‘Curious, I grabbed his G-suit off the rack. Sure enough, there was a Sony Walkman (tape, this is 1983) in one of the pockets…,’ Pat Markwell, former A-10 Warthog Life Support Technician in the US Air Force.
Fighter pilots are not allowed to carry electronic devices with them. That includes music players. The chances of a gadget interfering with onboard avionics are rather slim, but it could happen.
However, back in the days of the Cold War, there was an A-10 Warthog pilot who loved to break that rule…
Pat Markwell, former Life Support Technician in the US Air Force, recalls on Quora;
‘As a novice Life Support tech I was doing a post flight inspection of one of our more Sierra Hotel A-10 pilots helmet. This usually involved swabbing spit out of the oxygen mask, cleaning the visor and a quick once over.
‘Then I noticed a very non Milspec cord taped to the comm line that ran from the helmet, along the hose, and dangling next to the CRU-60 quick disconnects. Curious, I grabbed his G-suit off the rack. Sure enough, there was a Sony Walkman (tape, this is 1983) in one of the pockets.
‘A few minutes later, 1st Lieutenant B strolls through the LS section. Now, this is one of the coolest individuals I have ever met. So, showtime:
‘Me, holding his helmet “Uh, Lt B? What’s with the Walkman? I’m not sure that I can allow this to be considered suitable for flight (comm loss and post ejection flailing, etc).”
‘Lt B “It will be fine. I just like to listen to The Doors when I strafe“.
‘Me “Let me get this straight, Sir. They pay you big bucks, let you strap on a multi-million-dollar aircraft, and you get to listen to The Doors as you blow s**t up?”
‘Lt B, now sporting the biggest shit eating grin I’ve ever seen “That’s right, Airman. It’s kinda like getting paid to f**k”’
‘And that is when I realized that fighter pilots are different than you and I…’
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force
I’m not sure who told you “Fighter pilots are not allowed to carry electronic devices with them.” Wasn’t true back in 1983 (when I was flying F-4s) or now. In 1983 (time of this “story”), every F-4 pilot carried a tape recorder for flight reconstruction. Following a flight, you’d see guys hunched over before the debrief started, earphone in, listening to the tape and reconstructing the flight. Comm guys would build the the required patch cords to spec, i.e. whether or not you wanted a “two-way” patch cord to allow listening to music as well as recording the intercom. Life Support guys in my squadron maintained a stock. They were just common-place until video tape became common for flight debriefs, and even then, many guys kept their patch cords for CD players. Everyone had music on deployments, and depending on the system, you could hear music in the background when they keyed the mic to transmit. We had a number of CD player in our flight during our deployment to Desert Shield in 1990. No big deal.
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