Jay Lacklen is a former B-52 pilot with 12,500 flying hours and the author of two books, Flying the Line: An Air Force Pilot’s Journey and Flying the Line: An Air Force Pilot’s Journey Volume Two: Military Airlift Command. He’s working on the last book of the trilogy.
“Returning to Guam after my first bomb run, 1973.
We were lead aircraft with #2 and #3 echeloned loosely behind us. Looking out my right window, I discovered #2 was slowly drawing abeam. I waited until he started getting ahead of us to start calling him. My calls went unanswered. For a while, both we and #3 tried to raise him on the radio without success. Both #2 aircraft’s pilots were dead-ass asleep, with the plane on autopilot.
Finally, about ten minutes later, #2’s wings began to dip left and right, as the pilots had awakened and were looking for the rest of us, hoping they were still in formation and could get away with having both gone to sleep. No such luck. We ribbed them severely as they moved back into the formation.
My policy, that I would instruct my students to follow when I became an instructor, demanded that you always inform the other pilot if you were going to take a nap. Sleeping was approved, and necessary, but not for both pilots at the same time.”
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com
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