Flying the mighty T-34C trainer out in Roswell, New Mexico, was incredible! Almost perfect weather all the time while back at the home base in Corpus Christi, Texas, it was overcast and foggy the majority of the winter there. They figured it was cheaper to put all the planes and students out in the middle of UFO country and be productive vice sitting around waiting for the weather to open up.
I was sitting by the flight duty officer’s desk the morning of my formation check ride. That is where you go out with an instructor in each plane and practice flying your Tiny Turbo T-34C on collision courses with each other, and then tucking the nose of your plane a few feet to the right or left of the lead airplane, matching his speed and altitude.
The sensation of rushing another object in space, and pulling the power back at just the right moment to avoid actually hitting the other plane, is the most exciting feeling you can ever have. It would be like driving your car over a hundred miles an hour at another car on the road, and then braking enough to put your vehicle right behind the other and, at the same time, adding enough power so that you become stabilized at the same speed with them. If you do it right, bravo!!! If you mess it up, then they staple your health record closed, and do a fly-by over your grave with the guys who figured out proper formation.
Going for a check ride was already making me nervous, but when I found out that I was flying with “The Thumper” so-named because he liked to whack his students on the back of the helmet with a long dowel rod as he sat behind them, I felt sick. I moved over to a group of my friends sprawled in various positions, quizzing each other on emergency procedures and normal limitations of the plane.
A Navy guy named Larry Ruttenberg asked, “Hey Taco, who are you doing your check ride with?” He was a bit of a pain in the ass because all he could think of was flying jets, and wouldn’t hesitate to throw you under a bus if he thought it would improve his chances of getting a jet slot.
I despondently replied, “Thumper.” They all started rolling their eyes and shaking their heads; in part, because they felt sorry for me, and partly because that meant they didn’t have to fly with him that day. “Thumper” was a screamer and the type of officer who was probably urinated on by his mother as a child.
The FDO (flight duty officer) called out my name to report to him. I trotted over to see what was up. “Taco,” he says, “Lt. Roberts (Thumper) has a review board this afternoon and I’m sending you up with Lt. Temple. Her student went down with a head cold, so go over to the ready room, she’ll be there waiting for you.”
Oh man, Lt. Temple was about 5' 5" with soft brown eyes and shoulder length blonde hair that she put into a ponytail during the day. She filled out a flight suit nicely, and was the subject of many a hushed conversation, as guys will do. Now I was rushing over to the ready room to brief with her and the other crew, cup of coffee in hand (my fifth cup in the last forty five minutes) and little time to think. They were waiting for me, and we rushed through the day’s events and were briefed on what our two-hour flight would entail. We were told to go preflight the planes ASAP so that we could get off the deck in the next thirty minutes. I had a slight urge to go pee but didn’t.
I was able to get the preflight done in fifteen minutes, and was all settled in as she came out to the aircraft and worked on getting strapped in. We all ran through the check lists and started the planes at the same time to make sure we’d both have equal amounts of gas to play with. It was a smooth take off and for first thirty minutes we practiced all the procedures, which were textbook, but as time wore on…I had to pee. Pretty soon, this urge went from “need to Pee,” to man, “I gotta Pee NOW!!” Every bump in the air was killing me; felt like I had needles in my bladder.
You can urinate in the plane in flight, but it’s a big pain in the rear. You have to undo your harness, your parachute, then under your survival vest, you fumble around until you have the said missing member in the clutch of your fingers and extricated from the flight suit. Then you inspect the relief tube one more time (you do this on preflight to make sure some jerk hasn’t put his chewing tobacco wad which would clog the tube) to ensure that when you pull the little trigger on the side of this inverted cup, it will drain out into the air.
On top of all this, I have a female behind me!! Bad enough to have some guy sitting there looking at you in the little mirrors going, “Come on, hurry up already…” Now I have a beautiful gal, with her smoked visor down, possibly looking at me. This was embarrassing since I was a single guy in love with all good-looking women. Not a good situation.
“M’am,” I start out. “I’m dying here; I need you to take the stick if you don’t mind so I can take a leak.” There, I said it!!! She didn’t skip a beat as she acknowledged that she had the controls. I unsuited, got into perfect firing position and tried to release my bladder. Nothing came out. I looked up and all I could see was her helmet, with the smoked visor down, looking right into the back of my head. “Stage fright” is a good word to describe me at that moment, I guess. After about five minutes of me just sitting there, and the other airplane doing break up and rendezvous, she asked me, “Taco, are you done yet?”
“No M’am, you could say that I’m a bit nervous, and it’s not wanting to come out.” God!! Now I’ve said it. I’m the only guy who has flown with her that actually asked to take a leak, and now I can’t do it. Here I am, the bottom of my flight suit undone, Mr. Johnson hanging out, a million needles poking me, and nothing to show for it!! They will make me the laughing stock of the squadron when word gets out on this.
She clicks on the ICS (intercom) in a very sultry, sexy voice, “Taco, Just…think of…WARM…running water.” With a big emphasis on warm! It was just like when I was a kid, and my mom would run the water in the tap to make me pee in the middle of the night. That was all it took as I closed my eyes with the sound of her voice echoing in my brain-housing group. The urine started flowing and boy did it go.
To describe what happens, when it enters the tube, suction is created that vaporizes it upon contact with the air stream underneath the belly of the plane. The pain is ebbing slowly as I evacuate my bladder, a process that has been going on for almost five minutes. Enough time for the instructor in the other aircraft to notice a vapor trail coming from the engine, and wondering what it might be…white smoke… that might be an oil problem.
He comes up on the radio, “Hey Beth, check your engine instruments. This is the second pass on you, and it looks like white smoke I see coming from the engine.” My head tilts down, and I’m scanning my instruments looking for any indication of a fire which thankfully I see none.
She clicks the ICS, “Taco, are you STILL peeing???”
I reply in a sheepish voice, “Yes M’am, still going strong here, almost done.”
She jumps on the radio fast and says, “Steve, we may have a problem here, would you mind getting up underneath the belly, and identify where the source of this smoke is coming from? I’ll hold this heading and altitude for you.”
The other instructor, as he moves the plane closer, replies, “Roger that, moving in.” He gently maneuvers his plane directly under our belly, and then shouts over the radio, “Son of a Bitch!!! That’s piss!!!” as he correctly identifies the vapor coming from the small venturi under my seat. He moves directly to our left, and gives my instructor the middle finger.
Lt. Temple just purred back, “Hey Steve, if you come back, we’ll wash your windows once again.” The other plane just broke left and peeled away. Lt. Temple laughed and laughed at the thought of what she had done. I chuckled too, and all the stress of pissing in front of my female instructor evaporated along with all the coffee that I drank earlier. I was somewhat famous for taking a leak on the other bonehead Navy guy, and for having the balls to do it in front of Lt. “Shirley” Temple. She gave me an extra “Above” (like an A) for the ability to sustain my piss for what felt like a lifetime. So I guess that if all else fails in my life, I have that going for me.