Flights & Fancy: Adventures in Pararescue
- By Will Oliver
- Air & Space magazine, September 2001
(Page 2 of 2)
I approached the captain, feeling weak-kneed at the thought that I must be in big trouble. He asked where my skipper was and if I knew what we planned to do with the A-4 in the ditch. I told him I thought we would probably just tow it out and fix it, but that I was just a student and really did not know. He looked wistfully through the pouring rain at the overturned jet. He said that just about every aircraft that the Blue Angels had ever flown was on display at the base’s front gate except an A-4, and that our jet would look really good there with a blue and gold paint job.
When everyone had been rescued from the drainage ditch, we climbed into the back of the ambulance for our ride to Medical. I noticed the other student staring at a huge ball of brown mud in his lap and realized that this object was his helmet, which he had thrown down earlier. I asked him why on earth he had done such a thing. He looked up at me as if the answer was obvious, and in a slow, Southern drawl told me that that was “what NASCAR drivers do when they crash on TV.”
In Medical, we were poked, prodded, and examined. We relaxed, knowing that no one was injured and aircraft damage was light. The A-4 in the ditch was towed out, repaired, and flown again. During takeoff on its first flight back, it sucked a bird into its engine and skidded to a stop just off the far end of the runway. From then on, no superstitious pilot would go near the cursed airplane.