It’s About Aircrew

The low clouds and snow flurries retreated today and, as luck would have it, Capt Norm Malek and I had scheduled the G1000-equipped CAP C-182 all afternoon.  So we launched around 1:00 and wrung out the aircraft for a total of 3.3 Hobbs hours.

As of this morning, all of my approaches for instrument currency dated from October, which means that they’re going to expire next month.  So I clearly needed some approaches.  Capt Malek didn’t need as many, having recently flown some single-pilot actual as part of some aircraft repositioning work this week.

So I rocked out a hold on a DME fix about 18 miles sooutheast of Flint, then went in for the ILS 27, the RNAV 18, the ILS 27 again, and the VOR 18 before landing and switching pilots.  2.0 ASEL high-performance and 1.6 of it under the hood.  We had some VFR traffic around NUPUE, my intended IAF, and I volunteered to be vectored to JUBER instead, so there was some fast fingerwork on the G1000.  But no worries. [Read more...]

Indoc in the Schweizer SGM 2-37

I love Twitter.  Not necessarily for the hours of timesuck that it has represented over the course of the three an a half years and 10,000+ tweets.  I love it because every once in awhile, you tweet that you’re getting a haircut and you end up getting to fly a really cool aircraft.

Yesterday, I tweeted that I was heading downtown Saturday morning to get a haircut from Vic, a commercial pilot who’s also my barber of some 15 years.  John Harte responded, suggesting that he might be able to get me up in a motorglider if I could make it over to Detroit City Airport while I was downtown.

The motorglider in question is a Schweizer SGM 2-37, registered under tail number N26AF.  Only 12 were made, nine (including this one) of which went to the US Air Force Academy under the designation T-G 7A and flew at the academy until 2003.

Schweizer designed the aircraft at the request of the USAF to allow flight training in both powered and glider roles.  For that reason, it’s a bit of a mutt. The nose, cowling, and engine installation are adapted from the Piper PA-38 Tomahawk.  The wings are adapted from the Schweizer SGS 1-36 Sprite, including extensions that stretch the wings to 59.5 feet and leading edge cuffs to make it spin-resistant.  Those who know and love the Schweizer SGS 2-32 will recognize the tail section.

6AF, like all nine of the USAFA models, has aLycoming O-235-L2C four-cylinder engine that puts out 112 hp and gets the 1,850 MTOW aircraft up into the air with reasonable aplomb and allows the aircraft to cruise somewhere around 110 KIAS. [Read more...]

Navy Primary Flight Training with ENS Evan Levesque – Audio Episode Show Notes

These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen to the show audio by clicking here:  Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

ENS Evan Levesque (pronounced “leh-VECK”) is a primary flight student at NAS Whiting Field near Milton, Florida.  He’s flying the mighty T-6B in the aerobatic phase of training, having recently completed the contact phase and flown his first solo.  He has instrument work and a formation phase yet to go.  Over the course of the conversation, ENS Levesque talks about the pace of training, what it’s like to fly the T-6B, the advantages of coming to training with a private certificate already in his pocket, and why he’s standing there soaking wet in the picture below.

You can follow ENS Levesque’s progress on his Facebook timeline.  There’s more information about the US Navy at and you can find a Navy recruiter


Airplanes 50¢

I spent part of this afternoon at Marvin’s Magnificent Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills.  It’s tucked in behind a strip shopping center and you probably wouldn’t know it was there despite the big sign.  Inside, in addition to the pinball machines and video games, is one of the largest collections of old-style automated arcade attractions I think I’ve ever seen outside of Cedar Point.

But the coolest thing is when I detected movement above my head.  The ceiling is pretty busy with stuff attached to it.  But, running around the place is a conveyor system with dozens of model aircraft attached to it.  The conveyor system is static most of the time but there’s a box next to the door that says “Airplanes 50¢.”  If you put a couple of quarters into the box, the conveyor system starts and the airplanes make circuits of the place.

Really cool.  Worth a couple of quarters any day!  I especially appreciate that several of the aerobatic aircraft are inverted.

I shot the above video on my iPhone and then stitched it together this afternoon.  Enjoy!


Airspeed LPA Part 2 – Military Pilot-Speak – Audio Episode Show Notes

These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen to the show audio by clicking here:  Better yet, subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher. It’s all free!

We all admire military pilots.  They’re some of the best in the world at what they do.  And there are many reasons for that.  They’re talented to begin with.  They’re highly trained.  And they have built up around themselves a culture that preserves the mystique and morale associated with military aviation.

That culture is a really useful thing.  Especially its language.  Military pilots use a whole slough of technical terms, jargon, and inside jokes that do everything from make their communications more concise to instantly identifying one pilot to another in a crowd.  And it’s a major source of morale in what is, after all, a very demanding field.

Airspeed recently aired the first part of its series called “The Airspeed LPA.”  Many Air Force squadrons have “Lieutenant Protection Associations” or “LPAs.”  These are informal groups of O-1s and 2s who, among other things, ease junior members of a squadron into the life of a military pilot.  The Navy has its Junior Officer Protection Associations (or “JOPAs”) that include O-3s, but I’ve flown with mostly Air Force units through the first six years of Airspeed, so I’m using the LPA moniker here.

The purpose of the Airspeed LPA is to provide a primer – a gouge, if you will – about military aviation culture.  Some of it is entertaining.  Some of it is helpful to your flying.  Much of it will help you to avoid seeming like a rube if you find yourself engaged in conversation with a military pilot.  And all of it is a doorway to better understanding the military aviation community.

(And I wanted to do an episode that Matt would like.  Hey, Matt!)

The first installment of the Airspeed LPA featured the military tradition of challenge coins.  This, the second installment of the LPA, focuses on the language and nuances of military pilot-speak.

Some of the terminology you’ll hear in this episode consists of NATO Brevity Codes.  These are spoken code words designed to convey very specific information in a minimum amount of time on the radio.  In the show notes, most of the all-caps words that aren’t acronyms are NATO Brevity Codes.  For the spoken descriptions in the episode, I’ll call out NATO Brevity Codes as such.

Some of the terminology here might not be suitable for family consumption.  There are sexual references, allusions to bodily functions, and similar stuff.  Nothing worse than what you’d expect in a PG-13 movie, so don’t get your shorts in a bunch.

Much of the material applies generically to all US and NATO military aviation.  A disproportionately large portion comes from fighter-bomber operations.  A disproportionately large portion comes from the fixed-wing community.  And a disproportionate amount comes from US Air Force operations, if only because I haven’t spent as much time in the company of Naval Aviators.

So, with that, let’s kick off the second episode of the Airspeed LPA.

[Read more...]