Monday, June 24, 2013

Week Twelve: Soloed! ...with mishap (heh heh)

So this week was a pretty good one, I'd say. Overall that is, there were definitely some downsides to it, but the big picture was positive. Also this is a very picture-intensive post!

As you can guess from the title I soloed the T-6 this week! It was a pretty awesome experience, when you think about the magnitude of it. Basically I was given permission to take a $4.6 million dollar aircraft up in the air and fly around alone! Pretty amazing. It was so much quieter without an IP in the back seat, but along with that comes the knowledge that your survival depends upon YOUR actions and decisions. Pretty sobering, but overall pretty sweet.

IP's out!
Not a bad day job
Prop's spinning, chocks out

Now there was a mishap as well... and it was my fault. I'm sad to say that my solo didn't go as well as I would have liked. I was approaching the end of my sortie and had just taken off from my last touch and go before I would full stop. Up until this point I had not been getting "closed" which is essentially a short cut in the traffic pattern to turn right around after taking off, flying the length of the runway, and landing in a short amount of time. This is the ideal. Otherwise, we have to fly a large outside pattern which takes up a considerably longer amount of time. So I kept requesting closed but I never got it. So I was getting a little peeved. I had gone around the box about 6 or 7 times by the time I got fed up and decided to just land and call it a day. Well on my last takeoff, I was a little more worried about getting my closed request approved than I should have been, and it led to me forgetting to raise the flaps on my wings. I raised the gear, no problem there, but for some terrible reason I guess I thought I got the flaps when I hadn't.

So I was flying along at normal traffic pattern speed (200 knots) thinking everything's good, when I notice a weird feeling in the atmosphere of the plane. It was a slight rumbling, both a noise and a motion, and I quickly looked down to see what was wrong. That was when I saw that my flaps were still in the takeoff position. A few choice words were shouted... and I quickly put them into the up position. By that time it was too late: I had oversped my flaps by a whopping 50 knots... So I did the right thing and requested the high pattern and a chase ship to check out my aircraft to ensure there was no damage.

Once you request the high pattern, pretty much everyone in the area knows you did something wrong, so I felt pretty crappy throughout the rest of the flight. But, as the aircraft commander, I had to see it out to landing. It's not like someone's just going to magically transport into the back seat and solve all my problems. So I went through chase aircraft procedures in my In-Flight Guide, and soon enough another aircraft was joining up on me to check my wings out. It was actually pretty cool to see them that close! They were about 30 feet off my wingtip, and soon enough when we start formation training, our wingmen will be even closer. Very cool to see.

Anyway he told me my plane looked alright, so from that point on I flew at about 130 knots with my gear and flaps down and landed via a straight-in approach. Everything went fine.

On the ground, my buddies all were waiting for me. As I strode back in to them laughing at me and taking pictures, I couldn't help but crack up as well. I had screwed up pretty big time... but the important thing was that the plane was landed and I was on the ground safely. That's an important thing to remember; if nothing else went right, I'm alive.

So they escorted me to the solo tank, and proceeded to dunk me, all the while spouting off things like, "Whoa there! Going a little fast!" and "What are your flaps set to?" and stuff like that. Yeah, I've earned some ridicule.

Everything removed for the solo tank. Like the socks?

On Friday I was nominated for the bone. After some pretty embarrassing remarks from my buddies, I was voted to it unanimously. So I've been carrying around this giant freaking dog bone which you can see in the above pictures.

This weekend my mom flew a trip to Tulsa, so I drove over to see her! It was the first time I'd seen family since February, so it was pretty awesome. We hung out for the day, but she had to leave early the next day, so I headed back to Enid and had a good time the remainder of my weekend.

~ Dakota

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