Backward..Whoa!!!

by Bob Gould

    Back in probably the late '60s or early '70s, I was on a SEL turnaround as F/O.  I think it was a 707 freighter.  They pushed us back at SEL, and as we were moving back, the ground guy frantically yelled something at us on the intercom.  It was not understandable, so I asked them to repeat.  After a couple of tries, they screamed STOP!  Apparently they had disconnected us from the towbar without telling us (in any comprehensible way) to set the brakes, nor did they get a confirmation of Brakes Set, since we never set them.  In the meantime, the airplane was happily rolling backward across the ramp to who knows where, with a frantic Korean mechanic running after us tethered by his headset frantically trying to tell us to set the brakes.  We did stop in time, and all was well, except for the poor guy on the ground thinking of what might have been.

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