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Wisdom From a Old Pilot
Submitted by Hal Lombard

Some edifying, some curious, some droll and, no doubt, some true:

1. The first German serviceman killed in WW2 was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937), the first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940), the highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps. . . . So much for allies and enemies.

2. The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. (His benefits were later restored by act of Congress).

3. At the time of Pearl Harbor the top US Navy command was Called CINCUS
(pronounced "sink us"), the shoulder patch of the US Army's 45th Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler's private train was named "Amerika." All three were soon changed for PR purposes.

4. More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions (I believe in Europe the original mission total was 25, later raised to 35) your chance of being killed was 71%.

5. Generally speaking there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot. You were either an ace or a target. For instance Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes. He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.

6. It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a mistake. Tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target 80% of your rounds were missing.  Worse yet tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down.

7. When allied armies reached the Rhine the first thing men did was pee in it. This was pretty universal from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton (who had himself photographed in the act).

8. German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City but it wasn't worth the effort. (?)

9. German submarine U-120 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet.

10. Among the first "Germans" captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until they were captured by the US Army.

AND I SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST...

11. Following a massive naval bombardment 35,000 US and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. 21 troops were killed in the firefight. It would have been worse if there had been any Japanese on the island.

Addenda: A few for fliers

  • "Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death ...I Shall Fear No Evil ... For I am at 80,000 Feet and Climbing. (sign over the entrance to the SR-71operating location Kadena, Japan).
     

  • You've never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3. (Paul F.Crickmore - test pilot).
     

  • From an old carrier sailor - Blue water Navy truism; There are more planes in the ocean than submarines in the sky.
     

  • If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it's probably a helicopter -- and therefore, unsafe.
     

  • When one engine fails on a twin-engine airplane you always have enough power left to get you to the scene of the crash.
     

  • Without ammunition, the USAF would be just another expensive flying club.
     

  • What is the similarity between air traffic controllers and pilots? If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; If ATC screws up, the pilot dies.
     

  • Never trade luck for skill.
     

  • The three most common expressions (or famous last words) in aviation are: "Why is it doing that?", "Where are we?" and "Oh No"
     

  • Weather forecasts are horoscopes with numbers.
     

  • Progress in airline flying; now a flight attendant can get a pilot pregnant.
     

  • Airspeed, altitude, and brains. Two are always needed to successfully complete the flight.
     

  • A smooth landing is mostly luck; two in a row is all luck; three in a row is prevarication.
     

  • Mankind has a perfect record in aviation; we never left one up there!
     

  • Flashlights are tubular metal containers kept in a flight bag for the purpose of storing dead batteries.
     

  • Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding or doing anything about it.
     

  • When a flight is proceeding incredibly well, something was forgotten.
     

  • Just remember, if you crash because of weather, your funeral will be held on a sunny day.
     

  • Advice given to RAF pilots during W. W. II. When a prang (crash) seems inevitable, endeavor to strike the softest, cheapest object in the vicinity as slowly and gently as possible.
     

  • The Piper Cub is the safest airplane in the world; it can just barely kill you. (Attributed to Max Stanley, Northrop test pilot).
     

  • A pilot who doesn't have any fear probably isn't flying his plane to its maximum. (Jon McBride, astronaut).
     

  • If you're faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible. (Bob Hoover - renowned aerobatic and test pilot).
     

  • If an airplane is still in one piece, don't cheat on it; ride the bastard down. (Ernest K. Gann, author &aviator).
     

  • Never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than you.
     

  • There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime. (Sign over squadron ops desk at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, 1970).
     

  • "Now I know what a dog feels like watching TV." (A DC-9 captain trainee attempting to check out on the 'glass cockpit' of an A-320).
     

  • If something hasn't broken on your helicopter, it's about to.
     

  • Basic Flying Rules Try to stay in the middle of the air. Do not go near the edges of it. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there.
     

  • You know that your landing gear is up and locked when it takes full power to taxi to the terminal.
     

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