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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, December 03, 1987

Capt. Chris NICHOLS, USAF, and his crew were credited with rescuing an A-7 Navy attack aircraft in the Caribbean and preventing it from having to "punch out or ditch." When a radio message was heard by Capt. NICHOLS that fuel was draining out of the A-7 and that it couldn't make it back to Roosevelt base or to the carrier, NICHOLS coordinated the rescue and the navigator ran the rendezvous. NICHOLS is stationed at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, KS and was recently involved in the mission to Puerto Rico. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Lyle NICHOLS of Mount Ayr.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2012

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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, November 23, 1995


Christopher NICHOLS, son of Lyle and Mildred NICHOLS of Mount Ayr, was recently promoted to the rank of major. NICHOLS is an instructor on the C-130 cargo transport. He is presently stationed at Little Rock, AR Air National Guard (active) at Jacksonville, AR. He trains pilots of many nationalities.

His wife, the former Karen MOORE, is a CPA and owns her own tax business. Both NICHOLS and his wife are graduates of Oklahoma State University at Stillwater, OK.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2012

~ ~ ~ ~

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, January 20, 2005

Functional check flight pilots pose with a T-37 at Vance Air Force Base's flight line recently.
They include, from left: Capt. John Forina, Lt. Col. Chris Nichols, Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Mark Irvin and Capt. Jason Hrynyk.
(Photo by Maike Rode.)

Nichols heads function check
flight program at Vance Air Base

Lt. Col. Chris NICHOLS and his role as a chief function check flight pilot at Vance Air Force Base was recently featured in a story in the Enid, OK News Eagle.

The article, by senior writer Jeff Mullin, tells about the function check flight pilot's job to test fly ever aircraft that has undergone any kind of major repair work, making sure it is working perfectly before it is returned to the squad.

NICHOLS is the son of Lyle and Mildred NICHOLS of Mount Ayr.

"We are the crash dummies," NICHOLS, 71st Operations Group FCF chief said, chuckling.

FCF pilots put aircraft through their paces after any kind of maintenance dealing with the engines or flight controls.

NICHOLS is the only full-time member of the FCF, and he supervises a group of 28 officers who, in addition to their duties as instructors, serve as FCF pilots.

FCF pilots are veterans with thousands of hours of flying time in a variety of aircraft. The most veteran FCF pilots become FCF instructors. New FCF pilots are chosen by current members of the unit and approached about the opportunity.

"Most FCF pilots and flight test pilots are the older bunch with the more experience with airplanes the better," NICHOLS told the reporter. When FCF is given a plane to test fly, a great deal of preliminary work is done before the pilots head for the flight line, NICHOLS explained.

"We dive into the books, get very thorough with it, try to understand what was wrong with it before and what all maintenance has [been] done to a plane," said NICHOLS. "You just don't run out, grab the keys, hop in and cross your fingers."

It is the job of the pilots to take the planes on flights that check out every system on the airplane. Every system or knob is checked in the flights.

He and a younger FCF pilot were ferrying a plane back to Vance from Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi after it was repainted. Flying planes to and from maintenance facilities is part of the FCF pilot's duties.

After takeoff the pilots heard a "pop" and a loud whistle.

"His head was spinning like a top, he was a little concerned," NICHOLS said. "I go, 'I've heard that before.'"

It turned out to be a seal around a door that was not seated properly, causing the noise which eventually quit.

"That wasn't in the book to look up airplane screaming like a banshee," said NICHOLS. "That's where the experience side comes in."

NICHOLS graduated from Mount Ayr Community high school in 1976. He and his wife, the former Karen MOORE of Duncan, OK, are both graduates of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK.

Karen NICHOLS is a partner in the accounting firm of Engstron, Grayson, Green & Patterson, P.L.L.C. of North Little Rock, AR.

Chris and Karen NICHOLS are parents of Adam, a junior at the University of Arkansas, and Lindsey, a senior at Cabot, AK high school.

His plans after retirement are indefinite, but he and his family plan to spend some time on their 45-foot sail boat.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News/Maike Rhode

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, December of 2012

To submit your Ringgold County items, contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.

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