Grampaw Pettibone

Gramps from Yesteryear

67_03_mar67_coverMarch 1967

Illustration by Robert Osborn


Before well-known artist Ted Wilbur first illustrated “Grampaw Pettibone” for Naval Aviation News in 1994, there was Robert Osborn, who in 1943 created the “sage of saftey” character. From 1943 until he stepped down in 1994, Osborn’s illustrations could be seen in the pages of Naval Aviation News. Here is a 50-year peek back in time to 1967. — Ed.


Check Double Check

It was one of those nights. The Crusader jockey spread his wings prior to leaving the line and, en route to the runway, had to fold them to permit a civilian jetliner to pass. On takeoff, he noted his speed was normal but the takeoff roll distance was excessive. After liftoff, the gear was raised and the nose seemed to be sensitive in yaw and pitch. At about a 200-to-300-foot altitude after the wing was lowered, the machine commenced a series of large pitch and yaw evolutions. (PC-1 and PC-2 were fluctuating 800 pounds.)


Recognizing the dilemma at hand, the credulous Crusader driver attempted to lock the wing but could not get the locking handle to move into the forward locking detent. Meanwhile, airspeed had built to 260 knots and altitude to 4,600 feet. The driver then raised the wing and started a shallow right turn back toward the field, dumping fuel en route. (Angle of attack in the turn was approximately 14 units.)

Altitudes, airspeeds and angle of attack from hereon in are not accurately recalled as this pilot’s main concern was getting it back on the runway. Just before touchdown, the incredulous performer realized the landing gear had not been extended and placed the gear handle in the down position. Too late—the boneyard-bound bird landed gear up, wing up, wings folded and, after coming to rest, was abandoned by the red-faced bird man.

grampa_pettibone_says_leftGreat balls of fire! It’s a good thing this flight ended when it did, ‘cause if there was any more moving parts on this aircraft, you can bet this fella would’ve had’em all in the wrong place at the right time.

A red face is a mighty cheap price to pay for forgettin’ the checklist, but this kind of performance ain’t much of a boost to the professional standing of an aviator. If Ole Gramps had a nickel for every accident caused by people ignorin’ this handy placard, I could buy that farm and retire.

Before you push that kerosene converter handle forward next time, eyeball yourself in the rear-view mirror, ‘cause that’s the guy responsible for your safety