Monday, July 28, 2008

Formation 1

Wow, what an action-packed day I had today!! I have a headache...woke up with one too...and I've had a itch in the back of my throat for a couple of days now that I'm praying doesn't develope into anything more insidious. Anyways, we had our formation test first thing this morning and I only missed 1 question, so I was pretty happy with that. Then I went to a formation sim after that (the one and only form sim!). That was a pretty crazy sim and there were some hairy moments where I got really close to the other guy, but I never hit him or anything and the instructor said I did pretty well. Then I got back to the flight room to prep for an instrument flight; and once there I found out that all the others who had taken that sim had hit the other aircraft multiple times, and the guy flying with me today hit him 3 times! So I was like, are you kidding, and you want to fly on my wing after that?!? :) But the flight went really well, and it was a GREAT time! My IP said I was well above average for this ride, which is always a good way to start, and more importantly, nobody hit each other! My pattern work was pretty rusty, though, as I haven't flow one in a couple weeks since we've been doing instruments, so I'm going to have to improve on all of that again, but I know we'll knock the rust off pretty quick.

Got some tough news from Ryan tonight. He failed the test this morning and that was kind of the final sign for him. He'd been to the flight docs about his flying anxiety a few weeks ago, and they were ready to take him out of the program right there, but he pushed through another couple of weeks just to see if it might get better. But he's just not liking the flying at all, and I know he's making the best choice, though it is hard, to move on something else that he'll actually enjoy. So I'm proud of him for sticking it through this far, I've seen him wrestle his way through everything since the very beginning, and it's just not gotten any better. So, what that means for me is that I've got to start putting out feelers for another room mate! And I may actually have to buy some living room furniture...salvation army here I come!

3 more days until Mom and Dad get here! I'm needing to call the inn tomorrow to see if they'll have room, but something like 160 Lt's are coming in sometime this week, so there may be slim pickings over there...that just means they'll stay here on an inflatable bed. Can't wait to see them again!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Formation tomorrow!

Ok, man, and I'm still trying to keep this thing alive! Once again I'm going to have to back track a bit. This past week I passed the nav test only missing 2 questions. Also plugged through a bunch more instrument sims and rides, and I'm now down to only 3 I-sims and 1 flight left! My cross country will be in 2 weeks, and then my I-check should be pretty much right after that. We're taking the formation test tomorrow, though, which will clear us to start on the final block of our training. So tomorrow I'll take the test first thing in the morning, then go to the one and only formation sim, and then fly my first formation sortie after that with Bond! I'm really excited about getting into the formation phase, I think it's going to be a blast to fly so close like that!

Friday night was our solo party. I know, it's been like a month since we actually first soloed, but we wanted to wait for our flight commander to get back from his 3 weeks of leave. Part of the solo party is the naming where we go from student to student telling stories about them and then proposing callsigns based on those usually-emberrassing stories. Then they leave the room and every one else votes on the final favorite call sign. For me, my fellow studs came up with Soccer Mom because I drive a station wagon (jerks!) :) and then Flanders (the neighbor from the simpsons) because as one guy put it "I think DQ spends more time at church than in the flight room", and of course I don't drink, etc; so I took that as a compliment. Then the IPs had Gear and 'Chase Ship' because of my little incident with the gear during my solo... The one that every one liked was Flanders, and so I came back in the room, toasted Captain Stewart who soloed my, and then handed the shot off to Ryan who had kindly offered to take it for me. Then someone else yelled "hey, and that's just like Flanders would do too!" Heheh, oh well, I'll take it. I then spent a good portion of that morning with the 3 other non-drunks there getting every one home. Of course, then we actually lost on the IPs. One minute he was there, and then later in the night every one is going, "Where's he been? Did he leave? Did you see him go?" So of course we were afraid he'd wandered off and passed out somewhere or had been picked up by SF; so we spent a couple of hours trying to track him down before we finally found him at home. Evidently his wife, who was supposed to be out of town, had come back and picked him up and took him home without telling anyone. Thanks a lot!!!

So I finally got into bed around 3 in the morning Saturday!! Then, the power went out around 9 that morning. Of course, after growing up in Indonesia my first thought was 'great, now it's going to get really hot in here and I'm not going to be able to sleep!' Thankfully, though, the house is pretty well insulated and I got a couple more hours of rest. The lights finally came back on some time around 1. Spent the rest of the day mostly just studying, cleaning the house a bit, and doing some shopping. I got my 500 out in the lemon lot too and I'm hoping with the 100+ new Lt's coming to Columbus in the next week or so that someone will see and buy!

Also, Mom and Dad will be getting here Thursday! So I mopped the floor and did some straightening today, and Ryan actually cleaned up the whole kitchen, it looks better than it has in a long while! Sometime he just gets a sudden urge to clean I guess, because I'll find random areas of the house suddenly looking spick and span at random times. Then of course it's my solemn duty to mess it all back up... But seriously, we usually do keep the place relatively neat; though I must say it would stay a lot tidier around here if it weren't for all the cat hair! After sweeping up the house this evening I could have made a whole 'nother cat from all the hair I picked up!

Ok, and I'm going to try to get back into the swing of updating on here daily so I don't have to try to remember everything 5 days at a time because I know I'm missing something! And it's off to bed for me. Formation tomorrow and hopefully a workout before the test in the AM. We're over half way through the T-6 program now too!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Last one out...

I was so excited yesterday about that formal release; so of course today, I have a 5 hour gap in the middle of the day before I go to my sim which is also the very last one of the day. By the time I got out and walked back to the squadron to put my gloves back and get my gear to go home, all the lights were off! So much for getting home earlier, I was the last one out!!

I did run into Bro. Frank Howard on my way back from the sim. He's one of the sim engineers and he's on shift to midnight tonight. I didn't realize it, but during the week they're there 24 hours a day! Anyways we chatted for a good 10 minutes or so before I left the squadron. I just can't express enough my thanks to the Lord for leading me to Lighthouse, it's been such a blessing having a great church family here with friends I can run into and fellowship with like that. I guess this place does have quite a small-town feel to it where you always know someone around you.

Tomorrow is our Nav test followed by the formation test as soon as Monday and then we'll be test complete! I've only got 6 more Instrument events left before the checkride not including the cross-country flights I'll be doing the second weekend in August. Then we just have formation flights left after that! I should be sim-complete here in just another couple of weeks as well, so the flying is really trucking along now. But, still a little more than 2 months of the T-6 left so I'm certainly not slowing anything down. And I'm going to bed. We have to attend a change of command tomorrow morning followed immediately by the test which I'm going to study for when I wake up. Then I only have a first period sim, so I should actually be able to make it to a Wednesday night service for the first time in almost a month!

Monday, July 21, 2008

'Informal' Release!

Yes! Today was our last day of formal release! Up until now we've not been able to go home at the end of the day until all 12 of us were done with all of our events, and then we'd all sit in the room and the flight commander would formally end the day with us calling the room to attention and reporting out. After tonight, we're allowed to leave as soon as we're done with our last duty of the day! I just can't focus and study there like I can back home, so I know I'll be even more productive now with the 'free' time we've had the past that's been wasted waiting around forever for the last few to be finished. We've had a whole list of things to accomplish to 'earn' this, and it's been given to us with the assumption that 2 more items on the list will be accomplished by this Friday 'or else' we're back on formal release. So, that's one more milestone, and one that I've been anxiously awaiting! Our flight commander phrased it as us now being 'adult UPT students'.

I had two more events today, with an I-ride followed by an I-sim. So far these are going really well for me now that I understand how to prepare for them. In fact, I've gotten overall Excellent scores on all 4 of my I-rides so far! So I'm not trying to jinx myself or anything, but I obviously really want to keep that up! We also found out today that many of us may be running into a flying stop due to the fact that we'll be getting to some flight before the pre-requisits are completed, and so that will slow us down a bit. But we've been just flying along for about the last month now and have gotten a bit ahead, so that's a really good thing. At this point I only have 7 actual Instrument events left before my check ride, but that's not including the cross-country's coming up in the 'navigation' block that have to be accomplished before that check ride. Then we only have the formation block left, which should be a lot of fun! So things are definately moving along now.

Wednesday is our navigation test, which is our second to last academic exam in the T-6! We've had to learn how to use a whiz-wheel; which is also going to be a big part of the test, and that's probably the hardest thing for me! If I could just write out the problems by hand I understand them completely, but using that stupid spinning wheel just convolutes even the simplest of problems! Afterall, isn't that why we learn math in school, so we don't have to use a whiz wheel? And for that matter, why were calculators invented?!? Also, after we pass this test (assuming there isn't some sort of technological appocalypse) we'll never have to use it again because we'll just be using a computer for the rest of our career...oh well, I guess they just want us to appreciate the old-fashioned way and that we don't have to do it that way anymore. But as a computer-science major, when I look at these problems I just imagine writing even basic computer programs to automatically calculate it all for us...anyways, consider this my formal complaint. Thankfully tomorrow all I have is 1 sim (though sadly it is later in the day) so I can use the rest of my time to study for that test and go over a bunch of whiz-wheel material.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New bike pictures!

And check out the pictures of my new bike. It's a 2002 Suzuki Intruder 800 with about 10k miles on it when I picked it up. So far I'm really really happy with it. I need to replace the back tire which is pretty worn, as well as the front brakes which are squeeling up a storm. Then there are some more mods I will be making on it over the next months as I have the time and cash, but those will have to wait.

I just have to say: That is one good looking bike! (even if I do say so myself) I just like the real classic look to it. And it's nice because it's shaft driven and not chain like my ninja so no more hassle with keeping that lubricated, tightened, etc.

Anyways, just had to get these pictures up because I told Chuck I would and I don't want to get on his bad side. And, buddy, you win! I have converted to the cruisers like you wanted...although if $$ wasn't an issue (and it is) I'd be keeping the ninja just because it's so much fun on the twisties. But in the long run, this is the bike I want to keep around as it's better suited to the types of trips and all that I prefer.

Pics 1

Ok, below is the picture of our class patch. Watch the clip here if you missed it in my previous post to help you get where the patch is coming from:

I think it's pretty good in that the F-E-V-E-R and boldface both really apply to us here and then it brings in the joke from that classic skit. Also, trust me, it is MUCH better than the other 2 ideas that looked like they were going to make it. The first one was the playboy bunny silouette wearing an oxygen mask, and the other was a plane with a scantily clad girl posing on it...neither one seemed good to me. I even said, I'd be ashamed to wear these patches around my own mother let alone if I ever had to go straight to church or anything like that I'd definately have to go around patchless! So, thankfully, this one below came out as being accepted by both flights in our class and looks like this will be it.

And here's a picture of Chaos in a box. This is the shoe box from the shoes I bought over the weekend of the 4th, and Chaos loved it when I first put it on the floor so I've kept it there for him. You can see it just barely fits, and actually now both of the ends are popped out like that so the box kind of stretches around the silly cat to fit him.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Night week!

This is our night week, which is an even crazier schedule than ever, but I like it! I had my night flight tonight (every one gets 1 this week and then 1 on the cross-country rides). It was pretty sweet, but the weather could have been better. It looked like a monsoon before we stepped, and then rained most of the time while we were flying to pattern. It was a fun ride and a great intro to flying nights; it's just totally different feeling flying around without any really solid ground references or horizon. I actually had really smooth landing tonight, but the setup all the way down to actually flaring was awful for most of them as a result of not having those normal references.

Today I had an I-Sim with a Mr. Hines who was a very interesting instructor. I liked him 'cause he definately cared about teaching me and I could tell he really wanted to help me out and give me some good things to use to help my flying. But he was quite an eccentric character, that's for sure! I might have to visit him again in the future, though, if I have any questions, I know he'd be really happy to help.

This morning I finally got my car and new bike registered here in MS. That's one thing I'm really liking about having the mornings mostly off this week is that I'm getting things done I usually can't accomplish during the week.

Looks like Mom and Dad are going to be down here at the end of the month thru the first Sunday in August now. I'm really looking forward to having them here and seeing them again. It will definitely be my last chance to see them before they leave for Indonesia. The Lord really worked it out because that is now our first cross-country weekend but I was scheduled for the second weekend so it's not going to be a conflict! They are on the road now for the next month or so out in the mid-west and then thru the deep south here; it's a lot of time in the car and away from home!

And I can't think straight anymore so I'm going to bed. Just had to make myself jot some notes here as it'd been a couple of days. Oh, Time, Time, where art thou, precious Time?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

4-day weekend; Check hook; 88 pass

Ok, it's been a WHILE since my last post. It's hard to stay on it with how busy we've been lately, but I really do want to keep up with this as much as possible, so here goes another bit of review.

Last weekend we had Friday and Monday off so Friday morning I headed to Montgomery to be my relatives out there. I got there in time for a great July 4th lunch at Grammie and Grampie's with the Smith's and Tif. The Maxwells were up in PA for PapPap's memorial service. I had a great weekend with them and it was very relaxing which I really needed. I stayed over at Grammie and Grampie's this weekend, which was a nice change to stay in a bed. Not that I'd ever complain about the couch over at the Smith's. Kaitlin was so cute, for some reason she really likes me; and I'll never complain about that! She always wanted me to be holding her and was constantly bringing me books to read for her and sharing her toys with me. She's the cutest thing! She has nick-names for everyone, and she calls me Da. Which, considering she's only missing 1 letter isn't bad at all! :)

That night Michelle and Tiff and I drove out to Maxwell AFB to see the fireworks, but evidently they weren't doing any because we were the only ones there, and there were no fireworks! Oh well, at least we saw some in the sky over the city as we drove back, and then a few people in their neighborhood had some good fireworks too.

Saturday Luke and I went to a shoe store as he had a coupon for 20% off their marked-down shoes and we both needed a new pair of running shoes. Then we played Axis and Allies most of the afternoon. I'd never played before but it was a good game. Definately takes a lot of strategy and planning. I also watched The Prestige and The Illusionist which were both really good movies I had never seen before and they highly recommended. Both were about magicians (as in bunny-out-a-hat magicians) and had some great plot twists. Sunday I left in the late afternoon after church and lunch at the Maxwells again. I had a great time out there with them as always. Oh yeah, and Tif had a motorcycle! She had a Suzuki Intruder (2005 model I think?) and let me take it around the neighborhood, and I must say I loved it at the time! It was so comfortable compared to my Ninja!

Monday I got some stuff down around here I've been needing to get to. Wednesday was my checkride and I was feeling really confident and ready. The whole ride went really well except for one thing. On my way into VFR entry at Gunshy I was clearing and clearing but somehow just did not see another T-6 was going to be a conflict so the IP had to take the jet and breakout. As soon as it happened I thought "well, I probably just failed this whole ride before it even really started" but I put it aside and just concentrated on flying the rest of the profile. Like I said, it all was pretty solid. But sure enough, after the GK and EP on the ground we debriefed the flight, and I'd hooked it for 'visual clearing'. Even so I ended up with a 10U on it, and would have had a 7G if it weren't for that whole clearing thing. So it was quite frustrating as I felt that it was something I had no control over since I honestly just did not see him! But, it happens and wasn't the end of the world...just frustrating.

So Thursday I tooke my 88 progress check with the flight commander from our sister flight. That one went well, but ironically the same thing happened again, only this time I actually spotted the other guy and executed the breakout as I needed to. I passed with no trouble and was cleared to continue on with the program. So Friday morning I was scheduled to fly my first instrument ride, but that got canceled due to weather...which makes no sense since instrument flying is exactly that:flying in the weather...huh. :) But I did get my night sim done, which was a low threat sim and pretty fun.

Friday night Stew and Zach invited every one over to there house since Zach's birthday was today. So I went over there and at first there were only 4 of us over there as Kieth was there too. So we lounged around, cooked up some burgers and watched some random tv shows (like modern marvels on the history channel). Then just as I was about to head out around 9 every one else from the flight decided to show up! But I still had to go as Kyle, a 2008 grad from the Academy who's a great guy and friend and fellow hardcore-24 tailgater from the chillin' and grillin' team was in time over at Harry's house with Bendel as well. So we spent a few hours in Harry's kitchen just catching up and sharing laughs over the old times together. It was great to see him again. He'll be out here again starting in August but won't start UPT until 2 April (which was my start date this year!). It was really neat, he shared with me that I had a big impact on him making it through that 2-degree year of his. It was just cool and very humbling at the same time to know that I had a positive impact on another person's life like that.

Guess what I got today? My new bike! After talking to Tif I realized that I could save about $800 a year on insurance just by getting rid of my ninja and switching to a cruiser. I guess a bike with the word "Ninja" in the name tends to really increase the insurance costs. Anyways, I found one when I came back here at the Boat Gallery down town and had been back and forth a couple of times to look at it and haggle a bit. i wanted to trade in my bike initially but he was not willing to give anything anywhere to what I should be able to get out of it, so I'm advertinsing the bike and trying to sell it myself now. Anyways, long story short, he was wanting 3400 for this bike, which was already bellow blue-book, and I got him to sell it to me for 2800, so I was pretty happy about that! It's a candy-apple red 2002 Suzuki Intruder 800 with a nice set of saddle bags on there and only 10k miles on it. I know, it's the same bike Tif has, but I promise I thought it was a Marauder at first and was not trying to steal her idea! But it does look really different as they changed the model quite a bit over just a few years. I'm really happy with it, and rode it about 60 miles today on the highway to go get pizza with a bunch of guys from the class, and it's definately more comfortable for the long haul that my Ninja! So I'll have to get some pictures of it on here in the next few days.

Also, we finally have a patch that we're sending up that should get approved no problem! So maybe we actually will have a patch before we track-select. Here's a picture of it:

Ok, and it's not uploading because blogger is acting up. But, even so, watch this video if you've never the 'i need more cowbell' skit as it will explain the patch when you do finally see it:

And I'm going to bed. This morning from 930 to 1230 we painted our flight commander's parking spot. Which makes no sense to me, why paint something you're just going to park over anyways??? But it's a requirement for us to get off of formal release, and he's coming back from 3weeks of leave on Monday. During that time I got a nice little sunburn so I'm a little on the red side right now. Today was a HOT one, and even starting in the morning like that it was just unbearably hot. Oh well, at least we got it done. But it was a huge waste of my Saturday time. This whole weekend has gone by way too fast already, I need more time! There is never enough time...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Another one bites the dust!

Another week over, finally! This one was only 4 days long but it felt like forever! Thankfully it is now finally over. We reported at 0950 today for CAI academics and then had 1330 formal report and EPQ, which I actually think I passed this time! Yay for avoiding Pro-cap by the skin of my teeth so far...I had an I-sim first thing today and that one actually went really well for the first time. I've been doing so many instrument sims in a row that I've just been playing catch up, and I actually had enough to prep for this one so it went pretty smoothly. I think I even got an excellent on my first I-sim ever! The key to these is just a ton of preparation so when I get around to flying the thing I can just look at all the notes and diagrams I've drawn and make sure I do all the steps.

Today's flight went pretty well too. I flew with a new guy who's partially assigned to our flight right now just to help us out since we're losing IPs like rats off a sinking ship. This guy made me nervous at first as I didn't know what to expect from him, and he was nit-picking stuff that I've done for like 20 rides now and no one else has had a problem with that kind of stuff threw me off my game a little bit at first. However, that's pretty standard when you fly with an IP for the first time, you kind of have to figure out each of their peculiarities and preferences. Anyways, I just got myself focused in on the flight and had a pretty good sortie. I've only got my to-check left next week and then my final contact checkride itself! We had 5 guys check today, and all of them passed, although many of the scores are nowhere near as pretty as some of the ones from mid-phase. But, what matters is passing! So I'm looking forward to getting mine out of the way, and Lord willing I'll pass it the first time as well! Then we've only got Nav, formation, and I-rides left! But, as easy as that sounds, there's still 3 months of flying T-6s left, so we're not exactly 'almost done' or anything. Though at this pace...I don't know, feels like we should be finishing up next week or something. Boy am I glad for the weekend.

I'm heading out tomorrow morning. Sounds like we're having a big lunch over at grammie and grampie's so I'm planning on getting there around noon or so which means I better get some sleep so I can get up, pack, and head out. Poor Chaos is going to be on his own for a few days, but with enough food, water, kitty litter, and shoestrings to play with, he should be totally fine. I was finishing up a movie tonight with my clothes in the dryer so I closed the kitchen doors to dull the sound from the dryer. And my cat starts running around and messing with everything, and gets into a corner and meows at me repeatedly. Well, he does this kind of thing all the time, he's very talkative, (in fact he's meowing behind me right now, just wants attention...needy thing...he's like a woman! Oh!!! I'm going to be hearing about that comment...) so I didn't think much about it. But then he started up again, and I turned around in time to see him squatting in a peculiar way and he seemed to be concentrating a little too hard for just sitting in a corner. Then I realized he was peeing there on the floor!! So the whole time he was just needing me to open a door so he could get to his box that I had locked him away from (being an unthinking moron). Well, never a dull moment I guess. See, a dog would have been at that door whining, knowing that I would get the idea, or at least giving me a hint by being in the are he knows he needs to get to. But a cat? Noooo....again, like a woman, they want to be as vague as possible while expecting us to read their minds and know exactly what they mean! Oh man, it just keeps coming tonight, I should write a comedic article on these analogies....and the funny thing is I'm obviously single right it's not like I'm dealing with any of this, but it's just flowing from the fingers!

And before the many wonderful ladies who read this blog decide to kill me (all of the above is just a joke, really, women are never needy!) I'm going to bed! Happy 4th of July all, remember the sacrafices made by others so we can have this independence. God bless the USA!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

1 more day!

Thank goodness there's only 1 day left! This week and this pace is killing me. I've double-turned every day, and I'm doing it again tomorrow. And I'm not complaining like I'm the one bearing an exceptional burden or anything, everyone is double turning including the IPs, many of which even triple-turned today. I don't know how they do it; and right now we're down to only 3 IPs plus whatever guest IPs they can scrounge up. We're supposed to have 6! This pace can't keep up forever, though, I have to keep telling myself. At this rate we'll run out of sorties way before we run out of days; which I think is actually the plan so that we can get as far ahead right now as possible.

The only thing that's really hurt me with this schedule is my instrument sims. Like yesterday I double-turned I-sims and I came in not really knowing what to expect and how to prep for the first one. So, of course, it didn't go all that great. Then I had 5 whole minutes from the end of the first to the start of the brief for the second one of the day. So I barely had enough time to digest the first sortie let alone even start preparing for the next one, so it seemed like a waste of time. Not to say I didn't learn anything, but I could have done a lot better given a day between the two to really get the most out of the next one. Then of course today I had another one, and again I have another tomorrow morning and I'm flying contact sorties at the same time. As of the 2 sims yesterday I am now the farthest one in our flight on I-sims, and I'm now opted for my instrument dollar ride even. Though, I should be finishing contact first since I only have 2 more rides before checking and I'm getting one of those done tomorrow. It's just a ludicrous pace right now and pretty tough to keep up. Today we put in exactly a 12 hour day and left just in time to have 12 hours of crew rest for tomorrow...awesome. Even though Friday is off we're going to be there really late tomorrow as well; my flight doesn't even take off until after 1800.

Anyways, today even though it's been 4 weeks since I've flown I actually had a great ride. In fact it was good enough to get only my 2nd overall grade of Excellent on a sortie! So I was pretty happy about that. I think right now I've just got a whole lot of confidence after passing the first check ride and having 2 good solos afterwards as well; and that confidence makes a huge difference in my flying since I'm no longer second-guessing myself for the most of the ride and am able to just relax and fly the plane.

My sim-instructor today was from his testimony another fellow-believer. It's been pretty neat that every now and then I've been running into other Christians mixed in with all the instructors I've had. I think the Lord's used it as a way to show me "see, you're not the only one here trying to live for me!"

This weekend I'm heading out to AL on Friday, which reminds me I need to give Luke and Michelle a call tomorrow letting them know I won't be getting in tomorrow night. I could certainly drive it, but that would mean not getting in until after midnight, which isn't fair to them; and also it would just be stupid on my part because these days take everything out of my and I would be pushing it to stay focused and awake on the drive there. So, I'm going to get a good night's rest and then leave sometime Friday morning. i'm looking forward to just relaxing a bit this weekend and then I'll get back here on Monday and get a good bit of studying in before starting back at full steam on Tuesday with my final contact checkride expected for next week.

Tonight we all pitched in $5 each and a couple of the wives brought in 2 huge lasagnas and a bunch of cookies and some 2-liters that we all ate together in the flight room after every one got back from the 3rd and last go of flying. That was really nice and I know we all really appreciated them doing that for us; it put a nice ending onto a really long day. Boy am I glad for this upcoming 4-day weekend...I need the recharge! I'm sure all my classmates feel the same way!!