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Gramps from yesteryear.

Naval Aviation News October 1994

In this 1994 issue, Capt. Ted Wilbur, USNR (Ret.), took over as the illustrator of Grampaw Pettibone, carrying on the heritage of the character's creator, Robert Osborne. Wilbur served more than 30 years as a naval aviator, combat artist, editor and writer. He retired in 2981 as head of the staffs for both the Naval Aviation News magazine and the Naval Aviation History Office.

Hot Stick, Hot Switch

An SH-2F Seasprite pilot returned to sea duty after an instructor tour in the Fleet Readiness Squadron (FRS). He described himself, albeit facetiously, as "Joe Hot-Stick Aviator" because he had become extremely proficient in the SH-2F during his instructor tour. He looked forward with great confidence to his assignments as his ship's det. officer in charge. Moreover, his three junior pilots and two air crew members had been his students at the FRS. He felt bulletproof.

At sea, he was tasked to perform a vertical replenishment (VERTREP) of a canned torpedo from a supply ship without a landing area to his home plate. Although he had not executed a VERTREP in two years, he had no reservations nonetheless.

Approaching the ship, the air crew conducted the Hoist/ Helicopter-In-Flight Refueling (HIFR)/VERTREP checklist, emphasizing hoisting. The hoist-cable cut switch was set in the armed position. The hoist was then lowered to deliver the cargo pendant for the torpedo can. The supply ship crew had attached an H-46 helicopter pendant to the load, which was too large for the SH-2F's cargo hook, but the evolution began nonetheless.

The air crew member in the Seasprite lay flat on his stomach with his head out the door to observe the cargo hookup. The deck crew tried to jam the oversized pendant onto the small hook. Observing this, the air crew member called for "load release" to prevent the pendant from jamming the helo's hook.

The pilot quickly punched the sling-drop button to release the VERTREP load. He had forgotten that he had left it in the hoist-cable cut position. The hoist hook and a small amount of cable narrowly missed striking the prone air crew member on the head as they separated from the hoist boom. The pilot then released the VERTREP load from the cargo hook using the manual release.

Grampaw Pettibone says:

Another near miss!

This "ace" pilot failed to complete the Hoist/HIFR/ VERTREP checklist the second time after completing the first evolution: hoisting. Prior to VERTREP--the second evolution--he failed to change the position of the cable cut/sling-drop power switch.

Had the hook and cable whacked the air crew member on the noggin, they might a had a very serious customer in the nearest sick bay. Or worse. Checklists are the roots to success for Naval Aviation. They can also be the roots of disaster if you don't use 'em properly.

(Lt Cmdr. Ken Taylor contributed this article.)


Please note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.

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Title Annotation:Grampaw Pettibone; sailors take up vertical replenishment training
Author:Wilbur, Ted
Publication:Naval Aviation News
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2014
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