03 May 2006

Some fun times on the radio

I work on aircraft electronics. Sometimes it is required to actually climb up into the airplane and fire the misbehaving electronic box up and play around with it to try and make it work. Or to at least see if the aircrew were right in their initial assessment of the problem. Sometimes playing around can lead to some funny adventures, this is one of those. The names have been changed to protect the guilty and the innocent.....

It was a semi-beautiful day while haze gray and underway in the Persian Gulf. We had been flying operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the squadron I was assigned to at the time was in charge of providing electronic intelligence to the ground pounders. We have 3 radios in the plane. Also after a certain calender period the cards that have the common frequencies used change. So for the work center that I belong to spends a lot of time on the radio doing checks and repairs to make sure that they can work for transmission and receiving. To the point that I think all of us could get the FCC radio operators licences without any problem. So it came to be this day that one of the birds we had to fly that night, had radio problems on 2 of the 3 radios. On top of that the calendar period had expired so there was a mass radio event to make sure that everyone in the aviation side of the battle group was on the right card with the right codes.
We had to make a call to radio central on the carrier and to the E-2 bubbas on board the carrier. So myself, a co-worker, and our division officer were all in this broke bird and listen to the following:

"Rider, XXX 502, requesting comm check radio 1. How do you read me?"
Silence for about 10 mins.
"Rider, XXX 502, requesting comm check radio 1 plain. How do you read me?"
Again, silence for about 10 mins.
"Anyone Rider, XXX 502, requesting comm check."
This time we all heard the following,
"XXX 502, Red Crown, I heard you loud and clear on my channel. Now get off my g--dang channel."
Upon hearing this we all talked to each other via the inter phone system and commented on who was screwed up us or Red Crown. Then it started,
"Rider, XXX 101 requesting comm check plain."
"Rider, XXX 207 requesting comm check plain."
"Rider, XXX 300 requesting comm check plain."
"Rider, XXX 707 requesting comm check plain."
"Rider, XXX 601 requesting comm check plain."
"To all XXX members, this is Red Crown get off my frequency or I will have the next joker up on charges."
"Rider, XXX 412 requesting comm check plain."
"XXX 412, Get off my m-----f---ing channel."
Which then lead to this wonderful exchange on the same frequency,
"Red Crown, Rider Actual, You have 30minutes to get that joker over to me"
"99 Aircraft, 99 Aircraft, Rider, event zero canceled. All parties muster in ward room one for briefing."
Upon which myself and the rest of my party unhooked from our plane.
This gave us a good laugh for a couple of days. Someone in one of the other squadrons supposedly had it all recorded on a digital voice recorder and was going to make an MP3 of it. I don't know what happened on that front.
It just showed how even the most prepared organization can make mistakes. The good mistakes are the ones that can cause you to laugh out loud at the stupidity of the system.

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