Monday, June 30, 2008

No longer the baby class!

So today marked a big step in that after being on the flightline for six weeks 09-10 has joined us in the 37th making them the new 'baby' class of the squadron! It's great seeing them all running around, looking so lost, so scared,, I got a good number of friends in that class, so I just have to pick on them a bit. But a lot of them were getting there dollar rides today and I know that really is a fun and exciting time! Seems like so long ago that we were in the same place...but I guess it's really just been 6 weeks. Let me tell you, a LOT has happened in that time!

And a lot is happening right now! We are continuing our grueling pace this week. I literally spent the whole day after formal brief all the way up almost until release over in the sim building double-turning from an EP sim to another I-sim. Another step: that's my last EP sim besides the night-flight EP sim! So that's exciting, no more sims focused on everything going wrong in the plane that possibly ever could! In all reality, though, they are a great part of the program and really give you a good chance to experience things that would be too dangerous in the plane, and that in all reality you never want to have to experience in the first place! I don't know how many times I've ejected in the sim, I think it was 5 today alone!

The instrument sim was a tough one mentally. I like the instrument sims as it's like a game of sorts just using the instruments and flying the plane by them. But, it's a REALLY draining because you have to focus so hard. And in the brief today my instructor introduced so many things that it literally gave me a headache that lasted until I took some advil a few hours ago. It's just a lot of stuff. On top of that, I'm double turning 2 I-sims tomorrow and I've got to get all that I learned today memorized and down before those. Thankfully we're on the late week now as the first we have tomorrow is class at 0930, which is really a nice change of pace.

I was hoping to get my checkride done before the break but it looks like that's just not going to happen and I'll be checking now within a couple days after the break. So that's a wonderful thing to be looking forward to, yay!

On of the guys in our class today, Matt, asked to talk to me after we got out for the day. Turns out he's thinking about starting some sort of get-together for some of us in the class who would be interested and using the time in prayer for the class. It sounds like an awesome idea and I think the Lord could really use that. I know we could easily get about 4 or 5 of us to start out with, and who knows what the Lord will have after that. If nothing else it will be a great way for the believers in the class to get together once a week or so and really support one another in the Lord. We'd really like to reach out to the lost in our class, and will be anxiously waiting to see how the Lord will bring that about. So hopefully some time next week we'll start getting together and see where it goes from there. Please be in prayer for that; I know it can go a long way for those 'on the border' to see others really taking a stand for the Lord who they can relate to and rely on to support each other.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend summary

Had a good weekend, but way too short as always. It was actually quite nice this weekend, though, as this is the first one in about a month that I haven't had a huge test or checkride (or both) or anything of that nature hanging over my head. Friday night I just lazed about here and Ryan and I took our bikes into town and picked up some movies. We made it through one Friday night and then hit the hay.

Saturday I watched another movie and also did my usual saturday shopping. I also repainted the forks on my motorcycle which were pretty badly chipped from rocks and stuff, and were looking pretty bad after I'd scraped off an inspection sticker last weekend. I took a bunch of paper bags and tore and shaped them around all the parts next to the forks that I didn't want the paint to get on as it was a spray paint. It turned out pretty good, and certainly looks a lot better than it did, but if you look closely you can tell it's been repainted. In the future for something like that I'll definately be looking for something that I can paint on instead of spray on as I'd have a lot more control over that and I'm sure it would look better in the end, but this turned out all right. I also got a pretty good workout in. It had been over a week since i'd been sick and so busy, and I really didn't want to go, but I forced myself and am glad of it. However, my left arm tonight is just killing me; I think I may have overdone it after being out for a week plus. Oh well, it'll heal, and I'm planning on hitting the gym again tomorrow.

Today church was really good, with some great messages. I also got asked to open the morning service in prayer again. I don't know why, but it makes me nervous every time. When I give briefings or things like that in UPT, it's no big deal and I don't even think twice about it. But standing on the platform behind the pulpit...I guess it just seems more like hallowed ground, and in reality, I guess it is! Anyways, it's not somehting I'll ever take lightly. This evening after the service the teens had a fund raiser with hotdogs and burgers that I was able to stick around for. I ended up chatting with Bro. Frank and Sarah for quite a while afterwards and enjoyed that. Thankfully, after 3 early weeks in a row we don't have to report until after 8 tomorrow morning. I'm not flying tomorrow, but I am double turning sims, so it will still be a pretty busy day, and from the schedule it looks like we'll be there pretty late tomorrow. At this point I'm only 3 flights away from my final contact check, so I'm curious to see if they'll be getting me to that by Thursday or if it'll be after the break for the 4th. I'd kind of like to get it done beforehand while everything's fresh and then I don't have to worry about it at all; but I'll fine with it either way. I called up Mich and Luke and talked to Luke for a bit and it looks like they'll be around next weekend so I'm planning on spending the 4th with them. It sounds like Auntie will be coming in on Monday or Tuesday, but sadly it looks like I'm going to just miss her.

Oh, this was awesome: Miss Connie, (the pastor's wife) came over after the meal while I was chatting and handed me a bunch of cookies wrapped in foil. And yes, that is certainly awesome, but what i was getting at was what she said as she gave them to me. She said that I was looking skinnier than she'd last seen me and it looked like I'd lost weight and needed the cookies. :) Haha! So maybe all this forcing myself to hit the gym is slowing paying off! Looking back at my calendar for June I've been really consistent all month besides when I was sick, and that's probably the longest time I've ever been super consistent at working out. So if I can keep this up I know it'll pay off in the long run. I guess I'm just continually practicing and trying to grow in self-discipline--it's something I can always improve in! And speaking of discipline, it's going on 2230 so I'd better be heading to bed. I want to get up with plenty of time for a good breakfast and some review before going in tomorrow.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Have you considered...? And I'm 2 for 3!!

Wow, this week is finally over! I think I double turned almost every day this week, I had my first checkride, took the most failed test of the program, and was sick for the first half of the week. Wow...let's do that again!!

Today had a sortie first period and then another area solo 2nd period. The first sortie went pretty well, went down to Gunshy with Long and did some pattern work. My ELPs are actually coming along quite nicely now, though those were my weakest maneuver by far going into my checkride, so that's definately a plus. Then we went to a low area since all of the highs were taken and did some more work on my new aerobatic stuff. The barrel roll was giving me the most trouble, but I kept doing it until I finally started to get it right (about the 6th one!). At this point, though, we pretty much run our own training, so he sat back and just let me keep hacking at it until I felt more comfortable, which I really appreciated. And of course the whole time he kept giving me pointers and talking me through it and demonstrated it a couple of times as well.

Then we came back to Sunfish for a full stop landing. The winds were pretty squirrely today and I was really focused on the crosswind corections so that I ended up landing really flat and almost landed all three tires at the same time! And it was so funny because he didn't say anything about it until after we had taxiid back and parked, shutdown, and were walking away from the jet. Then he looked off into the distance and said "Well, that was interesting landing there..."
I chuckled and said "yeah, you mean that last one? It was a little flat"
And he sighed and said "'s Friday...and I didn't really feel like trying too hard to fix it for you." Then he paused for a second and said "Actually, I was more interested in seeing how it would turn out!"

Which reminds me of my landing yesterday with Miller. I flared a little too high that time, and he just let me try to work it out. Finally the aircraft stalled out and just dropped about 4 feet to the concrete. At the same time we impacted the runway I heard him in the back over my headset yell "Kerblam!" And as we rolled out down the runway he continued laughing and yelling "Take that, ground, take that!"

But, honestly, as long it's still safe I like the fact that they're to the point of letting us make these little mistakes and then talking about them later as I personally learn better by actually making the little mistakes. That way, I know what NOT to do the next time.

So, this afternoon I had my area solo. I went out to gunshy by myself, which was really cool, and got a good 4 patterns and landing in before a couple more non-solo flight came in and of course they wanted to practice straight-ins and ELPs like they should at Gunshy. So, I bugged out of the pattern then and to the areas. They put in the farthest back area by the most round-about way, but I finally made. I went through most of the area work before I got a call telling me to vacate that low block and climb into that area's high block. Which was pretty fun as up there I found this tiny little see-through wisp of a cloud-want-to-be that I entertained myself with for a good ten minutes by chasing it around the area.

Then, I came back home to sunfish for a full stop landing. My land was pretty decent, and then as I was slowing down I got a master caution light and aural tone. When I looked at my panel I had a TAD FAIL light. So I taxiid clear and on the way back to the chocks had a nice talk with Texan Ops letting them know what I had and that I planned to take it in to park. They just suggested that I leave the battery on when I shut down so that the maintainers could check the computer. Then I got to write it up and drop the book off again like my first solo. So far I'm now 2 for 3 on breaking planes when solo! That's not a bad record! At least this time it had nothing to do with anything that I did.

Then to finish off this wonderful week we had to attend an hour-long briefing about the prop-sleeve touchdown issue that's been occuring. It was a whole bunch of technical jargon that I ended up dozing through part of and fighting to keep my eyes open for the rest. That was fine, and the torture finally came to an end after an hour, or so I thought! Then they opened it up for questions. And here I am, already thinking, why do we need the details on any of this stuff? I don't fix the planes, I don't build them, and I'm certainly not the one negotiating the hundreds of millions of dollar deals to purchase them. I just fly them, and I already know what I need to do in the air if this occurs, so really, why do I care?!?

But then I thought, I'm in a room full of guys who all want to go home like me, so this should go by quickly. Boy was that naive! Instead for the next 30 minutes people proceeded to ask a million stupid questions; the answers to which would not affect them in any conceivable way, no matter what the answer given! For instance, one guy even asked what this company was going to do about the excess planes being produced right now and not shipped out, wouldn't they run out of storage space?? Oh my!
Ok, so tell me, WHY DO YOU CARE? Do you work for that company? Are you in any way associated with them or have you been given the task of storing their airplanes for them? No? Well then, are they parking the extra planes in your back yard? No!?! Then WHY DO YOU CARE?? And most importantly, WHY DO I CARE?--you are wasting my time and precious moments of my life that I will never get back again!

Then, my personal favorite: there was mister "Uh, yeah, would please go back to slide 17?" (out of like what felt like 100 slides) "Uh, yeah, have you considered...?"
Already I'm thinking, "ok, here we go, wow us budding Einstein. Because if they haven't figured it out yet I bet you have the answer!"
Mr. Have-You-Considered: "This slide shows that there was a spike in the aircraft production during that time there, and it looks like there were more touchdowns associated with those engines. Have you considered...dramatic pause!...that there might a correlation?" (insert Hallelujah Chorus here, all of our problems are solved!)

Now, here's where I wish I was the civilian giving the brief. What I would have said in response (note the heavy sarcasm):
"Huh, no way! Well I'll be! That's brilliant! Our highly paid team of experts who have been working on this for months, and who, oh by the way, not only designed the aircraft and parts in question, but also put together the very slide and graph you are looking at, hadn't realized that! Thank you so much for solving this problem for us!" You've got to be kidding me. Of course he answered it much more politely and said that yes (of course!!) they had noticed that.

Ugh, and that went on for a half hour longer. Awful. But somehow, a fitting ending to this week. One nice thing was that today was a taco day where one of our lucky flight-mates who got downgraded on GK or EPs in the checkride had to bring in tacos for everyone. Now that's good stuff!

Now let me ask you: Have you considered...? ;)

Have a good weekend one and all!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Check ride and solo #2

All right, so my check ride went really well, praise the Lord! But first, that morning I had to attend the formation that I had stupidly volunteered for. Officership 101: never ever volunteer for anything! Which, trust me, I'd learned at the academy but was a situation where it was going to reflect poorly on our class if no one volunteered so me and 2 other guys saved the day. We had to show up at 0730 for the change of command ceremony for our new wing commander. Of course, they didn't actually need any of us to be there until 0845!! So we stood around in the already-hot sun for over an hour and a half before even doing anything! Then they formed us up and we stood at attention and parade rest as bodies in a formation for over 45 minutes and through 2 different speeches. It was so hot that we were all just soaked with sweat by the time it was all over. Everybody else in the flight didn't even have to show up to the flight room until 0940, so they all got to sleep in! After the formation I went home and took a shower, and since I wasn't going to make the formal brief I just stayed home and studied for an hour or so before even going to the flight room. Once there I got my card prepared and then continued to study for the check ride.

Tuesday night Ryan Keith and I all took turns chairflying with one of the others playing the role of ATC, and critic/monitor. I also did a complete pubs check to make sure everything was current in the hundreds and hundreds of pages of pubs we are all! Then I reported for the ride and we briefed the mission up, which was pretty tame. Our jet was on the second sortie of the day, so it was a little hot but I thought we might be able to get it to start without motoring or external power. So we strapped in in the mid-day heat and shut the canopy. As luck would have it, one the five lousy hooks on the canopy refused to catch and I had to try over and over again with opening and closing the canopy a good 4 or 5 times before it would finally latch. Then, sure enough, we had a hot-start and shut the engine down; which means we then had to open the canopy again and request an external power cart. It took them almost 10 minutes to finally get the cart to us (and we're STILL sweating away) and then another couple minutes of running through the motoring procedure to cool down the engine. So, finally, I closed the canopy again, and sure enough, had to fiddle with that same latch again. By this time I could hardly see through my stinging eyes, and I was litterally dripping sweat onto my visor! We did get a good start that time and cranked up the ac. The rest of the ride went really well with nothing standing out, which was a good thing!

I actually got all my pattern work done on the first attempts, and then landed the plane. During our taxi back to park he took the aircraft and started throughing general questions at me! By that point my mind was so dead I couldn't even think straight and wasn't expecting anything at that point, so it took me a while to get my brain to spool back up to normal power. Finally we parked and then started the debrief inside. I actually only had to go through 1 EP and only a little bit more of general knowledge questioning. He then told me that he thought I'd had a really good ride and that I'm well on my way to a solid final-contact checkride as well (which may be as early as the middle of next week if the weather holds!!!). I ended up with a 5G, which is a really good score, although puts me in the middle of the pack in our flight as almost every one has performed really well. Right now we've got every one done with their checks and we had a final score of 10 passes and only 2 failures! Our sister flight is currently 50/50 and only 3/4 of the way through all of there checks, so we definitely had a strong showing!

After all of that, today I also had a weather test which is another of the 'most-failed' tests. Luckily with a bit of 'test taking skill' I only missed 3 again (seems to be my magic number) for a little under a 95%. This morning I flew with an IP for my first ride of this new block introducing all the advanced aerobatics, which are a lot of fun! They are quite draining, however, as the require a lot of focus and you pull a good number of Gs! I pulled over 5Gs on a number of occasions and almost 6Gs max at one point so I'm just wiped out! Anyways, that first flight went really well, and he told me that there was a huge difference for the better from my pre-check ride 2 days before. In fact, it was so solid that he gave me an 'excellent' overall grade, my first excellent overall for an actual flight (not sim)!! Then, I turned right around into my area solo for the 2nd go. I had passed all the new manuevers with a fair or better so I was allowed to go out and practice all of them on my own to my heart's content. I had a blast out there, with only 1 or 2 little scares...(the 6G pull having a little bit to do with a runaway dive coming out of one of the manuevers...) I then came back into the pattern about 55 minutes into the sortie and got a total of 4 landings in as well to finish it all off.

I had to go around on one of my attempted landings as a sudden crosswind and balloon scared me and I called it off. On the climb out the airspeed came up fast since I hadn't landed and was quite task-saturated. But I did remember the gear, though in that situation it was close!! My IP was actually in the RSU at the time, and it scared him enough that he made the same 'departure leg check gear flight' that I heard when I actually did overspeed the gear last time! Talk about an awful flash-back! So he was definately giving me a hard time earlier this afternoon for 'almost' doing the same thing again! But honestly, I had it under control this time, I totally did not forget the gear like last time, just waited to make sure I was clear of the ground first! :) But it was a really fun flight.

Tomorrow I'm scheduled to fly with an IP followed by another area solo just like today again; weather permitting of course. If all of that goes as planned, I will only have 3 more flights before my next check ride for final contact! So, I could potentially already be checking by next Wednesday, only 1 week after my mid-phase check. Life is so crazy fast right now! I am definitely looking forward to this weekend, I am so worn out. And being sick last weekend and most of this week did not help either. But, I can really see how the Lord had everything worked out so well ahead of time, I just had to trust in Him and he worked everything out perfectly in a way I could not have foreseen; just with the whole situation with being sick, some extra events that were thrown in last minute, and others that were slightly delayed, this week just worked out perfectly.

And I'm finishing up studying for tomorrow's EPQ right now. If I don't pass this one I'll go on PRO CAP(a bad-boy list of sorts) for failing last week's EPQ as well, and getting sat down on Monday as well for the standup EP. They are just so hard to study for as it's a TON of material and they tend to ask the most random and nit-picky questions. Oh well, Lord willing I'll be able to pass that tomorrow and avoid the annoyance of the CAP.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 we go again!

Finally I have returned!! I know it's been way too long, and even last time I posted I was updating from before that...which means I now have even more to update! But fear not, I have some free time (which means about 10 minutes or so) and I'm going to crank through what I can.

Now, when we last left our valiant, dashing young hero he was smiling confidently while riding out to his jet. The second picture in the last post is me finishing up my pre-taxi checks. And thank you to those who have pointed out that I am outside of regs by having my visor up with the engine running, but I was in the process of clearing the sweat out of my eyes at that point! That cockpit is a greenhouse with the canopy closed. You think it's hot out here in MS (and it is!), just try closing yourself into a glass cockpit! The third picture is me taxiing out from the chocks past my crew chief giving the classic pilot "all is well" signal. And finally, the last picture is me chilling out in the dunk tank after successfully completing my ride...or did I?

Obviously, I completed the ride successfully enough to be alive to write this (that's a good thing), but I did run into a little hiccup. Hence the 'emergency' portion of the title of my previous post. So, here's the story. My flight was going well, I'd even say awesome! I was really enjoying it and had about 4 landings and 5 patterns under my belt and I was really feeling good! It was quite a confidence building ride as I'd had so much trouble with the pattern in the past. But then, about 23 minutes into the flight and planning on only a couple more landings, I did another touch-and-go just like normal. Then, as I was climbing out on departure end and about to turn crosswind I heard a call over the radio:

"Departure leg, check gear". As soon as I heard that my heart skipped a beat! I knew exactly what I'd done without even looking. I quickly pulled the power back but at that point the airspeed was just passing 150 knots already. As a gut reaction I reached over in the same motion and pulled up the gear. However, but the time they finally got sucked up in the jet, the airspeed had hit 160 knots. Our max airspeed for the gear and flaps is 150 knots, so sure enough, I'd oversped the gear...I then talked with tower for another couple of minutes and had another scare that the main gear doors had not closed before I realized I was only getting that indication because the power was still back. So, tower organized for me to climb to the high pattern and got a chase ship to follow me up there.

I was really mad at myself this whole time for doing that (I know better!) but I didn't let it get in the way of completing the mission safely. So the chase ship caught up to me and we stayed on sunfish frequency while I slowed back down and then lowered the gear with the chase ship watching. After getting the correct indications in the cockpit with visual confirmation from the chase ship, we surmised that the gear were down and locked and the flaps had accuated as well. About this time tower called me up and declared the situation an emergency as well (especially since I was solo) and I was directed to VFR entry. This whole time the chase ship (with an IP and student) followed me down to 700' and then we followed the pattern all the way to a straight-in where I landed and he executed a low approach above me. Someone has pictures of that from the ground since the whole class had been listening in to this whole thing and were ready for us to fly by. I need to get ahold of those!

So I pulled off the runway into the runup area where I was met by a fire truck and fire responders in full gear who motioned for me to shut down the engine. With a possible gear problem we don't taxi back without pinning the gear first and that requires maintenance coming out. So I got out of the jet fully humbled by experience so far and was met by a major in the safety truck. We got back to the squadron where two more guys jumped in to make sure I didn't avoid the dunking. I then had to go and write up the overspeed and turn everything in for that before going back to get my solo dunking. I had let Maj Sanders (who I know from Lighthouse) know when I was soloing and he was able to make it and saw the whole thing! He was laughing away and let me know that he wasn't going to let me forget this anytime soon! (I also found out later that there were a couple of angry looking officers who were originally waiting for me until he started talking to them and I guess vouched for me so I never heard from them; if that's the case, I'm very grateful for that as well)

So, I even emberassed myself in front of a guest...but it was still a great day overall! My flight commander took it really well and even joked that we should just sign off my formation solo at the same time! So, in the end I still completed the ride, although it was graded 'unsat' and then I pushed on from there. After I passed my very next ride I was completely off of 'probation'. So, if I was going to fail a ride, that was the one to do it on, really! And, it's definately not a mistake I should be making again anytime soon! I got debriefed later by the checkpilot who was sitting the RSU and communicating with me the whole time through the emergency. He actually said that he was impressed with how I handled the whole thing and that I did everything well and exactly right (except for the first mistake, of course). So, at least after I messed up I was able to fix it in a decent manner!

And that just about sums up my first solo. Since then the last week and a half have been just ridiculously busy with test after test and flight after flight. I even got a cold over this last weekend and was barely able to push through everything yesterday. Luckily I was feeling much better today and after today's flight I'm ready for my first check ride tomorrow! So, pray for me as I fly that tomorrow. I'm feeling pretty confident right now that as long I can go out there and fly a regular sortie like I do every day I'll pass it just fine. So far we have 6 passes and 2 fails and I'd like to be in the first category! So, plan is to just go in there and do my best to not mess anything up and just face it like any other day. Lord willing it will go well, either way I face it like any other day: to His glory!

And I'm going to try to get back on schedule with daily updates again especially after this check ride is over. Things are only getting busier but I'm adjusting. promises...but I'm going to try my best to keep updating!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Solo and Emergency!

So, it's been almost a week since my last update! I will attempt to sum most of the occurances up here without writing a novel in the process. Last Friday I had an OK flight, but for some reason I kept messing up my radio calls, so I got marked down on that and for not finding the VFR reference at Gunshy for a breakout (even though I'd never even seen a breakout before then...oh well).

Saturday I slept in and then went to the father-son activity Lighthouse had out at one of the member's 'camphouse' which was a full-blown house set up pretty much for weekend getaways with about 80+ acres of land there. So, everybody and there dog brought out a fourwheeler and spent most of the day buzzing around on those through the woods, fields, and clay pits on the land there. I had a good time chilling inside in the AC with some of the other men from the church and then we had a great lunch of pulled BBQ pork. I tell you what, some of these guys sure know how to cook! Then Pastor asked if I'd like to try their fourwheeler, and I gladly accepted! I've always wanted to try one out and finally got my chance! So his kid Joshua stayed on the back to give me directions and try to keep me from killing myself ("There's a huge hole coming up here." "No...I don't think you want to drive off of that cliff...just my opinion...") It was a good time of fellowship. Then, as an added bonus after I helped clean up I got to take home a good bit of leftovers since I was the single guy there.

Sunday went well with some good services, though I had to miss Sunday night. I literally spent most all of my time from Saturday on when I wasn't at the church or the activity studying for the instrument test we had on Monday, and I still only got barely 6 hours of sleep Sunday studying and putting a briefing together for the next morning as well. I guess it payed off because I did pass with a 94%, so I'll take. However, we're now already 2 days into weather academics and our teacher has said he expects about 3 out of the 12 of us to fail this one according to the recent trends!! Looks like that test will be early some time next week, which is awesome (please note the sarcasm) because that's about the same time I'll be doing my midphase checkride which just happens to be by far the most failed (hooked) checkride we'll take...

Monday I had another ride, and again was pretty week on the radio calls so I spent most of that night just studying those calls and chairflying for Tuesday's 2 rides including the solo. Tuesday's first ride went really well, and I finally got the radio calls back under control in time to get cleared to solo. I was pretty excited getting ready for that! Afterwards I added up my hours, and I had less than 16 hours in the plane before that! So, here's a picture of me riding out to my jet (thanks to Keith BTW for the great photos)

***And I am running to church so will post this and then edit it later to add the rest....

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Finished another sortie today! That only leaves 2 flights left before my solo, so I should get it next Tuesday or Wednesday! This flight went really well over all, and he said my area work was really good. Only thing i messed up was radio calls, and those just wouldn't come out right today! So when I fly next I need to make sure I get those right because I was actually given an unsat grade for that today, which is not a good thing! Luckily tomorrow I'm working 4 hours with the runway controllers and will be listening to every single radio call made in the pattern during that block of time. So, I should know that pretty well after that!

No big plans for this weekend. Saturday Lighthouse is having a father-son event with father's day this Sunday. I've been invited by several different people including the pastor so I'm planning on making it to that. Just need to figure out how to get there now...Minor detail.

I got a bunch of picture's from Kenny's graduation by email today from Heather Pregony, and it was really neat to see those! Even though I missed it feels a little better having seen some 'part' of it.

Needing to get to bed, didn't get nearly enough sleep last night and I felt it all day today. Oh, and a congrats to Mom and Dad as yesterday was there 25th wedding anniversary! Thank goodness Cindy called and told me that, too, otherwise I would have never realized it; I'm so bad with dates! It's just too bad she had to wait until like 9 at night to tell me! ;)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I broke the jet...

Ok, so this morning I had the EP sim and it actually went really well! I had a really nice instructor, I could really tell he had a passion for teaching and really just cared about me knowing the material. However, he was also one of those guys who completely confuses me. I don't know if any one else has ever had this problem, but every now and then I found people who for some reason I have the hardest time understanding their train of thought and following what they're gettting at. He was definately one of those guys. He would ask me a question in plain english, and then I would proceed to give him the 1000 yard stare followed by "what?" I mean, I understood the words, I understood the form of the sentence and everything, it's not that he wasn't articulate or had a bad accent or anything, and it wasn't that I didn't know the answers. I just couldn't understand what exactly he was trying to get out of me when he asked his questions! I think it worked the other way around as well because I would answer some things completely correctly, and then he'd 'elaborate' on my answer by explaining back exactly the same thing I just said! So anyways, he was one of those few people I've found in this world where our brains must emit some sort of frequencies that really just scramble each other when in close proximity. Anyways, besides the slight communication barrier the sim went really well. He gave me an excellen grade overall and marked me up on quite a few items, so I was really happy with it. Sadly it seems like most of my sim rides go a lot better than my actual flights...not sure why...

We had our first guy solo today too! I actually got to follow him down the runway after his last landing, because my flight was canceled! First I stood around for 20 minutes, literally, just waiting to see if we'd actually get the jet we were waiting on. Then I stood for 5 minutes in the baking midday sun here for the shuttle to take us to our plane (who's driver drives like a girl! No offense intended, my readers of the female persuasion). Then, we got out to the plane, in a rush to make our takeoff time, and we proceeded to sweat all over ourselves getting it started up (as usual). Then, we made it only 2 minutes away taxiing to the runway when I got a warning light for our OBOGS (the on-board oxygen generating system). My IP ran the checklist while I continued to taxi, and we did every we could to get the light out. Finally it did, but then a few minutes later it came on again as we were in the hammerhead about to request clearance to take the active and takeoff. So, we ended up being forced to abort the ride since we were going out to the areas for spins and such and would be too high to go without reliable oxygen. So, we had to take the runway all the way back to then taxi and park (which is where we got to follow the solo from).

Those are the worst rides, where you are so close to actually taking off, you're mentally prepared and ready to do it, and then you have to taxi back and park without having accomplished squat! Oh well, I'm on the board again for tomorrow morning, weather permitting, and hopefully I won't break anything in the jet tomorrow.

It's nice tonight I'll be able to make it to church (and then straight home to bed) as there is a visiting quartet Higher Calling singing tonight that I wanted to be there for. I'll be getting to bed a little later than I like but it's doable at least. EP test again tomorrow...getting up for it. I failed the last one but then suddenly had a passing grade when on of the answers was wrong, so I passed it by the skin of my teeth! So far though staying off any 'bad boy' lists, so I want to keep that up!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Good IMC flight

Had a pretty good day today. I got up at 4 to get in a little early to prepare my card for the flight I had this morning. I flew with the flight commander and he's a pretty funny dude. I'd definately have to sensor about 90% of what he says if I copied it over to this blog, but he definately knows how to get a point across! The brief was pretty straight forward, and I learned a few new things from him as I do every time I get a different IP. Then, the flight was pretty cool today! We were in IMC which is instrument conditions. That means that the weather (clouds, visibility, etc) is bad enough that we can't fly with our normal visual (ground) references. So, first of all the tower was controlling the runway today instead of the usual RSU, which means that I was also on the wrong radio chanel pulling up to the hold short line. So he's in the back saying "'s pretty quite right now isn't it?"

"Yeah, it is, that's strange"

Him: "hmmm....." Then the guy waiting in front of us pulled out onto the runway and he says from the back "Wow, he just went onto the runway without making a call, didn't he? Is he allowed to do that??"

"Well, umm, uhhh...I don't think so...yes? Or, no....? Uh, no, not unless there's something I don't know about....."

Long pause.... Me again: "and I'm guessing there is, huh?"

"Yes, you're on the wrong frequency!!!"

Then it just got better after that. This was my first time doing an IFR departure, and being as naive as I am I didn't even think to think (heheh) that there would be a different departure. So I'm climbing out like normal FDH (fat, dumb, happy) and he's like, "you can't turn yet!!"
Ok, so I stay on this heading, but I'm pretty sure I've always turned there in the past! (first clue) "All right, why haven't you started your turn here?" Ok, here we go, turning to my normal heading...time passes..."where are you going?" and about 4 other people are on the radio with the controller at the same time and he's in the back yelling "220! 220!" Meanwhile I'm in the front thinking: "Well, ok, but I'm still climbing so I should be at 180 knots, and we usually cruise at 200 knots anyways..."

"Turn to 220, what are you waiting for, do I need to take the aircraft?"

"Yes sir, I mean no sir, yes sir I'm turning to 220!!" (insert huge gulp followed by tongue lashing about not listening to orders from the IP) We laughed about that one later when I told him what was going thru my mind, and I honestly think he was enjoying the entire situation as I'm in the front seat with my head spinning in circles!! Ah...cruel, cruel IPs...but boy does that help me learn quick! I think often time I'm just not stressed enough.

So, it was definately an interesting flight! My area work started out rusty, but I got things going pretty good after I got into the flow. It was a beautiful day with heavy scattered clouds at varying altitudes, so it was a pretty cool sight from 8000 to 13000 feet up. After my area work today we then did a HAPL (high altitude power loss) maneuver where we simulate an engine failure and then find the nearest landing strip and turn to it while calculating if our glide will get us to it with enough time to perform an emergency landing pattern. I got to do a huge slip on the way there too to lose altitude followed by 360degree orbit to get down to then start the 360 pattern. Whoo...even then I ended up to high on final and would have not had the room to stop had it been a real emergency. I then proceeded to get the gear and flaps up (or so I thought) and found out from a burst of agitation in the back about 2 mintues later after I'd turned the aircraft over that I had only gone from landing to takeoff flaps, and not all the way up. Thank the Lord that we had stayed in the pattern for another demo and we didn't overspeed the flaps or I would have really been in for it! As it was, I got a good tongue lashing (and he could have failed me for the whole sortie because of it), but was just downgraded on one section of my flight.

Then, on the way back we did a re-entry that I'd never seen before either (again because of the weather) and he actually let me take us all the way in following the radar controller's commands the whole way. It was pretty sweet! We were in the clouds for most of it with zero visibility (besides a gray and white wall right outside the canopy, I could barely see the propeller!) and I had to rely completely on my instruments. At one point I was getting pretty task saturated and he asked if he should take over, and Mr. Daniel's Ego said no I can handle it! :) And I did! So that was my first real life intro to instrument flying which is cool because that's what my sim was yesterday! So I got us all the way back (with just a little oversight from the back seat) and onto the runway with a pretty smooth landing, if I do say so myself. Then on the way back in I finsihed off this glorious flight a perfect radio call to ground...except for the minor fact that I was on the wrong frequency...
Back seat: " you think ground's moved over to the RSU today to listen in to your radio call?"
One things for sure, I'll remember these lessons from today! That's the way I learn best too is when the IPs let me actually mess it up, then at least I know how not to do it next time! So it was a pretty cool flight. Tomorrow morning I have a sim ride and then after that I have another ride with our flight commander, and I'm looking forward to it! There's definately some things I need to look over before then, but it should be another pretty good (by my book) ride.

This afternoon we finished up another couple of academic insturment lessons. That test will be coming up fast, it is going to be a tough one! I'm already planning on spending the majority of this weekend going over all the instrument lessons again and studying for the test which will be early next week. Hopefully it goes well. I haven't failed a test yet (knocking on wooden desk) and I don't want to start now!

Monday, June 9, 2008

First Instrument Sim

Had a pretty good weekend. Friday Ryan asked me to join him and Ashley at the bowling alley since she was bringing along a couple of friends as well and guys don't let guys go into situations like that outnumbered! We played a couple of games (and mine were aweful!) and had a pretty good time. Then they came over and we all watched a movie and then chatted for a while before they left. I was so dead by that time that I just crashed in bed and didn't wake up until almost noon on Saturday! Like I usually do I then got my shopping done, and even got a good workout in as well. I met up with Rob over there who was playing racquetball and he asked me to play. I couldn't turn him down as we've had a stiff competition going. I lost the first 2 games and then came back and destroyed him in the 3rd bringing our total to 5 and 5, a stale mate once again! I then spent the rest of the day alternately playing FF and studying.

We are into the 2nd instrument block now and this test is supposed to be even harder than the first! So I reviewed everything we'd studied so far in order to make it easier this coming weekend studying for the test that should be sometime early next week. Sunday morning Rob went with me to sunday school and morning service and then we grabbed some pizza hut buffet on the way back. Also, Jonny has asked me to help him out next weekend with a youth activity for the guys. Sounds like it will be an all-nighter event starting with swimming, and then we'll attend the church 'cottage chat' that night for food and a devotion, and then play some capture the flag and then end up somewhere for the night probably with some x-boxes for more entertainment. Sounds like a good time and I'm really looking forward to helping him out. I feel like I'm getting old because I'm usually wiped out by fridays but I'm sure being around all those 'young kids' will give me some energy to keep up. Afterall, I can't let a bunch of high-school punks show me up, can I?? But seriously I'm looking forward to helping out however I can and I'm praying it will be a fun night for the guys to enjoy together.

Sunday night I then went to Bulllets with a bunch of people from the church including Mr. Fisher who is one of our LSI instructors here and got to talk with him for a bit. He's prior military as well as so I got to pick his brain about a few things to keep in mind for my career.

Today I didn't fly and we actually had a later report due to all the first gos being canceled for a meeting at 8. However, this week is 0530 reports so tomorrow morning will not be as nice! I had my first instrument sim today as well. So now I'm doing both the instrument and contact blocks at the same time. And things just keep getting busier...ugh. The instrument block consists of primarily sim rides with just a couple in the plane, but there are a LOT of sims!

Exciting thing is that I only have 4 more rides until I solo! So, I should be getting my solo ride sometime next week if the weather and all holds up! It's exciting and scary at the same time...mostly exciting!

Saturday, June 7, 2008


No post today, I'll write tomorrow. Just want to dedicate this one to those who sacrificed so much for our country, and for the rest of the free world. 64 years ago today the greatest amphibious invasion in history was launched against a seemingly impenetrable line of defenses on Normandy's shore. For those of you who have never been there, it's an awe-inspiring sight to see the final resting place of so many of our fore-father's who gave their lives so we can live in this world today.

Don't let any one fool you, without the sacrifices of those brave young men (most were even younger than myself) Europe would have never thrown off the Nazi regime. Those men were heroes, and sadly we are quickly losing that generation. Never forget what they did for us. Thank you.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ho Hum

Not much to share about the last 2 days. Both were long and neither had anything exceptional to write about. Both yesterday and today I was on the schedule to fly but got canceled both times. I hate any breaks in flying like that because there are always things that I quickly get rusty in with so little experience behind me to lean on. Luckily, I'm on the schedule for tomorrow so I'm looking forward to getting up in the air and putting 1 more flight under our belt. It's looking like I could be getting my first solo well within the next 2 weeks, so that's a pretty exciting and scary prospect all at the same time!

I did get to go to the gym both yesterday and today, which is a nice aspect of not flying. Last night I was able to chat with Mom for quite a while too, which have I haven't had the chance to do in a while now.

We had an EPQ today which I think I may have aced, we'll find out our scores tomorrow. We'll have those quizes once a week from here out on the general knowledge. Between yesterday and this morning I covered well over 200 pages of study on some pretty in-depth material in preparation for this, so I hope it did pay off!

Tomorrow Ryan is meeting a girl he knows and a group of her friends at the bowling alley here, and not wanting to be outnumbered, he invited me to join them. I haven't bowled in a while so it will probably be pretty pathetic, but we should have a good time. I'm just hoping we don't get out to ridiculously late. At least the instructors want to get out of there just as much as we do on a Friday.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Terrible Tuesday

Ok, so it wasn't terrible, but I thought that'd make a catchy title. I did get to fly again today, the first ride of the block, but I was just a little off the whole time. I could never really get into a good rythm and kept making stupid mistakes. O well, like I said yesterday, you have your good days and you have your bad. What was cool about this flight, though, is that it was the first one of a new block, and we get to do spin recoverys in this block; which means we get to put ourselves into a spin so that we can then recover from the spin. Talk about a ride, let me tell you, that's a good time! We started them pointing into the sun so we could count how many times we spun before starting to recover, and it went something like this: sun, ground, sky, ground, sun, sky, lots of ground, my lunch, more ground, sky, sun, recover! Then it just spins tighter for a turn or two before settling out of the spin and I get to pull the plane to nose level at about a 3 or 4 G pull. Spins are fun! On the way back we got to see a really nice sunset from the sky as well. So all in all besides me trying to kill us a couple of times, I guess the ride was OK. My next sortie is going to be pattern-only so we won't be going anywhere but just beating up the pattern here at Columbus, and I could really use that! So I'm praying that ride will be really beneficial.

That's about it for yesterday. We got home around 930 or so, so it was pretty late, but that's going to be pretty standard from here out (unless we go to the early weeks again...hurray...). This morning the maintanance guy finally came by and fixed my toilet, so that's nice. For about the last week or so I've had to reach into the water reservoir and manually pull out and then replace the rubber stopper to get it to flush, so it was a bit of a nuisance.

And I'm off to study. We have academics starting in about 30 minutes or so. I'm not on the schedule to fly today as of last night, so I'm definitely going to the gym and hoping I can get a haircut today as well. Besides that, I'm going to try to get a ton of studying in as we have a quiz tomorrow over a LOT of material.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday, Monday, Monday!

Had a pretty good weekend. Friday we got back pretty late so I just hung around the house and chilled and then slept in late Saturday morning. Saturday I got all my errands and shopping done for the week, and I also made a pretty mean roast!

I picked up the meat at the commissary and then I decided I wanted a little bit of onion, carrots and potatoes in the roast. And let me tell you, this is why guys don't cook! I had to call Mom up in the middle of the store to get her input on all of these choices. You'd think picking up those three items would be easty, but no! First the carrots, you can buy both baby carrots and 'regular' long carrots. Then, even the long carrots have different kinds, and some of those are pre-packaged and others aren't. Ok, and that was the easy part! (I used baby carrots). Then, I went to buy potatoes, and had the same problem! There are red potatoes, white potatoes, baking potatoes, and russets!! And I am not exagerating on this: there were at least 6 different types of onions!!!! All I wanted was 3 things and I had to pick between about 20 different items?? Who needs this kind of stressful decision making situation just in the grocery store?!? Luckily Super Mom was there to save the day and she got me all straightened out and let me tell you, I made a pretty mean roast!

Sunday Jonny and Crista (spelling?) asked me if I wanted to join them and Miss Kathleen and her daughter Breanna for lunch at the Main Street cafe. Of course I joined them and enjoyed the meal tremendously. Then Sunday night pastor used them and the Heatons in his sermon and publicly acknowledged them for especially reaching out to me. Oh, and Sunday morning right before service started Pastor Jimmy walked up to me and asked if I could pray in public, and I kind of stumbled over myself saying "Well, I have, and I can, and I will if that's what you're asking." :) So he asked me to join him and open the Sunday morning service in prayer from the pulpit! From the bottom of my heart, I take that as a great honor! I just praise the Lord for His guidance to this church, and for the great blessing that they've all been to me. It's pretty neat because even on Saturday at the commissary I randomly ran into 4 or 5 different people who all greeted me by name and chatted with me for a bit, and they were all people I know from church! And even our teacher for this last academic block is a member of the church. So Lighthouse has been a huge blessing to me here, and definitely an answer to prayer.

On to today. This morning I got 'stood up' during our morning formal brief. Every day we have an emergency procedure (EP) given to us in a very formal setting, and then one of us is chosen at random (we don't know ahead of time) to stand up in front of all of our peers and all the IPs and step through the scenario in a heavily governed fashion. It's meant to put one into a stressful situation by the pressure of being in front of people, having to remember a lot of little nuances to get through the EP structure, and then try to solve an emergency situation as if you were in the aircraft at the time! And, praise the Lord, I think I did really well this morning. If you mess the EP up, you are sternly told to 'sit down' and someone else is called up in your place to pick up where you messed up and try to bring it to a safe conclusion. So far, only 1 other person has made it all the way through one without being sat down, and I was able to pull it off today as well! I was pretty nervous, but just made myself act and think as if I had all the time in the world, so once I took a deep breath and started into the EP, I really wasn't too shaky or anything. I had a few of my bros even compliment me on it, and the IP giving the EP even told me this evening before I left that I'd done a good job. So I'm quite proud of that! However, before I blow my own head up too big, I will say that it was by no means a perfect performance. There were definately some areas where I kind of held my breath and tip-toed through, but in the end, I made it.

I was scheduled to fly today and it would have been the first flight in this new block. However, there was some sort of issue with maintenance and the jets today, and after standing fully geared up and ready to go for about 20 minutes all of our flights ended up getting canceled. And, I was actually dissapointed! I think I'm starting to enjoy all of this just a little bit. Scary thing is, I know it won't last's only going to get harder before it gets any easier, and after a test we took this evening on the local procedures (which I think most of us probably failed), it's not getting easier anytime soon. Oh, and I got a 92% on the Instruments test we took this morning. Not nearly what I was hoping for, but it was a pretty rough test. The hard one will be the Instruments 2 test, which is the most failed test in all of phase II of UPT. So, that's something fun to look forward to!

Also got a good workout in this afternoon as well. I'm shooting to get back down to somewhere between 165 and 170 and have about 6 pounds to go. But, the important thing to me is just that I work out on a regular basis and make sure I'm eating right. So far I've lost about 3 pounds since starting to consistently get to the gym in the past couple of weeks. I know keeping this up will really help me with dealing with the stress and all as well.

Tomorrow we don't start until 1300 so I'm hoping to get my car registered in MS in the morning. I'm also giving the morning standup briefing tomorrow so I'm going to try to get there at LEAST an hour early to get that put together, and may shoot for 2 hours to have plenty of time to get it done and run through it once or twice so I at least look like I know what I'm talking about. We got our new flight commander today as well, so this will be an opportunity to put a good foot forward in front of the whole flight room. Besides that, it kind of sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Must go to bed now as this post turned out to be a lot longer than first anticipated. Sleeping until 830 but 1240 is late enough (the 'post times' shown on these blogs are WAY off). These alternating schedules are so crazy...The other week I'd be getting up in 2 hours. Oh well, it's all part of the game.