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July 2004, Archive Story

 

THE LIGHTNING PILOT'S TEN COMMANDMENTS 

1. Thou shalt not omit thy walk-round, lest thou rise into the heavens with a cover or ground-lock in place. Nor shalt thou ignore thy checklist, for many are the valves, switches, levers and handles waiting to take vengeance upon thee, and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth shall guide the Rescue helicopter to thy dinghy.

2. Thou shalt not retract thy gear before thou hast achieved sufficient airspeed, lest thy aeroplane sink back on to the runway into rivers of hell-fire with the wheels in the wells and thou art sent on a rotary wing conversion course. Verily, the love of a punchy take-off is the root of many ills, but it is better in the eyes of the base commander to be a living dog than a dead lion.

3. Thou shalt not allow thy centre of gravity be beyond limits, for the laws of gravity shall surely judge the ignorant and the errant. Whatever British Aerospace hath joined together, let no man put asunder.

4. Thou shalt look to thy left and to thy right as thou journeyest through the skies, for behold the other aeroplane cometh quickly and thou shalt meet it in the air, and thy fellow pilots shall be bound as is the custom to comfort thy widow with soft words and in many other ways.

5. Thou shalt not buzz, lest thou incur the wrath of the Almighty with the braid of gold and bring the fury of the high priests of the Temple of Defence upon thine head and shoulders. For lo, many are the fools who perish at low level when the aeroplane smiteth the birds of the air or the trees of the field or the wires of the electricity company.

6. Thou shalt take good measure of thy fuel, for verily, a tank full of air at 10,000 feet is an abomination and as welcome as a plague of locusts. Yea, and even more so upon departure. What profiteth a man that he hath a full fuel bowser at the airfield yet perisheth by ignoring it to achieve his commitment. For it is written that only a double reheat fire warning shall cause thee to rejoice that thy fuel runneth below minimums.

7. Thou shalt not push through the scud at low level tail-chasing the F-111 of the Americanites, lest the angel Gabriel be waiting on the other side. For pride goeth before destruction and it is written that the cumulo-granitus is no respecter of aeroplanes without avionics blessed by advancement.

8. Thou shalt beware the prophets of the weather, for the truth is not always upon them. Woe is to he who entereth the thunderstorm and hath his missile head smitten by the hail of the Lord, but worse shall befall he who hath his wings ripped from his chariot and is cast naked into the firmament.

9. Thou shalt not exceed thy G-limit beyond the number seven, lest thou distort thy airframe and must go to the moneylenders of the temple. For it is the custom that thou must buy the hewers of wood and drawers of water on the Line a barrel of beer for thy transgressions. Verily, the reader of the G-meter is all-seeing, and your sin will find you out.

10. Thou shalt observe thy landing limits and shall not approach high and fast, for the ditch at the end of the runway lieth in wait for whomsoever it may devour. Check frequently thy airspeed on final approach, lest the earth rise up and smite thee, and forget not that the wise man ignoreth the crosswind at his peril lest he reap the whirlwind of the ground loop.

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