We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Working for the CIA for almost fifteen years afforded me the opportunity to experience many things the average citizen never does. I started in 1971 and was initially a clandestine courier, flying globally and in all kinds of aircraft types and conditions.
On many occasions I would fly on the freighters for American or Delta, or Flying Tigers out of LAX. Back in those days the aircraft type was either a 707 or a DC-8, both beautiful aircraft. The cockpit configuration had the traditional left hand seat for the pilot and his co pilot in the right hand seat. The flight engineer sat behind the copilot and faced ninety degrees to the right. Behind both the pilot and copilot was an FAA observer’s seat, rarely occupied. It was positioned about a foot to the right of the pilot and raised about six inches higher, thus affording the observer a clear view of the pilot and copilot’s actions. The crews knew only my government cover and were very nice, often offering a set of headphones so I could listen to the transmissions. I probably logged 5,000 to 6,000 hours in this manner. Many other hours were logged in different aircraft.
On one wintery night preparing to depart O’Hare I was up on the headset listening to the tower give out initial course and altitude which the pilot(s) copied on a small pad attached to the center of the yoke (steering wheel), You know “United 11 heavy climb and maintain 5000 feet on a heading of 147”…Well on this night I noticed the Captain had written down the wrong heading, so I tapped the co-pilot on the shoulder and told him I thought the Captain had the wrong direction plugged in. The co pilot leaned over to check the Captains pad and sure enough it was wrong, which the co pilot mentioned to him. Now you have to know the ego’s of aircraft pilots. Enormous is a good word, or if we ease up VERY CONFIDENT. The Pilot radioed the tower for a course check and sure enough he’d messed up. He turned around and stuck out his hand to this young 23 year old and said “nice catch”. It made me feel good.
It was an adventure and I sure did love to fly in the cockpit. Other adventures followed over the years that would raise my “pucker factor” to maximum, but you just hang on a nd do you job. Flying is a kick.
CRM = Cockpit Resource Management = ALL eyes on the flight deck ( jump seat riders) are allowed and in fact encouraged to say something if they suspect something isn't right...unlike in the early days of commercial aviation where the Captain had almost too much authority ...a throw back to the military...where 90+% of (now civilian) pilots were trained.