By Lt. Nick Skirvin
he crew of Bear 601 was two months into system was functioning by taking a few breaths from
deployment and two weeks into Opera- the O2 mask. I broke out the PCL, ran through the
tion Enduring Freedom (OEF) missions. checklist, and ended up at “Land as soon as practi-
We were preparing for what we thought cal.” The boat was the closest suitable place to land,
would be another routine flight. The so our crew briefly talked about the situation and
man-up was a hot-pump, crew switch that started OK, advised the rep that we would bring it aboard. Still
but radio issues necessitated a last-minute swap to the feeling the pressure to accomplish an OEF mission,
spare plane. we were told we would trap, get checked out, and
After an expeditious man-up and start of the spare, launch with the next cycle.
we taxied to Cat 1. As I watched the airspeed indica- Fair enough.
tor climb past 130 knots, I felt the familiar thump As we turned to marshal, the crew noticed the
of reaching the end of the cat and the words, “Good starboard motor made an audible change, accompanied
shot” over ICS. by a decrease in rpm below 50 percent. With the motor
As we turned to marshal, the crew noticed the starboard motor made an
During climb-out, we were surprised with an winding down, we told the ship we needed an immedi-
oxygen-system failure. We had an oxygen light on ate recovery.
the advisory panel and an associated zero liters on We completed the engine-failure emergency pro-
the O2 gauge. As an aircraft without OBOGS, this