6 Test Pilot Tales



F-22 Flight Test Accident.


In July the USAF issued a press release on the cause of the fatal F-22 crash near Edwards. The manoeuvre was a roll to inverted, dive to attain 1.6 Mach at 20,800 feet, then roll upright and pull out of the dive. Two of these went as planned.  So did the third, initially. But after hitting the desired condition at 20,800 feet, the pilot continued a max g inverted pull until the plane was 83 degrees nose low.


At 14,880 feet he rolled upright and held full back stick, reducing the dive angle to 50 degrees. At 7500 feet he ejected and immediately sustained fatal injuries.


“This mishap was caused by the TP’s adverse physiological reaction to high acceleration forces and subsequent loss of situational awareness during recovery from the third test manoeuvre. The TP channelized his attention to fight off the effects of high g-forces, characterized by gray-out, light loss, and/or tunnel vision; meanwhile, the test aircraft] entered an extreme nose down, highspeed attitude from which safe recovery was not possible. The TP regained some SA but determined he was too lowand descending too fast for a safe recovery. He ejected outside the ejection seat design envelope and sustained fatal injury.”


The complete one-page executive summary may be found in the list here:http://usaf.aib.law.af. mil/



The Origin Of The Word Aviator ~ A True Story!


This explains it all. As aviators, we come from a long line of a secret society, formed around one thousand years ago. We are warriors, and here is the proof! Pongo’s can read it and weep! A little known fact is the origin of the word, “Aviator.” In the immortal words of Johnny Carson: “I didn’t know that.


” Phu Khen (pronounced Foo Ken) 1169-? Is considered by some to be the most under-recognized military officer in history. Many have never heard of his contributions to modern military warfare. The mission of this secret society is to bring honour to the name of Phu Khen. A ‘Khen’ was a subordinate to a ‘Khan’ (pronounced ‘konn’) in the military structure of the Mongol hordes. Khan is Turkish for “leader”. Most know of the great Genghis Khan, but little has been written of his chain of command. Khen is also of Turkish origin. Although there is not a word in English that adequately conveys the meaning. Roughly translated, it means, One who will do the impossible, while appearing unprepared and complaining constantly.


” Phu Khen was one of ten Khens that headed the divisions, or groups of hordes, as they were known, of the Mongol Army serving under Genghis Khan. His abilities came to light during the Mongols’ raids on the Turkistan city of Bohicaroo. Bohicans were fierce warriors and the city was well fortified. The entire city was protected by huge walls and the hordes were at a standoff with the Bohicans. Bohicaroo was well stocked and it would be difficult to wait them out. Genghis Khan assembled his Khens and ordered each of them to develop a plan for penetrating the defences of Bohicaroo. Operation Achieve Victory (AV) was born. All 10 divisions of Khens submitted their plan. After reviewing AV plans 1 thru 7 and finding them all unworkable or ridiculous, Genghis Khan was understandably upset. It was with much perspiration that Phu Khen submitted his idea, which came to be known as AV 8. Upon seeing AV 8, Genghis was convinced this was the perfect plan and gave his immediate approval.


The plan was beautifully simple. Phu Khen would arm his hordes to the teeth, load them into catapults,and hurl them over the wall. The losses were expected to be high, but hey, hordes were cheap! Those that survived the flight would engage the enemy in combat. Those that did not? Well, surely their flailing bodies would cause some damage. The plan worked and the Bohicans were defeated. From that day on, whenever the Mongol Army encountered an insurmountable enemy, Genghis Khan would give the order, “Send some of Phu Khen’s AV 8-ers.” Thisis believed, though not by anyone outside our secret society, to be the true origin of the word Aviator (AV 8-er).


Phu Khen’s AV 8-ers were understandably an unrulymob, not likely to be socially acceptable. Manywere heavy drinkers and insomniacs. But when nothing else would do, you could always count on an AV 8-er. A Phu Khen Aviator. Denied, perhaps rightfully so, his place in history, Phu Khen has been, nonetheless, immortalized in prose. As the great poet Norman Lear never once said: “There once was a man named Phu Khen,

Whose breakfast was whiskey and gin. When e’er he’d fly, He’d give a mighty war cry: ” Bend over, here it comes again.” Consider it an honour to be a Phu Khen Aviator. Wear the mantle proudly, but speak of it cautiously. It is not always popular to be one of us. You hear mystical references, often hushed whispers, to ‘those Phu Khen Aviators.’ Do not let these things bother you. As with any secret society, we go largely misunderstood, prohibited by our apathy from explaining ourselves. You are expected to always live down to the reputation of the Phu Khen Aviator…a reputation cultivated for centuries, undaunted by scorn or ridicule, unhindered by progress. So drink up, be crude, sleep late, urinate in public, and get the job done. When others are offended, you can revel in the knowledge that… YOU are a PHUKHEN AVIATOR!



I was wondering if there was any truth to the rumour that a test pilot wore a gorilla suit either as a security measure or a joke during testing of the first US jet airframe. I have found the following three stories online at different forum sites. The fable is reminiscent of the P-59’s saga: the story of the first military jet aircraft to fly in the United States—an aircraft that apparently no one could see. The date was 1942; the location was Muroc Army Air Field (today Edwards Air Force Base).


Whenever it was on the ground, the P-59 was fitted with a fake propeller for the sake of secrecy. Unfortunately for secrecy, at the local watering hole,test pilots mixed with P-38 pilots stationed nearby. After slugging down a few drinks, the test pilots bragged about flying a propellerless aircraft and were immediately labeled as liars by the P-38 crowd—fighting words for sure. Subsequently, testpilot Jack Woolams decided to put them in their place, not with his fists but with something far more effective.


He rented a gorilla suit and took off wearing it along with a big cigar protruding from his mouth and a derby hat on his head. Once airborne, he found a lone P-38 pilot, pulled alongside, giving the P-38 pilot a clear view of the jet and gorilla suit, then waved, much to the shock of his intended target. The next day when queried at the local watering hole, not a single P-38 pilot had seen an “escaped gorilla” or knew anything about it. The explanation: why of course, it must be that P-38 pilots could only see what they believed waspossible. Yeah, right. Apparently, the P-38 pilotsnever again questioned the possibility of propellerless aircraft, let alone the honesty of test pilots.

Although the events are not even a century old, already there are more than one version of the Jack Woolams tale. All are slightly different. One version relates that there were multiple sightings of the gorilla-piloted jet and that the base psychiatrist talked several P-38 pilots out of believing what they saw. Who knows?


The fact is that even if someone sees and believes a phenomenon, it doesn’t mean they will honestly talk about it. And if they do, it doesn’t mean that the details will be perfectly remembered in the historical record – especially if there isn’t one.


Version 2. During initial flight testing of the P-59, Bell personnel could be distinguished by their trademark black derby hats. Although the airspace around Muroc Dry Lake was restricted, P-38 pilots from a nearby Army field would occasionally invade the area to see what was going on at the “secret” base. On one flight, Bell test-pilot Jack Woolams spotted one of the snoopers and pulled on a rubber gorilla mask he had brought along, put on his derby, stuck a big cigar in his mouth, then let the P- 38 pull alongside. He glared back at the stunned pilot, who quickly broke off. There was no official follow-up to this episod e, but it was the source of much hilarity among Bell workers who speculated about the story being told that night at some Officers Club of a propellerless plane being flown by a cigar-smoking gorilla wearing a derby hat! It might well have been the forerunner of the flying saucer tales a decade later. (— K O Eckland)