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That time we blew a liquified rat into an F-16... true story

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posted on Aug, 22 2020 @ 10:31 PM
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(I mentioned this incident in another thread, a few days ago. I promised to post the story... here it is.)

This happened at Luke AFB during the summer of 1996. I was a Staff Sergeant at the time... Weapons Load Crew Chief. 63rd Fighter Sq.

We were dispatched to perform what we called an "SMS confidence check" (a full weapons system ops check, essentially) on one of our F-16s.

Running this check requires both a ground power source, and ground air-conditioning to keep the avionics cool. We usually used two separate pieces of ground equipment for such work... a "dash-60" power unit, and a "C-10" air conditioning unit. Well, in the mid 1990s, the Air Force tried using what essentially was a two-in-one unit for power and A/C. (It was actually 2 units coupled together... it did work well...)

So, there I was... as most Air Force stories go...

It was a very hot day... about 110F. We got our test equipment set up, and hooked up the power/AC unit. The air conditioning unit attached to the aircraft, using a set of 6" air hoses attached to a coupling adapter that ran directly into the ECS (environmental control system). This adapter has a heavy steel screen that prevents foreign objects from entering the aircraft... this is important.

I get situated in the cockpit as my crew fires up the power and A/C. Everything looked fine. I was just starting to align the Inertial Nav, when I started to smell something sort of nasty. A few moments later, the A/C unit shut off. Weird. I figured the smell was coming from farms close to the base (back then, Luke AFB was surrounded by farms to the north and west. When they sprayed fertilizer... it smelled.)

My airman restarted the A/C unit, and the smell immediately became horrific. The A/C ran for about 30 seconds, then shut off again. The smell in the cockpit... I cannot really describe it. The canopy was completely open, and that didn't help one bit. I am surprised that I didn't blow my lunch.

I had my airman check the air adapter that connects to the aircraft. He immediately signaled me to kill power. I climbed out of the cockpit, and he motions me over to the air adapter... and he is three shades of green. I took one look at it, and nearly spewed.

At some point during the hot Phoenix summer, a rat had taken shelter in one of the air unit's hoses. It got stuck, passed on... then rotted into a liquid state. His bonier remains (skull claws and tail, mostly) were trapped in the steel adapter screen. All of the brown, slushy stuff got blown into the aircraft's ECS system. We called out our maintenance commander, and she actually did blow chunks. It was NASTY.

They had to hangar the aircraft, and the base bio-environmental folks had to clean up the mess.

The smell in that jet, it lingered for months... especially on really hot days.

The 63rd FS stood down years ago, but last I heard that aircraft is still at Luke AFB... and the rat was still painted on the comm door.


edit on 22-8-2020 by madmac5150 because: Derp

edit on 22-8-2020 by madmac5150 because: Derp Derp




posted on Aug, 22 2020 @ 11:01 PM
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a reply to: madmac5150

We had a brand new, advanced x-ray unit being installed at the Honolulu airport. The tech tested it, and had it absolutely perfect and ready to go for the FAA certification test later that morning. She shows up a few hours later, and the thing barely turns on. It's got all kinds of faults, and won't even pass the self checks. She starts opening up panels, and when she removes one of them that goes over a rotation portion of the machine, there's blood everywhere. Somehow a rat had gotten into it in California and survived shipping to Honolulu. At some point it had climbed up into the machine, got pulled into the rotating section, and disemboweled.

To make it worse, the VP of the company that produced the machine was there to watch the certification. So the two of them start cleaning out bits of rat. At one point, as passengers were standing in line next to the machine, he's calling to her, going "Hey, look at this", and stretching out rat guts with tweezers as he pulled them off the machine. Took a week to get the damn thing cleaned out and the machine fixed.



posted on Aug, 22 2020 @ 11:13 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: madmac5150

We had a brand new, advanced x-ray unit being installed at the Honolulu airport. The tech tested it, and had it absolutely perfect and ready to go for the FAA certification test later that morning. She shows up a few hours later, and the thing barely turns on. It's got all kinds of faults, and won't even pass the self checks. She starts opening up panels, and when she removes one of them that goes over a rotation portion of the machine, there's blood everywhere. Somehow a rat had gotten into it in California and survived shipping to Honolulu. At some point it had climbed up into the machine, got pulled into the rotating section, and disemboweled.

To make it worse, the VP of the company that produced the machine was there to watch the certification. So the two of them start cleaning out bits of rat. At one point, as passengers were standing in line next to the machine, he's calling to her, going "Hey, look at this", and stretching out rat guts with tweezers as he pulled them off the machine. Took a week to get the damn thing cleaned out and the machine fixed.


First, mad props to a VP willing to tweeze out rat guts.

I saw truly horrific things during my career... the rat puree was the worst.

I still have the image of his little claws, his skull and tail splattered inside of that air adapter... blech.



posted on Aug, 22 2020 @ 11:20 PM
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a reply to: madmac5150

Good story brother. Your obviously low key a sick bastard, dont worry I am to hahaha. Respect brother if this is true. Doubt you'd make up such a simple story. Forgive me it's just hard to take anyone for their word on the internet when they say they worked for the government. But either way sweet story. Much love and respect to your camp.



posted on Aug, 22 2020 @ 11:26 PM
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originally posted by: Traptomisprime
a reply to: madmac5150

Good story brother. Your obviously low key a sick bastard, dont worry I am to hahaha. Respect brother if this is true. Doubt you'd make up such a simple story. Forgive me it's just hard to take anyone for their word on the internet when they say they worked for the government. But either way sweet story. Much love and respect to your camp.


I understand your skepticism.

I did nearly 21 years... I retired as a Master Sergeant. The story is very true...



posted on Aug, 22 2020 @ 11:32 PM
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a reply to: madmac5150

Both of the little #s deserved it (yours, and the one in Honolulu). It was always fun to go digging into a wiring issue and finding teeth marks or droppings. Freaking rats are such a pain in the ass.



posted on Aug, 22 2020 @ 11:39 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: madmac5150

Both of the little #s deserved it (yours, and the one in Honolulu). It was always fun to go digging into a wiring issue and finding teeth marks or droppings. Freaking rats are such a pain in the ass.


We would occasionally see that sort of damage when I worked on F-4s. I never saw that working the A-10 or F-16s. They seemed to go for our ground equipment instead... our biggest problem was generally bird strikes on our missiles. A small falcon can totally wreck a Maverick missile...



posted on Aug, 22 2020 @ 11:49 PM
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a reply to: madmac5150

Rats on the flightline in Hawaii weren't common thank god. They tended to stay in the forested areas more than around the flightline. And one of our hangars had two owls that raised a family in it every year, so that helped too. But every once in awhile evidence would be found of them running around. Our big thing in buildings was geckos. They'd get everywhere and cause all kinds of problems too. Good times were had then they found the breaker box and crawled behind it.
edit on 8/22/2020 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 23 2020 @ 01:37 AM
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Wha reply to: madmac5150

I was at Luke until 1990. What was the tail number?



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