Cockpit Resource Management Circa 1962
One dark and windy night at Lajes AFB, Azores (all nights are dark and windy at Lajes) I was pulled off my C-124 crew to fill a navigator slot on another crew with an ailing navigator. The aircraft commander of the crew to which I was assigned was familiar to me, since he was from a different squadron in the same Wing. I can still remember how much he resembled the cartoon character Smiling Jack. Major Smiling Jack thought a lot of himself and was a notorious two fisted drinker. I quickly picked up the clues that he had a pretty low regard for navigators, especially this navigator.
With that background in mind let me share part of the flight from Lajes to Torrejon AFB, Spain. We are in cruise between Lajes and Lisbon and about an hour and a half southwest of the coast of Portugal. The aircraft commander has just assumed his station in the left seat after a snooze (recovery may be better word) in the crew bunk.
A/C: Hey Nav, are you sure about that heading for Lisbon?
Nav: Yes Sir, I just had a good tight three star fix that put us about 5 miles north of desired track and with this heading we should be back on track by the next reporting point.
Ten minutes later
A/C: Hey Nav, this heading still doesn't look so hot to me. (Does this guy have a doppler of his own?) What is the frequency for the Lisbon range station?
Nav: Sir, the frequency for Lisbon range is 335 kc. FYI, this heading will take us just south of Capa Roca and right over Lisbon.
A/C: Nav this is pilot I have control of the NDB.
Nav: Yes Sir
Five minutes later
A/C: Hey Nav, take a good look at the NDB needle. It shows the Libson Range to be thirty degrees to the right of the nose.
Nav: I see that Sir. I’ll take another three star fix right now, but in the meantime I am reasonably confident that this heading will take us to the Lisbon range.
Twenty Minutes Later
A/C: Hey Nav, I might be just a dumb S--t pilot but that damn NDB still shows Lisbon range to be thirty degrees off to the right (clue number 2) and it identifies loud and clear. Do you read me Nav?
Nav: Yes Sir I read you. If you want you can turn three degrees right.
A/C: Nav are you a smart ass?
Nav: Not today sir.
Two Minutes Later
Nav: Nav to Pilot
A/C: Are you ready to turn thirty right now Nav?
Nav: No Sir, but I do have a question. Is the NDB function selector in the antenna (ANT) or the compass (COMP) position?
A/C: Hey Nav, I will bet you a round of drinks that your ETA for Lisbon is off by more than three minutes.