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Author Topic: A Naval Aviator's Memoir (with a TWA connection)
Capn Eddie Ricketyback
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Just finished reading a little book that may be of interest to some. It came to my attention through an e-mail from the author, Jim Stark, who was a Pilot in a Navy squadron at the same base where I had flown as an enlisted crew member in the same type aircraft some ten years before. I enjoyed the book, and perhaps some others may too. The title is "Two Turning, Two Burning!", and may be purchased directly from the author via the e-mail address on the web site stark3217@aol.com. He will dedicate it with the inscription of your choice, and if you mention my name, Billy Rawl, he may waive the shipping fee.

The (somewhat peripheral) connection to TWA is that he flew Co-Pilot for Bill Hoar and took over Hoar's crew when he left the squadron for TWA. I never knew Bill, but understand he wound up in TWA management.

[ 09-03-2009, 18:08: Message edited by: Capn Eddie Ricketyback ]

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Irish
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Billy,

I find it difficult to understand how so many of TWA's early aviators seem to be of Navy origin. Now, TWA pilots were generally believed to be exceptional aviators who consistently landed their aircraft smoothly. I wonder how the Navy types made that transition successfully? [Big Grin]

On the serious side...

Regrettably, Bill Hoar was TWA's chief operating officer under Carl Icahn and generally considered to be his hatchet man. An example:

"Chicago Sun-Times - Icahn Threatens TWA Service Cut. June 26, 1990

Trans World Airlines Inc. chairman Carl Icahn has threatened to eliminate service to seven cities and sell or mothball 15 aircraft by October under an aggressive downsizing plan aimed at returning the carrier to profitability. Icahn said a 7 percent reduction in TWA's flight hours would be implemented because he has been unsuccessful in obtaining concessions from the airline's 3,500 pilots. Icahn's comments came after a letter detailing the cutbacks was sent to TWA pilots by J. William Hoar, the airline's chief operating officer. The pilots' union had no immediate comment."

And previously, from the NY Times on Mar 29, 1987 when Hoar was TWA's Director of Industrial Relations, in an industry-wide discussion of whether being a flight attendant was a job or a career.

"The tensions between flight attendants' unions and management began in earnest last year, when T.W.A. negotiated contracts with its pilots' and machinists' unions but failed to reach any kind of a settlement with its flight attendants.

In March 1986, roughly 6,500 T.W.A. flight attendants walked off the job. T.W.A. hired some 2,500 new ones, who are flying for about half the veterans' salaries and under substantially altered work rules.

Initially, Carl C. Icahn offered to take all the strikers back, but they refused. Later, many changed their mind, but Mr. Icahn had already replaced them. The result: today at least 4,000 T.W.A. flight attendants remain off the job."

This was the way of life under Icahn and those were really sad times. Sorry, I didn't mean to hijack your thread.

Paul

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Capn Eddie Ricketyback
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quote:
Originally posted by Irish:
Billy,

I find it difficult to understand how so many of TWA's early aviators seem to be of Navy origin. Now, TWA pilots were generally believed to be exceptional aviators who consistently landed their aircraft smoothly. I wonder how the Navy types made that transition successfully? [Big Grin]

On the serious side...

Regrettably, Bill Hoar was TWA's chief operating officer under Carl Icahn and generally considered to be his hatchet man.

Yup, I recall an MD-80 flight where I had encountered during a walk through the cabin a couple of high-ranking Naval Officers, and after a short conversation I learned that one of them had served on a ship with my younger brother when he was an enlisted man, and had actually visited our home once with him. The F/O, who was flying the leg, was a former Navy Pilot, and his landing was... shall we say... somewhat firm, about which said Navy officer commented when he stopped by the cockpit on the way out. I pointed out the F/O was a former Navy Pilot, and we must make allowances for them until they became accustomed to airline flying. [Smile]

I've heard a few similar remarks about Hoar over the years, and it doesn't surprise. I noticed throughout my career that almost every time a line Pilot moved into management their perspective changed dramatically and almost immediately. The Flight Manager that got huffy when I added a couple thousand pounds of thunderstorm avoidance fuel is a good example. Although I had known and respected him as an aviator ever since we had both come to work at TWA within weeks of each other, my attitude toward him changed after that, although we were still friends.

And oh yeah, I've learned, since I've been fooling around with these message boards, that threads have a habit of going their own way once started, so no sweat with the "hijacking."

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mioguido
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...and you thought that squids could only swim. [Cool]
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extwacaptain
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Capn Eddie Ricketyback:
[The Flight Manager that got huffy when I added a couple thousand pounds of thunderstorm avoidance fuel is a good example.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Captn' Billy:

Your story about the Flt. Manager who questioned the additional fuel for TRW deviation brings memories of my "tankering" fuel when flying into ABQ.

The only time the "office" ever requested an explanation for my consistent ABQ arrival with 7,000# more than normal reserves on board was during flights into that New Mexico airport. (One of my very favorites)

The question was very simple and direct: "Why so much fuel?"
The answer was somewhat the same (simple).....And went something like: "Well, on a few occasions while approaching that airport, dispatch has called to advise runway lights inoperative or runways closed due to a military training accident. It takes approximately 7,000# to fly to Amarillo..... OR 7,000# to reach Phoenix......
There were a few smiles and no further questions.

But back to carrying that "EXTRA" fuel. Remember when Airlines (TWA) FUELED -THRU in an effort to save costs by buying fuel at lower prices. Considered a wonderful idea at the time. Buy it where it is cheapest and "tanker" it thru the more costly stations.

Pilots did not object to such a policy, realizing the benefit to the company. ..Having said that, I honestly do not believe that very many management people would have had anything but praise for pilots like you, who placed the safety of your flight above any potential criticism by someone who believes he could have saved a couple dollars by being more DARING in challenging bad weather conditions.

Obviously, I ran into all the good guys in management. [Big Grin] In fact, the only ones difficult to get along with were a few "line pilots". [Wink]

Which brings us to a rather important question.....
"Would any of us prefer to be remembered as the pilot who occasionally carried a little extra fuel?........ Or as the pilot who on one occasion didn't carry sufficient fuel?"

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Capn Eddie Ricketyback
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quote:
Originally posted by extwacaptain:
"Would any of us prefer to be remembered as the pilot who occasionally carried a little extra fuel?........ Or as the pilot who on one occasion didn't carry sufficient fuel?"

Well, Capt. Randy et al, I didn't include the ending of my story previously, as I didn't want to make the post too long, but here's what happened on the last leg of that flight, from Orlando to STL. I had flown the same sequence many times in 727s previously, and knew that there was always a 30 - 45 min. delay getting into STL at that time of day, even in CAVU conditions, as was the case here. We were dispatched without an alternate and without enough fuel for that contingency and still land with the required reserves, but I quietly calculated that we would have enough to get to Peoria with our FAA reserves in that event, so I didn't say anything, didn't add any fuel, and neither, of course, did the check pilot. Sure enough, when we got to the STL area we were issued a holding clearance for a period that would burn into the required reserve, so at that time I told the check pilot to get us a clearance to Peoria. He said, "No, no, we'll add Scott AFB as an alternate." At this time I confess I got a little irritated and said something like, "_______, you know we can't do that, it's not an approved airport for that purpose." He said, "Oh yes we can," and called the dispatcher. The dispatcher replied with, "We can't do that unless you have an emergency, do you have an emergency?" At that time, getting a little more exasperated, I interjected to the check pilot, "Hell, no, get us a clearance to Peoria!" The check pilot, somewhat chastened, then proceeded to get the clearance from ATC. Unfortunately, after we got the clearance and started proceeding toward Peoria, ATC miraculously discovered that they could clear us to land at STL after all.

After we landed there was not a word said about this by either of us, but I believe the lesson was learned. It would have been learned a lot better if we had actually had to go to Peoria, but it would have been a lot more expensive for our employer that way, so I guess it was for the best.

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Irish
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Way to go, CAPTAIN!!! [Big Grin]
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Robert Dedman
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I had to laugh about the F/O making a hard/firm landing which brought back memories when I was a 707 instructor at JFK. We had some transitioning F/O's and we would go to Atlantic City to shoot touch and goes etc. Well, got a pair of Navy guys and after doing several landings, I advised him next was full stop. Well, we touched down I pulled the spoilers and low and behold the engines were suddenly at full thrust...down with the spoilers and try it again. That is when I learned that all carrier pilots land and go full thrust in case they missed the wire. Second guy was no better, same habit so we had to de-train them for civil aviation. Both were excellent pilots as were most of TWA's airmen.
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Irish
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Oh, that's really funny, Bob! Bolter! Bolter!
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ss278
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Navy guys are, by and large, an impatient lot. (So am I, I readily admit.)

Back in the early 70's, one of my first jobs out of college was to shepherd an Admiral around when he visited our sites for the program he oversaw. This occasionaly meant I would travel with him and have to arrange flights etc. Trying to be efficient I would schedule what I thought would be a minimum but comfortable amount of time to get to the airport before a flight. The second time we arrived at the gate 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure (this WAS the 70's, remember) he turned to me and said "...son, you need to know that if our flight departs at 8:00 and I get on at 7:59, I feel as if I've wasted 30 seconds of my life...don't get us here so early again, I have things I could be doing..."

From then on, if when we boarded and the door didn't immediately close behind us, I knew I'd screwed up.

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Capn Eddie Ricketyback
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quote:
Originally posted by ss278:
From then on, if when we boarded and the door didn't immediately close behind us, I knew I'd screwed up.

If that guy always operated like that, he must have missed quite a few flights by cutting it that short. Wonder how much time that cost him over the years. Too many unforecastable elements there, like traffic, accidents, etc.

He doesn't sound like the only Admiral I've ever known, a retired Vice Admiral who was Commander of the Pacific Fleet until his retirement some years ago. He's a member of an arts organization that I'm currently president of, and he must have missed the memo that said "Never Volunteer," because he's always there for anything, such as moving pianos, setting up meeting rooms, any and everything.

[ 09-10-2009, 20:12: Message edited by: Capn Eddie Ricketyback ]

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Rocky Dollarhide
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......and then there was the L1011 Captain who, after reviewing the flight plan and weather, told the agent to add 5000 pounds of fuel. The Check Pilot, who was giving him a check ride, advised the Captain it would burn extra fuel to carry the 5000 additional pounds. The Captain looked at the Check Pilot, turned to the agent, and said "add 5000 more."

......or the Check Captain who asked the Student Captain, "how would you handle a co-pilot who arrives at the cockpit 5 minutes before departure". And the Student Captain says "if he beats me, he beats me."

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jeff shrewsbury
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....or the Captain, who was real familiar with manipulating the ACARS circuit breakers, sees a classmate as he goes into a mens room in STL Ops. The Capt. goes into a stall and has a brief chat with his classmate who is about to leave the mens room. The classmate asks, "What time is your flight." The Capt, still in the stall, says, " In 4 minutes!". The classmate somewhat surprised asks, "Aren't you cutting it a little close?". The Capt in the stall says, "Naw, I've already blocked out!!!"
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ss278
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...If that guy always operated like that, he must have missed quite a few flights by cutting it that short....

In all the time I was with him, we only "missed" one. We arrived at the gate just as the plane started to push back. The Admiral just looked at me and said "I'll handle this". He went to the gate agent, had a few words, the agent picked up his phone, called someone, and gave the phone to the Admiral. I have no idea who he talked to or what was said, all I know is five minutes later the plane re-appeared at the gate, the jetway went out and we got on.

The expression on the other passengers faces was priceless. I took my window seat and he had his customary aisle seat. He always travelled in his "civvies" so his rank was not obvious, and frankly, no one out of the service would have recognized him anyway . After takeoff the guy across the aisle from him leaned over and said, "...okay, I can't stand it, who the f**k ARE you guys!" It was all I could do not to laugh out loud.

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Capn Eddie Ricketyback
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quote:
Originally posted by ss278:
In all the time I was with him, we only "missed" one. We arrived at the gate just as the plane started to push back. The Admiral just looked at me and said "I'll handle this". He went to the gate agent, had a few words, the agent picked up his phone, called someone, and gave the phone to the Admiral. I have no idea who he talked to or what was said, all I know is five minutes later the plane re-appeared at the gate, the jetway went out and we got on.

One thing I'll guarantee... had I been the Captain of that flight no way in hell would I have come back to the gate.

I had a few run-ins with "VIPs" who thought they should have special privileges. One that sticks out in my memory was once on a flight from New York to Miami. After we became airborne the # 1 F/A came up to the cockpit and said that former Sen. Jacob Javits was in coach and wanted to move up to First Class. She didn't want to do it and asked if I would back her up, and I said damn right, tell him the Captain refuses permission. He then asked to see me, so I went back and he told me that other crews had let him move up and I said something like, "Well, Senator, you're not going to move up on this flight unless you pay for a first class ticket." The usual threats ensued with him demanding and getting my name, payroll no., etc. Of course I never heard any more about it, which slightly disappointed me.

The only thing I regretted about this incident was that it had to be one of the last Senators from New York whose politics were in line with mine!

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Irish
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quote:
Originally posted by Capn Eddie Ricketyback:
I had a few run-ins with "VIPs" who thought they should have special privileges.

Me too. I was flying an MD-80 on the STL-ONT leg of a DCA-ONT flight when, about an hour out of ONT, there was a knock on the cockpit door. Frequently the gals would knock, enter and stand quietly to catch a little break. I punched the button and saw an F/A uniform enter and stand there. When she didn't say anything I looked up and realized she was the "A" F/A and was obviously shaken, with a tears in her eyes. When I asked what the heck was going on she replied that there was a F/C passenger in the rear galley asking the F/A's questions on emergency procedures.

I donned my jacket and cap, made my way to the rear and found a circle of male pax surrounding a tiny, pale-faced F/A who had her emergency procedures manual in her hands. When I asked her interrogator who he was and what he thought he was doing, he said, "I'm congressman [name deleted as he's still "serving" as a {sadly} republican from CA], I'm the chairman of a congressional oversight subcommittee investigating the FAA and I'm questioning this flight attendant on emergency procedures". I gently told the F/A to put her manual away and resume her duties, took the congressman aside as best I could, told him quietly that the interrogation was over and that if he did not return to his F/C seat immediately and remain there for the rest of the flight I would have him charged with interfering with my flight crew in the performance of their duties. Obviously taken aback he stared at me for a second or two and said, "I think you're right."

As the pax were deplaning one said to me, "Thanks for putting that drunk in his place."

Later I found out that from the ramp agent that this "public servant" always booked a flight home with Continental (cheaper fare), then changed his booking to TWA at DCA and asked for a complimentary upgrade to F/C which he usually got. [Mad]

I remember that this happened on a Memorial Day holiday because I interrupted STL flight manager Bob Beaulieu's backyard barbecue to give him a heads-up that he might be getting a call from the U.S. Congress the next day. Nothing was ever heard from the Congressman. [Big Grin]

Capt'n Eddie, we should write a book! [Wink]

Paul

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DC9
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You should give us his name.
Jim

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Capn Eddie Ricketyback
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quote:
Originally posted by Irish:
[QUOTE]"I'm congressman [name deleted as he's still "serving" as a {sadly} republican from CA]

Reminds me of something I said to my wife once that she thought was hilarious, "I hate politicians, even the ones I like."

quote:
Originally posted by Irish:
[QUOTE]Capt'n Eddie, we should write a book!

Yeah, but who'd read it?! Especially one by me, whose writing skills, as you must have seen by now, are somewhat marginal.

Actually, it was something I thought about 10 or 15 years ago, but sanity returned and I gave up on the idea.

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Irish
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I'm taking my cue from Fox News where everyone and his brother and sister has a book in publication. [Big Grin]

Paul

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