Saturday, March 13, 2010

Week 7

Monday and Tuesday was spent finishing our weather classes and reviewed all the lessons we learned up to this week. Monday afternoon I had my last simulator ride before I hit the flightline on Thursday. It's purpose was to go over all the traffic pattern procedures and radio calls I would encounter on my dollar ride (first T-6 flight). The sim itself was in an OFT, the highest quality sim we have. It's a lot like flying in a planetarium theater, just on a smaller scale with a T-6 cockpit in the middle of it. The comical part of this sim was during the debrief when the IP said I should get a nose job so my oxygen mask would fit better! He was a very honest IP! He also proceeded to say I say "Yes Sir" and "Uh, huh" too often and it's annoying! Although this seems rather rude, I'm glad he was trying to help me. He gave me high marks for the sim, saying it was the best sortie of that kind he's seen from a student this far along in training. I think he was just making up for the previous two comments he made, haha.

The exciting part of the week came after we took our weather test on Wednesday. We ended the test, enjoyed a quick lunch, then went straight to the flightline for orientation. 14 of us went to the 8th Flying Training Squadron's C flight (myself included), and 15 of us went to D flight. In C flight, we learned about the squadron's policies for flying as well as some administrivia and how to build a formal brief. A formal brief is a presentation we have to give every morning. It includes local weather observations, forcasts, status of operations, and how the weather affects how we will fly the sorties. Sounds simple, but we only have 10 minutes every morning to build it, set up the room, and know what to say in front of all the IPs. All 14 of us have specific jobs related to building the brief and setting up the room. My job is to print off ops notes for the flight commander to brief to us, convert the zulu (UTC) times in the weather forcasts and observations to local time, and to build a slide that shows which direction to crab the aircraft to compensate for the winds at different altitudes at different points in the pattern. After doing this a couple times, I feel we've gotten the hang of it. Thursday's formal brief in the morning was a little rough, but they let us try again in the afternoon.

Thursday morning after the formal brief, we met with our instructors for dollar rides. I met with my IP and we talked for about an hour and a half, suited up in our G-suits and Parachute harnesses, then rode a bus to the jet. We did a quick walk-around the plane, then hopped up on the wing and strapped in. I went through all the preflight and start-up procedures just like I had done in the sims many times before. Everything worked well, although I was slower getting the thing started than I ultimately need to be. The IP flew the take-off because the field was under IFR conditions. We lined up on the runway, turned off the nosewheel steering, and pushed up the power. As soon as the engine spooled up, I was actually pushed back in the seat and we were off. Once we climbed past about 5,000 feet, we broke through the cloud layer and it was a bright sun that greeted us. Unfortunately, our auxilary field known as "Dogface" was closed due to the weather, so we were stuck doing basic aircraft control in the practice area above the clouds. He let me take the aircraft and do some steep turns. After about 30 minutes, I wasn't feeling so hot, so we came back to Vance on an instrument approach and landed after 1.1 hours. Thursday afternoon, we had a stand-up and shotgun questions. Stand-up is when the whole flight, students and IPs alike, sit in the flight room and listen to the flight commander describe an in-flight emergency situation. After the description of the situation, the flight commander will randomly select one of us to analyze the situation and handle the emergency as if we were flying. It's designed to put pressure on us to simulate the stress we will likely feel in the aircraft. "Shotgun" is another high pressure situation when every student is stood up and asked random general knowledge questions. Again, it's designed to make us think on our feet under pressure situations. If we can't answer general questions when we're at 1G and 0 knots, there's not a chance we can handle an emergency 2 miles above the ground at 200 knots while pulling 4 G's inverted. Flying is an inherently dangerous business, which is why they try to make pilot training such a stressful environment.

Friday, my airsickness got a lot worse. I was still just passively sick, meaning I didn't fill up any vomit bags. However, we almost had to cut the flight's profile short towards the end. The IP had control of the airplane and pulled about 4Gs. I've pulled 4 Gs in an airplane before and had no problems, even without a Gsuit. But for whatever reason, my airsickness really got to me and I almost Glocked. My vision went away and my whole body felt tingly. I still knew what was going on and could hear my IP talking, but I was probably only a few seconds from passing out. I couldn't tense any muscles in my lower body to help keep the blood in my head because I was too sick. Part of it is probably dehydration, part of it may be diet. Whatever the case, hopefully Monday will be a little better.


  1. Chris! It's Tyler Clark...I've enjoyed reading your blog so far and am looking forward to more posts about your experiences. I just started this past Friday and I am excited/anxious/nervous about the whole thing. I hope you can overcome the passive sickness and I'm sure you'll get the plane of your dreams. Keep on kickin' bro!

  2. Hey Tyler! Thanks for the support man. You just started Pilot training on Friday or you just started reading on Friday? I'm excited/anxious/nervous about this too! Let me know how life's been treatin you sometime.