. That’s a 3.5 grade point average for the day – better than I ever did in college! FNG did a good job in the right seat. He’d do it as a spectator one more time tonight, then the skipper would put him in the driver’s seat to see if he had it or not.
I did a quick turnover with Shaggy, the other CAG LSO. He had just finished waving my recovery and was on the way to brief for event six which was the last day event on the Air Plan. He gave me grief for getting a trap-cat-trap, always a good deal when deployed. I promised him I’d try to work one out for him. I dropped my gear in the paraloft, and went to maintenance control to enter all the appropriate data into NALCOMIS. I told the Master Chief that it was a good plane, and he mumbled something about me ruining his plan to work overtime tonight. Quick crew debrief with Chachi, Gozer, and the FNG and the moles ran off to de-brief the tactical portion of the flight with the fighters. Normally I would go along, especially with the new guy, but I had to be on the LSO platform for the rest of the day and the FNG needed to get ready to brief for his night event.
The event five recovery was uneventful. We almost had a star recovery, but had a foul deck waveoff on a hornet who didn’t give the guy ahead of him enough interval. One of our S-3 pilots, a nugget who was having a tough time of it showed us more color. I made a mental note to talk to Shaggy about the kid. We may have to take him off the night flying until he can square himself away. I sent Cling, the team leader for the day, and one other LSO to make “the rounds” to each ready room and debrief the pilots that had just landed. In homage to Mr. Mazlov, I ran up to get some chow, stopping in our stateroom to get a couple of Ibuprofin out of our 1000 count jar. Doc got it for us at the beginning of workups. It was about half empty now. One of our roommates, either Doc or Ice got funny one day and wrote “LSO Candy” on the side in magic marker.
Up forward in the “dirty shirt” wardroom, I shoved some Chili-Mac into my gob and laughed with the others at the table as a couple of the T-Bolts argued about who had the uglier date for the last Marine Corps ball. I looked at my watch, 20 minutes until the launch – might just have some time for a little cake and dog. I was on my way to check out the dessert selection when the 1MC rang out.
“LSO TO THE PLATFORM! LSO TO THE PLATFORM!”
Rats. If they’re calling us to the platform before the launch has even started, something is wrong.
I do a quick scan of the wardroom. One of the junior LSOs from the Sidewinders is just finishing his chow and looks over at me. “C’mon and watch the fun” I say and then I turn around and take off out of the wardroom and aft along the starboard side passageway at a half lope.
From the forward wardroom to the LSO platform is about 700 feet. Every 15-20 feet is a bulkhead with an oval cut in it. The bulkheads are part of the structure of the ship, the ovals allow us to pass through the bulkheads. The lower part of the oval is about 10 inches off of the ground and they are non-affectionately referred to as “Knee Knockers.”
The total height from the bottom of the oval to the top is about 5 and a half feet. I’m 6’ 3” so not only do I have to step up, I also have to duck at the same time. I’ve knocked my knees before, and I’ve forgotten to duck before, neither one feels good. I once saw a guy who must have been in a huge hurry and forgot to do both. He ended up unconscious.
About halfway back, just before the blue tile area that signifies the Admiral’s neighborhood, I take a right and turn inboard. I jog into the Air Wing operations office and grab my float coat off the back of my chair and I’m back out the door with Spider calling after me “The Air Boss is looking for you!”
Back to the main passageway, and through the blue naugahide curtain that is the demarcation line between where we mortals live, and where his holiness, the Strike Group Commander and his staff live and work. I almost knock over TR, the Admiral’s Air Ops officer. Many years ago he had this job and knows why I’m running. Wordlessly, he waives protocol and waves me into Air Ops ahead of him.
Air Ops is the area where they keep track all of our airborne aircraft. It is where flight ops are coordinated at night and during bad weather. There were several people gathered here, all were currently huddled around Rat, one of the Department Heads from the Tomcat squadron. Rat was on the radio talking to the pilot and his RIO, and they had a lot going on, he looked up, caught my eye and gave me a “one sec” with his finger, so I left them alone. I scanned the greaseboard in the front of the room –which faced aft – you figure that one out – and saw that the problem jet was 104, a Tomcat, with Shaggy in the front seat. Good, new guys in Tomcats are scary enough with a good jet, I was thankful it was someone I knew and could trust. That’s not a bust on the new pilots, it’s just that the Tomcat is a whole lot of airplane to fly and it is not nearly as pilot friendly as other jets in the air wing.
Through the inboard door of Air Ops is CATCC, the Carrier’s Air Traffic Control Center. CATCC is normally only covered by a skeleton crew during day VFR operations. I stuck my head into the darkness and was relieved to see them manning up one of the two “final approach” stations. Barb, the Air Traffic Control Officer saw me come in and was, as usual, ahead of the game. “We’ve got the bullseye and PALS coming up and I’ll have a controller ready if he needs it.”
“You rock, Barb.”
“Don’t I though?” I hear her say behind me as I close the door.
Back in Air Ops, I go to Rat who is busily working his way through the emergency procedures section of the F-14 NATOPS, “What’s up?”
“He’s single engine, got a hydraulic failure, flaps won’t come all the way down, and the fuel isn’t transferring like it should be. Other than that, he’s fine.”
I get a brain cramp trying to process that. Single engine. Flaps. Hydraulics. Fuel. Each one was a problem by itself. The F-14, being a Grumman aircraft, won’t fly with a complete hydraulic failure. If the flaps aren’t all the way down, he is coming aboard faster which affects how we set up the arresting gear. Fuel transfer problems can be benign or they can be catastrophic. Of all the problems, the single engine was the least of our worries.
The Air Operations Officer leans over my shoulder. “Flight deck is in the middle of an emergency pull-forward. Boss says ready deck in 10-12 minutes.”
“Okay, sounds fun. I’ll be on the radio in a couple of minutes. Rat, will you see if he can figure out what his approach speed will be?”
“I’ll call him now.”
I leave Air Ops and resume the low hurdles. Back a few more frames and then I cut across to the port side and continue aft. I pull the yellow foam earplugs out of my pocket roll them and stuff them in my ears. I exit the skin of the ship underneath the LSO platform and then climb the ladders that take me to the flight deck level.
The flight deck is hopping with activity. They are in the midst of an emergency pull forward. This isn’t the “ballet on the flight deck” that every PBS special talks about, this is pure bedlam.
During cyclic operations, as jets land on the relatively empty flight deck, they are de-armed then taxied forward and shut down on the bow and forward of the island, clear of the landing area. When the recovery is complete, those jets are re-spotted to various start positions and many of them are parked in the landing area and other areas aft of the island. There they are re-fueled, re-armed, and prepped for the next flight. When they launch, they leave behind an almost empty flight deck, ready to recover the previous cycle. If we have geo/political sea space constraints, the respot is also a chance for the captain to run downwind and “reset” the carrier so he has room to drive into the wind for the recovery. It is all part of the rhythm of life on a carrier at sea. Because 104 is coming back before the next launch, all the planes parked in the landing area have to be moved clear so we can get the broken jet back aboard. After we get him, there won’t be time to re-spot the aircraft on deck in time to get them airborne and clear the deck for the other jets that are flying right now. This will have an impact on the rest of the day – our cyclic ops are going to come to a screeching halt. The Handler would surely be upset. Fine with me, the Handler needs to take a beating every once in a while.
Several jets have engines turning and are taxiing forward, others are being pulled forward by tow tractors. My earplugs reduce the thunder to a dull roar. I can’t help but think that the timing for this couldn’t be worse. 15 minutes earlier, most of the jets would still be all forward and those that weren’t would still have tractors attached to them. 15 minutes later and the crews would have all manned up and we could be taxiing everything under it’s own power. The Handler is making calls about every 20 seconds on the 5MC, the flight deck PA system.
“PUSHBACK ELEVATOR TWO! LEND A HAND! WATCH THE MAINMOUNTS, WATCH THE INTAKES!”
I get to the platform and am relieved to find Cling already there. Cling is a first-tour Hornet pilot and an excellent LSO. He’s got a radio handset to his ear and the Aircraft Recovery Bulletins in his hand.
“I got everything set up, radio checks are good. We are on the rep frequency right now, he’s talking to Rat, sounds like the jet is a mess. I can’t even figure out where to start in the ARBs” he shouts into my ear to overcome the noise from a Prowler taxiing past.
“HEEL TO PORT” The ship was starting a right turn, turning for the wind.
I pick up the radio and listen to the conversation between Rat and Shaggy.
“…still got flight hydraulic pressure and the jet is handling fine. The right motor seems to be working fine.”
“104, Paddles, I just got on the radio, can you give me a quick rundown and do you have an approach speed yet?”
“Paddles, 104, Nose I got the left engine shut down, only got partial flaps, I don’t think the inboards are down at all, and I’m not getting any fuel transfer. I’m guessing about 15 more minutes of fuel right now based on what’s in the tanks that are transferring. I’m working on a slow flight to get you an approach speed, I’ll get back to you on that.”
“Roger, I’m gonna need your aircraft weight on the ball too.”
“Right now looks like 51K, I’m about eight minutes out.”
I looked up the flight deck to see the progress of the pull-forward. It was going to be close. “Rog, I’m gonna do some math here, we’ll get back to you.”
“Roger, math. Don’t hurt yourself.” Everybody is a comedian.
Cling hands me the ARB book and shrugs. He doesn’t know where to look on this one, and I’m not sure I do either. The Aircraft Recovery Bulletins are several sets of charts that cover the problem of taking an airplane that has a pretty serious amount of mass and velocity and stopping that aircraft in a relatively short distance without breaking anything. They are based on carrier suitability testing done ashore by test pilots at Pax River and at the Naval Air Engineering center at Lakehurst, New Jersey and take into account each aircraft’s approach speed, weight, maximum allowable sink rate, hook loading, landing gear limits, ship’s arresting gear capabilities, wind over the deck requirements, Lens settings, Glideslope settings, ship’s trim, and several other relatively esoteric items.
For normal landings, the ARBs boil the numbers down to the simplest terms. We set a standard setting on both the lens and the ship’s arresting gear engines for each type of aircraft and ensure we have the minimum required wind over the deck, and we can recover aircraft up to their maximum landing weight. It is pretty simple.
The problem comes when a jet is in a non-standard configuration. That may make the jet faster or slower, or more cocked-up on approach, or they may weigh too much. 104 was going to be fast and cocked up due to his flap problem, so we were going to need to change some stuff. We have charts for Single engine. We have charts for no flaps or reduced flaps, we have charts for just about anything you can think of, but we don’t have charts that cover multiple emergencies.
“PADDLES, PICK UP THE PHONE!” It was the Boss on the 5MC. I grabbed the sound power phone.
“Nose is on, Sir”
“You got numbers yet? My guys up here are having a hell of a time working this one.”
“Not yet Boss, just cracking the book, how much wind can the Captain give us?”
“Well, that’s the problem, we didn’t get a full run downwind so he may have sea room issues. The ‘Gator and his crew are noodling that one right now.”
“Okay sir, let me see what I come up with, I’ll call you right back.”
I sit down on the Bug bench that is attached to the aft side of our blast shield, opened the ARBs and started trying to work the numbers. Cling was listening to the radio. I could hear snippits of the discussion between 104 and Rat, who was still down in Air Ops. They were discussing asymmetric fuel loads and partially full drop tanks.
“Shaggy says 51K and 170 knots on the ball. He can’t dump anything because he won’t have enough usable fuel with the fuel transfer problem.” Cling shouts over to me. I nod.
170 knots. Wow. That is smoking.
I start out in the single engine chart, but that won’t work because it doesn’t account for the flap problem. I go over to the abnormal flap chart.
The dial phone starts ringing, our gear guy, a lanky Airman from North Dakota is standing by it. I motion for him to answer.
He slides his cranial back on his head and puts the phone to his ear. I notice the line where his cranial usually covers. Where his skin is normally exposed, he is tan and dirty. The part that is usually covered by his cranial is fish-belly white. He spends almost every waking minute on the flight deck or down in the arresting gear rooms. His camo pants, green flight deck jersey and float coat are all permanently grease stained, but it looks like he has been that way all his life. Like he was built to work the arresting gear. A second later, he is tapping me on the shoulder. “It’s the Captain, sir.”
“CAG Paddles, sir, it’s Nose.”
“Yeah, Nose, I can give you just shy of 45 knots of wind over the deck, but not for long. I got some sea room issues. You need to get this guy aboard first try, OK.”
“Yes sir. We are working the final numbers now, I’m sure we will need more than usual, but may not need all 45. I’ll call the boss when we finish the math.”
“Sounds good, Paddles.” Click. He’s gone.
I hand the phone back to the gear guy, he hangs it up. It immediately starts ringing again. Other squadron LSOs have made their way up to the platform to watch the show, I motion for one of them to get the phone. I need a second to work these numbers.
“12 Miles.” Shouts Cling. The landing area is starting to clear out, and one of the LSOs runs out and stands on the centerline and raises his hand. Cling looks at the PLAT monitor in the HUD console, checks to make sure the camera is calibrated and the vertical cross hair is lined up on our guy standing on centerline. It looks good and Cling waves for the guy to return to the platform.
Okay, numbers. I can use the Partial Flap tables, which are most restrictive, and from his approach speed work my way back out of the table to find the wind required. I showed Cling what I had come up with, got a nod, and then I picked up the sound powered phone and buzzed the Boss.
“Boss, it’s Nose. Here’s what I’ve come up with. I’m using the bulletin for flap abnormals. Got to page 24 which is No Flap and Partial Flap Tomcat. He is at fifty-one thousand pounds and has an approach speed of 170 knots. So instead of going into the table at his weight like you normally would, I’m starting in the middle at his approach speed and then working backwards to the weight setting.”
“Okay, we’re with you so far.”
“That gives us a 56,000 pound single weight setting and a required recovery head wind of 32 knots. Then we add six knots for the inboard flaps not down. Add two more for the temperature being 40 degrees hotter than standard day, and I think that will cover it. So we will do a single weight setting of 560, and we need 40 knots wind. I want to go to a three and three quarter degree glideslope for the wind over the deck and let’s target on top of the two just to give him more to play with. You good with that sir?
I looked up at Pri-Fly and could see him writing on his window with a dry erase marker as he repeated my request. “Five Six Oh, 40 Knots, Three and three quarters, target 2. Got it.”
I hung up the sound-powered handset and grabbed the gear guy by his float coat and shout into his cranial earcup, “We are going single weight setting on this guy. Make sure you hear 5-6-0 for the engines, not the usual 5-4-0, got it?”
“5-6-0, yes sir.” His breath smells like cigarettes.
Normally, we set the arresting gear engines at 54,000 pounds to recover a Tomcat. For this one, we are going to set 56,000 to make up for the extra energy we have to dissipate with his increased approach speed.
The whole ship starts rumbling and the wake instantly turns white and frothy. The boss had called the Captain and briefed him on our plan. The Captain was using nuclear magic to conjure up some wind for us. I look up forward, the flight deck was about three or four minutes from being ready. I can see him out there, looks like he is about 6 miles out.
On the radio, someone in CATCC makes a good call, “99 TARBOX, max conserve, anticipate recovery starting 10 minutest late.” They are letting everyone else that is airborne to knock off the fun stuff and start saving gas. With our sea room problem, we may have to run for sea room before we can start the recovery.
I picked up the radio handset and switch the radios to the land/launch frequency. “104, Paddles.”
“104.” It’s the RIO this time.
“Yeah, 104, looks to me like we’ll be ready on three or four minutes, may want to do a couple of S-turns. Let me know when you are ready for a quick brief.”
“Go ahead for 104” I see him take a cut to his right.
“Okay boys, here is how we have you set up. Mom’s speeding up, estimating 40 knots of wind for the approach. I’m bumping up the glideslope to three and three quarters for the winds. You got any other issues I’m not aware of?”
“104 Copies. Nope, we are single engine, flaps aren’t all the way down, and we’ve lost one hydraulic system. Useable fuel down to about 1.7 best we can figure.”
“Paddles copies. CATCC has the needles up for you if you want them.”
“Okay, Cling. I’m going to wave him, you back me up. We will be single weight setting of 56,000 pounds, 40 knots of wind over the deck, and three and three quarter degree glideslope. You got the pre-recovery checks done?”
Shaggy turned back to the left to line up with the final bearing, the extended centerline of the landing area.
“We’re good, centerline checks, pickles are good.”
Airboss: “ON THE FLIGHT DECK. WE HAVE A DAMAGAED TOMCAT ON A FOUR MILE FINAL, I WANT EVERYONE TO BACK OFF AND STAY WELL CLEAR OF THE FOUL LINE. THIS GUY GETS ONE LOOK AT THE DECK SO LET’S NOT HAVE ANYONE TRIPPING INTO THE LANDING AREA AND MAKING IT A BAD DAY.”
I grab a pickle and a handset and look back over my shoulder, the landing area is clear. I glance at the lens and quickly toggle the waveoff lights and cut lights on and then back off. The ship’s movement is making most of the wind so the wind is not aligned with the centerline of the landing area, but instead with the ship’s centerline. This makes the wind a little bit right to left, or “axial” as we call it in relation to the landing area.
Boss again: “PADDLES, LENS IS ON AND YOU HAVE CONTROL. THREE AND THREE QUARTER DEGREE GLIDESLOPE, TARGET TWO WIRE. ON THE FLIGHT DECK, STAND WELL CLEAR OF THE PORT CATWALK AND THE FOUL LINE, TOMCAT AT 2 AND A HALF MILES – STANDBY TO RECOVER AIRCRAFT.”
Without looking at him, Cling and I wave to the boss to acknowledge the meatball being turned on.
The deck status light switches from red to green indicating a clear deck. Something is weird, though, because usually the Arresting Gear Officer doesn’t squeeze his dead man switch to clear the deck until the arresting gear is set to the proper weight setting, and our gear guy always shouts out the setting as soon as the gear is set.
I look over at the gear guy who is pressing his hands onto his earphones. He looks up at me. He’s shaking his head. Something is wrong.
“Sir, the gear is set, but they set 540, not 560.”
Damn. They set the gear to the normal Tomcat setting of 54000 pounds. If we recover him at his higher energy state the loading on his hook and on the arresting gear will be higher.
I don’t have time to go to the phone and call. So I use the radio, “Boss, we need the gear set at 560 for this guy.”
“Cling, we are foul deck until we get this squared away.” I yell over my shoulder and raise my right hand over my head.
He replies on the 5MC “PADDLES, THE GEAR IS SET FOR A TOMCAT, YOU HAVE A CLEAR DECK!”
I look back at my gear guy, he is shouting into his mouthpiece “NO NO! 560. FIVE, SIX, OH!”
I look across the landing area at the arresting gear officer, he is looking at me and emphatically flashing a thumbs up.
Back to the radio, “104, paddles. How you doing on gas?”
Shaggy is no fool. He is at two miles and knows from my question that something is wrong.
“I can do a 360 out here, but that is about all I can give you.”
“Do it. We aren’t quite ready for you.” I’m trying to keep my voice calm, but I really need to punch someone or something right now.
“PADDLES PICK UP THE SOUND POWERED.” I knew that was coming.
One of the other LSO’s starts to pick up the sound powered headset. I hold out my hand and he hands it to me.
“DAMMIT, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING OUT THERE?!?” He roars at me.
“Boss, I told you we need 5-6-0 set for the weight, your AGO set 5-4-0! I’m not going to take him with a 54K setting, the jet is screwed up already.”
It takes a second, but the boss realizes his guys screwed up. With that much energy, an improperly set arresting gear engine can cause a wire to part or a hook point to break off, neither of those are good.
“We’ll get it.”
I hang up the phone and glance across at the Arresting Gear Officer. He is having an animated conversation on his radio, I’m sure the bosses wrath has been directed at him, and everyone else on the flight deck with a radio can hear it. Ouch. The deck status light switches back from green to red as they reset the gear engines.
Shaggy is rolling out at about 2 miles. He is a good stick, but in this kind of situation, I’m still going to lip lock him down. He knows it’s coming and I know he won’t care. Holding the radio handset to our ears with our left hands, we again raise the pickle switches over our heads with our right to signify that we see the deck is foul.
“Lined up right” says Cling into my ear.
“Paddles contact, you are a little lined up right and a little low. We got 40 knots, axial winds. Three and three quarter degree glideslope.”
“Gear set Tomcat, FIVE SIX ZERO, Clear deck!” shouts the gear guy.
“Clear deck.” I repeat, dropping my hand from above my head. I look over at the 18 year old kid that just saved us “professionals” from screwing the pooch in a royal way. I point at him with my right hand and give him a quick nod. He knows exactly what I’m saying.
I have a mantra I do before every pass. It is my final check that everything is ok.
The gear is set.
A quick glance at the XW/HW indicator – winds are good 41 knots, a little right to left.
Lens is set.
Crosscheck – the LSO HUD has “F-14” annunciated which tell me the tower guys believe that both the lens and gear are set properly.
Deck – one last look over my shoulder. Nothing in the LA. Green status light.
I glanced at the LSO HUD. Barb and her controllers in CATCC had 104 locked up with the Precision Approach radar and so I could see his Airspeed and distance from touchdown.
“Mile and a half now, on centerline, slightly low, call the ball when you have it.”
“104 Tomcat ball, one point oh useable.”
“Roger ball, forty knots, axial winds. Just a little underpowered.” I pretty much talked the rest of the way down, “on glideslope, on centerline. On glideslope. A little power, don’t settle. On glideslope…don’t go high, DON’T GO HIGH.”
Those last two calls were what is known in the business as Buffalo Calls. Shaggy wasn’t going high, in fact, he landed on top of the 1 wire. When I gave him the “don’t go high” call, I was telling him he had cleared the ramp and to make sure he didn’t add power. He didn’t. He wouldn’t.
As the jet rolled out he added power on his good engine, but did it slowly. A Tomcat with only one engine running can be a handful if the other engine is at full power. He quickly pulled it back to idle after he stopped.
“104, tower, nice job. We’re gonna hook you up and tow you out of the wires there, just follow the Bosun’s directions.”
“104” Cool as a cucumber.
“ON THE FLIGHT DECK, EXCELLENT JOB EVERYONE, BUT WE STILL GOTTA RECOVER 14 OTHER JETS. WE ARE GOING TO TURN AND RUN DOWNWIND FOR ABOUT 10 MINUTES AND THEN START THE RECOVERY. LET’S SEE A LOT OF HUSTLE AND BE SAFE OUT THERE.”
I hung the radio handset up, and put the pickle on top of the LSO HUD. Cling and I shook hands. “Your platform again Cling. Nice job. Keep the boys up here and we will get the next recovery. I’ll be right back.”
Cling immediately began assigning duties for the next recovery.
“HEAL TO PORT” The Captain was starting a right turn to run downwind for some sea room. He was sweating the next recovery, along with about 500 other things. I glanced up at the Nav Bridge just below Pri-fly and thought about the job the Captain of a carrier has. No thanks.
I looked up the landing area to make sure the lens was off, then started walking forward. With the exception of a lone Hornet somewhere up on the bow, all the jets were shut down, it was relatively quiet on the flight deck. I stopped about 10 feet aft of the 1 wire which the arresting gear crew were just beginning to retract after clearing it from 104’s hook. I watched as they brought it back, a little slower than usual. When it slid back into place, sliding back and forth on top of the risers that held it off of the flight deck, two green shirts and a chief began inspecting it to make sure 104 didn’t do any damage. I stepped over the wire and made my way forward.
104 had been pulled clear and spotted abeam the island. The canopy was coming up and Shaggy and Soup, his RIO were unstrapping. I saw a crowd gathering in front of his left intake. I walked over and took a look. Incredibly, I could see all the way through the engine and see a bit of the ship’s island behind the jet. Whatever had happened had destroyed the fan blades on the front of the engine and the turbine blades aft.
Soup, the RIO, stepped off the boarding ladder and started debriefing the maintenance chief and the power plants troops that were waiting for him. They all shared a look of grave concern. This was their engine and something had gone very wrong. Their sense of responsibility was palpable. Later, an engineering investigation would reveal that the engine had suffered damage on the cat shot. It had probably ingested something small which began a chain of damage that led to the engine slowly “eating itself.” A jet engine at power turns at tens of thousands of RPM. A damaged fan blade in the front of the engine gives way and pieces fly back through the rest of the motor, causing damage and knocking other pieces loose as it goes, like a cascade of dominoes. The result is more pieces coming off and more damage. In 104’s case, the engine held together longer than expected, but the down side was that it became so out of balance that it shook itself off of its mounts, ripping off hydraulic and bleed air lines and damaging other components in the fuselage.
Shaggy came down the ladder, saw that Soup had the attention of the maintenance team and came over to me. We shook hands.
“Nice work.” I said.
“Yeah, thanks. Tell me I didn’t have to do a 360 because you were looking for your glasses or finishing lunch or something like that.”
“You don’t even want to know brother, you don’t even want to know.”