US aircraft have the famous "Bitchin' Betty" that gives directions to pilots... like "Pull Up" and other directive type commentary on your flying. The Russians have the same system though instead of Bitchin' Betty, it is "Nag'n Natasha." I am not even making that up... that is what every one the flies russian aircraft calls her. I know this both from Ukraine as well as overhearing conversations in Czech and Dari where the only word I recognize is "Natasha" Normally, the voice of Natasha is a quite stern, but still sultry russian woman. I flew an aircraft a few days ago that someone had taught English to. I got to hear her in English... it is much better when it is in russian. It had to be the most ear piercing female voice I have ever heard!
"MAIN FUEL TANK PUMP FAIL, MAIN FUEL TANK PUMP FAIL..."
Damn it! How am I supposed to recall the schematics of the fuel system in my head to see if this is serious with this chick crabbing in my ear? It was one of those rare times that almost no one sees when my emotional state goes from totally chill to livid in zero seconds.
They guy I was flying with only knew two words in English, "Roger," and, "Copy." And he always said them together and in that order... "Roger copy." Well, somehow he understood my, "Shut that GOD DAMN thing OFF!" ...though I did just read a book on body language, so it is possible that he got that message through more subtle means like the angle of my arm or a twitch of my eyebrow.
Perhaps they should use a less annoying female voice for the English aircraft.
Later, (today actually) I was told by an Afghan maintenance dude that I could not fly an aircraft today because Natasha was not at work today... (The voice informer system was broken.) This pretty much blew my mind. These guys will take off with damaged tail rotors, and I can't take off without that bitch on board? What the heck? So I ask the Czechs... Indeed it turns out that according to the russian manuals, she is required to be operational for flight. I don't know how this Afghan found out this. I have never seen a manual here yet...
The Czechs were willing to let me fly with it not working, not because it is just a back up system that I now plan to leave off, but because I don't speak russian very well and that aircraft doesn't speak english. I wouldn't know what she wanted to tell me anyways. Mean while, the Afghans wouldn't let me fly it, because today was the day they decided to follow a rule. Who would have thought that was how the logic would go.
Now for the universal constants:
NVG's and the finger... every time I have ever been in a room of guys using Night Vision Goggles for the first time everyone always stands in the nearly complete darkness and gives each other the finger. The Afghans did exactly the same thing... Off go the lights, down go the goggles, look around... and everyone is giving each other the finger.
hmm... I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't taught them that yet.
Suddenly a quick burst of Dari, and the room is full of laughter...
"Mister Nick, I told him his sister's pie is delicious! do you understand what is Pie?"
"Yes, we have the same joke in English..."
"Mister Nick, yes! But he tells me that my mother's pie is the best!... but this is the joke only for your friends..."
Holy shit! an I'm banging your sister/girlfriend/mother joke... I wouldn't have expected that quality of humor from these cats!
Maybe there is hope for world Peace after all!