Saturday, February 6, 2010
Last weekend's 4 day snow escapade put everyone at Vance behind by two days. Thankfully for our class, we were only scheduled for Aerospace Physiology this week and last week, so the impact of the delays wasn't as harsh as it could have been had we been flying or in a more critical phase of UPT. We squeezed 2 extra days of classes into this week's schedule becase of what we missed last week; thankfully we didn't have to use Saturday as an extra day...otherwise I wouldn't be updating this!!
Monday and Tuesday were mostly spent in the Aerospace Physiology classroom. We are only authorized to learn 6 hours of testable material each day, but I think for the most part we were able to fly through the lessons fast enough that we met our time limit, and still got caught up after losing 2 days to snow. After spending the days learning about how the flight environment affects our body and mind, we would go to the Simulator building where the Computer Aided Instruction lab (CAI lab) is located for some online courses. CAIs are used in the Academic phase of pilot training in lieu of having to have instructors teach every single lesson in Phase I. That way the instructors can spend more of their time teaching simulators rather than having to teach us basic principles of flying that we can learn on our own. Most of the material so far has been fairly simple...mainly an intro to the systems on board the T-6. By the end of our 6 week Academic phase, we will have learned and been tested on every single system inside and outside the T-6. Last week we learned a little bit about the primary and emergency hydraulic systems and how they integrate with the flight control systems which allow us to maneuver the airplane on the ground and in the air.
A few guys in the class ahead of me gave me some ideas on how to study for these CAIs and Academics in general. Each night after I get home from work, I'll usually nuke some frozen food in the microwave I cooked over the weekend (which saves a ton of time from having to cook the food during the week and then wash dishes, etc.), then read the next day's CAI material out of the Dash 1 (the T-6's flight manual which has everything you ever wanted to know about the plane), and I'll read the printed out version of the slides they gave us during pubs issue. When I get to the lab the next evening, I'll read the slides on the computer, which was exactly what I read the night before. That will be the second exposure I have to the material. The third exposure I'll have to the material comes during the review sessions the instructor gives us the night before the tests. I'll probably study most of it after the review session, giving me 4 exposures to the material before I test on it. We'll see if it works, but everyone I've talked to seems to like the strategy.
Wednesday we spent time in the Altitude Chamber doing exactly what we did freshman year at the Academy. We pre-breathed 100% Oxygen for 30 minutes before they decompressed the chamber to simulate what the air feels like at 25,000 feet above sea level (MSL). Once at 25K MSL, we took ourselves off oxygen to find out what our own personal symptoms of hypoxia feel like. Each person may react to hypoxia slighty different from each other, but most of the symptoms are similar. I personally started feeling a little light-headed, blurred vision, and slowed motor skills before I decided enough was enough and it was time to get back on oxygen. The test was to see if you were smart enough to get back on oxygen while feeling those symptoms. If you're in a single-seat jet and start feeling those symptoms without acting on it, there's a good chance you'll lose consciousness and crash unless you get yourself on oxygen. It's easy to do as long as you don't wait too long before acting on it.
Wednesday afternoon, we practiced strap-in and egress procedures in T-6 seat trainers. We found out there's a lot that goes into strapping into an ejection seat. I have some pics and video below that were taken of me going through bailout procedures. There are two ways to egress the T-6. If you're on the ground, you can try to undo all your straps, buckles, comm chords, oxygen hoses, emergency oxygen hose, G-suit hose, and blow your canopy (and I do mean blow it up with the detonation material imbedded within the canopy glass) and jump out, or you can just pull your ejection handle. The seat is rated to where you can eject out of the plane even if you're not moving on the ground. I practiced both...definitely will be needing more practice trying to get out faster!! It took me probably about 2 minutes to go through all the procedures and undo all the harness fittings to get out of the plane while my instructor was "burning up" in the back. haha, yeah....
Thursday morning, we drove out to the flightline and learned how to shoot off pencil size flare guns and ground flares. Overall, it was a pretty good time, but the 20 degree weather at 0600 made it a little miserable. Thursday afternoon we took the fighter aircrew conditioning test, mandatory for all UPT students to take, but you only need to pass it if you want to track into T-38s. I was a little concerned going into it because the test focuses on both strength and endurance. I'm mostly an endurance athelete...not really a Hulk Hogan strength and conditioning guy. But I worked on the exercises a lot in the past several months, and the test proved easier than we thought it would be. The graders were especially generous to us, which probably was the biggest advantage we all shared. There are 5 strength exercises and 3 endurance exercises we had to perform. The strength exercises were on 5 cybex machines: arm curl, bench press, lat pull-downs, leg press, and leg curls. Each exercise was to be performed slowly (6 seconds per rep), and is at a particular percentage of body weight. The 3 endurance exercises were a minute of continuous push-ups, 1 min continuous crunches, and another leg press exercise at your own weight. I came close to getting a max score on the test, but I came up short on the leg press endurance test, which was by far the hardest event for all of us. For more info on the test and how to prepare for it, go to baseops.net and search for "FACT test". Work hard to prepare for it, but don't be too worried about it...it's not as hard as you might think.
Friday was a short day, just a few final aersopace phys classes. Next week will be the first full week of systems CAIs. Not sure if we have a test, but I wouldn't be surprised. This weekend will be spent studying more boldface/ops limits, checklists, and systems.
Ejection seat trainer