More Info
									                                                                                                  Photo by PHAN Bo J. Flannigan.

            A TIME TO REMEMBER

By Cdr. Mac Shuford

In light of the final decommissioning of the S-3 airframe, here’s a story in memoriam
of its more than 30 years of faithful service. Although my event happened more than a
decade ago, the lessons learned are appropriate today.

               ur detachment was well-prepared, but         concern was the AHRS, which just had been replaced
               we had been having constant issues with      (the failure rate of reworked parts was not good). The
               one of our aircraft. Its problems included   INS also had a history of failing during the cat stroke.
               the inertial-navigation system (INS), the    Losing both would mean loss of the main attitude
               attitude heading and reference system        gyro—any carrier pilot’s nightmare off the catapult at
(AHRS), a recurring bleed-air-leak indication, the          night. Adding to our issues, the GPS system was not
TACAN, and our mission-data load. Of course, not all        acquiring any satellites. Although this problem was
of these things ever had failed at the same time; what      unusual, it wasn’t unheard of, given the amount of elec-
were the chances of that happening?                         tronic interference on the flight deck. However, I never
    During the brief, the aircraft’s problems were at the   had lost that system before.
forefront in my mind, even though the launch was at             After a couple years of fleet experience, I had
night, and we were operating under “operational neces-      learned (like most naval aviators) to build “failsafes”
sity” for a completely organic (carrier-only) air-wing      into my habit patterns for occasions like this. Little
strike. With our aircraft as a mission go/no-go criteria,   things, like keeping a flashlight pointed at the tiny and
the stage was set for the possibility of some difficult     seemingly useless backup “peanut” gyro, which could
decision-making.                                            be the one thing that saves your life. Like many of my
    Our startup was normal, and my primary aircraft         other failsafes, I did this because someone had taught

22                                                                                                               Approach
me that, over the life of the S-3 airframe, many unex-      tion and, thus, no navigation. We headed north toward
plained mishaps occurred off the cat at night, and atti-    southern Iraq.
tude could have been 
To top