Have something you’d like to ask Crew Dog? Feel free to post your questions in the Comments section below. When he’s not out hacking the mish, CD will do his best to answer all your questions.
25 November 11
Hey Crew Dog,
What is proper flight deck etiquette when it comes to flatulence? I mean, nobody can hold it forever! Do you blame it on the co-pilot or the navigator?
Edith Benoit, 40, Canton, OH
Good Morning Ms. Benoit,
What an excellent question, thank you for taking the time to ask it. Flatulence is indeed an issue we deal with every time we fly; each crew member deals with it differently. I’ve noticed over here in the desert it seems to be an issue we deal with far more frequently than back home, perhaps the DFAC food makes us all a little gassier.
Flatulence, or farting as it’s more commonly referred to, is a perfectly natural occurrence. As our bodies digest food, one of the by-products is gas which over time can build up and create much discomfort for an individual who chose poorly at the DFAC (or chose defensively if they’re flying with JDam). Further exacerbating the problem is a phenomenon know as wet gas expansion, whereby all the gas molecules in your body can expand by up to 9 times, as your body is subjected to changes in altitude. It has to do with the decrease in pressure as altitude increases. To see a perfect example of this (in reverse), screw the top on to an empty bottle of water next time you’re cruising along in an airliner up at Three Five Oh. When you land, the bottle will be crumpled because the internal pressure is less than the external pressure being exerted on it. Please forgive me for ending that last sentence with a preposition.
Couple these ever-changing atmospheric forces upon our bodies with the high fiber and dairy content of our food here, not to mention all those protein supplements like those that JDam always takes and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. With a sensitive snout like mine, I’m usually breathing into a T-shirt most of the day.
Having a dog on the plane serves as a ready-made excuse for most of the guys I fly with, and sometimes I think they take me along just so they have someone to blame it on. As far as etiquette is concerned, there are several ways I’ve seen guys deal with it. The most common and generally accepted rule regarding flatulence on the flight deck is the “Howdy Call.”
Unlike in the car or in the living room, where folks generally refrain from hearing protection – your ears being the first line of defense in most cases – in a noisy airplane it’s hard to hear the rumblings of gastrointestinal stress. The most polite offender will simple call “Howdy” over the airplane’s intercom. Some guys will do the pre-howdy call to prepare the remainder of the crew for what’s to come. Others will wait until they’ve completed the task before giving a “post” howdy call. Either way, it’s generally an effective warning for the remainder of the flight deck, except for those passengers who thought it would be really cool to sit up there for take off or landing, and weren’t given a headset.
Some Aircraft Commander’s with a weaker constitution, or those who can dish it out, but can’t take it will try to pre-empt the flight deck flatulence altogether by inviting the two cutest passengers from the back to join them up front for the duration of the flight. It’s a noble effort and one much appreciated by me because girls generally smell a lot better than guys. In this scenario, the AC is counting on the chivalrous nature of most men, but usually discounts the selfsame need to relieve great discomfort at any cost.
The downside to the Howdy call is a scenario I like to call the “piggyback, no howdy,” in which a polite member of the flight deck makes the appropriate call, knowing full well that no one would even know anything happened because it was just a little blipper with no maleficence. Upon hearing the howdy call, someone else on the flight deck, usually the Nav who’s been holding one back for just such an occasion, will let one fly and not say a word. To further exacerbate the problem, the Nav will turn his vent on full blast and aim it toward the front of the flight deck so everyone gets a good whiff.
The other trick I like to watch play out is the fake Howdy call. If you fly long enough, you’ll be paired up with a crew member, like Stinky Pete, who either has a sense of smell like my cousin Blue, a bloodhound who works for the State of Mississippi Department of Corrections, or who just over-reacts to everything.
When Stinky Pete isn’t bumming food, smokes or beer from the youngins, he’s usually out hacking the mish, presumably because he can get all the free food he wants from the Grab and Go before flying. He’s what I like to call a ploopdenheimer, someone who is so offended by bodily functions that he’s embarrassed to admit he’s got his own to deal with. You drop a quick howdy call on the flight deck, warranted or not, and Stinky Pete can’t get the quick don oxygen mask on fast enough. You can see how a fake howdy call every so often with Stinky Pete in the seat could provide hours of entertainment on those 5 hour flights to the A-Stan.
The Mighty Herc takes us to all corners of the globe, Ms. Benoit (Balls!) Throughout our journeys and adventures, we partake in all manner of exotic food and drink, often with deleterious impact to the air quality on the flight deck. Etiquette is a critical facet of a happy, functional crew, and a simple “Howdy” call can make all the difference.
I consider myself a pretty polite member of the crew and generally try to walk to the back when I have some business to attend to, but I always seem to get blamed for everyone else’s dirty work. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard anyone actually make a howdy call. I just look up with longing, puppy dog eyes every time my nose hair starts to burn, waiting to hear someone take the blame, but the rest of the crew just looks accusingly at me, like I did it.
I hope that answers your question Ms. Benoit (Balls!)
24 November 2011
Dear Crew Dog,
Happy Thanksgiving! I know you’re over there Hacking the mish and being a good dog, aren’t you? You sure are! Who’s a good dog?
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time here in Utah. Every year I celebrate with my husband Alan and his wife Gail Stanwyck, and our little girl. She’s a little bull-dog and shih-tzu mix we named Honey!
Honey loves turkey, I feed her little pieces of it when I’m carving it up for our big meal. She stands on her hind legs and yips at me until I give her some, and I just can’t resist because she’s just so cute. How did you spend Thanksgiving today, and what’s your favorite way to have turkey prepared for the big meal?
Ms. Sally Ann Cavanaugh, 34, Provo, UT
Dear Ms. Cavanaugh,
First of all, let me tell you that yes, indeed I am a good dog, I sure am. Thank you for asking.
Today was a day off from hacking the mish, so I got to mill around camp until sup sup supper time. The boys brought me back some turkey and roast beef from the chow hall, and it was delicious. I’m not allowed to go anywhere near the chow hall anymore since I saw a cat loitering around there a couple weeks ago. It was obviously up to some nefarious cat activities and I felt it was incumbent upon me to deal with the intruder. Apparently, one of the Tanker Toads adopted this nasty creature as their mascot and they didn’t cotton up to me chasing the thing around and barking at it. As far as I’m concerned, barking is the only way to deal with those filthy buggers. I digress.
A lot of the guys today were talking about what they missed the most about turkey dinner back home, and I just listened, drooling over all the delicious memories of Thanksgivings past. I would say by far my favorite way to have a turkey prepared is in the deep fryer. The smells are tantalizing, from the moment my human fires up the propane and that peanut oil starts heating up.
Really, my taste buds start tingling the night before, when that plastic wrap comes off the raw bird and the dry rub gets applied. I’ll just sit at the base of the counter and give my human these big brown puppy dog eyes and drop a few strands of drool on the floor for good measure until he placates me with a piece of cheese or something, which turns into a howdy call about 2 minutes later. He’ll dry rub that bird like it just finished running the AF Marathon, working every little nook and cranny with that delectable spice mixture.
More puppy dog eyes and drool follow the next day when the bird drops in the hot oil for 5 minutes a pound plus 5 minutes. Then, there’s that crispy, salty skin, forgetaboutit. I’ll run around in three maybe even four circles, reaching up a paw to shake, wave, speak whatever he wants, but I gotta get me a bite of that skin. Throw down a dollop of dressing on the floor and I’m in heaven, especially that sourdough stuff his wife makes. I’ll mosey on over to the fireplace and fall asleep until dinner is almost over.
I’ve had the turkey roasted in the oven, brined, barbecued, smoked, but deep-fried is the way to go in my book. The meat is moist and flavorful, but not over bearing and greasy, which I don’t mind so much either.
Now, let me ask you a question of my own about your little Honey. Is she spoken for, and if not, would you happen to have any pictures of her, maybe from a day at the pool or the lake? She sounds like she’s cute as a button!
Happy Holidays, Ms. Cavanaugh,
17 November 2011
Dear Crew Dog,
I seen on the news where there shutting down the war in Irak next month and bringing all them troops home. I think I also seen where they was going to try and put a bunch of them troops in Kuwait but Kuwait don’t want em. What kinda stuff are you haulin up there in your big ol’ cargo plane over there.
Billy Bob, 47, Selma AL
Dear Billy Bob,
Yes sir, I too read with great alacrity about the impending cessation of war time operations in Iraq. I look forward to the day I can tell my pups and grandpups that I literally played a major role in bringing some of those brave men and women back home to their loved ones. In the meantime however, your question isn’t going to answer itself.
We fly all manner of cargo into and out of the AOR, that’s the Area of Responsibility. We’re what’s known as a Tactical Airlifter, and we bring supplies, what we like to call beans and bullets, or trash if you’re pressed for time, to the men and women on the front lines. That’s our primary mission, but often times we find ourselves dual-hatted as Strategic Airlifters, bringing those same supplies between two different theaters, or AORs if you will.
I remember one time we were flying into this hot LZ deep in the middle of Bad Guy territory. We were cruising at about 18,000 MSL, which in that area was only about 3,000 AGL. The navigator called back to the loadmaster to see what kind of stuff we had in the back and how quickly we were going to be able to offload it and get our upload to take back home. The Load called up and said we had a pallet of tires, some rope and a couple port-a-potties. Well I never could’ve dreamed of a more exciting load, and I almost marked my territory right there on the Nav’s seat. I lapped up all the water in my bowl and raced back to the cargo compartment tout de suite.
As soon as I got down the stairs, it looked like a giant doggy play ground, the kind I dream of in front of the heater back in our tent. I dodged between the tires, sniffing out the perfect one to pee on. Then I ran over to the rope and started tugging away at it, and then I shook it a bunch of times with my head, trying to break a chunk off, but it was too thick, it was too thick. I did manage to pull a few feet of it away, and it actually scared me when I turned around and saw it all coiled up on the floor, so I barked at it a few times before I was certain it wasn’t going to get me.
Then I ran back to the port-a-potties and sniffed around them a while. One of the doors wasn’t fully latched shut and when we hit some turbulence on the descent, it flew open and almost hit me on the snout. I jumped back and barked at it, but then I tripped over that rope that was coiled up and had to bark at that some more too.
I peed on everything I could before the pilot whistled for me over the intercom and I ran back up to my station on the flight deck. I have to sit on the floor next to the nav because I’m not allowed up on the bunk since I shed a lot this time of year.
I hope that answers your question Billy Bob,