Friday, December 10, 2010

One Reason I Have Little Respect for Authority

Many years ago I was in the Air Force I worked as a Weather Observer stationed at Libby Army Airfield. It was a windy day but otherwise uneventful when I received a phone call from the air traffic control tower informing me that there had been an aircraft accident. Whenever an accident happens the Air Traffic Control personnel will call various people, one of which is the Weather Observer. It is the duty of the Weather Observer to record the weather conditions at the time of the accident and that information is then incorporated into the accident investigation.  I looked outside the window of the observation post and saw a small single engine civilian aircraft upside down on the runway. Fortunately the pilot walked away. I acknowledged the call, put the phone down, and proceeded to take what is called a Special Weather Observation. 

Very soon after the first phone call and before I had transmitted the observation via teletype, I received a second call from the tower: “Um, can you cancel that observation?” the disembodied voice asked. 

“No I can't, there's been and accident, I have to transmit the observation, that's my job”, and I hung up the phone. I then completed the observation by writing into the log the special observation, and transmitting the same.

It turned out that the person who wrecked the plane was the airfield commander’s son and he was under the influence of alcohol at the time. The Airfield Commander attempted to cover up the accident but because of my refusal to go along with that, the cover-up failed, and his son lost his license to fly for life. I am vague about the effect it had on the Airfield Commander, who attempted the cover up. In those days I was a naive...but sometimes we need the naive to pull off the mask, to point out the obvious, and tell the emperor that he is wearing no clothes. But, as all such naive fools must suffer the consequences of their honesty, I had to suffer under the very direct and smoky glare of the Airfield Commander from that day, until the day I left.

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