Sunday, November 29, 2009

Intriguing Invitation

Longtime readers may remember John, a reader who helped talk me out of one of my "I don't think I'll blog anymore" phases. He is now working on a military base in North Carolina and some time ago he suggested that he might be able to get me into a simulator to try my hand at flying a KC130. I of course said something along the line of "Wow, thanks, I should do that!" and then never actually did anything about it. Fortunately he's the sort of guy who writes back and says, "Hey, when are you coming down to see the simulator?"

John works in IT. When you consider that a simulated airplane has no engines to leak oil, no landing gear to swing, no wingtips to bash and very little in the way of structure to corrode, most of the maintenance is IT, so he knows one end of it from the other. Originally when we picked this week for our fun, the sim wasn't very busy, but it broke down a while ago and is only just back online so there is a backlog and the working hours are fully booked. We consider postponing, but who is to say that another month will be any better for scheduling, and they are looking at upgrading the airplanes to include classified equipment, which would make the whole simulator classified, and thus certainly off limits to a foreign civilian. But we're not out of luck. There are four hours a day that John gets the sim: it's is scheduled for maintenance from midnight to four a.m. By coming down to use the simulator overnight, I'm gambling that it doesn't actually require maintenance that night, and that I'm just 'helping' John check out all the systems.

So as soon as I've finished my usual unpack/laundry/repack sequence, I'm heading down to North Carolina. I'm going to come for two nights as insurance against it being broken one night. It's a full motion simulator with high fidelity visuals, a HUD for each pilot, and controls and avionics that closely duplicate the actual airplane.

When else would I have a chance to fly a four-engined tanker/transport, even if it all happens inside a box.

15 comments:

rw2 said...

Too fun. Gotta give that a try when you have a chance for sure!

Sarah said...

That is awesome! Can you log the time without an instructor? I suppose you can log anything you please, it just won't count for anything but fun.

A very long time ago, some friends got me into a DC9 simulator. This was before I'd flown anything, but I thought I knew something. I (we) were wrong; the instructor eventually had to shut off the motion as the dweebs I was with kept stalling it on approach, with resulting stick shaker, push and full-motion gyrations. I wish I had a chance like that now that I actually can fly something besides a computer.

Yes it was ages ago. You can tell because it was a DC9, and I'll also admit it was a Republic Airlines sim. (That makes it pre 1986.)

I'm sure you'll do great, and will fly well enough for some diabolical sim instructor to make it interesting for you. Have fun!

Capt. Schmoe said...

Worth the drive for sure. Good luck, have fun and we expect a full report.

dpierce said...

Enjoy your time simming the most magnificent airframe in the sky!

viennatech said...

Be sure to ask for at least one Simmed JATO, now that will make for an interesting blog post!

Sounds like it should be an awesome way to spend a couple of days off.

Good luck!

Bob said...

Very cool, I'm sure you'll have a blast. Having friends in high places can pay off, even for a wannabe pilot like me.

I'm lucky enough to have a little over an hour on a 727 full-motion sim (along with my two kids, who were 5 and 9 at the time)and a couple hours on a 757, both at MSP HQ of the airline formerly known as Northwest.

Now if both pilots on my flight get sick, I know I can land that baby. I just KNOW it! Okay, that plane might not fly again in the near future, but we'll all walk away...(hums music from "The High and The Mighty")...

Marty said...

Late nights playing with cool toys - my kind of fun!

Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Hopefully you're blogging with a time delay - Those Who Smell a Terrorist Under Every Rock might otherwise get nervous and prevent this under the title of National Security Theatre Because There is an Infitisimal Chance This Could Be A Problem And I Must Cover My Ass.

My David Clarks were bought used from a gent who got a new pair paid by his new employer - the Canadian Military. He's now flying C130's to/from Afghanistan. If you like having 4 engines, there may be another career available to you.

Sarah said...

@Bob : surely you meant whistle the theme from The High and the Mighty. Getting the vibrato just right is the trick.

Incidentally, missing IcePilots caused me to rent Island in the Sky for some cold scenes featuring old airplanes. It was based on a Gann novel in turn based on a real incident I think was discussed last year on this blog.

A Squared said...

"Hopefully you're blogging with a time delay - Those Who Smell a Terrorist Under Every Rock might otherwise get nervous and prevent this under the title of National Security Theatre Because There is an Infitisimal Chance This Could Be A Problem And I Must Cover My Ass.

As far as I know, it's not legal for a foreign national to get simulator instruction in the US without a specific official approval. Maybe this will all be done with proper clearances ad approvals, but if not, "John" would be inviting a whole bunch of trouble bringing a foreign national in for some "under the radar" simulator time. I fly the same plane for a civilian operator and trust me, this ain't like getting your buddy some unofficial time in the flight school's Frasca light twin sim.

I'm not saying that this is right, I'm just telling you from the inside that this is the way things are.

N6349C said...

Want to do that!

Many years ago, a college friend was working for British Airways at LHR. He invited me try the B747 simulator - so I have 2 unloggable B747 hours, including take off and emergency landing at YYZ.

Over Lake Ontario, he had the #4 engine catch fire, and the #3 fail too, along with most of the hydraulics. I flew an very memorable emergency approach and landing (missed the runway, ended up in the grass). Good job it didn't simulate the buildings downtown - I am sure I took off the top 100ft of the CN tower!

mlesser said...

Awesome. I got to fly the 747-300 sim for my qantaslink interview. Was so much fun, although they gave us a cheat sheet on attitudes and power settings to memorise and it worked a treat. they say attitude and speed = performance.

So we took off, did a series of airwork, such as steep turns, NDB intercepts and outbound tracking, then for the 16 ILS at melbourne.
Have fun with it

CeridianMN said...

I bet if it's not being done as loggable instruction/simulation time there is nothing unlawful about it.

A Squared said...

CeridianMN said...
I bet if it's not being done as loggable instruction/simulation time there is nothing unlawful about it.

You'd likely lose that bet. You may have forgotten that about 8 years ago some folks took over some large airplanes and crashed them into some buildings. It was in all the papers at the time. At least some of those involved had trained in large aircraft simulators. One of the questions that was really intensely scrutinized in the aftermath was how they were able to get access to the simulator with no apparent reason to do so. It's a very sensitive issue. A friend of mine who is a foreign national although has lived and worked living in the US for decades was interviewing with an airline. He had attempted to purchase simulator time to prepare for the sim check in the interview. Even though there are a number of companies which sell that service for airline interviewees, he was refused because of his non-citizen status. (BTW he got he job)

Regardless, In her latest post, Aviatrix alludes to involvement of higher-ups, so that seems to imply that proper channels are being followed. I'm a little surprised that the powers that be are going along with "I've got a friend from another country who would like to fly the simulator for no particular purpose", but great if they do, I'm glad that it's working out. (although in Blog time she hasn't actually made it into the sim yet, so those chickens haven't hatched yet)

You may safely bet your next paycheck that if John had been discovered unofficially sneaking an unapproved foreign national into a large aircraft simulator, there would have been some serious consequences. Whether or not the time had been officially entered into her logbook or not would not have made a bit of difference.

Borja said...

I've got the chance to fly a 737 sim at BAE sxhool in Jerez de la Frontera, the Eurofighter sim placed in MorĂ³n Airbase, a SH-60 Seahawk sim at Rota Naval Station, and a Bell 212 sim at FAASA training school...

That sort of things pushed me to get my license next year...