Sir - Ray Pilley is absolutely right in saying that there is no substitute for the final check (Letters, Flight International, 24-30 April, P43). This applies equally to engineering staff and aircrew, but it was his comments about the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom which really caught my eye.

Those of us who remember the Phantom's mud-moving role in Germany in the early 1970s will recall that one pilot not only got his aircraft lined up with the wing spread (but not locked), he also got it airborne. Airborne is an understatement, however, since the aircraft reached rotation speed, gently mushed into the air, and the wings gently and gracefully folded. The navigator ejected first, followed fairly quickly by the pilot. Both ejections were, fortunately, successful.

The pilot was court-martialled, banned from flying a Phantom again and was relegated to spend the scant remaining time of his Royal Air Force career as a flying instructor. His experience with the judicial system through his own court-martial led him to pursue a career in law and he was last heard of as a successful solicitor in the Midlands.



Marshall Aerospace

Cambridge, UK

Source: Flight International