Petzal: A Carrier Landing Story

This has absolutely nothing to do with guns, but since many of you have military backgrounds, or an interest in … Continued

This has absolutely nothing to do with guns, but since many of you have military backgrounds, or an interest in militaria, I thought I’d pass it along because it’s sweet and has a lot of heart. It was told to me by a former Navy aviator (call sign Cobra) who served during the Late Unpleasantness in Vietnam, and the incident took place on the carrier Coral Sea in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1972.

It was a day when heavy seas and horrendous weather made flying almost impossible, and the Coral Sea got all her planes in except an F-8 photo reconnaissance jet. The pilot (I will give him the call sign Fallen Sparrow) was having a bad day, and in rapid succession he got waved off, landed past the catch cables (a bolter, they call it), and had a hook skip. Now he was almost out of fuel so the Coral Sea sent up an A-6 tanker, which gave him a load of fuel, and he tried again.

He got waved off the first time for being too low; the second time for being too high; and on his sixth pass, he slammed the F-8 down on the deck, cut his engines in direct violation of landing procedure, and hooked up. He had made it.

The drill after you land is to turn off your lights, fold your wings, and taxi forward to park. But nothing happened. So the Air Boss (a savage, blood-drinking Commander) got on the horn to Fallen Sparrow, and said:

“You WILL turn off your lights, fold your wings, and taxi forward.”

Nothing.

The Air Boss said, “MISTER, DO YOU COPY ME?”

And from Fallen Sparrow came this reply in a very small, weak voice:

“Boss, do I interrupt you when you’re taking a s**t?