NOW WE DIE!
The Air Force Undergraduate
Pilot Training (UPT) program (c. 1970) used to take 53 weeks,
and consisted of training in the:
T-41, A drafted
Cessna 172 offically called the "Mescalero," but
we called the "Mattel Bomber"
T-37, Twin engine,
jet-powered glider, side by side seating affectionately called
the "Tweety Bird"
White Rocket, tandem seating, two seat version of F-5 called
the "Talon". ·
Starting with Class
71-08 at Moody (my class), the program was suddenly accelerated
to 48 weeks. Since then, the T-41 program was dropped, and students
now start off in jets. However, back in the "good old days", students
were screened out, and got about 35 hours in the T-41 before going
on to T-37s.
I recall that there
were 5 normally scheduled missions before going for a pre-solo
check. If you passed the pre-solo check, you soloed. If you failed
the pre-solo check, you got a review ride and another check. Two
strikes and you're out. The Air Force isn't like the Navy. The
Navy gives you X number of rides, and sends you off to solo. If
you come back alive, you pass. (I don't know if this is really
true, but that's the rumor, anyway).
The two-strike rule
was waived for our foreign students. After all, their governments
have gone through a lot of effort to get their students to UPT.
To have a high wash out rate wouldn't do in a "political" environment,
but most importantly, their governments are willing to pay the
bill. Besides, there were rumors about washed out pilots going
home to a 21-gun salute (as in standing in front of, with back
to wall, blindfolded, and smoking a cigarette).
Anyway, few foreign
pilots washed out. They would be given as many review rides as
it would take to get them ready for a check ride. They would get
as many check rides as it would take to pass. And they would get
a top of the line fighter aircraft when it was all over.
So here's old Abdul
on his 15th consecutive pre solo ride in a T-37. As he's heading
down initial, his instructor informs him that he'll have a 16th
pre solo flight to look forward to. Abdul says, "I bring shame
upon myself, shame upon my family, and shame upon my country.
Now we die!" At which point, he reaches out and hits the fuel
cutoff switches for both engines.
The instructor got
the switches back on before the engines could flame out saying,
"What the f*ck is this 'WE' shit? If you want to kill yourself,
I'll send you up here on your own!"
The fact that Abdul
had taken his hand off the stick and throttle was no indication
as to what he had in mind. Many Iranian students were fond of
getting into a critical phase of flight, deciding it was too much,
release all of the controls and declare confidently, "Allah has
The instructor usually had to give Allah a hand. This situation
gets really hairy when Allah has about 50 knots overtake, and
is about 3 ship lengths out on a formation rejoin.
The final note on
Abdul (Call sign Bim 411),
Moody Approach Control:
"Bim 411, Radar contact. Moody landing runway one eight, wind
two two zero at ten, altimeter two niner niner eight, turn right
to two seven zero, descend and maintain six thousand, squawk four
zero zero zero, contact approach control two four seven point
Bim 411: "Rogerwhatmean?"
Controller (to his
workmate standing beside him): "What did he say?"
Workmate: "I think
it's Farsi for 'Clear the pattern, I'm landing.'"
This is not the recommended spin recovery procedure. It would
probably work, but here goes:
Throttle - Idle.
Rudder and ailerons - Neutral.
Stick - full aft and hold.
Determine direction of spin.
Apply full opposite rudder.
Stick - full forward.
Recover from dive.
A case of beer was
to be awarded to the first pilot who could wrench the stick out
of the socket. It was not intended to be a gentle maneuver. It
gave you a chance to take out your hostilities on the aircraft.
We actually practiced these things!
My memory may be failing
after over 30 years, but on "Stick - full forward", I nearly punched
out the monitor.
such as the above are studied and permanently burned in ROM. Any
spouse of a student pilot was probably equally proficient in rattling
off the emergency procedures, aircraft limitations, weather limitations,
FARs, ICAOs, AFR 60-16, etc. I married my wife after pilot training,
so she was spared such agony, nonetheless she still picked up
all my bad habits when she took her flying lessons. (But that's
another "war story.")