Sunday, October 27, 2013

Weeks 29 & 30: The Fuge

I wanted to delay posting last week since we had a pretty short week, coupled with the fact that last Sunday my classmates and I were traveling down to San Antonio for centrifuge training, so we stayed pretty busy.

After a short, four-day week due to Columbus Day, there wasn't much to tell. We've just been going through Applied Aerodynamics academics, which have been pretty low-threat. I had one sim that week as well, which was good. It was the first one I got to actually do stuff while flying, instead of simply running through checklists and switches.

The weekend rolled around and we had already prepped the travel plans for our trip down to Texas. Sunday morning we all met up on base and hopped in a shuttle to drive down to Oklahoma City for the flight to San Antonio. It was actually a cool day. We hung out at the airport, grabbed some breakfast, and then had a short layover in Houston. After hopping over to San Antonio, we split ways temporarily and headed to two different car rental places. My two passengers and I got a sweet VW Golf. Probably the coolest car ever. No seriously.

We drove over to our luxurious hotel (La Quinta) and dropped off our bags. Then it was a night out on the river walk, though we had to not drink anything to keep ourselves from getting dehydrated the next day. So it was waters and Arnold Palmers that night. We did have some good food throughout the day and got to check out the Alamo.

Then, the fuge. On Monday we drove down to Brooks AFB and went to the sketchy-looking buildings that housed the centrifuge. After getting refreshed on our AGSM techniques and learning about some of the do's and don't's of the fuge, we got all set up in a break room with windows showing the spinning contraption.

Our SRO went first, followed by alphabetic order. I was third to last, so I got to see a good amount go before me. It looked... painful. And it was. Basically we started out with a gradual increase in g-loading until we lost our peripheral vision. This gives you your resting g tolerance. I had a 4.4 resting tolerance, not the greatest but pretty average. The highest of our group was 6.3.

Then we started with the profiles. First there's 4 g's for 15 seconds. Not too bad, and I didn't lose any vision. Next up was 5 g's for 30 seconds. Once again, 5 g's isn't too bad momentarily, but for 30 seconds you really start to get tired, straining your lower body and only breathing every 3 seconds. Still I did fine and had no vision loss. Next up was the big one, 7.5 for 15 seconds. I definitely did lose some light; I started to bear down my upper body instead of focusing on straining my legs. So some definite room for improvement, but I ended up alright.

Lastly there's a profile called SACM, where you are pretending to chase an enemy aircraft and you're pulling g's to do so. So it's 7 g's for 10 seconds, 6 for 5, 5 for 5, and then 7 for 10.  Overall this was tiring, but you do get quick rests in between each pull. I finished the fuge profiles and they stopped spinning me. The hatch opened on my right and I struggled out. It felt like I had just run 10 miles and I was wobbling as I walked back to the break room. My flight suit was covered in sweat and I felt awful. It really sucked. So I sipped on some gatorade and watched the last two people go. We got debriefed on our performance (they take videos of the whole thing happening) and got our disc with the videos on it. We also got little morale patches (which we can't wear anymore...) that said GLOC with the word crossed out. G-induced loss of consciousness is what it stands for, and no one passed out so that was good.

Monday night we went hard. I'll leave it at that (heh heh).

Tuesday we recovered with some breakfast at Denny's and headed back to the airport to return to good old Enid. This week was pretty boring, I didn't sim at all, so I'm not opted to fly yet. But the first dollar rides of class 14-08 will be tomorrow, so that's pretty awesome. Can't wait to fly.

Tune in next week, I'll have my first flight in the T-38 to describe!

~ Dakota

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Week Twenty-Eight: Systems and Sims

Hello again,

Well, things have been going pretty well, really we've just been keeping busy with lots of studying, systems classes, and a couple sims.

I forgot to mention last week that we took a quick visit back to Aerospace Physiology, where we went through egress training once again. The 38 is different from the T-6 in its seat, so we had to learn the new connections, methods, and all that kind of stuff. One big difference is that now we will be wearing our own parachutes, which connect to the seat and also double as a back cushion of sorts. The seat (like the jet) is about 50-60 years old, and its capabilities are not near as good as the Martin-Baker seat in the T-6. The ejection envelope is a bit smaller, which means that below certain airspeeds the seat won't save you. We'll be the last flight with this seat; they're upgrading the 38s with brand new Martin-Baker seats, but only after we and also 14-09 have started Phase III.

Sims have been pretty low-threat, really it's just switching switches and doing checklists so far. But soon enough we'll be moving into the Transition block of training. Transition is essentially Contact, and is so named because we are moving into a new aircraft. The numbers and some policies are different, but much of what we did in the prior phase will help with 38s. They're just so much faster and there's a lot more at risk.

There are only five tests in 38s, which is kind of nice. But there is a lot more on each test. Like the systems test: after a two weeks of academics we had our test, so all of that material was testable. I only missed one, so that was good.

I'm running out of things to say quick here, really there won't be much to say until we start flying. We go to the centrifuge this Sunday, so that's a quick hop on commercial air down to San Antonio. Monday will be the big day, we have a 7.5 g profile to get through, so I've been getting up for that.

I promise the posts will quickly get more exciting, it's just now we don't do too much in T-38-landia besides study, CAIs, and sims. So it's not the most exhilarating of stuff right now. But soon.

Hope all is well and if you're still reading this far, I commend you. Take it easy!

~ Dakota

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week Twenty-Seven: 12-Hour Days...

Well, it's been a long week! I am just updating quickly tonight, since it's late and I need to catch some sleep.

The first week in T-38s went pretty well, though it has been a little rough based solely on the amount of time we spend at work each day. We are on formal release, which if you remember from T-6s means that we can't leave until they let us go. And in 38s they are much more strict on all fronts, so we're pretty much stuck at work for our entire 12-hour duty day. Last week was an early show week, so it was 0630 to 1830 (or thereabouts) every day.

What do we do the whole time? Well we are doing academics (CAIs again! Hooray) but those only go for so long. The rest of the time we're in our flight room studying the myriad topics that have to do with the 38. We are also pretty heavy into Systems now, and just like before, they go very in-depth.

Overall, I'm enjoying it though. The other guys (and gal) who went 38s are pretty cool, and we get along well. It is also sweet to be learning this aircraft, and knowing that in just a couple of weeks we'll be heading out to the flight line to fly.

It's kind of odd to feel like we don't know anything again. At least at the end of T-6s we were pretty comfortable with the way things went. Mostly this is evident in our lack of knowledge on how ground ops will work, as well as the in-flight checks we'll be doing. This is because we haven't actually sat in a cockpit yet, but we are now opted for the very first "switchology" sims so we'll get more acquainted with the dials and buttons here shortly. The verbiage is also very different, and of course we'll have to say and do everything according to the 25th FTS's way of operating.

That's it, like I said, this is a short post! Take it easy.

~ Dakota