Air Force to Transition A-10 to Civil Air Patrol

Veterans’ Day 2011: Passing It On

This is a regular blog post that updates listeners and viewers on events in the Airspeed world. Airspeed is an audio and video Internet media source that brings the best in aviation and aerospace to media devices and desktops everywhere. If you’re looking for the audio and video content, please check the other entries on the site. It’s all here! In the meantime, enjoy this update about what’s going on in Airspeed’s world.

A number of new/social media personalities are celebrating Veterans’ Day by wearing our WindTees shirts featuring the aircraft and twitter handle of Daren Sorenson, a USAF Lt Col, F-15E Strike Eagle pilot, and Deputy Operations Group Commander at Nellis AFB. Lt Col Sorenson recently received news that he will be awarded (at least his second) Distinguished Flying Cross for actions during his most …recent deployment to Afghanistan.

I’m fortunate to know Lt Col Sorenson and his brother, Mark Sorenson, a talented airline and airshow pilot. I’m also fortunate to be the nephew of Dennis Reed, a Viet Nam -era air cavalry pilot and later corporate pilot for Kellogg. And I’m fortunate to know dozens of others who are serving now, have served, will serve, and/or are members of families of the foregoing.

I serve as a search-and-rescue pilot and legal officer in the Civil Air Patrol (USAF Auxiliary). I perform a valuable service to my community and country but let’s face it: I’ve never been shot at and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever face the risk of anything worse than an engine failure.

As a CAP officer, I am frequently in uniform in public and it is not uncommon for people to come up and thank me. I’ve even gone to pay the check after breakfast, only to find that someone else in the restaurant has already anonymously paid my bill, no doubt because of the uniform. I’m happy to accept thanks for what I do, but I know that the majority of the respect I’m shown is because I’m mistaken for active duty military. The average civilian (and many military personnel) can’t tell the difference. So I try to wear the CAP uniform properly and proudly and be worthy of it.

I used to try to explain to little kids at airshows that I’m not an active-duty shooter. (Really, I’m not even a toner.) It just confused the kids when I tried to do that. So now I simply receive the thanks with a big smile and save it up for today. Today, I pass on the greatest portion of the respect that I’ve received over the last year to those who have done the greater part of earning it.

So, Lt Col Sorenson, Uncle Denny, and others, I hereby pass along this year’s installment: Five kids at Selfridge, a guy at Flint, the barista at Starbucks at Woodward and Square Lake, my daughter’s kindergarten class, and the guy or gal from the restaurant. I pass along the thanks of these people and I add my own in heaping measure.

And I owe somebody breakfast.

A proud and reflective Veterans’ Day to all.

Flying the Black Rocket: The Northrop T-38 Talon

These are the show notes for a video episode. Check out the video episode on your handheld device or personal computer by subscribing to Airspeed using iTunes or your favorite other podcatcher. Or watch it right here by clicking above. It’s all free!

Here it is! Airspeed’s biggest and best video episode so far!

I’ve loved the Northrop T-38 for years. Born in the cauldron of the F-5 Freedom Fighter program in the late 1950s, it has since trained more than 50,000 military jet pilots throughout the world. It’s sleek and pointy and fast (Mach 1.3 capable). It’s the advanced jet trainer for the US Air Force. And it’s also the companion trainer for many of the Air Force’s most amazing aircraft.

In July, I got an orientation flight with the 99th Reconnaissance Sqn, 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB near Sacramento, California. 1.2 hours in the White Rocket. (Or, if you’re flying a “BB” tailed T-38, black and red.) It was a great experience.

It has taken some time, but I think that it has been worth it. 49 minutes of JP-4-burning acceleration, pull, and float. In true Airspeed style, the episode covers every angle and isn’t afraid to dig for the details that aviators and aviation enthusiasts love.

From a tour of the ramp to see the U-2 Dragon Lady and the RQ-4 Global Hawk up close to egress and survival training to the briefing to highlights from the flight, it’s all here.

And it’s all swaddled in original music. This is the first outing for Acro Groove, a track that’s going to be one of the major themes underlying Acro Camp. It’s by 7600, a loose-knit group of aviator musicians. In this particular incarnation, it’s FAA Designated Examiner Barry Sutton on drums, yours truly on guitar, and acro IP Don Weaver on keyboards.

This episode is game-changing in aviation podcasting. There’s nothing else out there that comes close. I’m fiercely proud of this work. But, even so, it’s a waypoint on a journey that will include even bigger, better, and more exciting projects.

Stay tuned! It only gets better from here.

Still More Frame Grabs from the T-38 Ride

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio or video, please check out the other entries.

After getting the Acro Camp trailer ready to show at the Great Lakes International Aviation Conference on Saturday, I sat down to really crank on the episode covering my T-38A ride with the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB. All of the pieces other than the voiceover material is in the can and I’m going through all of the footage again to see where voiceover is necessary in order to help explain what’s happening on screen.

And, of course, that means that I get frame grabs as I go to post here.

The lead shot is an inverted moment out in the MOA. I didn’t have a chamber card, so we had to stay below FL 180. Given the elevation of the terrain, we couldn’t really get in a full loop, but the alternative maneuver was pretty cool regardless. Imagine a slashing loop that’s canted over 45 degrees. That presents a pretty sight out the window. Especially if you roll it at strategic moments like this one.

Here’s a view of three of the cameras that I flew on the sortie. The primary camera is a GoPro HD Hero mounted on the grab handle. Behind it, clamped to the AOA indicator housing, ate two ContourHDs, one looking forward and the other looking 90 degrees left. I also flew with a hand-held ContourHD so that I could shoot footage inside the cockpit.

Like this, in fact. If you look straight down into your lap in the back of a Talon, here’s what you see. I’ve got my sectional strapped down so I can follow along for the route. I also carry a couple of sic sacs, although I’m happy to say that I didn’t need either of them on this sortie. You get a pretty good idea of the ergonomics here. The stick is right there handy. There’s a T-handle on the panel just in front of the stick that moves the pedals fore and aft to give you the best distance. Obviously, the fact that you’re sitting in an ejection seat makes it more practical for the aircraft to have movable pedals than a movable seat. You can raise and lover it within an approx. 5-inch range, but that’s about it for the seat.

Here’s one of my favorite shots. Inverted at 15,500 MSL and 280 KIAS. Clearly, this shot is post-G-ex. You can see that we’ve already pulled/pushed +4.7/-0.8. I think that the range for the whole sortie was +5.0/-1.0.

I like the color in this one. This is just after launch on the first landing – a touch-and-go. We got a total of two takeoffs and two landings and I learned a lot about the sight picture in really pointy aircraft like the T-38. Something about a 160-KIAS short final really gets your attention.

More editing to do this week. I have a couple of proposals to draft for some additional military flights and the T-38 episode is going to be a big part of those packages. I’m really pleased with the way it the footage looks and it’s a lot of fun turning this into a cogent story for you guys. Stay tuned for the full episode, coming soon to a handheld device near you!

First Frame Grabs from the T-38 Talon Ride

The Talon ride is in the logbook! 1.2 dual received on the orientation flight in the mighty Northrop T-38 Talon! Jo, Mark, and I just departed Beale AFB and I’m posting this from Sacramento (KSMF) on the way home to Detroit.
I flew four cameras. These grabs are from the GoPro HD Hero mounted on the grab handle. I flew two ContourHDs mounted on the AOA indexer: One pointed forward over Lt Col MacLeod’s head and the other just behind that one pointed off to the left to get the roll. Lastly, I flew Jo Hunter’s ContourHD in my hand to point at whatever seemed most interesting at the moment (not the least of which is the airspeed indicator/mach meter).
These are the only frame grabs that I’ve had time to extract, but I can’t wait to get the rest of the video offloaded and watch it to identify the really cool moments. I pulled these off in a Thai restaurant after the ride. Even if I had more time, it would be almost impossible to watch the video under those circumstances without getting all excited about the ride all over again. Introspection will have to wait.
Look for more frame grabs and for both an audio episode (yes, it will be epic) and a video episode covering the flight.
I’m going to try to slide down the back side of this adrenaline rush and sleep some on the kerosene canary on the red-eye ride home tonight. Fat chance.
And tomorrow will be interesting, as days like that always are. How do you walk down the hall and properly answer a casual “What’s up?” from a colleague when, less than 24 hours ago, you were doing Mach 0.94 above the mountains of northern California? If there’s a proper answer to that one, I have yet to discover it.