Thursday, December 16, 2010

Back in the Saddle (RI Flights)

So now I’m back in the helo. Two blocks of RI flights to complete until I am an instrument rated pilot. RI’s are about as much fun as a prostate exam. Hopefully the next few weeks will go by quickly. I have completed the first block already without too much trouble. The next 5 flights are where you make your money though… they culminate with your instrument check ride. Only 5 more flights under the hood and then on to the fun stuff. After RI’s I get to do some ship landings, search and rescue, and low level flights. I’m excited. Shooting multiple approaches and being stressed out from a lack of sleep and studying for the briefs everyday gets old real quick. I’m just going to stop complaining and finish this thing up, I’ll post soon with the status of my check ride (should be in the next couple weeks). Wish me luck!

JR… out.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

CCX Hot ‘Lanta

One of the best parts of flight school is getting out on the “road” with an instructor for a Cross Country flight. Zach Moorer and I asked LT Osterhaus to take us on a CCX to Atlanta for the weekend. It just happened that Zach’s father has season tickets for USC, so they had tickets to the SEC Championship game that weekend. The flights were fun and not stressful at all. LT Osterhaus is a great instructor and made the flights fun, but we learned a lot. On the way to Atlanta one of our stops was Montgomery, Alabama. The pics above are from a small memorial to John Long, Jr… holder of the Guinness Book of World Record for the most flight hours as pilot-in-command. 64,000 something hours is ridunculous. Yes, ridunculous. In Atlanta we stayed at a hotel in mid-town and had a night out on the town Friday night. My mission was to get to a strip club. Mission Accomplished. Saturday night I spent at my buddy Brian’s house with his family and our friend Richard and his wife. By the way Brian… thank you (and your beautiful wife) for the great dinner! It was a good time; I hadn’t seen those guys in probably 5 years. The ride back to Pensacola was long and cold. Zach broke the back window in the helo, so I had to make a fort out of flight bags to stay warm for the last 2 hour leg of our trip home. I wish I had more pics of the trip, but I lost my camera the weekend before.

JR… out.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

RI Sims

Here comes the hurt. RI’s are going to be painful. Long days of staring at the instrument panel, and even longer days due to the studying required in order to be prepared for the flights and the preceeding briefs. This is the hardest part of flight school. They say (instructors) that you will do more instrument flying here in Advanced than you will do in the fleet. I am glad. I can’t stand RI’s. They are the reason I picked helicopters in the first place. Having your face in the cockpit with no outside reference isn’t a lot of fun, who would want to fly like that? (Airline pilots). Something about being able to see where you are going, you know? Back in BI sims you flew with an instructor in the left seat (co-pilot). Here in RI’s they pick a student for you to fly with, and you take turns “playing” pilot and co-pilot. I was fortunate enough to get a partner of my choosing, so my buddy Zach Moorer and I got to fly together. We are both strong personalities, so sometimes we would clash in the cockpit. Nothing outlandish, but sometimes funny… and we always left it in the trainer. We had a beer bet going on who would crash the most autos (autorotative landing). He is like an idiot savant when it comes to landing those things… and I’m a sore loser. In RI sims you fly multiple approaches and practice making radio calls to the instructor who is orchestrating the simulator environment from his console in the back. RI sims were actually fun. Enjoy the pics, more to come.

JR… out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Dreaded INAV Test

OMG. (Oh, my, God… for people over 40) This test pulls more attention than any test I’ve taken in the flight program so far. People make it out to be a student killer. Maybe it gets its rep because it gets more failures than any other test in Advanced? My opinion: None of the tests in Advanced are that hard... except the INAV. Here is the info… open book test. Seems simple enough right? Um, did you see the books? I wish I would have taken a picture of them right before the test (by the way, anyone reading this with a pic of all their books tabbed up… send it). Our books are tabbed to the point of ridiculousness. The majority of the test focuses on finding obscure information in the mountain of pubs that we received especially for this test. The purpose of this test is to train you to flight plan and use all the available publications that the Navy makes accessible to you. A smaller (but in no way insignificant) portion of the test is the “Jet Log” and DD-175. The Jet Log is a calculation of distance, time, and fuel burn for every portion of your route of flight. The only thing that makes it difficult is in order to "standardize” it for testing purposes, there are a bunch a rules you must follow… and basically memorize. It sucks. Anyhow, the test is done, the pain has passed, and I’ll take my 92% all day long.

JR… out.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BI Flights

Sit in a chair and stare at me for 2 hours.  Welcome to BI's.

Finally done with Sims! Which means now I get to stare at an instrument panel in a real helicopter? Please and thank you. All kidding aside, I am really excited to get back in the aircraft. The simulator truly feels like a game, and the instructors teach you how to “beat” it. “Set this nose attitude, set this power, turn this angle, ok… now take your hand off the controls! See it flies itself!” Yeah, ok. Not so much in a real helicopter. You have thermals you have to deal with, the shuddering of a real helicopter, and the AFCS (Automatic Flight Control System) isn’t so automatic. BI flights are the beginning of very long days for students. Not only do you have to fly a flight for yourself, but because you wear a “hood,” another student sits in the back so that he/she can clear (look out a window) the right side of the aircraft. I don’t have a lot of pictures for these flights, mainly because there isn’t much to them. It is the same maneuvers over and over, the same ones that you learned in the simulator. The difference is that you are “eased” into the RI portion of the syllabus which includes flying approaches and departures. That is all for now, see you soon.

JR… out!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Basic Instruments 101

Ah… Basic Instruments. Not called Basic because they are any less sophisticated than any other instruments, but basic because we are learning to fly using only instruments (no outside references) at a “basic level.” Basically (no puns) the student shows up at the appropriate time, and sits in a cubicle waiting for a civilian instructor to come and start the brief off. Most of the civilian instructors have been around for a long time. I mean FOREVER. A couple might have even had a hand in inventing the helicopter. Anyways, the brief normally isn’t too hard or painful… which makes sense. This is “basic” instruments. On to the simulator you go (after the instructor gets another cup of coffee and a pee break) and you strap into that metal box. It is actually a really cool simulator, and makes me wish I had millions to spend on a large video game that doesn’t take quarters. The instructor sits in the copilot seat for these sims (the left seat) and gives you some instruction on how to complete the maneuvers. Most of the maneuvers involve changing an altitude, airspeed, heading, or a combination of the three. The degree of how accurate you execute the maneuver is how you are graded. (Think flying in the clouds, no visual horizon, only flying using the instruments in front of you.) BI sims get repetitive, and some of the instructors are… let’s just say not everyone’s favorite. But mastering a few of the maneuvers here is supposed to increase your instrument scan, and make you a better pilot. Enjoy the pics, more to come!

JR… out.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Confused by my Tactics?

Tactics!  Some say it is the most fun that you will have in Helo Advanced.  Personally, I enjoyed the aerobatics and form flights of Primary, but the Tactics flights were definitely the coolest flights in the Helo to date.

"This block is to introduce you to all the cool things helicopters can do, don't worry... you won't be really good at it." -LT Ahlen

I guess that kind of sums it up.  In this block of training you fly High-Speed Approaches, Confined Area Landings, and External Ops.  They take the doors (the rear doors) off the helo and 2 of the 3 flights you fly with a crewman in the back.  I got to catch a ride to one of our outlying sites and sit in the back with the doors off.  That is probably one of the more enjoyable experiences in my Naval Career so far.  (I wish I was allowed to have taken pictures of that)  I am kind of jealous of the guys that get to do it all of the time.  This block of training starts with the student and the instructor taking the bird out to an outlying field to practice flying into the field at 100 knots, 50 feet, then almost taking out all power and pulling aft stick to slow down to almost a walking speed and land.  It was pretty awesome.  (a normal approach has the helo at 50 knots at the field boundary at 150 feet)  The Confined Area Landings are completed on the next flight, and are basically a steep approach into a wooded area that has a landing site.  The crewman in the back directs you and clears the rear of the aircraft.  The last day is external load training... kind of benign, but it was still enjoyable and good training.  I was able to shoot a little video of our instructor (LT Gomez) demoing the maneuver before I got a shot at it, and in one of the videos a couple sections (group of 2) came in to split the field and land.  Enjoy the video and pics... I'll have more up soon!

JR... out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Super Fams Sucka!

Super Fams!  Well, not as super as their name... but they are more checks in the box, and more flights towards getting my wings.  Super Fams are more familiarization flights that you complete after your solo (yes, I have already solo'd and made it back in one piece).  They are for increased proficiency before you move on to your "Tactics" flights.  My solo went well (you actually fly with another student to an outlying field and then back) and now I am in Super Fams.  Because this block of flights isn't exactly high priority, the pics I have are of me and my buddies sitting around cracking jokes hoping to get picked up on the pick-up board.  There is a large student ready room with a flat screen that loops ESPN all day, so we get a little bit of studying done, but mostly catch up on all the games that we don't really have time to watch.  Anyhow, enjoy the pics... Tactics is bound to have some better stories/pictures.

JR... out.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Megan's Wedding

A buddy of mine from API (you might have to go into the archives on the right there) decided to tie the knot in Pensacola.  She contacted a few of us that were still around from API and requested for us to attend her wedding and perform a sword arch for her and her husband to be (J.C.).  The wedding was at Old Christ Church in downtown Pensacola.  It was a classy ceremony, and then everyone met up at the O' Club at NAS Pensacola for the reception.  Megan had the foresight to place us at the table closest to the bar (kudos!) and plant (I think the only) "single" girl at the wedding at our table.  We drank in true Navy and Marine Corp fashion, and got the party started early into the evening.  Congrats Megan and J.C.!

JR... out.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Today we salute you...

Tyler Flagg, a buddy of mine from API and Primary Training, wrote this Bud Light commercial for me.  He is currently in Enid finishing up his training in the T-44.  Thanks Tyler, and we miss you down here bro.

Today we salute you 'Mr. Tannest Man in flight school'...

Anyone can live in Milton, study every night and make it through pilot training...but it takes a real man to push the limits of crew days in order to make squids and kids night every week...

You schedule your flights around your GTL time, and keep your visor up at 8,000 feet, because why not? you're just 8,000 feet closer to the sun...

Group Study sessions and Practice Sims? Who needs can always just figure that shit out in the plane...

So crack open an ice cold bud light...because your golden brown tan says "Sure, I'll fly a plane...but I came here to party"

JR... out.

Monday, August 23, 2010


It has been a few weeks since my last post.  I have been really busy, but decided to sit down to write a few lines in here. I finished up ground school, and have moved into the FAM flight stage.  Similar to Primary Training over at North Whiting Field... the purpose of these flights are to get you ready to solo and introduce you to flying helicopters.  I flew my first graded event today, and I did pretty well.  I'm happy with how the flight went, normally I am very critical of myself.  Obviously I still have a long way to go.  I have about 6 more flights to go until my FAM partner and I take out the bird by ourselves.  My FAM partner is an Italian student, Luca Giannini.  I guess that is all for now, I will try to get more pics up soon.

JR... out.

Monday, July 12, 2010

HT-8 Ballers

Last week I had my first week of training in my new squadron, HT-8.  The "Eight Ballers" is one of three helicopter training squadrons at NAS Whiting field.  The others being HT-28 and HT-18.  I am currently in Aero class (aerodynamics) learning that helicopters probably shouldn't fly.  Seriously, the amount of moving parts and craziness that goes into making one of these things move is amazing.  I can't wait to get in the air.  One more week of class, one week of CPT's (a static trainer that you practice emergency procedures in) and then I should be getting close to flying the real thing.  More pics to come once I actually start doing something worth posting about. This was a quote we read in class, it made me laugh...

“Like all novices we began with the helicopter but soon saw it had no future and dropped it. The helicopter does, with great labor, only what the balloon does without labor, and is no more fitted than the balloon for rapid horizontal flight. If its engine stops, it must fall with deathly violence, for it can neither float like a balloon nor glide like an airplane. The helicopter is much easier to design than an airplane, but it is worthless when done.”

-Wilbur Wright


JR... out.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Helo's here I come!

Selection was Thursday, and I got my first choice of helos.  I am stoked.  Here is a pic of the other selectees.  Everyone got their first choice except one, but she was on the fence just like I was so it wasn't a hit to get her 2nd choice. Congrats Kai!  Time to celebrate.  Stay tuned, now it is time for pictures of advanced training at South Field flying helicopters!

JR... out.

Primary Complete Sucka!

All done!  Well... with this phase.  I finished with a 53.4 NSS.  I know that doesn't mean much to anyone not in flight school but lets say the average at the squadron bounces around 47.  50 is the cut for Jets, and the grades are on a curve with the past 200 students with an 80 being the top of the curve.  I am happy how I finished.  I am ready for selection and have decided that I am going to put helos as my first choice.  I don't want to say I was talked into it by LT Rack and LT Kiffer, I actually had been on the fence for a few weeks now.  They helped fill me in on things about the helo community of which I wasn't aware.  I had always wanted P-3s, but the closer I got to selection, the more I felt like I would fit into the helo community better.  P-3's fly instruments alot (basically what I did for the last month of Primary flight school) and I hate instruments.  They aren't fun.  Helo's fly VFR (visual flight rules) pretty much most of the time and I really enjoy being able to see the ground and see where I am going.  Most helo pilots are really cool and not douchey as well.  I used to have all the jokes for helos and the guys that picked them.  "You know a helo is 5 million parts flying in loose formation right?"  Blah, blah, blah.  In the end, I am excited about my choice, we'll see how it pans out.

JR... out.

CCX Gainesville

The stars aligned for me last weekend and I was able to do a CCX (Cross Country) to Gainesville, FL.  Normally students pick a destination a little farter away, but we felt that with the weather closing in from the West, it might be a good idea to stay close to home.  Besides, I have seen Key West quite a few times.  It worked out great because the A/C in our plane was being a little punk and it was hot as hell outside.  3 short legs and we were drinking beer at University Air in G-ville.  Gainesville was awesome, and we had a great time.  Stumbled into a frat house party, took a bunch of pictures we don't remember, and I woke up with a bashed leg that looks like I got hit with a bat.  I toughed out the last few flights home and we returned on Sunday.  I should have went to medical but I had 3 flights left in Primary and there was no way I was going to let them med down me for my leg and have to wait another week or two to finish.  Last couple flights were actually pretty painful, but I played it off and got them done.  Thanks Craig (DeGarmo) for taking me and they boys around and showing us a good time.  Looking forward to doing it again.  The most random and awesome thing happened in Tallahassee.  I grew up with the Monson boys, Joe and Todd from the Keys.  On Sunday I am parking the plane and who is my lineman?  Todd Monson.  Instead of giving him the normal "thumb up" sign, I threw him the bird.  He cocked his head to the side a little and then I raised my visor.  It was great to see you man, even if it was only for a gas-and-go.  I can't believe I get paid to do this.

JR... out.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dear RI's

I am glad to be finished with you. At least the Sim part. You were a miserable mistress.

Sim complete!  At least Primary Sim complete... Off to the plane now.  9 more flights and then I get to select what I am going to fly in the fleet.  Still don't know what I want yet.  Still leaning P-3's, but helo's are an option as well.  I have a cross country this weekend to Gainesville and then will only have 3 flights remaining in the syllabus.  I hope I finish up next week.  Gotta go and prepare for my flight, see you guys around.

JR... out.