Last night night we came to the high desert for a big ride—the Maneuvers Validation (MV). This is the one in which you prove to United Airlines, the FAA, and Ham Lee that you can “bring her on in and land her” with engines burning, red lights flashing, sirens screaming in your ear, flaps falling off, passengers rioting, and in fog so thick you can't see where your pee hits--if you could pee, which you need desperately to do. BTW, an old captain I used to fly with in the 3-holer (727) used to yell at the top of his lungs, “Bring her on in a and land her, Knute!” every time I started to land.
Oh yeah, you do takeoffs, too, with engines blowing up and burning. Sound stupid? When you get many tons of metal, kerosene and flesh hurdling down the runway at Indy 500 speeds you get to a point where you can't stop on the runway you've got left. If a motor blows you're going flying whether you like it or not. All passenger jets are certified to be able to takeoff if an engine croaks at the “go/no go speed” reverently referred-to in this business as “V1. ” It must cross the departure end of the runway higher than 35 feet at its maximum certified gross weight. The jets can all do that but you've got to fly them right. Error is not an option. With one engine cooking and the other out to lunch the beast wants to fly sideways. If you let it do that you take out hangars, control towers, parked planes, etc. Not a good start to your day. And there are also hills and towers out there. Got to miss them even if you can't see them. This means flying cross-controlled with your leg pushing so hard on the rudder it shakes.
Our warm-up ride for the MV was done at midnight, after two days off. The simulator gave us some problems and so our instructor wisely turned in an “incomplete” report, blaming the simulator. But that was a cover-up. The real reason was John and I were worthless trying to do that stuff at 2 in the morning after being up all day. So, we got another practice next day with more decent hours and we did better, although I was not satisfied with my performance. But the instructor recommended us for the MV, and we did great. The evaluator said we were one of the best transition crews he had seen in a long time.
This afternoon we begin the LOFT phase. That means “Line Operational Flight Training.” Now our sim rides will get more realistic. We will fly to international destinations and encounter many mechanical, weather, and performance problems. Fun. Keeps the old bean working.
Heading home Tuesday. Not coming back till Friday.
p.s. Brad added a new feature to the blog, a link to some of my magazine stories. So far though I've only posted one. More later.