Last updated 2006-08-22
This piece came to me via a detour. It was originally posted on a discussion group for South African Airways 767 pilots, but has made the rounds since then. The author is a senior Boeing 767 captain, who also regularly flies light aeroplanes and helicopters as a Designated Flight Examiner. He has kindly provided permission for me to place this piece on my Web site, to complement the piece I already have there about the difference between helicopter and aeroplane jockeys. Unfortunately you won't fully appreciate all the linguistic subtleties if you don't understand Afrikaans (or at least that linguistic melting pot that they call South African English), but you should get the drift!
Good day fellow 767 drivers.
On a previous occasion we had a bit of a discussion about going to expanded ILS. A fairly healthy discussion followed and a few things were said about pulling it into the vertical and lighting the PC etc. Being an ex helicopter man and thus a man of integrity and honour, I answered the lad, addressed to him only. He answered back, addressed to the whole Pool and I have since then had quite a few emails from very upset ex Chopper and tail-dragger manne.
I suppose I had to say something but refrained from doing this because invariably feelings get hurt and being a very sensitive ex chopper gentleman (like all chopper gentlemen) I didn't want to do that. Pressure mounted and now I have to let the cat out of the bag. After being secret for many years, this fact only came off the "top secret" list last year and can only now be disclosed.
The Air Force had a system developed by one of the very top Industrial Psychologists in the Country, whose name can't be disclosed here due to ethical reasons. I, being involved in training on helicopters in the Air Force knew about this and can now discuss it.
It was called the "LMF" system. It stood for various things and I will discuss them with you people:
The first was "Lots of Motor Function". Young recruits for pilot training were subjected to rigorous tests. Those found with lots of motor function were sent to helicopters where very good hand, foot and eye coordination is needed. Those found with "Low, Little or Lack of Motor Function" were cast out straight to fighters where very little foot, hand and eye coordination is needed. I mean, it is not every pilot that can fly an aircraft balanced, whereas in an Allouette when you do a right hand descending turn you have to apply left pedal to fly balanced. Most fighter jocks think that rudder pedals are footrests they can rest their tootsies on if they wanted to.
The second one was "Lots of Moral Fibre". Recruits found with this attribute were sent to helicopters were they had to rescue downed fighter jocks from behind enemy lines, save people out of the sea, from the mountains and lots and lots of acts of bravery that I don't have time or space to discuss here. Ever watched a live wire service that the Eskom chopper pilots do, and you will realise there is lots and lots of "MF" here.
On the other side of the scale there is "Low, Little or Lack of Moral Fibre". Now I don't say that fighter jocks had this attribute but I have three little stories to relate to you and you judge for yourself. Whenever I go on a Rotary Tour of Drinking Establishments (see we Chopper Jocks have "Lots of Mooi Frases" whilst the average fighter jock has "Lack of Mooi Frases", they sommer call it pub crawling) I make sure that I have an ex fighter jock with me. If we become temporarily uncertain of position all I do is say: "Bogey twelve o'clock high!". What happens next is extraordinary. His eyes go glazy, his left arm jerks forward as if he slams the throttle open and at the same time makes those jerky movements that go with engaging the PC, his right hand nervously feels if the ejection lever is still in place and of course his feet automatically turn in a 180 direction. So we are not uncertain of position any more.
The second story is about the vlammie re-union at a very famous base. They were having a formal dinner and were just serving the soup when two Chopper Jocks walked past and one shouted "Two bogeys twelve o'clock high". In the ensuing chaos three cardiac arrests were reported and afterwards two toupees were found in the soup as some gents had involuntary ejection reactions.
Thirdly, the wife of one of my colleagues from the Air Force, who stopped flying at 40, told me that he had problems with constipation. By just saying to him every morning: "Mig 23 twelve o'clock high", he is as regular as clockwork.
Another attribute that Chopper Jocks have is "Lots of Magnificent Females". The other day I was lying on the beach there at the Strand and who arrived to come and do some surfing in their g-suits, but Mach Two Mike and Supersonic Sakkie. Also prancing about on the beach was Coffin Corner Charlie in his jettie T-shirt and swimming trunks with the 3 Squadron badge on his seat. I overheard a buxom bikini-clad blonde say, "Who are these phased out space cadets?"
Next thing Hover Hendrik, a Lootenant from Ysters, moonlighting on weekends flying the John Rolfe rescue helicopter, landed on the beach. He was immediately surrounded by lots of buxom blonde, brunette and redhead bikini-clad beauties and I can tell you now that when he took the cream of the crop for a flip later, he simply couldn't miss. Now when Hover Hendrik was flying in the Eastern Transvaal and he took the receptionist of the Lodge for a flip and hovered at the Mac Mac waterfall and pointed out all the nice flowers and ferns and Bambi in the Bush, she immediately realised what a sensitive soul he is and do I need to go any further?
Now I don't say fighter jocks have "Lack of Magnificent Females", I just sketched how much easier it is for a Chopper Jock to score.
In Civilian Street the men with "Lots of Monetary Funds" can afford to fly Helicopters, those with "Low, Little or Lack of Monetary Funds" will fly some other form of aircraft. In a helicopter the Pilot in Command is al that is needed for performance. Anyone who has been to an air show recently would have seen how the Rooivalk can be pulled into the vertical and do all the manoeuvres a fighter does and can even do them backwards.
To top it off I would like to mention that through the years when fighter jocks flew into bullets or missiles or through mishandling of the flight, engine or fuel controls ended up having to take a silk ride out they invariably had their asses saved by some Chopper Jock.
It all rests on the "LMF" factor. I hope everyone understands this now and I won't have to explain again.
Keep the ball in the centre and stop the yaw!
SAA Boeing 767 Captain
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