Author Archives: fasfric

Emergency Radio Commumications of SW Captain with ATC

Yesterday’s following radio communication between the Southwest Airlines Captain, a former Navy fighter aircraft pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, and ATC, reveals her calm demeanor – – – and also clearly shows her skilled handling of the serious emergency.  The 7:26 long audio clip also exhibits the professionalism of the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) who handled things equally well from the ground.

The audio has been condensed but includes all currently available ATC transmissions to and from Southwest (SWA 1380)  from the time the Mrs. Shults declared the emergency to the time she safely brought the ship to a stop at Philadelphia.

Not only was the 56 year old Captain Shults calm during the entire crisis, but notice how her voice sounds as though she were conducting a normal flight, one without any kind of emergency, let alone one so severe.

The quality of these sequential audio feeds varies significantly due to distance between transmitters, A/D converters, interference, receivers, bandwidth, bitrate, compression, digital artifacts, dither, and other typical variables.

Tammie Jo Shults by F-18 Fighter – Click photo for story

Shults calmly flew Southwest Flight 1380 to safety after part of its left (Number 1) engine exploded and then part of its nacelle (container pod) ripped off, damaging a window and nearly sucking a woman, who was the sole fatality, out of the plane. The flight was en route to Dallas Love airport from New York City.   Captain Shults quickly chose to make the emergency landing in PhiladelphiaWith the help of her co-pilot and the rest of the crew, she turned what could have been a complete loss of life for all aboard, into a relatively safe conclusion.

           Current photo of  Capt. Shults

The NTSB reported the one fatality out of 143 passengers on board. The woman who died has been identified as Jennifer Riordan, 43, of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

After safely landing at Philadelphia, Captain Shults stopped to personally console each passenger as they left the aircraft.

Shults was piloting the Boeing 737 when, at 32,000 feet, shrapnel from the exploding engine smashed out a window. She immediately put the airliner into a rapid descent, making the safe emergency landing. Aside from the one fatality, seven passengers had minor injuries. Thankful passengers immediately began posting on social media after their plane landed, declaring that Shults, her co-pilot/1st Officer, a USAF veteran, Daren Ellison, and the rest of the crew were heroes. On Instagram, @abourman wrote, “Our engine blew out at 38000 (it was actually 32,000) ft. A window blew out, a man saved us all as he jumped to cover the window. … The pilot, Tammy Jo was so amazing! She landed us safely in Philly.”

Photo of destroyed left engine on SWA Flight 1380

Captain Shults grew up on a ranch near Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, where watching air shows and living under one of the air base’s flight paths, helped inspire her to join the Navy as one of its first female fighter aircraft pilots. She first tried to fly for the USAF, but at that time the Air Force wasn’t interested in recruiting women pilots.  She wrote about her Navy career in the book, “Military Fly Momsby Linda Maloney, in 2012.  Her husband, Dean, is also a pilot for Southwest and was a former Fighter Pilot.  The flying couple have two children, a teenage boy and a girl in her 20’s.


A New Peek into the Record Setting 1st Aero SR-71 Blackbird

 Virg Hemphill

Thanks again to our number one Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill (L), we are once again able to bring you another fascinating video (14:23 long) about the First Aero’s famous spy plane: the SR-71 Blackbird.

         Buz Carpenter

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum Docent, Col. Buz Carpenter (R), a former SR-71 Pilot himself, gives a us an intriguing tour of his favorite plane, the world’s fastest jet. Since 1976, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird has held the world record for the fastest ‘air-breathing manned aircraft’ with a recorded speed of 1,905.81 knots (2,193.2 mph; 3,529.6 km/h). That works out to a staggering 36.55 miles/58.83 km per minute.

And here below is a 4:25 long video about the Blackbird, with one of our FASF Advisors, and former First Aero Squadron Commander, Major General Patrick Halloran (see his photo below both videos), describing some of his own experiences as a member of the small elite group of pilots priviliged to fly the world’s fastest jet.  General Halloran is the second Blackbird pilot you see being interviewed.


And, below is a 20:00 long video of a SR-71 Cockpit Checkout by former pilot, Richard Graham.

 Gen.  Patrick Halloran

Wild Croatian Air Force Pilot Puts His Pilatus to the Test

Sit tight and watch your knuckles turn white as you hang on for this 3:19 wild ride, right on the deck, with this Croatian Air Force Pilot, as he steeply banks his jet-prop fighter right and left over roads, rivers, farm fields and, yes under bridges. Steep banks, such as this video displays, are more than dangerous this close to the terrain.  And, take a deep breath, as he flies right under the Mirna Bridge in Western Croatia.

One of Croatian Air Force Emblems

This looks dangerous:  and it is.  But it also shows you what a high degree of piloting skill can help you accomplish.  It mayh also give you a hint of how adventurous and downright fun it can be to fly your own plane.  Courtesy of ICONIC.


                                                    Croatian Air Force Exhibition Team

                                                     Croatian AF PC-9’s in  Formation

                                                       CAF PC-9’s Exhibiting Formation maneuvers

                                                  CAF Pilatus PC-9 Taxis out for takeoff.

                                                        CAF PC-9 Takes off and raises gear.

                                                               Croatian Air Force MIG-21

New Navy and Marine Pilots Qualify for 1st Carrier Landings

Once again, from our ever alert Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill, comes another great video post regarding Naval Aviator in training – – – when they are ready for their first attempts to land  a fast moving jet on the mother ship – and Aircraft Carrier.

Virg and I were USAF jet pilots, so we didn’t have to endure this experience, in fact we not so jokingly used to refer to all Navy landings aboard ship as either good or bad “controlled crashes.”  That’s because, as you can see, there’s simply no such thing on an Aircraft Carrier as a “smooth” landing.

The arresting gear that so suddenly jerks your hurling machine to a sudden stop, simply cannot provide a “smooth” end of flight experience.  In fact, when you stop to think about the Navy shipboard landing process, if the pilots were not tightly constrained by a strong shoulder and seat harness, they’d likely be gravely injured or even killed by the sudden stop – as would they be had their plane hit a brick wall.  Of course the jets are purposely designed to be exceptionally strong, enough to safely take the sudden stops involved with every Carrier landing.

Without further ado, here’s “The Day of the Tests.”  It is 6:52 long.

When Air Force model aircraft are re-designed for Navy Carrier Service, they must be especially reinforced to be able to withstand the extreme landing forces they’ll have to endure.  The result is, of course, that the USN version of the jet will be considerably heavier because of the extra weight of the reinforcement metals involved.

As you can see in this video, there’s a tendency for understandably nervous new pilots to come in too high – – – and to thereby miss the arresting cable altogether.  One pilot even forgets to put his tail hook down.

One of the most difficult parts of the new carrier landing technique is for the fledgling pilots to remember to immediately put on full power the instant they touch the deck.

This must be done to be sure that, should the pilot not snag the arresting cable, they’ll have sufficient power to “go around” or make another attempt to land.  Missing the arresting cable is called a “bolter.”  Doing this sudden application of power upon touching down is an unnatural or non-instinctive procedure, yet critically necesary.  If it’s not done with precise timing, they risk rolling straight off the Carrier’s deck and into the ocean.

Your editor spent three years in the Navy before switching to the Air Force and found this videos’ pilots’ reference to the “Boat” as startling.  When I served in the Navy, one never used the term “boat” for a large ship, such as an aircraft carrier, so the acceptable language has certainly changed in the past fifty years!   We were literally scolded, if we referred to our ship as a boat!


Contrast Between AF Pilot’s Day & Their Navy Counterpart’s

Let it not be claimed that one’s daily flying of a fixed wing (contrasted to rotary winged) aircraft in the USAF is precisely the same as that when one is flying in the Navy.  Without a doubt, the most significant difference between the two experiences is when it comes to landing and taking off.

The Navy (and some USMC) pilots don’t take their machines into the air the same way at all:  The Naval aviator is literally – and violently – shot into the air – which is done by a huge steam driven catapult* apparatus aboard the Aircraft Carrier; while, on the other hand, the USAF pilot uses (unless flying a vertical take-off aircraft) a very stable or fixed-in-space long runway for the procedure.  When it comes to landing, the difference experienced is even more dramatic – and without a doubt, the Naval Aviator’s experience is far more dangerous – – – and demanding.

The following two video clips were first made public by the Public Broadcasting System in cooperation with the Department of the Navy.  They are laced with white-knuckled attempts at landing – one failed attempt after another – on the severely pitching Nimitz’ s seemingly minuscule landing platform or deck.

Everyone on board, from the Captain on the Bridge to the non-flying pilots down below at their live TV screens along with other crew members, all had their  eyes fixed to their repeater screens as the airborne pilots struggled to safely land their racing jets back on board the mother ship.  Would they all make is safely down – or not?  And all their missed approaches were gobbling up their fuel, requiring them to be refueled by Carrier borne tankers, since the ship was more than 700 miles from the nearest safe shoreline.

So, let’s go aboard the USS Nimitz at sea – and not a typical day at sea – but a day with rough seas and a PITCHING DECK.  Remember, you can take these videos to full screen mode and keep your sound turned up to get the most meaningful experience from these two cliff-hanger videos.

This first video is 10 thrilling minutes long – as is the second one, too.

* The newest USN Aircraft Carrier (the USS Ford) to join the fleet has a radically new launching catapult system, one that is magnetically, rather than steam driven:

EMALS. The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) is designed to replace the steam catapult systems currently used on the U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the first carrier to use EMALS.

The two videos above are courtesy of the United States Navy.

AF & USN Demonstration Teams Fly Together at Pensacola

And the Blue Angels “Swap Paint.”

Thanks to “Fighter Sweep” we have this following news story about the two U.S. military aviation demonstration teams’ exhibition over NAS Pensacola, Florida, home of the Navy’s principal Flight Training Station. See the below 1:11 long video.  You may ask, “what’s it mean to swap paint?”  The video explains.

And why were the Thunderbirds joining up with the Blue Angels?  It was the 71st Birthday for the Blue Angels, and the USAF Team crashed their party.  They hadn’t done this since 2002. But it was a friendly exchange of not just greetings and airborne teamwork, but also of ideas and mutually similar experiences in the crowd thrilling exhibition business.  For the “younger” Thunderbirds, it was their 70th birthday.  This video is 1:53 long.

Air Force and Navy Flight Demonstration Teams join for group portrait at Pensacola, FL in celebration of the Blue Angels’ 71st Birthday.

Earlier, here below, is a USAF KC-135 Tanker refueling the Navy’s Blue Angels exhibition team in mid-flight.  This clip is 1:01 long,  and shows some beautiful footage of the refueling action as it takes place.  One of our more active FASF members, Col. Alan Fisher, accumulated many hours flying this same tanker during his USAF career.


JN3 OX-5 Engines to Huge Double Wasps, Jets, Ram Jets and –


Don’t know what they are?

Well, as you’d expect, they’re a far cry from the early Curtiss OX-5 reciprocating engines that powered the First Aero’s famous Jennies, but since they might otherwise be unknown to you, we’re here to help you learn what these engines are.  We’re here to help bring you all up to speed about aviation, since American Civil as well as Military Aviation (Air Power) both got their true launching – and re-launching – right here in Columbus.

And, is it not true that the airplane has done more to shrink the effective size of the world than any other invention?

Enjoy this excellent 10 minute video, featuring Australian Professor, David Mee,  about the ultimate jet – – – the SCRAMJET power plant for hypersonic flight.

SCRAMJETS are NOT rocket engines, such as those we see pushing our space craft into orbits and beyond.

These advanced SCRAMJET engines are not only unimaginably powerful, but they can push aircraft well beyond MACH 6, which is six (6) times the speed of sound, for those of you not familiar with the meaning of MACH.

The finest jet engines cannot drive their aircraft beyond about MACH 3.5, at which speed limit the Ramjet is required.  Then we can move the craft beyond MACH 3.5 to about MACH 6, – – – and that’s the speed at which the SCRAMJET takes over . . .

QUESTION: What class of the above described jet engines were used to power the famous SR-71 flown by the First Aero Squadron?