By lex, on September 12th, 2011
So, yesterday I got in pretty early, having not much else to do, and spent most of the day brushing up on aircraft systems, immediate action emergencies, local course rules (how you get in and out of a military airfield), cockpit familiarization and finally, Garmin 530 system management. I always wanted to get more than a rudimentary understanding of the Garmin system, but the aircraft that I had access to were too expensive to routinely fly. Things, they change.
(A paragraph hear about the intricacies of broadcast control vice close-control methodologies was emended, your host having been out of the air intercept game long enough to dis-remember how much of it is classified. Feh.)
The last event of the day, apart from supper, was my final ground operations mission, a full afterburner, high speed taxi test to 130 knots followed by an abort, using the drag chute this time. I wore full flight gear for this one, which in the Kfir basically means g-suit and survival vest over the flight suit, helmet and O2 mask. With all that clabber wrapped around you, and the parachute strapped on – it stays in the plane – g-suit plugged in and O2 hose in the receptacle, it gets just that little bit cramped and crowded in the cockpit. There are various gauges (some of them quite important), circuit breakers (a really quite enormous quantity of circuit breakers, the Hornet only had eight in the cockpit) and switch settings to verify at different stages in the pre-start, start, taxi and take-off checklists. Getting a look at them wearing all of the gear requires at times a degree of contorsionism and tugging parts of yourself out of the way.
It was all accomplished in due time, and I trundled out to the hold short, completing such take-off checks as could be accomplished prior to taking the runway for final run-ups and the high speed abort. The tower controller asked if I was ready for the runway, and I replied that I would be in a moment, taking the time to visualize the procedures I would use to get the lightly loaded jet whistling down the runway and stopped again.
As a consequence of such visualization, yesterday’s mission was a lot less exciting than my last attempt, which is really the way you’d like it to be. Got her in and out of grunt the way that engineers intended, hit 130 knots, waited until I had crossed the short field arresting gear to minimize the risk of entanglement and popped the chute. The drag chute is stuffed into the tail, covered by an aluminum cap connected first to the drogue chute, which pulls the main chute out to help slow the fighter to taxi speed. It’s not a “right now” arrested landing type of thing, and took a moment or two longer to fully deploy than I had anticipated. In fact, I contemplated the consequences of a failed chute just as I felt the gratifying tug of the chute deploying. Taxied clear of the runway with lots of concrete left, cut the chute, taxied back to the line and shut her down.
Today I have a 1030 brief for my first “real” sortie, which is nobbut a 184 knot take-off, a quick trip to the local operating area for some handling qualities exploration, close-in formation flying, tactical formations and trip back to the field: A straight in approach, followed by however many touch and go landings from the overhead pattern I can knock out prior to hitting the 1000 liter mark on the fuel gauge. The aircraft will be slicked off, internal gas only, so that shouldn’t take too long, and the light weight will permit me to fly the final approach at a little less than 200 knots, which still sounds pretty darn fast but is really just a number on the gauge. Is what I tell myself.
A 1030 brief, 1200 take-off, back on deck in an hour or so, good lord willing and the crick don’t rise.
Wish me luck!
TAF KNTD 1209/1309 VRB05KT 9999 SKC QNH2989INS
BECMG 1217/1219 27010KT FEW050 QNH2993INS
TEMPO 1219/1301 26010G16KT
BECMG 1305/1307 VRB06KT 8000 BR OVC020 QNH2990INS