"THE RADAR ALTIMETER"

Category: "Mount Idy"
Les Gar Frazier on Jan. 8, 2021

Taxiing my F-111F back into my parking place at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, one of my write-up items was the radar altimeter; it was not working. The radar altimeter played an important part in automatic, low level terrain-following flight and I had to make sure maintenance would fix it. When I stopped in my parking spot, the crew chief plugged in his comm set and asked if I had any write-ups and I told him about the radar altimeter. He said, “shut down your left engine and I’ll have a look.” I shut down the engine, he placed a ladder on the side of the airplane, came up and did exactly what I’d been doing – turning the instrument on and off. Crew chiefs are trained not to stick their hands into a cockpit that had a crew in it and had the engine running.

“What the hell are you doing?” I yelled. “Get your hands out of my cockpit. I’ve already checked the off/on switch and that’s isn’t the problem.”

“Sorry about that” he said, “I’ll get a new instrument and we can change them out right now.”

He left the side of my airplane, walked over to the expeditor truck and ordered a new instrument, which arrived in a few minutes. He brought the new instrument up to the crew hatch and tried to hand it and a screwdriver to me.

“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked.

I need for you to take out those four screws and disconnect the coaxial cable for me. Then you can put in the new instrument.” He said.

“No way,” I responded, “that damn thing will shock me if I do.”

Again, forgetting the rules, he tried to stick his hand into the cockpit and check the off/on switch. I slapped his hand away and he said again “sorry about that, but the altimeter is off, there’s no way it can shock you.”

“I don’t care if the instrument is off or not,” I said, “it will shock me.”

“Sir,” said the crew chief, “the instrument is turned off, there is no way it can shock you. Besides, if you don’t change it, you’ll have to shut the other engine down, I’ll change the instrument; then I’ll have to get a power unit and crank up an engine to check it out. It would be a lot quicker and easier if you’d just change the thing.”

“Okay,” I said, “but I don’t like this; the damn thing will shock me.”

As he handed me the screwdriver, he said, “I promise you it won’t shock you.”

I removed four long screws that were holding the altimeter to the instrument panel and pulled on the altimeter. It came out three or four inches and stopped. I could see that it was being held in by a coaxial cable connected to the back of the altimeter. I gave the crew chief an “I’m about to get shocked look” and reached for the coaxial cable as he gave me a thumbs up.

I had taken my gloves off to facilitate the altimeter’s removal and when I touched the coaxial cable, it shocked me so bad, I would have gone thought the roof of the airplane had I not still been strapped in.

I looked around for the crew chief and he was gone. In fact, I spent two more years at that base and never saw him again.

 

 

Taxiing my F-111F back into my parking place at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, one of my write-up items was the radar altimeter; it was not working. The radar altimeter played an important part in automatic, low level terrain-following flight and I had to make sure maintenance would fix it. When I stopped in my parking spot, the crew chief plugged in his comm set and asked if I had any write-ups and I told him about the radar altimeter. He said, “shut down your left engine and I’ll have a look.” I shut down the engine, he placed a ladder on the side of the airplane, came up and did exactly what I’d been doing – turning the instrument on and off. Crew chiefs are trained not to stick their hands into a cockpit that had a crew in it and had the engine running.

“What the hell are you doing?” I yelled. “Get your hands out of my cockpit. I’ve already checked the off/on switch and that’s isn’t the problem.”

“Sorry about that” he said, “I’ll get a new instrument and we can change them out right now.”

He left the side of my airplane, walked over to the expeditor truck and ordered a new instrument, which arrived in a few minutes. He brought the new instrument up to the crew hatch and tried to hand it and a screwdriver to me.

“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked.

I need for you to take out those four screws and disconnect the coaxial cable for me. Then you can put in the new instrument.” He said.

“No way,” I responded, “that damn thing will shock me if I do.”

Again, forgetting the rules, he tried to stick his hand into the cockpit and check the off/on switch. I slapped his hand away and he said again “sorry about that, but the altimeter is off, there’s no way it can shock you.”

“I don’t care if the instrument is off or not,” I said, “it will shock me.”

“Sir,” said the crew chief, “the instrument is turned off, there is no way it can shock you. Besides, if you don’t change it, you’ll have to shut the other engine down, I’ll change the instrument; then I’ll have to get a power unit and crank up an engine to check it out. It would be a lot quicker and easier if you’d just change the thing.”

“Okay,” I said, “but I don’t like this; the damn thing will shock me.”

As he handed me the screwdriver, he said, “I promise you it won’t shock you.”

I removed four long screws that were holding the altimeter to the instrument panel and pulled on the altimeter. It came out three or four inches and stopped. I could see that it was being held in by a coaxial cable connected to the back of the altimeter. I gave the crew chief an “I’m about to get shocked look” and reached for the coaxial cable as he gave me a thumbs up.

I had taken my gloves off to facilitate the altimeter’s removal and when I touched the coaxial cable, it shocked me so bad, I would have gone thought the roof of the airplane had I not still been strapped in.

I looked around for the crew chief and he was gone. In fact, I spent two more years at that base and never saw him again.

 

 

Taxiing my F-111F back into my parking place at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, one of my write-up items was the radar altimeter; it was not working. The radar altimeter played an important part in automatic, low level terrain-following flight and I had to make sure maintenance would fix it. When I stopped in my parking spot, the crew chief plugged in his comm set and asked if I had any write-ups and I told him about the radar altimeter. He said, “shut down your left engine and I’ll have a look.” I shut down the engine, he placed a ladder on the side of the airplane, came up and did exactly what I’d been doing – turning the instrument on and off. Crew chiefs are trained not to stick their hands into a cockpit that had a crew in it and had the engine running.

“What the hell are you doing?” I yelled. “Get your hands out of my cockpit. I’ve already checked the off/on switch and that’s isn’t the problem.”

“Sorry about that” he said, “I’ll get a new instrument and we can change them out right now.”

He left the side of my airplane, walked over to the expeditor truck and ordered a new instrument, which arrived in a few minutes. He brought the new instrument up to the crew hatch and tried to hand it and a screwdriver to me.

“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked.

I need for you to take out those four screws and disconnect the coaxial cable for me. Then you can put in the new instrument.” He said.

“No way,” I responded, “that damn thing will shock me if I do.”

Again, forgetting the rules, he tried to stick his hand into the cockpit and check the off/on switch. I slapped his hand away and he said again “sorry about that, but the altimeter is off, there’s no way it can shock you.”

“I don’t care if the instrument is off or not,” I said, “it will shock me.”

“Sir,” said the crew chief, “the instrument is turned off, there is no way it can shock you. Besides, if you don’t change it, you’ll have to shut the other engine down, I’ll change the instrument; then I’ll have to get a power unit and crank up an engine to check it out. It would be a lot quicker and easier if you’d just change the thing.”

“Okay,” I said, “but I don’t like this; the damn thing will shock me.”

As he handed me the screwdriver, he said, “I promise you it won’t shock you.”

I removed four long screws that were holding the altimeter to the instrument panel and pulled on the altimeter. It came out three or four inches and stopped. I could see that it was being held in by a coaxial cable connected to the back of the altimeter. I gave the crew chief an “I’m about to get shocked look” and reached for the coaxial cable as he gave me a thumbs up.

I had taken my gloves off to facilitate the altimeter’s removal and when I touched the coaxial cable, it shocked me so bad, I would have gone thought the roof of the airplane had I not still been strapped in.

I looked around for the crew chief and he was gone. In fact, I spent two more years at that base and never saw him again.

 

 


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