Francis Meyrick

Of Helicopters and Humans (24) “Of Vomit and Mischief “

Posted on March 15, 2014

Of Helicopters and Humans

Part 24: Of Vomit and Mischief


I have worked as a flying instructor (fixed wing and heli-whoppers) in widely different parts of this funky blue dot. It’s been rather interesting. What sticks in my tiny mind are a great many different things, one of which is the wide variety of different Instructor personalities you meet. You meet them as the victim, greet them as the oppressor, or see them at work with other victims. I also worked as Chief Flight Instructor or Chief Pilot in different arenas, and on different continents. Again, it was kind of intriguing to watch different individuals live up to their particular notion of what it means to “teach”.

Thus we had a young Fixed Wing instructor, whose technical knowledge and handling skills were beyond repute. He was an intelligent young fellow, very quick, and a whizz at computers. Brains to burn. I wondered about only one area: his compassion department. Thus he seemed to get an unnatural amount of pleasure out of people throwing up under his care. He would be at the bar, afterwards, recounting the day’s events in glorious Technicolor. Not very nice. It seemed almost like a badge of honor. An achievement. “Got another one to throw up…” (Ha-ha-ha!). I also noticed, over a period of time, that he seemed to get along much better with younger students, his own age. The older, slower students, seemed to annoy him. He could be snappy, and impatient.
I was in the habit of occasionally riding along in the back. It wasn’t so much an evaluation, as more a way to see if I could offer the new, junior Instructors some help and tips. I tried to make it low-key. I would also sometimes go up with one of my instructors, and we would do some role playing. Usually, I would play the dumb-ass student. It was always orientated towards fun, which can be a rare and fleeting ingredient in some training establishments. The world over, aviation training departments seem to attract a certain type of screamer. Haughty, aloof, condescending, and invariably conceived by Immaculate Conception. Funny thing is, when they do screw up, instead of laughing at themselves, and using the event as a valuable, self-telling learning example, they would bluster, and become embarrassed, or even wholly deny the event. Or resign and run. I didn’t want to be like that, and I always sought a relaxed, professional, good humored cockpit. It kind of grieved me to see students or trainees humiliated.

There are multiple reasons why I think such a self perpetuating culture is counter productive. But that’s probably another story. Suffice it to say here, that as time went by, I was becoming increasingly worried about our hero. I was even beginning to smell a rat. The suspicion was gnawing away at the back of my mind, that our hero was not above making some of his older students (who he did not get along with) deliberately air sick. If I flew along in the back, he was as good as gold, but what exactly he was up to when I was not a witness, was what worried me.
Eventually, after yet another vomit story telling by him at the bar, in the usual glorious (ha-ha-ha!) Technicolor, I decided positive action was required. But what? How could I break him of this habit? Confrontation was always an option, but it was a last resort. I puzzled about it for a day or two. Then an idea struck me, and I made a few arrangements. I also chatted with one of the older students, who was a very bright gentleman. Engineer of some sorts.
* * * * *

So there we were, the three of us, cruising along. I was sitting in the back, allegedly because I had nothing better to do. The cover story was that we were allowing our Engineer student, who was getting ready for his qualifying cross country solo flight, to fly the long leg to a Regional Airport. We were scheduled to have lunch there. It was a decently long leg, and it was almost past lunch time. I had deliberately engineered this circumstance.
“Ho-hum”, I remarked, casually, over the intercom. “I’m getting hungry!”
They both assented. Yes. Hungry.
A minute later, I broodingly commented: “I’m FAMISHED! Don’t suppose there’s any food in this crate”.
Our hero assured me there was not.
Another minute later: “Whoa! Look what I found!” I held up a very full sick bag. A strong smell pervaded the cockpit. “Somebody must have gotten sick here!”
Our hero, wrinkling his nose against the pungent smell, expressed his disgust that somebody would leave a full sick bag in the aircraft.
A minute went by. “Wow!”, I said. I had undone my seat belt, and was now leaning forward between the two front seats. The strong smell was overwhelming. I was holding the sick bag open, showing off the contents. “I can see what they had for lunch!”. I expressed this diagnostic truth with a calm and dispassionate objectivity. Our hero looked around, startled, and his jaw dropped.
“Are you completely SICK?”, he exclaimed. “Put that thing away!”.
“Well”, I said, “Just saying, he had beans and rice. Oh, and sliced sausage…Here!”
I fished around a bit, and then stretched my hand out, with a fine specimen of each in my open palm.
“GAWD!”. Our hero went ballistic. “I have NEVER…! Put it AWAY…!”
He was indignant now. The smell was overwhelming.
I pretended to be suitably chastened. “Okay, okay”, I said, huffily. “No need to get all mad. Here, I’m putting it away, see?” And I did. Our hero, splendid in his rewarded indignation, adopted the demeanor of one who has righted the world’s injustice.
Now it was the turn of the student. “What else was in there?” He sounded genuinely interested.
“GAWD!”, yelled our hero. “What is it with you guys?” My student just shrugged.
“Um”, I said. “Well, lemme see… there was sliced sausage, rice, baked beans… oh, and I think I saw some pieces of broccoli.”
“Yummy!”, said the student nonchalantly, with a slightly wistful face.
We flew on.
A few minutes later, the awful smell re-erupted through the cockpit. Our hero spun around. His boss, the Chief Flight Instructor, was sitting with the vomit bag, open, stirring vomit around absent-mindedly with a white plastic spoon.
“What THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?”, he bellowed.
Startled, I looked up. “Oh, nothing”, I said guiltily. I was just wondering what else was in there…”
Our hero was now having a Caniption. An arterial event. Running a cardiac test. “PUT THAT THING AWAY! GAWD!”.
He was white-faced and yelling now. Spluttering. I looked at him absently.
“Dude!”, I said, nicely. “There’s nothing wrong with it. And I’m hungry! I found some cream crackers, and I was wondering how it would taste…”
Screams from our hero. He can’t believe his ears.
The student’s turn. “Should taste okay on cream crackers”, was his calm, considered verdict. Our hero sort of stares at his student, mouth open, totally aghast. Stares at me. Stares back at his student.
“That’s what I thought”, I answered. I heaped some of the vomit bag contents on a cracker. And spread it out slowly. Still that awful smell in the cockpit. Our hero was going daft. Eyes like saucers. “YOU ARE NOT GOING TO EAT THAT????”
“Why not?”, I replied, taking my first crunch. “I’m hungry!”
The student, calmly: “What’s it like?”
The Chief Flight Instructor: “Not too bad. Needs some pepper. Oh, I found some…”
I tore open a small paper salt and pepper pouch, and added the condiments.
Strange noises from our hero. Kind of baulking sounds.
“Can I try a piece?”, said our student.
“Sure! Here you go…” And I handed HIM a vomit covered cracker.
He took a large bite. “Yes, it’s good”, he said, with a full mouth. Masticating cheerfully, he proffered the half eaten cracker in question to our hero.
“Wanna try it? It’s good!”
Our hero can’t believe his eyes. More baulking noises. He is grabbing for a sick bag.
Too late… and he humped up.

Satisfied, I ‘high fived’ the student. My secret accomplice. Justice was served.
Then, perfectly pleased with myself, I put away the tube of Acetone (out of which I had squeezed regular drops onto a rag, whenever I wished to stink the place out).
Then I stowed MY sick bag.
With my concoction of the previous night, mixed lovingly together out of an assortment of shopping food tins…

Francis Meyrick

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on April 24, 2014, 4:02 pm

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One response to “Of Helicopters and Humans (24) “Of Vomit and Mischief “”

  1. Feedback (I love feedback) from one of my two regular readers:

    "Moggy you are right. You are quite demented. And I love it. I’m sitting in a 10000 gallon tanker on the tarmac at KSLC with rampies looking at me funny because I’m laughing like an idiot…"

    Thank you. I can even cause chaos remotely. Sweet.

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