I thought I’d told this story before but I can’t seem to find it.
My class at USAF pilot training included two Saudi Arabian student pilots. One was a real gentleman, a high quality guy. The other was a useless fatcat frat boy. Both had pretty good English; plenty enough for the job at hand.
Each day began with all of us sitting in a classroom. An instructor would explain an inflight emergency scenario then call on somebody to respond. If you were called the drill was to leap to attention, explain your analysis and response, including rattling off verbatim any of the magic mantras we had to memorize for various time critical problems.
So one day Maj. Instructor says “You’re doing aerobatics at high altitude and lose control. You find yourself in a spin. What now Lt. al-Fratboy?”
The right answer is something along the lines of “Repeat the mantra for spin recovery. Does that work? If so, resume flying normally. If not, keep trying until descending through (in that aircraft) 5000’ above the ground. If still spinning, eject using the appropriate mantra.” So overall this was a pretty black-and-white problem with a pretty black-and-white response. No nuanced analysis of failure symptoms is required.
Lt. al-Fratboy starts off with the spin recovery mantra, getting the gist correct but only about 90% on the magic words. Asks “Does it work?” The instructor says “No.” al-Fratboy furrows his brow; this wasn’t something he’d ever considered. He stammers and stalls for what feels to all of us like an eternity.
Lt. al-Goodguy raises a hand and smoothly says “Maj. Instructor? I believe my colleague is having a language problem. May I translate?” Maj. Instructor has seen this trick before but says “Certainly.”
Lt. al-Goodguy: “Yabbada yabba al bubbala yabbada yabba al bubbala yabba al bubbala yabbada yabba al bubbala yabba al bubbala yabbada yabba al bubbala bubbala yabba al bubbala yabbada yabba al bubbala EJECT! yabba al bubbala yabbada yabba al bubbala yabba al bubbala yabbada yabba al bubbala yabba al bubbala yabbada yabba al bubbala yabba al bubbala yabbada yabba al bubbala.”
Lt al-Fratboy: “Major Instructor, I would eject!” with great triumph in his voice.
Somebody started laughing and we all came unglued. I damn near pissed my pants. Even Maj. Instructor was laughing too hard to give them grief. At least not right then.