Sunday, May 12, 2013

Week Six: How About This Weather?

Happy Mother's Day everyone, hope your weekend has been a good one like mine has.

This week started out with the Contact review session and exam later in the day. Overall no real surprises on the test, and I nabbed another 100%. It mainly dealt with energy management throughout flight and also had a lot to do with stalls and spins. Energy management is using the energy your aircraft already has to your advantage by trading altitude for airspeed and vice versa. For example if your altitude is really high, you can trade that for airspeed by descending rapidly. Likewise, if you're traveling really fast, you can bleed off airspeed and climb to gain altitude.

We also had our second walkaround of an actual T-6, but this time the focus was doing an exterior inspection. This is something that's done before every flight, and is a quick and dirty check of all the control surfaces, mechanisms, and general condition of the jet. While there are a ton of checklist items to complete on this, it's expected to have it done as quickly as possible. So it will take some getting used to, but eventually we'll have it down and know what to look for. It's mostly a redundant system to ensure the plane is safe; the crew chief (an enlistedman who actually "owns" the jet) is responsible for ensuring it's in good condition. But as the "renter" of the plane, it's important to inspect it for bumps and scratches, just like you would with a rental car (hah).

We had just the one sim ride this week. It was in an OFT again (one of the spherical chambers) and was much more intensive than any of the others so far. No EPs this time, just normal procedures. Which aren't easy, at all. There's quite a bit to do: checklists, radio calls, navigation, oh and flying your airspeed and altitude. It can add up, but practice will make it easier. I'm sure I'll be very overwhelmed on my initial rides. By the way, the traffic pattern speed for this plane is 200 knots! That's 230 mph, all while getting ready to land! Final approach airspeed is 105 knots (about 120 mph) which is crazy to me. I guess I've only flown in small planes and that's why it seems that way. The max speed of the DA20 was about 120 knots haha! Now I'll be on final approach just below that.

Speaking of which! We start this upcoming week! I'm pretty excited for it but nervous as well. There's something called the 15 Day Program that's not a very fun part of UPT. More on that later...

We also began studying weather this week, which is a MUCH more complex series of academics. It's important to know weather cycles and what each type of front does and what hazards are there to avoid, but there is quite a bit of knowledge jammed into a little crash course. Even grazing the surface of weather, there was still some trouble setting it all straight. This is typically one of the most-failed exams in UPT. So I was studying quite a bit, and taking extensive notes. Did you know that weather is not your friend while flying? And that it just wants to kill you, basically? Yeah. Haha.

Seriously though, there are many hazards to keep an eye out for. The ideal would be flying in clear skies, minimal winds, and no clouds in sight. As they say in the aviation/parachuting world: "Blue skies." We also learned how to read METARs and TAFs, which are weather reporting systems used by the military. I'll write one down for you and see if you can interpret it.

METAR KEND 051853Z 04011KT 1/2SM VCTS SN FZFG BKN003 OVC010 M02/M02 A3006

Makes tons of sense right? Haha. It's actually not that bad, once you know what to look for. The above says this report is a METAR (current weather) for Vance AFB on the 5th day of the month at 1853 Greenwich Mean Time (Zulu time, standard in aviation). Winds are blowing from 040º (northeast) at 11 knots. Visibility is 1/2 statute miles. Thunderstorms in the vicinity, moderate snow, and freezing fog. Clouds broken at 300 feet, overcast at 1000 feet. Temperature is -2 ºC, dew point is -2 ºC. Altimeter set to 30.06 inches of mercury. So these would be very poor flying conditions.

We ended the week with the Weather exam. I was pretty confident going in, but a bit nervous as well. It proved to be the toughest of the tests so far, but I still passed, missing 3. I should've been able to get those questions right, they were pretty easy... but I at least got the harder ones all right.

As far as the work week goes, that was about it. I also worked through an... issue, I guess you could call it this week and last week. In one of the very first weeks, back in aerospace physiology my G-suit went missing. The reason I didn't notice was because I still HAD a G-suit, it just wasn't mine. I had apparently grabbed a training G-suit that belongs to the Aerospace Physiology Unit (APU). So for all these sims I've been having, I've worn this "borrowed" G-suit. Well eventually I noticed and brought it to the attention of Life Support and the APU. And of course, everyone kind of freaked out. These things cost about $860 bucks... So I began searching everywhere I could think to look. It would make sense for it to be at the APU right? Well it wasn't. It wasn't anywhere, and I was at a loss for where it could actually be. No clue.

Well in a last-ditch effort I sent an email to my classmates about it, and unexpectedly got a call from one of my buddies. He said his G-suit hadn't been fitting him right and that he remembers vaguely grabbing one that wasn't near his stuff. So I'm hoping that it's actually mine! If so, that spares me a lot of trouble, though my friend will now have to deal with what I've been going through.

So we'll see... Haha, not an ideal situation for anyone.

Oh... and we also had our first "casualty" of UPT. No one was hurt or anything, but my friend from prep school, Matt, got appendicitis this week and had to go to the hospital. Relatively routine, but now he's been forced to wash back a couple of classes. Being so close to flying (three days!) he is physically unable to do it, so they've pushed him back. Not a huge deal, but still sad to lose one of our classmates, especially one from NWP.

That's about it, sorry to end on a sad note. Uhhh.... happy stuff... hmm. I closed out my donut debt this week! Got some pretty fancy special frosting design ones and they were gobbled up. So that's cool I guess.

Yeah, I know. Pretty awesome story there.


~ Dakota

1 comment:

  1. Donut debt, check!! Hope you got your suit back too. Excited for you to fly and start the 15 day program.. Love you and Be Safe! Mom