Dan Bowman's Narrow Escape

Dan Bowman, a pilot with the US Army Air Corps, was chatting with a friend at the airfield's supply depot when the radar picked up 35 Japanese fighter aircraft flying directly toward the US army's airfield base. On this isolated Pacific island's runway, it was eleven o'clock. The middle of World War II saw this Japanese air attack. Before the attack, the crew members of Pilot Bowman had stayed near to the runway. A few minutes before the first bomb hit the area close to the operations building, their location helped them get to their P-47 Thunderbolts (Army Air Forces fighter aircraft). Bowman was the last pilot to get to the runway, only to find all the fighter planes he had occasionally flown, taken by his fellow pilots.

The Unfamiliar Cockpit

The only un-attended P-47 plane was the new one that had been delivered two weeks before the attack. Bowman had to get to this plane as fast as possible and take off before becoming an easy target for the threatening Japanese fighter aircrafts. But, something was not right! The whole cockpit had been reconfigured. It took a few minutes of crippling anxiety to come to terms with the conundrum of the unfamiliar cockpit. All the other USA fighter planes had either taken off or were about to. Here he was, frantically looking for the ignition switch. He was about to identify all the controls when the first bomb fell from the sky and landed 100 yards on the left of his sparkling new P-47 Thunderbolt.

A Desperate Escape

His plane's engine finally sprang to life. But at the end of the airstrip was a Mitsubishi Zeke fighter-bomber heading his way. At that moment, he could not figure out how to get his P-47 up in the air. The Zeke started shooting right away, and Bowman decided to run the plane on the ground. He was now at the center of this air attack. His competence in flying planes, however, made him dodge all the bullets and the bombs thrown his way. The enemy's fighter jets eventually ran low on ammunition and fuel and had to go back to their base.

The Importance of Familiarity and Training

Pilot Bowman's inability to fly off his P-47 Thunderbolt was as a result of unfamiliarity with the new design of his plane's instrument panel. The re-configured cockpit made him panic in the heat of the attack. This case event can be attributed to some human factors. For instance, a pilot is supposed to familiarize with a plane's design. He/she should also be thoroughly trained on how to fly an aircraft long before their first assignment. This Bowman's incident would have been prevented had he familiarized himself with the new P-47 fighter plane's instrument panel before the Japanese attack. This argument is valid because training and experience improve a pilot's competence.

Works Cited

Auflick, Jack L. "Set Phasers on Stun: And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error. By Steven Casey. 1993, 221 pages, $24.95 Santa Barbara, CA: Aegean Publishing Company ISBN 0–9636178–7–7." Ergonomics in Design 1.4 (1993): 35-39.

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