You’re probably familiar with the A-10 warplane’s signature sound: a loud, buzzing burst of machine-gun fire from the skies.
The A-10 Thunderbolt, also known as the Warthog, has made quite a name for itself since it was put into use by the United States Airforce.
‘By jet fighter standards, the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” is whisper quiet, even with two turbofans sitting just over your shoulders. One day I went out to the jet, strapped in, reached into the little pocket on my sleeve to grab my yellow foam earplugs, and realized that they weren’t there.
‘My options at this point were:
‘A) Obtain hearing protection by either asking the crew chief to go scrounge some up, or calling in over the radio and ask someone to bring some out.
‘B) Suck it up and drive on without hearing protection.
‘This was fairly early in my A-10 days, and I opted to take the manly (read: foolish) approach and chose option B. I mean… how bad could it be?’
‘I realized the severity of my error as soon as I ran the engines up to full at the edge of the runway, ready for takeoff. What followed was one of the most miserable and painful experiences of my life. It was a close second to the time I had to fly in full chemical warfare gear. I don’t think the drinking tube is supposed to stick up your nose like that.
‘Imagine yourself at the biggest heavy metal concert in the world. In the front row. With your head strapped to the speaker. For an hour and a half.
‘I was sure I would be completely deaf by the time I landed. ‘Fortunately, I didn’t suffer permanent hearing loss. But I learned that, if you ever make it out to the jet without hearing protection … choose option A.’
‘That was the only time I ever forgot hearing protection. Some lessons you don’t have to learn twice.
‘With hearing protection? It’s actually not that bad. You can hear the engines and actually use their sound to cue you on the state of the aircraft. But you don’t feel like your head is going to explode.’