Many years ago I was reprimanded for doing a simulated straffing run on a Southern Pacific freight train. It was not the kind of experience I had hoped to gain.......
A Royal Air Force pilot has been cleared of perjury – but will be sentenced at court martial today after admitting he allowed his digital camera to jam his military airliner’s controls, sending it into a 4,000ft plummet. Flight Lieutenant Andrew Townshend was taking photos while flying an Airbus A330 Voyager from RAF Brize …
Not too many years ago, I was sitting in my office, in the tallest building in the city I worked in. My desk faced the wall-sized window. As I had my head down, looking at some documents, I became aware of a strange droning sound. It wasn't very loud, but it was gaining in intensity, and was definitely unusual, especially given that it seemed to increase and decrease in amplitude rhythmically. I looked through the window at the street outside, and didn't see anything unusual. Then, I looked up into the air, and spotted a B-17 making a simulated bomb run on the building! It was coming over at about 2000 feet elevation, with the bomb-bay doors open, heading straight over the building.
That was one of those situations where your brain simply freezes up. What is one supposed to do when one is confronted with a situation that can't reasonably be expected to ever happen? Who would ever plan on being in the path of a bomb run by an airplane that's been obsolete for 50+ years?
Voyager ZZ333 was returned to RAF service after exhaustive tests, including X-rays of the captain’s stick assembly and assessments of cosmic radiation measurements
With apologies to PTerry, but I saw that and thought of:
"Special offer this aeon is various measurements of paracosmic significance built into the very fabric at no extra cost"
The RAF runs its own annual photographic competition
So they encourage the practice? Personally, I'd rather my pilot was either asleep whilst the autopilot did the work, or focusing on the job of flying, instead of dicking around with distracting objects on the flight deck.
I had a friend (a civilian contractor) who had a box full of pictures that he'd taken personally of aircraft refueling - he had some lovely shots of SR71's refueling off the coast of Vietnam. You can get away with stuff like that if you do favors to the right people and don't screw up.
My uncle was a member of the SBS in the 80s, he took a camera with him on most deployments (not missions) and would regularly send us photographs from the arctic, underwater and aircraft. The only condition back then was that the commanding officer got to look at them first, although this seemed to be more about wanting to see the cool photos than keeping any back apparently.
As children we thought his underwater photos in particular were amazing (and we loved penguins).
Jones is now disabled for life. To go from a fit adult to one who can't do his job any more is a bit of a tough sentence, given that it was due to someone else's stupid lack of thought. But then, not dissimilar to people being crippled by a jerk on his mobile in his car.
There shouldn't be any flat surface on which to lay something in front of the control stick.
Have you flown a sidestick aircraft? What I hear from those who have is that a sidestick is quite twitchy because it moves less distance for the same rate of roll or pitch that a traditional control column or column or yoke does. As a result, its necessary to have your forearm on a flat surface in order to make small, precise control inputs.
I can't see how you'd design a forearm rest that you couldn't put a camera on, though I can see how it could be attached to the cockpit wall so it would not move with the seat. I personally wouldn't have a camera in my cockpit thats not secured to a mounting point or at least on a lanyard or neckstrap so it can't easily be dropped where it becomes unreachable and/or jam the controls, but ymmv.
You have to fly wth your left hand on any modern airliner, from the left hand seat, your right hand would be on the power/trust levers, for landing anyway.
As a professional pilot, it doesn't matter what hand you use. I switch between seats regularly.
But agree with the other comment that there shouldn't be a ledge to pace any items around the sidestick.
"And you have to fly lefthanded in the LH seat.."
And? Take-offs and landings in most dual-control fixed-wing aircraft are flown with the left hand if you are in the left-hand seat, because your right hand is on the centre-mounted throttle (a few aircraft have duplicate throttles, but not many). Just like you have to steer left-handed while changing gear in a LHD car. It's something you need to get used to, but is not at all difficult - in fact I had to adjust to landing right-handed when I started instructing from the RH seat, but it only took a couple of flights. Helicopters OTOH generally have fully duplicated controls and are always flown with the right hand on the cyclic and left hand on the collective. I think it would take quite a bit longer to get used to flying a helicopter with the "wrong hands", similar to riding a bicycle with your hands on the opposite handlebars (try it!)
As a result, its necessary to have your forearm on a flat surface in order to make small, precise control inputs.
That's what the arm rest is for!
The problem is that you can lay something, in this case a camera, on the flat section in front of the control stick which subsequently can get pushed forward by the movable arm rest.
My contention is that flat section shouldn't exist. Either have it sloping sharply downwards, or cut away altogether bringing the edge of the box containing the gubbins associated with the control stick further forward.
If it moved with the seat, there wouldn't have been a problem. The fact that it doesn't, so moving the seat pushes the camera along the rest and into the stick rather than the whole assembly proceeding forward as one, would seem to be a prerequisite for causing this to happen.
Perhaps at the time of the interview where he said that he genuinely didn't recall the camera being stuck there?
I imagine things become a little fuzzy when you're panicking because the plane you're piloting has suddenly gone into a 15000ft per minute dive and you've just had your head smacked into the ceiling.
Forgetting exactly where he'd placed the camera or that he'd moved his seat would be understandable. But given that he'd have had to remove the camera jamming the control stick before being able to use the stick - The problem would have been clear.
The only question would be if the camera fell into the gap because of the dive, or if it caused the dive.
We are all human and we all manage to do stupid shit occasionally. Sadly, some people less occasionally than others, and with more dire consequences. Glad the outcome wasn't worse than it might have been.
Edit: Spelling error caught too late.. had to withdraw then re-post
Fourteen other military passengers aboard the Voyager – a militarised version of the A330 airliner, fitted with air-to-air refuelling equipment – were so badly injured or shaken up by the incident that they were unable to continue to Afghanistan, where they were due to deploy on military operations.
At school, we used to go to some lengths to get off things such as cross country running. But this is taking things to a different level.
At school, we used to go to some lengths to get off things such as cross country running
At school there were 4 of us who were s**t at games other than cross country running - depending upon the location of the PE session, we'd either run along the perimeter of the fields and then the break-water, as it was along the shore line. If the PE session was within the school grounds, then we were allowed to head out on a circular route out of school for the duration of the PE session, so we'd pace ourselves jogging, sometimes the route just happened to pass some very good model shops...
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