Despite being too busy listening to and talking on the radios and not being allowed to carry electronic devices with them (the chances of a gadget interfering with onboard avionics are rather slim, but it could happen), sometimes fighter pilots break that rule and bring music players while flying.
‘I… er, “someone I know”… had a “patch cord” (courtesy of a savvy comm guy in exchange for a case of his favorite),’ says Lynn Taylor, former A-10 Pilot, Joint Firepower Course Instructor and ALO at U.S. Air Force (1995-2005), on Quora. ‘It plugged in between the oxygen hose communications connection and the jet comm receptacle. It had a toggle switch that allowed me to patch a music player into the headset.
‘I only ever used it a few times, and even then only on cross country flights where the only thing to do was enjoy the scenery. We had an interflight frequency that I could transmit over to share tunes with wingmen, but it required holding the mic button continuously. Whenever we started getting close to congested airspace, I’d turn it off to make sure we didn’t miss anything from Air Traffic Control.
‘Any other time, you really don’t want anything distracting. Any other kind of mission, training or otherwise, is very task intensive. Especially in combat, you don’t want any more distractions than already get thrown at you,’ Taylor points out.
‘As a novice Life Support tech I was doing a post flight inspection of one of our more Sierra Hotel A-10 pilots helmet,’ remembers Pat Markwell, former life support technician in the U.S. Air Force, on Quora. ‘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 shit 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…,’ Markwell concludes.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force
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