When Carlo was born, 24 years ago today, there was no Google or YouTube. The infant internet had BBS but no email or world wide web — “websites” were unheard of. No mobile phones or text messages. Telephones had finger holes in disks called “dials”, hence we “dialed” each other’s numbers. We also had a brand new President Aquino.
Audio CDs were newly invented. DVD’s didn’t exist. Platoon won the Oscar for Best Picture. On TV, Detective Sonny Crockett sped around Miami in a Ferrari Testarossa. But the fastest law-enforcement vehicle in 1986 was the F-14 Tomcat, accessorized with Tom Cruise and his computer-designed face.
Before Carlo learned to walk, he watched Top Gun every morning. Every morning. He wore out the Betamax tape.
If I was still shaving by the time Maverick learned he was going to Miramar …
“You screw up this much, and you’ll be flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog shit out of Hong Kong!”
… I knew I would be late for work. (Carlo learned later in life that ‘dog shit’ was not an aviation term.)
One morning, the toddler Carlo was watching Maverick and Goose catapulting off the carrier deck. He was leaning against the foot of the bed, bobbing and swaying to Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone”. Then he he got to the end of the bed. THUD.
As he lay on the floor, I ran to the bathroom, so that he wouldn’t see me laughing.
It didn’t get any better. Even today he is still the second-clumsiest person I know.
Except when he is in the cockpit.
A year ago last month, Carlo was flying our Cessna 152 over Central Luzon. It was wet. Before we took off, we carefully sampled our fuel tanks for water contamination. The airplane had been sitting in rain for hours.
We flew around drizzles over the flooded rice paddies below. Talking about girlfriends. It had been raining all week. (Three months later, a flood totally submerged Carlo’s house.)
We flew back to the airfield to do touch and go’s – takeoff and landing drills without stopping the airplane on the runway.
You know that feeling, when something doesn’t feel quite right. No worry or anxiety or even unease, just something vaguely out of place.
Downwind leg. Carlo is pilot flying, left seat. All gauges normal.
Airspeed 85 knots (nautical miles per hour). Flaps 10. All normal.
Turn to base leg. Airspeed 75, flaps 20. All is well.
Final approach, over the bridge at 800 feet, perfect. Airspeed 75, 15 knots fast.
At 0:05 in the video, we at 75 knots. Fast. Carlo reduces power.
At 0:11 to 0:13, the wing angles up vs. horizon — Carlo is pitching up to slow down.
At 0:15, the airspeed indicator still says 75 knots. Too fast. Trust your instruments. Carlo cuts throttle to idle.
The airplane mushes down under our butts, like it’s about to stall. It’s flying too slowly.
0:18 Tonet: “That’s weird, right?”
0:18 [Carlo adds full throttle as Tonet says “weird”.]
0:19 [Stall horn activates.]
0:20 Carlo: “No way is that correct!”
0:21 [Carlo pushes yoke forward. Altimeter and VSI immobile.]
0:22 [Sound of stall horn continues, airspeed stuck at 75.]
0:23 [Stall horn ends. Carlo re-adjusts power and pitch, we are on short final.]
We are on the ground a few seconds later, normal landing, full stop. They found water in the Pitot-static system. The system’s drain was blocked.
The delta between total pressure and static pressure increased as the airplane descended, and the airspeed indicator over-reported our airspeed. The instrument we were trusting was wrong, because of the water in the system.
The video shows that the ground speed displayed in the corner of the GPS deteriorated from 72 knots to 56.2 knots in those 25 seconds. There was little wind, so we actually got close to the Cessna 152’s stall speed of 43 knots CAS.
Carlo reacted seconds ahead of me, adding power, pitching down, feeling the airplane with his butt, and going on to land. The difference between Colgan Air, Aero Peru, and living on to see this year’s birthday.
Toddlers grow up all too fast, and suddenly they are faster and nimbler than their Dads. I still think it’s a dream every time we fly together.
Happy Birthday to Captain Rivera! From The Other Captain Rivera.
Posted from Manila, August 28, 2010