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Can I have a DF steer?

The old DF steer came onto my radar today (if you’ll excuse the irony), so not having flown for far too many years I thought I’d look it up, just out of curiosity. Seems they are being or have been decommissioned in a lot of places.

But what really struck me in the few discussions I read about them was the incredibly narrow view of some of the pilots discussing them. Sure, as we all know, the USA is the centre of the universe in many ways, not the least of which is aviation, but the ability to fly is supposed to broaden your outlook (and particularly your world view), especially if you can talk about zipping a couple of hundred nautical miles away (or over to the next continent, depending on your equipment!) to have lunch and be back in time for dinner. And yet, here were all these pilots (most of them US-based) talking about DF steers and radar coverage as if the former are no longer available anywhere on the planet, and the latter covers every square centimetre of the planet.


A few flying jokes

  • Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist, the parachute.
  • If helicopters are so safe, how come there are no vintage helicopter fly-ins?
  • Death is just nature’s way of telling you to watch your airspeed.
  • Real planes use only a single stick to fly. This is why bulldozers and helicopters — in that order — need two.
  • There are only three things the copilot should ever say: 1. Nice landing, sir. 2. I’ll buy the first round. 3. I’ll take the fat one.
  • As a pilot only two bad things can happen to you and one of them will. 1. One day you will walk out to the aircraft knowing that it is your last flight. 2. One day you will walk out to the aircraft not knowing that it is your last flight.
  • There are Rules and there are Laws. The Rules are made by men who think that they know better how to fly your aeroplane than you. Laws (of physics) were ordained by nature. You can, and sometimes should, suspend the Rules but you can never suspend the Laws.
  • About Rules: 1. The rules are a good place to hide if you don’t have a better idea and the talent to execute it. 2. If you deviate from a rule, it must be a flawless performance — e.g., if you fly under a bridge, don’t hit the bridge.
  • The ideal pilot is the perfect blend of discipline and aggressiveness.
  • The medical profession is the natural enemy of the aviation profession.
  • Ever notice that the only experts who decree that the age of the pilot is over are people who have never flown anything? Also, in spite of the intensity of their feelings that the pilot’s day is over I know of no expert who has volunteered to be a passenger in a non-piloted aircraft.
  • Before each flight, make sure that your bladder is empty and your fuel tanks are full!
  • He who demands everything that his aircraft can give him is a pilot; he that demands one iota more is a fool.
  • There are certain aircraft sounds that can only be heard at night.
  • The aircraft limits are only there in case there is another flight by that particular aircraft. If subsequent flights do not appear likely, there are no limits.
  • Flying is a great way of life for men who want to feel like boys, but not for those who still are.
  • Flying is a hard way to earn an easy living.
  • “If the Wright brothers were alive today, Wilbur would have to fire Orville to reduce costs.” –President, Delta Airlines.
  • In the Alaska bush I’d rather have a two hour bladder and three hours of gas than vice versa.
  • It’s not that all aeroplane pilots are good-looking. Just that good-looking people seem more capable of flying aeroplanes.
  • An old pilot is one who can remember when flying was dangerous and sex was safe.
  • Airlines have really changed. Now a flight attendant can get a pilot pregnant!
  • I’ve flown in both pilot seats; can someone tell me why the other one is always occupied by an idiot?
  • Son, you’re going to have to make up your mind about growing up and becoming a pilot. You can’t do both.
  • There are only two types of aircraft: fighters and targets.
  • The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline baggage.
  • You define a good flight by negatives: you didn’t get hijacked, you didn’t crash, you didn’t throw up, you weren’t late, you weren’t nauseated by the food. So you’re grateful.
  • They invented wheelbarrows to teach FAA inspectors to walk on their hind legs.
  • The FAA motto: We’re not happy ’til you’re not happy.
  • Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

The Crash of United Flight 232, transcript of a talk by Captain Al Haynes

United Airlines flight 232 on approach. Courtesy NTSB, public domain.

United Airlines flight 232 on approach. (NTSB.)

I’ve had this transcript available on my website since 1998, if the date stamps on the files are correct. It was a remarkable story in 1989, and it’s still a remarkable story today.

Perhaps I will, at some point, integrate the HTML version of the transcript into this site properly. In the meantime, it’s available in six different file formats below, some of which (especially the Envoy file) are pretty darn ancient: