Sunday, March 15, 2009

NAS Brunswick, Maine


The next great adventure courtesy of the Navy has placed me in Brunswick - a relatively small town about half an hour north of Portland, Maine. I'll only be here for the next two weeks...two weeks of fun and relaxation! Just kidding.



So I'm here because all Navy Pilots are considered "high-risk assets" information-wise. The school is known as SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) and teaches us how to successfully carry out these four things in the event we crash in enemy territory. A lot of the information they gave us is classified so too bad.

All in all, I can honestly say it was the worst week of my life. I have never been more cold, tired, sore or hungry. Having fat guys slap me around and throw me into walls didn't help anything either. To sum it all up, I would say the best way to describe this week is Boot Camp combined with the Holocaust.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Vance AFB, Oklahoma


Primary Flight Training

After moving to Enid, Oklahoma and waiting six weeks, flight training at Vance Air Force Base finally began. The first few weeks were nothing but classroom lectures but eventually we hit the flightline and our squadrons. If you think Air Force training is cool, you're an idiot. It's even worse when you're a Navy pilot-in-training having to endure retarded Air Force antics day after day.

The first day in the squadron we were greeted with, "What?! What is this. Why are none of your boots shiny?! You have two minutes to go find polish and fix them." We all sat there bewildered. First of all, you don't polish your boots because the last thing you want is flammable wax catching fire while you're flying around at 20,000 feet. Second, HIS boots were more screwed up than ours. !!?!?!?!

Things continued to regress as we realized what the next seven months would be like. The Air Force enjoys a daily activity called "Standup" where a student stands at attention in front of the room and an instructor simulates a malfunction in your simulated plane. Your job is to talk your way through the emergency without screwing something up. I figured this could be somewhat practical until one day I hear the instructor comment, "That's not you would actually do it in the plane, but that's how I want you to handle it here." Here being in the simulated plane. So let me get this straight. You want us to practice handling the emergency the wrong way? Go Air Force.

The typical day involved waking up at 0500, getting to the squadron before the sun came up, watching/doing standup, studying piles of Air Force manuals for the next twelve hours, going home after the sun is long gone, eat, and sleep. Of course we were scheduled to fly each day, but more often than not the schedule would change and we would be stuck with nothing to do but study. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the room we were in had no windows.

The only awesome thing about training with the Air Force was getting to fly the T-6 Texan II. The T-6 is the Militaries newest trainer aircraft and is replacing the Navy's T-34C, which I would have flown had I gone somewhere for training.

T-34C Turbo Mentor

Introduced: 1975
Engine Horsepower: 550 shp
Max Takeoff Weight: 4,400 lbs
Max Speed: 320 mph
Range: 600 NM
Ceiling: 25,000 ft
Rate of Climb: 1,480 ft/min
G limits: 4.5 positive, 2.3 negative

T-6 Texan II

Introduced: 2001
Engine Horsepower: 1100 shp
Max Takeoff Weight: 6,500 lbs
Max Speed: Mach 0.67
Range: 850 NM
Ceiling: 31,000 ft
Rate of Climb: 4,500 ft/min
G limits: 7.0 positive, 3.5 negative

The plane also comes with an ejection seat that makes up half the cost of the entire aircraft. Needless to say, the T-6 is a little better. Here's an explanation of G limits. A positive G is the pressure you feel pushing down on you when you're at the bottom of a loop on a rollercoaster for example. A measurement of 1 G on the body is the normal gravity we feel every day. 2 G's is double that, 3 G's is triple, and so on. If you weigh 150 pounds and you pull a maneuver that places 7 G's on your body, it feels like you weigh 1050 pounds. Crazy huh. High G maneuvers suck all the blood from your head and cause you to pass out. 0 G's is weightlessness. So what does a negative G feel like? A negative G feels somewhat like leaving the peak of a rollercoaster. You get a funny feeling inside you and you want to squirm and claw at your stomach to get it out. While training, I screwed up a maneuver and went into the negative G spectrum causing my instructor to scream. It was pretty funny. That's for making us polish our boots!

T-6 Cockpit. Too many things to explain

Loop and Aileron Roll

The training was broken up into four phases. The first phase involved all the aerobatic maneuvers and pulling G's left and right. Second was instruments - flying around and knowing where you are without looking outside. Third was the navigation phase and included flying to Corpus Christi, Pensacola, Arkansas, Kansas, etc. The last phase, and undoubtedly the most fun, was formation. Having flown approximately 60 hours, the military felt it was a good idea to teach us how to fly 5 feet from another aircraft at 230 knots. At first it seemed impossible but by the end we were doing the aerobatic maneuvers while in formation. I don't have a video of this because I probably would have crashed into the other plane while trying to film and fly at the same time. Training ended in May and I gladly got away from the Air Force...hopefully forever.