Sunday, July 28, 2013

Week Seventeen: On to Formation!

Well! This week has been pretty interesting and atypical, for a lot of reasons.

The first is that I did not fly once this week. Yup, you heard me. No flights. I did have a couple sims, but the ones following them were quickly dropped from my schedule. It turns out that sequestration is hitting us in a big way, and I don't just say that because the Commissary is closed on Monday and Tuesday and I can't go get my favorite sandwich from there on those days (though that IS pretty annoying).

Nope, because the military is forced to deal with extreme budget cuts, we've had to furlough our civilians. So one day a week, every civilian on base doesn't get to go to work which means they don't get to be paid for that day. This includes the sim instructors, so we are now in the midst of a "sim stop" due to the decreased number of sims that can be done.

So instead of having us wait around forever trying to get opted for our instrument flights, our IPs have decided to do something different: some of us have been moved on to the Formation block!

Six people (me included) from D Flight are going to be flying Form next, while the other six will continue on in Instruments. One of our guys is still in Contact, but he just got out of the Commander's Review Process. Oh! I don't think I posted this yet, but we had a successful return to Pilot Training in D Flight! One of our own had struggled and "flunked out" but the Squadron, Group, and Wing Commanders decided to keep him. So he's back flying now, in the advanced aero phase of Contact. Which is awesome for him, I'm really glad he's staying.

So for the past week I've started studying Formation stuff. There aren't too many numbers and that kind of thing. It will mostly be "hands." Meaning seat-of-the-pants, ability to fly the plane 10 feet from the wingtip of another plane.

I'm stoked.

We've had to kind of rush through the Form academics, because without them, a test (of course), and one sim ride, we won't be opted to fly. Get this: on Tuesday I will have my Form test, one last Form CAI, a Form sim, and my first Form ride. Sweet. No seriously, I'm looking forward to it!

More updates to come! Stay classy.

~ Dakota

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Weeks 15 & 16: Final Contact & I-Sims

Hey there,

So I definitely took a week off from the blog! It's been a bit crazy, and the weekends seem to just fly by leaving me with little time. But I have a bit now to jot down what's happened over the past two weeks.

Last week I flew a lot of contact sorties, getting better at advanced aerobatics and preparing for my check ride. The coolest part was definitely my area solo! This was my fourth solo in the T-6, so it wasn't so nerve-wracking as before. However, this time instead of just hanging out in the Vance pattern, I took the plane out to the working areas and practiced my aerobatics all alone! It was a pretty amazing time. The whole way out there I was thinking "I'm just flying away, by myself. I can do whatever I want!" However, we are always being 'watched' by the onboard computer system that monitors all the systems. You may know this as the 'black box'. So if they wanted they could download the info it records and plot out my flight on a computer.

Anyway, I got out to the MOA and started practicing my aero. It was actually a very good opportunity to practice because there's no one in the back seat judging you / talking, so it's extremely peaceful and there's not a lot of pressure. After practicing every maneuver at least twice, I felt pretty good about them. I then started to play around a bit (staying within limits of course)! I lined myself up on one extreme side of my area and pointed diagonally to the other end to give myself as much space as possible. I then pitched upward, went to MAX power and started doing as many aileron rolls as possible. I got to 6 haha. Which doesn't sound like that much, but you start to get a little disoriented constantly rolling like that! Not to mention, diving toward the earth. I then tried inverted flight, just to see what it felt like. Imagine hanging upside down while strapped into a chair. That's about it. Oh, and the dirt and stuff on the floor of the cockpit all falls upward to the canopy haha. I took the rest of the flight easy, and pretended to shoot at a small town underneath me (the trigger in this plane doesn't do anything, not like we have munitions anyway). After pulling G's in nearly every maneuver, I started feeling a little out of it, so I decided to head back to base. Everything else went well.

That was the big part of that first week. In the next, we actually got weather cancelled twice! Which is crazy because the weather has been extremely hot, but good otherwise. I did get up for my to-check and Final Contact check ride. I seriously thought I failed it, but it turned out alright and I got a Good overall.

Now, it's weird to think, but I'm done with that phase of training! We've moved on to instruments now and it's very different. I've been simming only, because you have to have a certain number of sims done before you can actually fly an instrument ride. As a flight we killed final contact, with a 92% pass rate! Much better than our 62% pass rate on the midphase check haha.

We also had our solo party, which was pretty fun. A couple guys in our class have a pool at their house so we went there, had plenty of food and drinks, and games and such. The key part of it is the cutting of the ties, where the IP that soloed us out gives a little speech about our solo (remember my flap overspeed?) and cuts off a portion of the tie we're wearing. The more they take, the worse you did. After making fun of my flap overspeed, he took about half of it. Then you take a shot of Jeremiah Weed, which is a nasty whiskey (and the drink of fighter pilots). My guy was Mormon however, so he drank jalapeƱo juice haha.

That's about it for these past two weeks. Oh I also moved off base into an apartment! So that was kinda sucky, but now that I'm in it, it's so much better than my dorm.

Anyway, take care and I hope all is well. To my faithful readers, thanks!

~ Dakota

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Week Fourteen: Short Week, Check Ride, 4th

So I definitely am getting later and later on these posts... And they're becoming shorter and shorter.

This week was interesting. First it was extremely short, only a three-day week, for Fourth of July. I had my first check ride on Monday, which I flew pretty well on and the ground evaluation went well. I ended up hooking because of one minor error in judgment (I won't call it a mistake because I meant to do it) and ended up on what's called an 88 ride. I passed that just fine, and then started advanced aerobatics on Wednesday.

The weekend has been incredible. It was a really good chance to relax, hang with friends, and not worry about flying. Four days off were just what I needed.

Now it's back to the grind, but I'm looking forward to my area solo (where we take the plane all ourselves out to the areas and do aerobatics and such!) and my move. I decided to move off base into a small apartment, though it's still bigger than my dorm. Plus it is an a good location, still close to the base, and will have air conditioning. Seriously that's probably one of the biggest reasons I'm moving, my dorm feels like a freaking sauna, and even better it's back to be 100+ degrees outside...

That's about it. Shortest week and post to date :)

~ Dakota