Sunday, February 23, 2014

Weeks 43, 44, 45, & 46: It's Been Awhile

Well, it has been a long time since I updated this.

A lot has happened in between now and my last post, but overall things have been pretty good. We started up with formation, and we've been going pretty strong into it despite the fact that we still had to complete our instrument check rides. So I ended up switching back and forth between form rides and I rides, about three at a time until there were no more instrument rides. This spanned the entire four weeks, we had about a week and a half of crappy weather before things starting looking pretty nice outside.

Formation is pretty sweet, it's a bit more difficult due to the higher speeds we're going, which makes flying in close formation very pitch-sensitive. It's a lot of fun though, and I've definitely been enjoying it. Overall you're held to a much higher standard and they expect perfect radio communication in addition to better flying skills. Essentially in the first couple blocks of formation, we do everything we did in T-6s with a couple of changes. These couple of flights are known as baby form, and once we solo, we then start up with tactical formation, which is how the fighter world actually flies formation for combat. So that will be cool to learn.

While doing formation, I also got closer to my instrument/navigation check by doing out-and-backs. These went pretty well, and I went to airports I hadn't seen yet, just to have exposure to each of the possible check ride profiles we can get. After the last one, we can throw darts for which one we'll get. I ended up throwing profile 1, which includes a VFR portion, an ILS, a localizer, and using ground-based navigation aids. I also threw Amarillo as my airport. This was a day prior to the check ride, so I got plenty of time to prep. The big day rolled around and I did my final preparations and planning, then briefed up the sortie with my IP.

We flew out to Amarillo, and despite a few errors initially, I calmed down and flew pretty well. One big thing that happened was we encountered some unexpected icing in the clouds. The forecast said that icing would only go up to 20,000 feet AGL (above ground level) so we were flying at 24,000 feet. Despite that, we still got some icing, which my IP was really mad at himself for letting us level off in. I was under the hood in the rear cockpit, so I couldn't see anything anyway. We continued to Amarillo and I shot my two approaches (one better than the other), and we landed after some normal patterns my IP flew. We shut down, did the forms and went inside to eat, while my IP called the supervisor back at Vance and told him what had happened.

Due to the icing we got, we had to cancel the second sortie. The engines could have possibly gotten some of the icing, and they would have to be inspected by maintenance. So unfortunately we would be driving back to Enid, which is a good six hours away. Fortunately, we could count the check ride as complete and I hadn't done anything to mess it up so far. So it would come down to the ground evaluation, which would be accomplished in the car on the way back. So it was a bit awkward, but overall not too bad.

I ended up doing alright, and he told me my grade which was an E overall with only four downgrades. So I was pretty happy about that, plus that fact that the rest of the car ride wouldn't be as awkward. We ended up talking about his career and flying the A-10, which was pretty cool to hear.

That's about it. Now I only have formation left, along with a couple of transition rides which are just for stall currency, low level rides, and one last night instrument ride. It's getting close now, assignment night is less than 2 months away and it's crazy to think about.

Hope your month was an awesome one, and you enjoyed it. Thanks for tuning in, even though I haven't written in a long time!

~ Dakota