NEWS | June 26, 2012

Time Over Target

By Dan Burley 628th Air Base Wing Safety office ground safety technician

Time Over Target was a term I first became aware of while reading an Air Force magazine article in basic training. The article was about an F-105 Wild Weasel pilot who had to perform a second run on a target, extending his TOT due to an acquisition problem on his first pass. Extending a TOT is not a good thing as it allows the bad guys more chances to do bad things to you and your aircraft - thus not a preferred option. In this case, the F-105 pilot survived his extended TOT - barely. His aircraft was severely damaged by accurate anti-aircraft fire on the second run, but he was able to nurse his F-105 back to base.

Since that day, many years ago, when I first heard of TOT and the lesson learned by that F-105 pilot, I've been able to apply that simple process of limiting my TOT in unsafe environments. TOT helps keep me safe and mishap free, especially during some of the higher risk activities I've undertaken in my life; i.e. hunting, sailing, scuba diving and motorcycling.

The Fourth of July holiday is just around the corner and historically, for the armed services, it has been a time of increased off duty fatalities and serious injuries. However by applying your own TOT strategy, you can reduce the chances of being involved in a serious mishap. A review of statistical data from past Critical Days of Summer summary sheets show the same causes and factors in each year's mishaps. Odds are, if Joint Base Charleston is to have a fatality or severe injury over this July 4th holiday, it will involve one of or a combination of the following factors: off duty, excessive speed, alcohol, either a two or four-wheeled private vehicle, a sports and recreation activity and lack of personal protective equipment such as floatation devices or seatbelts.

To counter this trend and increase you and your family's chances of having a mishap free holiday, apply a TOT prevention program of your own. Stay out of or limit your time in unsafe environments. I have used a TOT prevention plan several times in the past for many different activities. For example, I do not continue to drive once I start to feel drowsy. I get out of the target area or un-safe environment and rest. In SCUBA diving, I plan my dive and dive my plan. If conditions migrate outside the anticipated realm, I abort the dive, surface and regroup. In short, I get out of the target area. While sailing and finding myself in unanticipated weather or tidal conditions, I will return to port, get out of and limit the time I'm in a target area..

A TOT plan may not prevent all mishaps, but it helps to limit your exposure to the things that want to do you and your family harm. Remember "Check yourself before you wreck yourself."