A Reading from the First Book of Rucker


 In the beginning was Mother Rucker and she was filled with hope. And her hope turned to thought and her thought  to idea and her idea she called "helicopter." And she said, "This is good." And there was evening and there was morning on the first day.  

Now on the second day, Mother Rucker awakened and she was bored, for although her helicopter was good, it needed something. So she put out  a call for men and women, strong of heart, pure of spirit and free from bad checks, to come and join with her fine machines in an experience called "aviation." And Mother said, "Let all the aviators under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and this place shall be called `Ft. Rucker.' " And her call reverberated through the halls of DA until the word was spread. And they came‑meekly at first, and then boldly in droves as the bee seeks the flower, from the far corners of the globe‑from the wildlands of Missouri to the outbacks of Montana, from the farms of Hungary to the skyscrapers of New York.

As they arrived they were issued their battle gear: Whiz wheels and kneeboards, flight helmets and Nomex gloves, flashlights and earplugs. And those from the land of the National Guard were issued haircuts. And those from the land of the Air Force were issued haircuts and shined boots. And all this was free. And they said, "This is good." And there was evening and there was morning on the second day.

Now on the third day, Mother Rucker felt that it was time for her recruits to be united with flight and yet she did not wish to waste her truly great aircraft on this mere plebeian caste. So she began their training by placing them in a device called the TH‑55, or as she so often referred to it, the "Mattel Messersmitt," an aircraft driven by eight rubber bands. Originally she had created the TH‑55 as a new food processor for her kitchen, but when she discovered the tremendous mess it made with egg whites, she gave up and converted it to an aircraft. And so it was that this creation was united with recruits from the far corners of the globe.

And the training did begin. And the recruits heard terms such as fully articulated, oleo struts and dampers. And for the first time the recruits did wonder and shake with the spirit. And they learned what a pilot's briefing was, and they learned what stagefields and traffic patterns were, and they did marvel at these terms. And so they began to fly. Now some fell upon the rigors of academics and did wither on the vine, and some fell (I mean really fell) from poor preflights and were choked among the thorns, but some fell upon fertile soil and did soar and hover as Mother knew they would. And she was pleased, but it was not enough. So, she told the recruits that they would be challenged to try a maximum performance takeoff, and they did, and a hovering autorotation, and they did, and a standard autorotation, and they did, and a standard auto with turn, and they said, "You gotta be kidding me!" But eventually they succeeded, for as the moth seeks the flame, as the fish seeks the water, as the dog seeks the bone, so too did the recruits seek their wings.

Now all of this was done under the watchful and tender care of Mother Rucker's disciples, the IPs. And these IPs were filled with knowledge and wisdom, and they did cause their students to quiver with fear. And the students did try, but many were their mistakes. And their mistakes did multiply as do the rabbits in the spring. And the IPs did turn to their students and say, "You hear but do not understand. You see but do not perceive. For your hearts have grown dull, and your ears are heavy of hearing."

And this filled the students with grief, and they did turn to the prophet's disciples for healing. And the IPs said, "Many righteous men have longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and hear what you hear, and did not hear it."  And the students said, "Yes, that makes sense."

And so as they heeded the words of their IPs, the students were cured of their transgressions, and they became hungry for more knowledge, for they had been separated.from the many that had come to this paradise as is the wheat separated from the chaff. And all this was done so that Mother could be proud. And there was evening and there was morning on the third day.   On the fourth day Mother Rucker saw that all was not kosher in the land of Rucker. Her pilots had forsaken the arduous study of the TH‑55 and the dash 10, and their hearts were filled only with the evil thoughts of the O. Club's informal lounge and dens of iniquity. For the trials of flight had grown easy and soft. But there walked on the earth an upright soul not corrupted by the fully articulated rotor and oleo struts, who found favor with Mother Rucker and this man was called Huey. And Mother said unto Huey, "I have determined to make an end of such ease among my pilots, and thou shalt be my instrument of divine retribution. Make thyself a craft of duraluminum with tailboom and cabin section and landing gear. And this is how thou shalt make it: It shall be 40 cubits long, its breadth, 8 cubits 6.6 inches, and finish it to a 48‑cubit rotor disc diameter above. It will have one floor and  shall not exceed 40 shekels of brass at max gross weight." 

 And Huey said, "What's a shekel?"  

 And Mother said, "Never mind. For behold I shall bring forth a flood of changes to the dash 10 and destroy all free time that is upon the earth for these pilots."  

And Huey did all that Mother Rucker commanded and shewed unto her an incredible new flying machine. And Huey took this creation and landed on a pinnacle, and on this pinnacle Mother Rucker appeared to Huey in a glowing cloud of exhaust, gas intermixed with rotor wash. And Mother said unto Huey in setting forth the structures for the operation of this machine, "You shall carry forth rules and regulations which will be strictly adhered to at all times. You shall call these rules `Commandments."' 

Huey was somewhat irreverent in this regard and decided to call these commandments checklist items instead. And this pleased Mother. Huey then went down from the great pinnacle which was callcd "Lowe" and sought those sinning new pilots in there usual abodes and found them in the midst of great revelry in the O. Club and in honkytonks. And he confronted and rebuked them. Then he said, "These are Mother Rucker's Laws of Aviation, and thou shalt follow  them for all the days of thy lives while flying my machine."

And Huey spoke of preflight inspection, before starting engine, starting engine, engine runup, hover, before takeoff, before landing, after landing, engine shutdown and before leaving the helicopter checks.

Now elsewhere in the land were IPs who had become old hands at the business. They were air worshippers who harkened in part to the teachings of Mother Rucker but twisted the teachings in places so as to become different at each period of worship. And their hearts were full of pride and trivial questions at all of the knowledge that they had assimilated. And it was in those passing days that the students did learn of autorotations at low level and compressor stall and stuck left or right pedal. And Mother saw that it was good and becoming better with every change to the dash 10. And there was evening and there was morning on the fourth day.   

Now on the fifth day,  Mother Rucker was ill and hid her face from the earth. There were clouds, scud layers, light drizzle and fog upon the firmament.  All of the  students did tremble and wonder that they could not fly. And Mother did see this and knew that  it was not good and so she created "instruments." There were also in the land of instruments "pink slips"‑to be avoided, because the pink slips flew almost as often as did the students. And the students really trembled! And it was about this time that the voice of the IP would crackle through the doom and say, "Now watch me fly this back course ILS on emergency panel using only the free air temperature gauge." Mother saw all of this and she said that it was"adequate." And there was evening and there was morning on the fifth day.

On the morning of  the sixth day Mother Rucker saw that her pilots could cheat death during the light and that it was good. But she thought, "My pilots must have more challenge!" Mother remembered that she had seen the light and also the darkness. She knew the Army would not buy "Night Flight," so she called the darkness "Night Hawk." Mother decreed, "Thou must avoid dynamic rollover during night slope operations and pinnacles, and ye shouldst not fear low level autorotations whilst skimming the tree lines and not seeing the entry point. Ye must learn to hover and ground taxi, not at 10 feet, but at 3 feet and not sideways or backwards but in a straight line."

And it came to pass in that way.  She said also that they should not fear entering the traffic pattern the wrong way just because they couldn't tell where they were. And the pilots overcame even that. But in time Mother saw that the pilots were hungering for still more things, including a way to see. There were too many near midairs, too many tail stinger strikes, too many visual illusions to which mere mortals were subject. And so Mother said, "I will make for my  pilots a nighttime helper, and I shall call that helper `Night Vision Goggles.' " 

And here she had problems. But not to fear, for the pilots took quickly to these devices. So, she caused them to wear the creations 4.5 hours. Despite the neck and headaches, the sweaty faces and the straining eyes, she knew that her intrepid airmen could overcome‑and they did. And she said, "Atta‑boy!" And there was evening and there was morning on the sixth day.

On the seventh day Mother Rucker looked and saw that she had created helicopter pilots, and that was good; but she realized that she needed aviators, not just pilots. And the pilots took another view, saying, "Blessed is the seventh day because on it we shall rest." But Mother said, "There is not rest for the Army Aviator," and lo, she harkened them forth from the O. Club to learn of "tactics." And she said to them that the aviator should not be alone upon the firmament and so she caused the firmament to move, and from it she brought forth eighteen 1:50,000 scale topographical maps. And she placed them in a stack and this stack was without form and void. And she gave her pilots a jar of rubber cement, and she said unto them, "Breathe into this mass life and spirit for they will be the word and the way." 

And they gave birth to ACP Smith which begat Henderson, which begat Joyce, which begat Amy, and on and on until there was Runkle. And these gems were hidden far and wide across the land and were called LZs. And the LZs were moved every night so that they were never in the same place that they were the day before. Mother then struck her pilots dumb and sent them into the wilderness for 40 days and 5 nights. And in the wilderness the IPs did tempt the pilots mightily to follow the wrong routes by   making all stream beds appear identical. But the pilots said, "We fear not, for it is written that man shall not navigate by stream bed alone, but by every terrain feature on the map." 

And the IPs did tempt them again by laying before them all of the tasks they had mastered and commanded them to choose from among them for the final checkride. And the pilots answered, "Get thee behind me evil IP, for it is written, 'Thou shalt worship the autorotation, and the night flight, and the night vision goggles, and we shall serve them in our final days."'  

 And the IPs said, "Lest thou forget about instruments, let's see some tactical instrument approaches:'  

 So as a final test the most difficult aspects of the earlier phases were brought to bear upon the pilots and they responded, "We shall fear not, for we have been to the mountain top, and have seen the glory of the coming of our wings!" And after the final checkride the pilots  answered unto their IPs and said, "Thou shall tempt us no more for we are Aviators!" And it was the evening of the seventh day and Mother Rucker smiled and said, "At last."

These are the tales of the creation of the helicopter and its pilots. For in this time Mother Rucker had planted the seed of the tree of rotary wing knowledge and her students were bold enough to taste of the forbidden fruit of this tree. And Mother said, "Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed with aviation in your blood, and shall be turned away from this place in paradise to roam throughout the earth‑back to your National Guard units, and across such exotic lands as Alaska, Germany and Ft. Bragg. And in your travels you shall be called upon to face every beast of the field and of the air, and to do battle with such as the Cobra, the Black Hawk, the Chinook and the buzzard." And so brethren, because of the dangers involved, before departing this holy ground that is Rucker, let us all join in that hymn of everlasting praise that our beloved Mother Rucker taught:

RPM 6600




 This article is a modification of a skit written by the authors below, for presentation at the graduation ball of Initial Entry Rotary Wing Class 80‑12 at the U.S. Army Aviation Center, Ft. Rucker, AL:   

  Captain Mark G. Dykes,   Captain Leonard Samborowski,  Captain Randall Robertson  Captain Mark Tarman   

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