Monday, April 8, 2013

Casual Status and Week One: Physiology

Hey everyone! I decided to start a blog to document my experiences to keep you in the loop as I go through this incredible journey I have in store. Updates will be weekly, and will fall on the weekend when I have the most time to complete them.

JSUPT: Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training. Sounds impressive, eh? This one-year program is the Air Force's way of producing the best pilots in the world, and it is no walk in the park as expected. I'm in for a very rough year, though not without some awesome experiences and great friends made along the way!

I will be flying the Beechcraft T-6A Texan II, the Air Force's initial flight trainer. Contrary to the tiny, slow planes I've been able to fly before, this baby has a jet engine with a propeller stuck on the front, dual ejection seats, a cruising speed of 320 mph, a flight range of over 1,000 miles, and the capability for aerobatics and up to 7 positive Gs (G-force units). Yeah. It's a sweet puppy and I can't wait to be inside it, flipping around through the air. 

Four-ship formation of T-6s flying somewhere (not Oklahoma because it's flaaaaat here).

Saying hello in formation.

I'm going to learn what ALL of those little buttons and switches do...

Getting ready for takeoff!

My first month here went pretty well. I decided to live on base in the officers' dormitories for a couple different reasons, one of which is my commute to work is literally 30 seconds. Walking. At a slow pace. So that's nice, I won't have to worry about those morning commutes. Other reasons being I don't have to worry about space, since it's just me (the dorms are pretty small, though nice) and I don't have to bring stuff I'd normally have to every day (a lunch, workout clothes, etc) since it just stays in my place.

I didn't have much to do besides checking in with almost every base facility, so once that was done it was a good time to get acquainted with the booming metropolis of Enid, Oklahoma, get settled in at home, and relax with no responsibilities. Though I did have to "show up" for "work," I use those terms loosely because, well, I didn't do crap haha. It was more for accountability and then I just did my own thing throughout the day. I got my dorm all situated and decorated (diplomas, soccer scarves, etc) to make it feel a bit more like home and also spent a lot of time with friends. And honestly, I played a ridiculous amount of video games. You know, while I could and had time haha.

Anyway, that's enough of my casual status. Starting April 2, Class 14-08 (my class) of Vance Air Force Base began its UPT experience!

It all began last Tuesday, Day 1, when my classmates and I reported in for our first segment of training, Aerospace Physiology. We started getting a sense of what our days would be like, with classes starting early and going throughout the day, but overall it's been pretty cool and interesting. The stuff they teach you is extremely relevant and we will be seeing it throughout our flying careers.

Some of my favorite stuff so far has been egress training (how to eject!), figuring out breathing and talking in my oxygen mask (more difficult than it sounds!), and learning how to "A-gasm" as they say. The Anti-G Straining Maneuver, or AGSM, is how you fight the onset of G-forces in flight. When you pull back really hard on the stick in a plane, G-forces basically multiply your weight so that you're pushed down into your seat. If you pull enough Gs, your blood all runs to your legs, making you black out. And blacking out while traveling at 200 knots is not good. So you have to learn how to fight it, by flexing every muscle from your abs down (butt included) and breathing forcefully and quickly every three seconds. It looks really funny when you're just sitting in a chair practicing it, but it is a life-saving maneuver that we'll have to do in the air.

Smiling, if you couldn't tell. Oxygen tastes good.

Strapping into the ejection seat. You're attached to that thing by 7 different buckles, 3 hoses, and 1 cable.

Trying to remember what I forgot to do. Hint: it's the red tab that says "Remove Before Flight".

 Just another day at the office... sitting around like everyone else.

Except my chair will have rockets on the bottom. I'm pulling the ejection handle, by the way. Not just randomly grabbing my crotch haha.

On Day 2 we had our first exam. How's that for moving quickly!? You can only fail three, count 'em three, exams throughout all of pilot training. So it's a big deal. Fortunately I got 100% on that one and the next one as well, so everything's going alright. Studying is not a huge deal yet, but it will definitely get harder. Aerospace Physiology is said to be the "cushy" part of UPT. We have another test tomorrow, but I feel good about it.

Lastly, my classmates are all awesome. And that will seriously go a long way in enjoying this experience. We're around each other ALL THE TIME and will be for the next year. So it's good that we can mesh. We've had a couple parties already (only on Friday nights!) and we have a good crowd that look out for each other. Two of my classmates went to Northwestern Prep with me, 5+ years ago! Just goes to show that relationships you make last a lifetime.

That's about it for now! I'll be making another update as we finish this week. I leave you with a little joke.

A kid says to his dad, "When I grow up, I want to be a pilot!"
The dad smiles and looks at his son, saying, "I'm sorry, son, but you can't be both."

All the best,

~ Dakota


  1. I am applying to become an aerospace physiologist and was told that they attend JSUPT training in order to 'learn by doing'. Are there any in your class?

  2. From what I understood when we were in that phase of training, the physiologists took part in some flights in order to better understand the aircraft and its effect on the body. However, no, they don't actually take part in ENJJPT or JSUPT (SUPT if you're anywhere besides Sheppard or Vance), since if you're going through it, your AFSC is 92T0 (pilot). A couple of them have experience in the T-6 and/or T-38, as well as the centrifuge, but it's rear seat time as opposed to regular UPT students who are in the front seat. Hope that helps, and best of luck!