Back in the day pics…

NAS Jacksonville, 1986 just prior to the balloon festival. In order, VP-5, 16, 24, 45, 49, 56, the operational squadrons out of JAX. Not pictured is VP-30, which was the RAG.

And THIS is the actual $600 ‘toilet seat’…

It cost that much because it was not a toilet seat but was actually a structural member in the aircraft, holding the head walls apart, and providing an area for the $4 toilet seat from Sears…

Not that we ever got to USE it… sigh…


TBT… — 16 Comments

  1. Prior to that, in the early ’60’s, VP-18 and VP-11 flying the P2V-7’s. VP-18 was right across the hanger deck from VP-5.

    • That was NASJAX in Jacksonville Florida. Probably all been redone now but in ’59 thru ’63 the ASW and EW hangers were south of the control tower with tie downs along the St. Johns River seawall.

  2. That VP-56 bird. It is either 156526 or 156527. And I have lots of hours on both of them.

  3. Robert- Was that at JAX or PAX?

    Ray- Yep, probably. We ‘all’ had certain birds we had a lot of time on. 🙂

  4. Well, we could use it back in the day. It would cost ya a case of beer if you did though. And you got to clean it up, no matter what rank you happened to be.

    Funny story… On a SMILS flight out of Barbados our FE had need of it, but was determined to wait until we were back on the ground. He did manage to hold it, was hopping foot to foot as we put the ladder down, and took off in a butt-clinch walk towards the ops building. About halfway to the door he stops, his shoulders slump, and he trudges on into the building. We were rolling on the ground watching that.

  5. Never flew an aircraft with one installed, but weren’t “relief tubes” similarly to be avoided at the cost of cleaning up after self?

  6. I remember driving through Jacksonville about 1986 and seeing P3s taking off at close intervals and wondering what the heck was up. Having just read a Tom Clancy novel didn’t help any.

  7. In the late ’80’s somebody at the Washington Times (Fred Reed?) did some writing about how accounting and spec rules imposed by Congress caused most of the silly “Military Waste” stories being then circulated by various Congresscritters. Can’t say I was surprised. Much of it has to do with paying tool-up costs on things that just aren’t mass market. Some has to do with how cost is accounted for over the pieces of a package. So, in (say) an F-14 engine rebuild kit you may get a $700 screwdriver. And also a $700 replacement engine.

    Which isn’t to say that the military does do boneheaded stuff. At one point the Airfare had gone to some trouble to build a fleet of transport planes that were (after measures to secure were taken) two jeeps wide. And scarcely a handful of years later the Army started buying jeeps that were 2″ wider.


    • This is a great post! From the wonderful lineup on the ramp to the comments here, I am proud of this.

  8. Fluge- Yep. S**t happened… LOL

    GB- You just flushed them with water….

    Mike- That was probably a MINEX, multiple airplanes were often tasked minutes apart to hit the range on timeslots for accuracy of TOT and mine placement.

    CSP- Exactly right… sigh… And ‘many’ of the implements were readily available through Sears for dirt cheap, but MILSPEC requirements drove the cost through the roof! (e.g. $1200 for a $0.47 resistor.

    • And much of that was less ‘mil spec’ than it was the legal requirement to write the spect blind, and the absolute necessity of writing them so tightly that no clever jackass could meet the written spec without actually meeting the real need. That was on Congress. It was illegal to get a sample of something that would work ‘off the shelf’ and write the spec to match, though I’m told it happened when there was reason to think it would pass unnoticed.

      So nearly everything had to pay a tool-up cost as well as the cost of ongoing manufacture…and nearly everything was unsuited for sale on the general market, so the tool-up cost was only spread over what the military would buy.

      Then there were the things that the military had to pay somebody to start making AGAIN (with another tool-up) because Congress had decided to extend the life of an old system (such as a plane) beyond what had been originally planned, and the original tools had be scrapped or repurposed ten years ago.


      Government is always inefficient. But in some cases attempt to privatize have consequences that are worse. Privatizing the military is is called ‘hiring mercenaries’ and historically has not gone well. See; the Thirty Years War for some specifics.

      • A $600 load bearing toilet, that’s kind of impressive, I always figured that one was a ‘we can’t put super secret important thing on a publicly viewable invoice.’

      • I went to school with a Charley Schofield at Kaneohe MCAS. He insisted on Charles but that seemed too uppity to suit me. He was the grandson of the man who was the namesake for the barracks. My dad was attached to 3 MAW as was Charley’s.

        RE: MILSPEC. As a side note, I should direct your attention to WWII era specs for OD Green. Black to tan to light brown to dark brown to slightly orange to just about every shade of green met the specs. I found this out when researching MILSPEC for a warbird I wanted to put back to original livery. From your comments, I suspect the specs are more ‘contained’ nowadays.

  9. I got the story on the seat, also. Turns out that it was the unlucky part selected to accumulate all the G&A and overhead charges for the subcontractor making it, and this kept getting added on to up to the prime contractor level. Cost accounting at its worst.

    Hmm, for a Mark 46 or Mark 48 torpedo, I’d want the more expensive capacitor set that passed Mil-STD vibration, shock and also ESS tests. It’ll most probably work after years in depot. The civilian market gets the cheaper parts that don’t pass or don’t get tested to those levels. They work in most cases because they’re not used in the Arctic, desert, and high humidity/salt environments, sometimes simultaneously. That is, until someone in the extra corner of the Pentagon gets this wonderful cost-saving idea to go NDI and buy commercial – AGAIN – and have spefctacular failures – AGAIN. Funny, they’re never the ones who get fired and escorted out.

    CSP, you raised memories of four other ground combat programs with similar air transportation issues, all of which I’ve spent the last year trying to forget. Durn it, more whiskey.

  10. CSP- Exactly… dammit…

    Fork- LOL

    WSF- It actually was. 🙂

    PK- Sadly true, and those assholes NEVER had to put their butts on the line, just us peons…