were supposed to get an introduction to the latest model of the
intra-atmosphere vessels BETA is switching to. And all you
were supposed to get during that introduction was a first
impression of the new aircraft," Walsh stated coldly
and then snapped, "So what did you and your team
think you were doing? Creating a new early retirement
not, Sir. We're very sorry for the incident."
Fox. Flight Lieutenant Tobias Yeager was known as one of the best
test pilots in Earth Force. And now, after introducing the new
F-511-A to your unit, he's a nervous wreck! He took almost three
hours to calm down enough to even give us a brief description of
the incidents! I'd like to know your version. In detail,
Yeager explained the maneuverability and the specialties of the
new craft in comparison with our current vehicles. Afterwards, we
went through the sims. Then he insisted on personal flights with
every single one of us. Nothing spectacular happened during my
flight with him."
are part of his final report, Captain," Walsh
reminded him icily, "a report which indicates he had to take
out a new vessel after your flight."
rear bay lock got stuck. Because of Lt. Yeager's enthusiastic
description of the material's durability, I overestimated the
strength of the seals when I used my bionics to get him out,
too." Zachary sighed deeply. "It seems he wasn't used
to that kind of problem."
was used to the problem," Walsh muttered, "but not to a
solution that involved you tearing off duranium steel seals."
He nodded. "Your explanation is accepted. Now, you..."
Walsh turned to Doc and looked expectantly at him.
Sir." Hardford tried without success to keep the apologetic
smile off his face. "Once we were at 30,000 feet it seemed
to me that the navigational controls were somehow..." he
searched for the right word, "sleepy. So I opened my CDU and
sent my programs into the flight comps to wake them
"You worked on
the comps during the flight?!"
not, Sir? We had a very clear sky. No crosswinds. Only small
air pockets..." Doc's smile almost reached his ears now.
"I'm afraid it wasn't my work on the comps that shocked Lt.
Yeager, though. When he tried an override to get manual control
from the copilot's seat behind me because he thought I wasn't
paying attention to the flight itself, Firefly jumped out of his
screen and told him to take his paws off the keys because they
were working there." Doc made a sorrowful face. "Lt.
Yeager didn't say another word until we landed." He added
with an emphatic nod: "Smoothly, Sir. I'm not as good as a
pilot as Goose is, but I can fly."
just shook his head and turned toward the next team member.
"Gooseman? What do you have to say in your defense?"
Lt. Yeager spoke for more than two hours about what couldn't be
done with that vessel, and he kept gassing on while I was flying.
I thought if I was going to get anything out of the flight I'd
have to ignore the man." Gooseman shrugged. "I ignored
him until he needed the airsickness bag."
are no airsickness bags in warplanes, Gooseman."
that's why he used his helmet instead." The corner of
Gooseman's mouth twitched. "I got him a bowl after we
Yeager's one of our best test pilots, Gooseman," Walsh
repeated. "What maneuvers did you fly that he almost lost
Immel return,' 'Super squirrel offside,' 'Turnabout
maneuvers aren't possible in the F-511-A!"
are! With maneuver boosts and brake engines in addition to
and landing flaps! In the upper atmosphere?!"
safety controls cancel maneuvers like that!"
The ST snorted, clearly disgusted. "I deactivated it. I
still have some pride, Sir."
commander threw a look to the ceiling, asking wordlessly: Why
me? "That doesn't explain why Lt. Yeager ran screaming
out of the hangar."
was my fault, Sir." Niko said in a soft voice. "Before
takeoff I asked him if I could use telekinetics on the controls
during the flight."
Electronic/computerized flight control system on board high-tech
planes. Modern warplanes are often aerodynamically unstable,
which means that they can't be flown mechanically (directly with
a joystick). The pilot of such an aircraft enters his commands as
he would do on any normal plane and then the fly-by-wire comps
"translate" his orders into command sequences that 1.
keep the aerodynamically unstable craft steady in the air (which
takes a lot of fine tuning at every moment) and 2. perform the
maneuvers the pilot ordered. Most of the top modern high-tech
warplanes (Stealth fighter, Only-Wing-planes, and so on, wouldn't
be flyable without fly-by-wire technology).
this is a description written by someone who has not the
faintest idea about all this in detail. But a friend of mine (he
agreed to be quoted here) said the following when I showed him a
draft of this story:
someone did that and didn't immediately crash I
would do two things:
1. give the pilot a high medal for being
the biggest miracle among the world's pilots, and
immediately use the emergency parachute myself (since such luck
can't last for long!)."
safety controls Walsh mentioned are a tiny part of the more
advanced fly-by-wire systems I suppose to be in use in the