Issue Number 241
July 1999
A Monthly Safety Bulletin from The Office of the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System
P.O. Box 189, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0189

CALLACK Classics "And Now We Are 20..."

Dear Readers:

In the midst of preparing this summer’s issues, we realized that July 1999 marks a proud milestone for both the ASRS and this publication—CALLBACK’s 20th anniversary.

More than two decades ago, the ASRS Advisory Committee—an industry/government group charged with oversight of the ASRS—reviewed the results of a survey that showed a large proportion of the flying population lacked knowledge of the ASRS and its immunity features. ASRS was "aviation’s best-kept secret." The Committee took steps to fill this awareness gap by directing NASA to develop a means of regular communication with potential users of the ASRS.

In the summer of 1979, the first issue of CALLBACK was cobbled together with scissors and transparent tape by Captain Rex Hardy, the founding Editor (as well as writer, circulation manager, and entire staff). Helping Rex type up that first issue was Dr. Charles ("Charlie") Billings, an experienced researcher who had conducted much of NASA’s earlier human-factors research and was NASA’s then commander-in-chief of the ASRS.

Charlie Billings took on a formidable bureaucratic challenge and risk in approving those first monthly bulletins—which some of his NASA colleagues considered shockingly casual for what was unquestionably a government publication.

The "casual" nature of these monthly bulletins was largely due to Rex, a decorated Naval aviator and corporate test pilot who had the working pilot’s distaste for well-intentioned but dull exhortations on safety. He had decided that ASRS’s new safety bulletin would be short, readable, and informal.

Rex christened the new publication CALLBACK. Issue No. 1, in July 1979, explained the title:

"CALLBACK? That’s a code term used at ASRS when a contact is initiated with someone who has sent in a report. The idea is to establish a dialogue in the interest of aviation safety...Safety is a serious subject, but we hope you will find this bulletin interesting, instructive, and even—sometimes—entertaining..."

Rex kept that promise to his readers for 100 issues, until his retirement as Editor in 1987. His editorial credo, upheld by others in the years since, has helped CALLBACK reach into every corner of the aviation community to educate, inform, and inspire potential users to submit their incident experiences to ASRS. Along the way, CALLBACK has gathered four major aviation industry awards for publication excellence.

Now some 20 years and 430,000 ASRS incident reports later, we invite you to enjoy some of our personal favorites from Rex Hardy’s first 100 CALLBACKs. And to Rex and Charlie, both now retired but as productive as ever, a resounding Thanks from the troops—for your vision, originality, and courage. We all owe you a lot.

Editor’s Note: The rest of this issue comes to you courtesy of Capt. Rex Hardy and the first 100 CALLBACKs. We hope you will enjoy these "oldies but goodies," which carry safety messages still relevant for today’s aviation operations.

Look Mom—No Hands!

We borrow from England’s Flight Safety Focus a tale about an airline in the process of installing Autoland equipment in its fleet. Test report:


These odds and ends have been extracted from otherwise routine ASRS reports. They may instruct, edify, or amaze readers. The [first], from a report of a minor mishap, comes, obviously, from a Captain who changes into his uniform in a phone booth:

Zapped By Little Green Men

Cost of Flying

Our cousins in England operate a Confidential Incident Reporting Program modeled closely on ASRS. Their equivalent to CALLBACK is called FEEDBACK and contains, as you might suppose material much like that found in our own bulletin, with due allowance for language and geographic differences. Now and then FEEDBACK borrows from CALLBACK and vice versa. Here, with grateful acknowledgement, is a versa:

Controller’s Credo—Pilots: Read and Heed

Just One Little Letter

By failing to note an inconspicuous "N" on their release form, a flight crew jeopardized the welfare of crew and passengers by flying too close to the mountain tops.

Culture Shock

[Ed. Note: "Ladies" in the story that follows refers to the seatbelt sign in the aircraft lavatory.] Airline pilots traditionally spent their entire careers flying for the same carrier. Trends in the industry have changed this: many flight crew are now wearing different uniforms, and their aircraft now carry different logos. A new hazard is appearing in some ASRS reports.

From CALLBACK’s Correspondence

Dietary NotesFeather

CALLBACK’s editor has eaten crow (and plenty of humble pie) before; now he’s in for another helping. A reader takes us to task for referring to the part of the airplane that goes over the fence last as its "tailfeathers." "Very unprofessional," says our correspondent. We should endeavor to be more serious. As a reminder, we have given ourselves a healthy kick in the empennage. (April 1980, #10)

ASRS Recently Issued Alerts On...
ATR-42 electrical smoke and fumes
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Confusion over foreign "line up and wait" clearances
GPWS conflict with ATC minimum safe/vectoring altitudes
May 1999 Report Intake
 Air Carrier/Air Taxi Pilots
 General Aviation Pilots