Course, with no disrespect intended, every time I hear his name (or anyone named Aaron), I am reminded of this video.
Back on subject, juvat! (Sorry Aaron! Guess ya got to work in a school district to appreciate.)
In any case, his blog is difficult to stereotype. He blogs about lawyering, scuba diving, antique coining, his family, and life in his home town of Detroitabul, Michiganistan. Each post is highly informative and entertaining. You should read him....often!
Lately, he's been blogging on his new
OK, I'll confess, I've been living vicariously through these posts.
As I've read his posts, I was transported back in time to my days as a neophyte pilot and encountered some of the exact same teaching techniques. While Aaron is a bit more eloquent than me (he IS a lawyer), I recognized some of the same thoughts.
Why in the h**l is my IP covering over some of the instrument panel? Doesn't he know I need those instruments?
Why is he making me navigate via dead reckoning to a divert base? Isn't that why we've got navaids?
In lovely Del Rio-by-the-sea, the weather is usually quite nice, so instrument practice is somewhat contrived. In the T-38, you sat in the back and had a smelly canvas cover that was suspended from the canopy and slid over your head. These were manufactured when Jimmy Doolittle was in pilot training.
|No significant difference between General Doolittle's day and mine.|
Old would be an understatement. Because of that age, they had cracks and holes that let in light from all sorts of angles. This would tend to induce vertigo. A by product of that vertigo was the tendency to get nauseous. Very nauseous.
Yes, they stunk also.
Fortunately, I had learned very early not to fly on either a full nor an empty stomach and never got airsick. (Well, there was that time in the back of a 141 returning from RED FLAG in Las Vegas, but I think there were other factors involved.)
Where was I?
Oh yeah, instrument flying and partial panels. The T-37 was a side by side configuration, so the IP would usually slip a 4 x 6 note card under the visor to block the student's view outside. You could steal a glance, but the IP would know because you had to lift your head WAY up.
|Tweet over Lake Amistad (on the American side!)|
Another technique was to bring masking tape and cover over a few of the instruments.
Flying instruments without the attitude indicator was always fun (not!). However, since the T-37, at the time quite literally, had WWII era attitude gyros, failure was a common occurrence. So, one would learn to achieve level flight by very small corrections until the Vertical Velocity Indicator (VVI - it told you what your climb/descent rate was a couple of seconds ago) and the Altimeter (told you how high you were above sea level which is not the same as above the ground, also a couple of seconds ago) were steady. You would also control the bank angle of the wings by watching your heading indicator and the turn and slip indicator.
As long as all those instruments were steady, you were straight and level. IPs that really hated you a lot, would take the aircraft with the attitude indicator taped over. Put the aircraft into an unusual attitude such as a steep climb or dive, steep turn etc. then have you recover. My IP, affectionately called "Ironman", at one point actually put it into a spin and told me to recover. I eventually did, but it took a while, meaning a lot of altitude. Have I mentioned I disliked spins?
All to get you to the point where you could fly the aircraft no matter what the circumstances. As
So, it's kinda the Pistol analogy. "You don't need a pistol, until you need a pistol, then you need it bad." You don't need to know how to fly instruments with a partial panel until you've got a partial panel and then.....
So....There I was* (C'mon, you had to know that was coming by now, dincha?)
I'm flying solo in an AT-38 on the wing of a Student in the front seat and the Chief of Stan Eval (we called them Stanley Evil, they're job was to wash good pilots out.) in the pit. The student is not doing well in the program. In fact, if he doesn't meet standards on this sortie, he will be washed out of LIFT and he will be transferred to another type aircraft.
My role on the sortie is to fly the target profile as precisely as possible, so the student has nothing complicating his flying the offensive tactics. In short, I'm to fly a perfectly level 4g turn while the student tries to achieve weapons parameters.
BORRRRINGG! But, hey, it's flying time.
We're on our third and final engagement, and the student is not doing well. My (unofficial) assessment is he should practice saying "Ready to start #8, Sir! . As he overshoots again, I hear a recall call from the SOF. The other IP calls the knock it off and directs a rejoin as he points back at the base.
We're in the airspace east of the base with the mountains between us and it. We're plenty high and we can see the Tularosa Basin.
|OK, we were higher than this!|
The wind has picked up significantly and all that fine gypsum dust is blowing in the air, up to the mid-20s.
We contact the SOF and he advises us that visibility is less than a mile and the crosswinds are out of limits for the normal north-south runway. We'll have to shoot an ILS to runway 22.
|That beige and brown area to the right of the line? Mountains. You don't want to be low.|
None of the pilots in our flight have shot that approach, but it's just an instrument approach. I'm flying a loose formation as we head back, so I pull out the instrument approach book, note the final approach heading, dial the frequency and final approach course into the ILS, and note the minimum altitudes along the route. The IP tells me that we'll enter the holding pattern together and then he'll clear me off as he starts his approach. (Pretty standard, that's what I was expecting.)
As we're approaching the initial approach point (the start point for the approach), we're in the weather (dust actually) so I'm in close formation. Quick glances at the instruments indicate that we're not really flying good instruments. Airspeeds and altitudes are varying quite a bit as we're getting close to holding.
I'm thinking the IP is letting the student fly.
After a bit of this, the IP calls and asks me what our airspeed and altitude is. I tell him.
Then he comes back and tells me I have the lead. I acknowledge and as he tucks in on my wing, I ask him what the problem is.
He says he's apparently got failure of the pitot-static system.
The Pitot-Static system measures air pressures and uses them to tell altitude, airspeed, vertical velocity. In more modern aircraft than we were flying, it also provides input to the flight control computer and the engine and fuel controls. Failure of this system is "Bad".
The chances of him successfully flying this instrument approach, letting down over the mountains where altitude control is critical, in low visibility with severe turbulence, are minimal.
We discuss the process, come up with our game plan and contact the SOF. He agrees, although he has Approach clear out the holding pattern of all the other recovering aircraft before he tells them to bring us in.
Having not been a SOF yet at that point in my career, I think "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Buddy". Later, I'd do the same thing.
In any case, the plan is to fly the approach with him on my wing all the way down until I would begin the flare. At that point, I'd tell him I was going around and do so. All he should have to do is hold the stick, pull the throttles to idle and land.
Once he was on the ground, I would get vectored around for a short pattern and I'd land myself.
Fortunately, all went as planned. I went around when I was about a foot in the air. He landed. My approach was short and sweet and I landed. By the time I got to the end of the runway, the Sirocco had past and the wind was calming down. The overhead pattern reopened shortly thereafter and operations returned to normal.
Love the Retro feel of this video from 1980 at Willy
Just another day in aviation.
While the student got one more "last chance" because of the circumstances on this ride, he didn't do any better that time and was washed out.