Written by: Dana Coen; Watch Now: – Sorry, not available on Amazon
JAG officer Harm’s (H) old flight instructor and mentor, Capt. Gary Hockhausen, was out for th six-month “checkout” of one of his junior flight instructors, Lt Peter Judd, when Judd hit a pole and had to eject. The loose jet crashed into Melanie and Joshua Lanier’s car killing them both. Harm and Bud (B) were sent to investigate and were sheparded around by a sort of “motor-mouth, air-head” from New York, Lt Schiparelli, who was a former cab driver and extremely loyal to Hockhausen. Judd’s RIO, Lt. Gerter, blew his knee and would never fly again. He revealed that they had been “pulling a hell of a lot of Gs” and almost blacked out when they had to bail.
Mac (M) was called in to represent Judd even before H had even completed his investigation. The maneuver scorekeeper said that Judd had “an aggressive style of flying” and had previously cut a phone line with his tail fin (upside down at 30 feet and 500 knot’s). Harm saw Schiparelli hustling two marines at pool in a bar and joined her playing doubles. The marines wanted Hs fancy boots and Schiparelli’s bra so he demanded their pants. While celebrating their victory later in their car, Schiparelli kissed H just as M pulled up. Mac bristled and derisively asked her if she spent her spare time hustling marines. Not to be out done, Schiparelli sarcastically retorted “no, I usually like a challenge.” Harm quickly jumped between them.
Both Hockhausen and Judd claimed that a “severe down draft” had slammed him into the telephone pole; and, when H acted incredulous, Hockhausen reminded H of when he had almost lost flight status for shooting out of bounds during a High-Noon gunnery competition. Harm countered that the judges had decided he was really inside bounds and Hockhausen claimed that it was he who had “convinced them that it didn’t matter,” and that he had “saved your windswept butt.” He opinioned that he had seen good men “skewered by rule book barons and ignorant COs.” “If you don’t give a man room to make mistakes,” he said, “you take away his ability to learn from them.” He tried to intimidate H by saying he resented “not being believed,” but H recounted that pilots needed to learn consequences of their actions and take responsibility for them.
Bud, doing his “routine library reading,” discovered that the wind was on the other side of the ridge that day so there would have been UP drafts not DOWN drafts. He also had to remind H that there were statistical accelerometers on board. Judd’s plane had pulled 7 Gs at the accident. Mac wanted to know what Hockhausen’s showed but it was found to be “missing.” Harm believed that he had stolen his own device in order to protect his wingman so decided he had to “prove it” by “recreating” the incident. Hockhausen used his own RIO and H took M in his back seat – for which she got sick and vomited. After the run, and during the climb over the ridge, they nearly hit a phone pole, so H was convinced that a down draft right then would have caused them to hit the pole. However, during landing Hockhausen pulled a rookie mistake and misjudged his landing distance which allowed H to see another rationale.
When Schiparelli apologized for the kiss, H just told her that she had “seized the moment” which is why she was an officer. Then he twisted her arm into revealing that she had overheard Hockhausen on the phone with some other pilot trading ideas on how to pass eye tests. He then interviewed Retired Admiral James Dawkins, who seemed to know H and his father. Dawkins had flown into his 50’s and told H that he had never falsified his eye tests but that he knew it had been done and briefed H on how to do it. Harm then confronted Hockhausen and offered to let him resign, but he flew in Hs face to the point that H had to tell him “not to exploit my loyalty, I’m not Lt. Judd.” Harm met Judd in a bar and told him the story about loyalty but Judd wouldn’t budge in his lie. Harm then told M about Schiparelli’s information and had to tell her that there was a “difference between loyalty and being indebted to someone.”
On the stand, Hockhausen denied any culpability or knowledge of how to falsify eye tests, then grinned like he had gotten the best of H. Mac called Schiparelli, and when H saw the reluctant look on her face, he seemed to change his mind about something. He then continued and manipulated Hockhausen into reading a “standard” eye chart from a line that the base optometrist had placed on the courtroom floor. Hockhausen “read” the chart (apparently from memory) and missed the 20/20 line on which H had substituted the letters “I FLY NAVY.” Harm claimed that Hockhausen had been “unable to adequately determine the accurate range of the oncoming ridge endangering his wingman in the process.” Outside the courtroom Hockhausen told H that “at least I went down in a dog fight.” Harm said that it didn’t mean that “one day we couldn’t mend fences.” Hockhausen replied “yes it does.” Judd was disciplined for lying.