Welcome Aboard!



Mike Novack



I was on my initial line check to become an A/C. The check pilot was a real tight ass, by-the-book sort of guy. Somehow my co-pilot and I had already managed to sneak about 5 "bustable" things by him while he sat in the outboard ACM seat reading the Dash-1 finding obscure questions to ask us (most of which we didn't answer correctly, and he would not have either, had he not just read them in the footnotes somewhere).

We were somewhere in Japan. Per the normal MAC procedure, we had just left somewhere (can't remember where) for somewhere else (Kadena, I think). As we were climbing out, we flew past a volcano (Kagoshima??) which was erupting and belching all sorts of great smoke and ash.

Everything was going just fine, so something had to go wrong, of course. Suspecting (correctly) that the two of us were somehow pulling the wool over his eyes and that we didn't have a clue as to what we were doing, the check pilot was sitting in the jump seat watching us like a hawk during the takeoff and climbout.

I turned on the PA and welcomed the passengers on board with my best airline pilot baritone and was looking out the left side of the plane at the volcano and suggesting that they might want to go over to one of the great big C-141 view windows on the left side and see the volcano.

As I was describing all of this, we had an overheat on the #4 engine, but of course, my eyes were glued on the volcano, so I didn't see the flashing light in the T-Handle.

The copilot says (over the PA) 'Shit guys!! We've got an overheat on #4!!!'

I paused my passenger briefing for a second, thought about what to say and tried to stay calm, cool and collected. Two or three seconds went by and then it came to me in a flash of brilliance.

'Christ Almighty! F***K! Just what I need on my first flight as an A/C!'

The check pilot slapped me in the back of the head so hard my headset almost came off and screamed 'turn off the damn PA!' (He also reminded me I was not an A/C yet.)

I complied with his orders. We solved the overheat by shutting down the engine, and everything seemed under control.

In a few minutes the Load came on the intercom and said: 'Pilot, Load.'

'Go ahead, Load' I responded.

'Do you have anything more to say to the passengers?'

'Tell them everything is just peachy', I said.

The check pilot then proceeded to get out his dash-1, turned to the pages on two engine landings (to refresh his mind), and grilled me and my co-pilot on them for the remainder of the flight, which mercifully was not very long.


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