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Last Updated on May 04, 2012

    We do not claim or acknowledge that any of the following are true.  These flight school war stories are sent by those who attended flight school.   They do make for good entertainment if nothing else.  Also, we have received some verification of some of the information below.  (Yes, there was a Army Flight Training Post at Fort Wolters, Texas.)

#8 - Coffee

Class of  77-19:  Steven Craig Wentling, CW3, USA, AVN, Ret

We were now juniors and had transitioned to the HUEY (UH1, utility helicopter). It was my turn to be the section leader and wear the appropriate arm band indicating my leadership position. It was very hot and humid in Alabama during the summer.  Most married guys were now allowed to live at home with their wives and family. We still had to maintain a display and room or cubicle in the barracks. We attended classes in the mornings and went to the flight line in the afternoon.   It was very hot one morning so before class and after we had cleaned up our respective areas, I told my section to all raise their windows in their cubicles up three inches and to use a ruler to ensure uniformity. The TAC's were big on everyone doing the same thing in the same way, even if wrong as long as we did it together we were right. Our current TAC was an old Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CW4).  He came to me after class (the morning we set up the windows) and said "Who told you to raise the windows." I replied" I did as I am in charge of the class". That was the wrong thing to say. He was visibly upset and said" I am in charge of the class and you do not do anything unless you ask me first". I said "Yes, sir" He said" You will personally make me coffee each morning for the next two weeks, you will not assign anyone else to this task, am I clear?"  I said "Yes sir."  So the next morning when I got in I went to his office and gathered up the items to make coffee. New coffee filter, coffee grounds (measured) and some water.  The water I collected from his toilet bowl in his latrine.  Next morning after I made his coffee we were standing at attention outside in formation. We waited for the CW4 to come out and give us any orders for the day and the greeting of the day before class. He finally came out an strutted around like a rooster in a hen house, while drinking his coffee. This morning he was to do a uniform inspection. As he inspected each individual row in succession the preceding row would be snickering and laughing quietly (they all knew). He turned and said "What is so funny? If you girls don't quit and be quiet you will all be on restriction this weekend" All was quiet. As he turned the section over to me I saluted him and said "At ease". After he went in to his office everyone just broke up. He never did know about the toilet water coffee.


#9 - Solo

 Steven Craig Wentling, CW3, USA, AVN, Ret

We had finished the D part (development) of WOCD so early mornings after physical training (PT) and inspection we would board an old bus and be taken to Hanchey Army Airfield. Hanchey was thousand of acres of concrete with hundreds of little orange TH55 aircraft parked in rows and buildings with classrooms. While at Hanchey we would have classes solely dedicated to aviation subjects. The other half of the day would be at the flight line learning to do preflight's on the aircraft  The aircraft that was used for initial rotary wing flight training was an Osage TH-55 (TH was for training helicopter). It was a two place, two bladed and had a fully articulated rotor system. The engine was a horizontal six cylinder powered by gasoline (like a Volkswagen engine). It had a manual throttle which meant that as you increased the lift you had to manually increase the throttle. It was a tough little bird and had plenty of power, especially when it came to lifting off from a confined area on a hot day. The first time out to the Hanchey flight line and after a briefing from the senior flight TAC they assigned each of us an instructor pilot. These guys had hours and hours of flight time and most were older. My instructor was even older then I (I was 29).  He was a good teacher and pilot. Every morning right after the briefing and before going out to preflight I would excuse myself and go the bathroom. I would proceed to throw up my breakfast. I guess it was nervousness or excitement. After a good heave ho I would be good to go.  I remember the first time up, it was just like the aircraft in VN except smaller and I was up front. The first time my instructor let me have the controls was an experience, a good experience. He ended up taking back the controls as the aircraft rose and fell and rocked back and forth. I had flown a helicopter! Not very well, but I had flown one, I was elated.  I had found my second desire in the army; the first of course was being in the infantry. I found it to be much better, more prestigious and enjoyable, I was home again. I didn't care for the intelligence community, although my security clearance would later prove to be a benefit an fit in nicely with aviation. We would fly for an hour or two doing all kinds of maneuvers. Learning to hover initially was probably the most difficult for every body. Trying to stay in one location by moving both foot pedals, using your left hand on the collective (up/down) along with throttle control (maintain engine rpm, with a twist throttle) and right hand on the cyclic (to move forward/backward/left/right) I felt I would never master it, then one day it all came together. I had hit the hover button as they say. After several weeks and when my flight instructor thought I was ready he recommended me for solo. One day we all gathered at Hanchey field, we received a briefing as usual, and were then assigned an aircraft. We and our instructors flew them to a small one strip training field, landed and then shutdown. We gathered on the bleachers and then one by one were called to fly our assigned aircraft for that day around the traffic pattern three times, ALONE! Most did pretty well. I was toward the end of the line as my name began with W and they flew us alphabetically. I flew around the pattern once with my instructor, we then landed and he said "It's all yours, go around the pattern three times, and then come back in and land and shut her down."  I managed an "ok sir" So I called the tower and requested permission to take off. I took off; I just did what I had done a hundred times before with my instructor. But then I looked over at the other empty seat, empty seat, yes it was empty and I was doing this. I was flying all by myself. I stared to feel better, I can do this. I had gone around twice and I was still alive. Then all of a sudden I heard this bang and then a small banging sound. She was flying ok, no problems. Was the engine failing, I began to review the engine failure emergency procedures that we had reiterated to each other a thousand times. Engine failure, ok I'm ready, bring it on. She kept flying. The sound was coming from my left side, I looked left and there was my seat belt strap flapping in the 60 knot wind. Oh, I felt relieved, no engine, tail rotor failure. I quickly called tower and said " This is Candidate Wentling in 1652 on downwind for runway 21 and, and my seat belt has came undone. Please advise" Tower came up on the radio with laughing in the background and said" Let go of the collective, retrieve the belt and reconnect it" I said "Roger, but what if I fall out and my  instructor said to never let go of the controls." My instructor came on the radio and said" Darn it, connect your belt, fly the aircraft and continue; you're almost done." Roger I said. I landed without further interruption, hovered to parking and shut her down.   As I was getting out of the TH55 my instructor came over slapped me on the back and said "Good job, pilot."  I was a pilot! I then sat on the bleachers and watched the others that had yet to solo. We all soloed that day. As we sat in the bleachers receiving our briefing unbeknownst to us a fire truck had pulled up behind us. The instructors all ran to one side, as we sat there confused as to why they had done this. The fire truck opened up on us and showered us with water. It is a tradition to get sprayed with water after you solo. Carolyn sewed my silver solo wings that had a large blue S in the center, onto my royal blue baseball cap. I was on my way!  I was Happy!


#10 - Another story at Fort Rucker

Steven Craig Wentling, CW3, USA, AVN, Ret class of 77-19

Our families were put on the back burner; graduation became our primary motivation and goal. Our total focus was on completion of this course. A few guys dropped out due to the pressure. Two interesting or funny things happened in school. We had to keep our barracks spotless and ready for inspection twenty four hours a day. For the first few weeks even the married students had to live in the barracks. My section was assigned to the second floor of the barracks. One night we ordered a pizza which was against the rules. We got the pizza guy to sneak it into the barracks. It was around eleven when the pizza arrived. We put blankets over the windows to block out the light. We gathered around our prize setting on the floor in our gym shorts and T shirts. We were prepared to attack the pizza. All of a sudden we heard boot steps on the back stairs. It was our TAC officer (Training Advising Counseling officer - warrant officer in charge of our class) coming up the steps to the second floor. His intent was to make an unannounced inspection. It was too late to do anything so we all jumped to attention and saluted. While glaring at us, all he said in a low tone was "Bring me the buffer!"  He then placed our great smelling pizza face down on the shiny clean waxed floor. He placed the buffer on top of it and proceeded to buff it into our floor. When finished he took us out for a little three mile run. When we came back we did a few pushups for him at his request. Then he said "Inspection one hour". We tried as we might to get that floor cleaned up and back into its original condition. No way.  So we all received several demerits. That floor was never the same after that.  This story was to be passed down from class to class. A legend was born.

    We had an early morning inspection on a daily basis. The TAC's really enjoyed doing inspections of the latrine (bathroom) as they would usually find a cleanliness issue which would result in a demerit. The number of demerits determined if a student would be allowed off for the weekend or other benefits. We had a plan. We really cleaned one of the toilets and bleached it thoroughly and instructed everyone not to use number one toilet, (there were four in a row). One morning the same TAC that had buffed the floor with our pizza was inspecting. He went into the latrine to inspect while we stood at attention by our beds and wall lockers for inspection. He yelled "You all get in here, right now!" We assembled in the latrine. He was bent over peering down looking into toilet #1. He looked up with a gleam in his eye and said "I have you now". We looked into the toilet and saw a large brown object in the bowl. One of the guys ran over and humbly said "Please let me, Sir I will clean that up for you right now" He bent over grabbed the object with his right hand. He stood straight up and thrust his wet hand and arm upward for all to see the object; he held it up high like he had just won a trophy. He then brought it down and took a bite out of it. With brown residue on his teeth he smiled at the TAC. The TAC dropped his swagger stick and his jaw, put his hand to his mouth, shoved his way through the candidates and ran down the stairs to the outside. We all broke into laughter as the guy with the object passed it around for everyone to take a bite. Then we yelled in unison "Royal Blue Aces ". (Our motto) (Note: The object was a Baby Ruth candy bar doctored up with corn and peanuts.)  The joke was on the TAC. We received merits for ingenuity.

Flight School War Stories - Page 1

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Last updated May 04, 2012