So indulge me here. And indulge yourselves too. It is an opportunity to break out the good stuff; the Glen Morangie, the Glenfiddich, and even the Phipps IPA. Sound chaps' drinks. It has been a while and some things have changed. Time flies and compresses.
|The Gnat gives an itch that has to be scratched from time to time|
Once was that these guys (my lot) would start off on Jet Provosts: graduate to Gnats; and thence to fat, ugly, fighting steeds.
Now it is back to props (albeit turbine driven) in the Tucano and onto Hawks. Then to sleek and really quite smart machines that appear to have been designed with small boys' toys in mind.
I do rather like the Tuc though. For a lad (or as is increasingly the case, ladess) to cut his/her teeth in the flying game one might as well start with some cognitive pressure. And even the basic training in these machines provides ample opportunity for that.
Here we go then. Shorts Tucano from 1 FTS, RAF Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire. Strap in and hold tight.
Enjoy that? The music doen't usually play in the cockpit. You do have to be sharp to get through that phase. Many are called and only slightly less many get chopped. But what a ride eh? It will stay with those who do not make it.
Then the stage winners of the greatest reality show on earth move on. To Hawks.
Now, how can we capture the sense here. It is like, say, having a rich mate saying, "Fancy taking my Maserati for a spin".
I am (was) very familiar with the airfield shown below. It is Valley in North Wales. Back then it was Gnats that I went all over the place in. Superb, tiny planes that accelerated going straight up ! They, like the Hawk, were designed to be fighters even though the RAF wanted trainers. So, fighter performance.
Keep a close eye on the rear-view mirrors ! The Gnat didn't have them.
Graduate from those and it will be off to the OCU. If you do well it will be a warplane OCU. Tornado: Typhoon. Fast, demanding, the 'warrior' life. Not so well and its the lumbering heavies for you. Passenger planes, Supply planes. Hey, its a good life. Don't knock it. There will be more time to get things done and you can have a coffee and go to the loo.
In a fast jet there are 'pressures'. Time shrinks, there is so much to do. You have barely done what is needed at one point when suddenly you are 20 miles away and need to do a lot more. Your mind must be trained to work that fast and with such absolute accuracy. And your body is put under huge forces.
Now, those huge forces..... these fast jets can pull more 'G' than your body can stand. In positive 'G' your body weight increases. 2 G: twice. 3G: three times. Think how difficult it woould be to lift a foot or a hand that weighed 9 times as much. The blood is pulled downwards, away from your head. You can fall unconscious. A pressure suit helps but only for a few moments. Then imagine the situation reversing itself and suddenly the blood rushes the other way !
Imagine going from 9 to -3 in a few seconds. a 12 G shift.
It can be very wearing. Mistakes can ensue. Judgement can be affected. If you are lucky you will walk away, to the bar, and have a good stiff drink.
*Note.... you may have to click on the 'You Tube' symbol to see this clip. It is instructive. There are two sorts of pilots: Those that have made a pig's ear of a landing, and those that are going to. If you can walk away, its OK.
Flying is fantastic. Everyone should give it a go at least once or twice. If any opportunity comes along to fly in a 'performance' plane, your life experience will be enhanced (or your drinks are on the house until further notice.)
Here is a young woman who seems to be giving it a go. Just look at the joy !!
In fact it is her plane.
She was used to flying it rather be being flown.
What about a woman not used to it?
Let us see.
Hey. That's what the long and complex training is all about.
But it pays off.
There is a very important lesson here, if you look hard.
It is not much use believing you can fly just with your head. Or with your heart. Even with your whole head and heart. It doth not a pilot make.
Its like Christianity. It takes hard work. Discipline. Few try it: even fewer pass. Simply wanting is not enough, no matter what the gurus say. It will always remain a dream until you make it real, and to do that means work.
Simply saying you believe is not enough. You have to 'Believe'. That is 'Live your life by'.
It has to be automatic and deliberate at the same time. At speed. Under immense pressure. Accurate. Correct.
By the tried and tested Rules, that have been devised over a very long time and after many, many disastrous errors have been eliminated.
And you do not go to a fly-by-night school (or church) either; one set up by a bloke who thought he could do better by cutting a corner here, a rule there, changing the manuals 'just a bit' and giving it a fancy title and cover. The chap who says, "What He meant was....". "In the King James version of the Manual it says.....".
'Versions' ain't good enough. Not original.
Those pilots in training are to see 'action' in Wars that they did not ask for, against enemies who appear from over the horizon, out of sight. Like Catholic Warriors they need purity.
When Arjuna was sent into battle in a war he did not wish to fight, he recieved his orders from Krishna, who not only drove his chariot but made it clear that, as he was not yet pure, he should not look upon the Divine face.
You want wings?
Get it right and you get the highly disciplined Freedom that brings ecstacy.
Meanwhile, gentlemen and ladies, here's to fliers everywhere, especially the modern Knights and Catholic Warriors. The bar is open.