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First-Hand:Hotter in the Shade

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Hotter in the Shade

Submitted by Anthoony J. Iacono

One of my responsibilities as an EMC Engineer was to perform EMC Safety of Flight Tests (SOFT) on new or modified aircraft platforms to which I was assigned. These tests were to ensure flight safety from onboard electromagnetic interference and were required by both Grumman and the Navy before a new or a modified aircraft could proceed to its maiden flight.

One EMC SOFT that stands out vividly in memory was that performed on an F-14A Aircraft on a blistering hot day in August 1973. I was called to come out to Calverton, Long Island, New York, Grumman' s, Test Facility, fifty miles east ofthe Bethpage Headquarters, to perform the test.

The aircraft piloted by Bill Miller taxied to within thirty feet of a tiny unventilated hydraulic maintenance building, near the runway's apron. I worked with a Grumman inspector, and communicated with Bill as we went through the EMC SOFT procedure, monitoring for flight surface movements, while Bill sequentially operated aircraft communications, navigations, radar and onboard equipment systems. At the completion of the twenty or twenty-five minute test, no problem was observed, so the inspector and I left the aircraft and entered the maintenance shed to get out of the blazing sun and to sign the appropriate documentation.

The building was no more than twelve feet by ten feet in size with a window on one side. Seconds after we entered the building, the aircraft's Pratt and Whitney engines roared and the aircraft moved - its engines now facing directly at us in the shed. The unbelievable heat and air pressure enveloped us instantly. One hydraulic maintenance person climbed out the window to escape the exhaust. We found ourselves pressed against the rear wall wondering whether or not the shed would be blown down before we were cooked to a crisp.

After, what seamed as an eternity, the aircraft finally turned and taxied off, giving all a sigh of relief. The aircraft completed its first flight with no anomalies reported and was later sold to the Naval Plant Representative. That was the hottest SOFT I ever conducted.