Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New Job, New Stories, Maybe*

(Sept. 15, 2009) Capt. Ross Myers, right, commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, explains the F/A-18 simulator to U. S. Ambassador to Japan the Honorable John Roos inside Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi's simulator building. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Steven Khor)
* Just to be clear, this would be The WSO with a new job. Not Your Humble Scribe. I envision my next job as being a man about town, a man of leisure, in short - retired.

Back in '13 I had the opportunity to fly the F/A-18 simulator out at NAS Lemoore, current home of The WSO and her branch of the tribe. Okay, technically it's where The WSO and her husband Big Time both work. He as a uniformed Naval Aviator in the naval service, she as a newly minted contractor working in, of all places, the F/A-18 simulator.

I wrote about my inability to land on a simulated aircraft carrier while flying a simulated aircraft here. Not only was I unable to trap, my attempts to do so got progressively worse. Which I fessed up to in that post I linked to. I think. If not, I do so now. I suck at carrier landings. I wouldn't even make the greenie board, let alone ever score the coveted "OK 3."

Now before LUSH, as she demands the students call her (as opposed to Ma'am, which pisses her off), got out of the Navy (oh yeah, The WSO and LUSH are the same person, in case I confused you there, that person being my youngest child and second daughter) she had heard tell of this rather lucrative position in the flight simulator building. As she was getting out, she thought about being a stay at home mom for a while, then decided that losing her salary as a lieutenant might be painful, I mean who can live on the salary of a Hinge, er, lieutenant commander anyway? (Well, I could, but I'm used to enlisted pay. Then again, we never lived in California, which, in case you didn't know, is pretty deuced expensive.)

So she interviewed with the head guy, a former Naval Aviator yclept Dude. As that moniker is in italics you may rest assured that that was (and still is) his callsign. How did he get that, you might wonder. Has something to do with this, well, dude -

(Source)
I can't wait to meet this guy. A most laid back, well, dude. Anyhoo...

You might wonder exactly what it is The WSO does in the simulator. Well, she flies it.

Uh, wasn't she a backseater, hence the nom de blog of The WSO? She didn't fly the bloody thing just gave directions, twiddled with the knobs on the radar and the bombing computer (yes, twiddled is a technical term). Yes, yes she was a Naval Flight Officer, aka NFO, aka WSO, aka backseater. But no more. She has been civilianized (as opposed to civilized) and now has the enviable task of driving the simulated jet so that brand new WSOs can learn their trade. They taught her to do that without doing the whole controlled flight into terrain thing. (Heck, even I can do that in the sim, well until I run out of go juice as I can't land it.)

Mind you, she's not actually training the new kids to be WSOs, she just drives the bus while they do their WSO things in the back seat (ya know, twiddling). Essentially, she does what any nose gunner, er, pilot does and that is do what the backseater says. So that the backseater can learn their trade and develop unreasonable expectations that someday their GIF (guy/gal in front, aka pilot, aka stick actuator, aka stick monkey) might, in real life actually listen to them. (HA!)

So okay, the GIF and the GIB (guy/gal in back) are a team, they fight the jet together, etc., etc. I get that, I am not biased against pilots, not at all, the aircraft will not, no matter how much the backseater wishes, fly itself. Someone has to point the bird in all the right directions so that the honed and professional GIF/GIB team can deliver ordnance onto the misbegotten hoards of anti-freedom, anti-social bastards who mean to cause the collapse of Western Civilization.

What's that? No, I didn't mean Democrats. I meant foreign bad guys. And yes, some are bad gals, just to be all inclusive here at The Chant, and I'm sure some of those bad people might identify as being non-gender specific or something so here on out let's just call them assholes. While this is a kind of family friendly place, they actually use that term on TV and the radio, so...

If they ain't heard it by now they will soon. (And I'm pretty sure no Amish read the blog, they can't have computers right?)

I see I have digressed. Apologies, where were we?

Ah yes, The WSO in her new job is a simulated naval aviator. Simulated as in she can't actually crash the sim bad enough to break things and hurt people. I discovered in the sim that one can actually tie the low altitude record and walk away to fly again another day. (Provided the sim operator actually resets everything properly.) Oh, and did you know that the engines on the F/A-18 simulator will actually run on seawater, I know, I tried. I guess it might depend on the "realism" settings being employed but my sole time in the cockpit did see me flying at sea level, or slightly below, scaring the crap out of the wildlife. Not to mention myself. Big Time had a chuckle over it, I'm just glad he didn't refer to me as "the U-Boot captain."

So that's The WSO's new job in a nutshell. She's basically a chauffeur for WSOs in training. One thing about the job though is that she has to do what the WSO tells her, that and no more (and no less). So if the GIB gets target fixated or perhaps has a helmet fire (so task overloaded that confusion sets in) she simply maintains course, speed, and pitch setting. So if she's got the bird in a dive, like when simulating dropping ordnance, she stays there. No matter how close the simulated flying machine gets to the simulated ground.

Can't do that in a real jet, well you can, but only once.

So it seems the other day she had a student in the back and she was merrily toodling along (another technical term), pointing the simulated bird wherever her WSO told her and said WSO got a little distracted. As our own LUSH (said tag I will use when she is in the simulated cockpit) watched the altimeter wind down, and watched as the pretty simulated terrain got closer and closer, she was sore tempted to point out to the student that perhaps the ground was getting a might close and was there anything in the way of "stick back, throttles forward" that she could do to perhaps keep them in the simulated sky a while longer? At least until said student finished the day's lesson.

She sat there, wondering what the protocol was, this was her first time chauffeuring an actual student. Should she yell at him? Should she just pull up? Or should she obey her training and let the poor student fly them into the ground, learning (perhaps) a valuable lesson?

She adhered to her training and just about the time she resigned herself to ending the day's mission on a low note, the student in the back came out of whatever reverie he was engaged in and gave her instructions to pull up, rather abruptly I gather. Seems he'd got hung up on some task in the back cockpit and lost situational awareness momentarily. Of such things obituaries are made in real life.

But in the sim, it's lesson learned, move on and oh yeah, don't do that in the real jet, your real pilot will obey your instructions but he/she will (if they're smart) preserve themselves to fly and fight another day.

I trust and hope that LUSH will share stories of the simulator in the future, bearing in mind the needs of the service and the need to preserve operational security and all that. Uncle Sam, and my current employer, often stress the need to keep a secret. I'm pretty good, check that, damned good at keeping a secret.

So I've got that going for me.

And, perhaps, a new source for stories of the naval service.

We shall see.




22 comments:

  1. During our Museum of the Air Force visit my wife and I flew the simulator. And yes, I know it was the preschool version of the simulator your daughter is flying, but we had an awesome time and we spent some of our flight inverted. She flew the weapons position and I was the pilot. We got 14 kills and we were going to get back in and go for a triple ace when we realized that might not be the smartest thing to do for those past sixty. Indeed the next day my legs were letting me known I might have been pushing a bit harder than I realized.

    Flying the real simulator must have been great, and I am more than a little envious of your experience.



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    1. It was fun but it's not a full motion simulator, more for learning emergency procedures.

      The WSO and I did one of those simulator rides at the Smithsonian in DC, much fun. I flew she was, well, the WSO, operating the weapons. Much fun, I spent most of the time inverted, she spent most of the time laughing maniacally. When we were done we had six kills and everyone looked at us like we were insane. Which we might be.

      :)

      Delete
  2. Man About Town: "I say, fellow, remove yourself from my croquet pitch or I shall give you a jolly good thrashing!"

    Does LUSH get to teach the fun stuff too? And is she getting sick of bananas yet?

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    1. Hahaha!

      She just drives, the instructors in 122 take care of the actual teaching. Far as I know she has not gotten sick of bananas yet. :)

      Delete
  3. I did not know that the Aircraft Commander in the Navy was in the back seat. Interesting. Not the case in the AF. Now, granted I generally followed the advice I was given from the back seat, but depending on the skill and my confidence therein, there was some grains of salt involved.

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    1. It's all hyperbole. Or would that be artistic license?

      The guy who gets to hit the ground first should have a bigger vote in what happens.

      :)

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  4. I know that guy well- RDML Ross Myers. Flew with him many times out in Japan when he was CAG Paddles. As for Lush's stories, maybe give her the keys once in a while?

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    1. I'll ask her, you never know!

      (And what is/was RDML Myers callsign?, inquiring minds and all that. "Oscar"?)

      Delete
  5. Flying upside-down is never insane. The people love it. Just don't scratch the tops of the wings on a tall pine tree. Can't you eject from this simulator, thus proving that you were looking outside? Oh, not while you are flying inverted however.

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    1. Well, you can always jump. In the sim it's not that far to the floor.

      And yes, inverted is fun, for a little while anyway.

      Delete
  6. You big tease you. Now I will be looking for WSO/LUSH reports/stories. There had best be some or I shall ( simulated ) beat you with my cane.

    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. And the pressure is on!

      (I shall ping LUSH forthwith!)

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  7. I did that same sim at the Smithsonian while in DC for a conference so I did it with a coworker. As we were about to get in I told him I was flying. He didn't get a vote. First thing I did was roll it inverted. I don't thing we got any kills but my primary concern was being upside down. Back at the hotel I noticed I had bruises on my shoulders from the straps. Good times.

    DLM

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    1. If your shoulders don't get bruised, you're doing it wrong.
      :)

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  8. Around 1968 I was working on my instrument rating. The flight school was owned by United Instructors (this being in Denver) as a side business. As I was their first student, and they were still trying to get their FAA certifications, somehow I ended up with around 10 hours in a 727 simulator (after hours). "Interesting" situations were discouraged. Bit different than the Piper 140 we used for actual flying. Things happened much quicker. Passed the check ride first try.

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  9. Soooooo......

    Did LUSH ever get around to saying anything sharpish about the newbie's lack of situational awareness?

    And if so, does she remember what she said? And would she allow you to repeat it?

    Because, because, you know, that would complete the story, rather than leaving us inverted in the simulator with NO POWER as the attendants walk out for the day!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Come on, man...

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    1. You say that like it's a bad thing.

      ;)

      (I'll ask her.)

      Delete
  10. After a somewhat mediocre career, I went to work for "the flagship" aviation trainers in the simulation field. Was Program Manager for a very popular corporate jet line and had "B," "C," and "D" Level sims in my program. One can get a pretty good ride out of a "D" Level although both the "C" and "D" were full motion and thus type rating qualified. I really enjoyed issuing both new type ratings and the frequent ATP certificate to applicants. But, if I may, one can actually crash a full motion sim hard enough to do damage. There are many stories here. regards, Alemaster (I'm on the "show me your papers" list too but I can't blame y'all on for that)

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    1. I reckon that crashing a full motion sim would be damaging, perhaps even to the occupant(s).

      Damn, Alemaster, the gate guards are harassing you too? (Google says that even though "show your papers" mode is off, from time to time certain users will get "pulled over" so to speak. You and Paul are in a rather select group, near as I can tell.)

      Delete
    2. Well, I sure couldn't blame anyone for wanting to restrict my all to frequent BS. "Special" isn't always a good thing. regards, Alemaster

      Delete

Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)