Mishaps and Near Accidents

Bombs Away!

View out aft doors of blimp

One time we were in an operation in the Atlantic Ocean practicing antisubmarine warfare tactics with a submarine and task force of ships. We were taking a break for a couple hours between exercises when a minor accident happened that was embarrassing for us.

During the exercise, we had been using the AQS-8 Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) gear to hunt the sub. We had the MAD set to automatically drop a dye marker cartridge on the water when a MAD signal was detected. A dye marker is a cartridge with about a quart of bright yellow powdered dye in it. When it is dropped on the water, it bursts open and colors the water a very bright yellow.

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During the break we were just flying around the task force killing time. We requested permission and flew low over the carrier to take a look down at her, and the crew looking up at us. Unfortunately, the MAD gear was still on full operation. When the MAD equipment picked up the carrier's magnetic signal, it automatically released a yellow powdered dye marker. The marker made a direct hit right on the carrier flight deck and made a big bright yellow spot of water soluble powder!

The flight deck crew got the hoses out immediately and started hosing down the deck. As we flew away quickly, we could see the yellow spot getting bigger and bigger! The carrier radioed us immediately and said they were getting ready for gunnery practice, and we better not be around! We radioed back an explanation for our erroneous "bombing", apologized, and left rapidly before they started shooting.

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© Copyright 2002, revised 2014 by Lawrence Rodrigues
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