Undergraduate Pilot training
As a student in Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) no one day is ever like the next. Sure, the variables remain the same: flights, simulators (sims), academics, stand-up and formal briefs; but there is always something new, something different and exciting to add to the mix.
Starting out there are three phases to UPT. The first phase is purely academics and last about a month and a half. During this time we are introduced to a majority of aspects of the T-6A Texan 2, from systems, to aerodynamics, to the basics in instrument and navigation. From there we hit the flightline for phase two, which places us in flights in a squadron and involves all the flight training we do in the T-6. Phase two last about four months and concludes with a tract select, in which you track either T-1s preparing you to fly heavy aircraft such as tankers or transports, T-38s which prepare you for the world of fighters, or helicopter. T-1s, T-38s and helicopters are phase three and last the remaining 6 months of our pilot training experience.
Being in phase two, our days usually begin with a formal brief that covers everything from the current weather and runways, to a brief emergency procedure of the day. As the students, we run the majority of the morning brief, however our instructor pilots (IPs) oversee it and love to ask us questions, especially about typos on our PowerPoint and flub-ups in reading the METAR and TAF -information on weather. During the first 15 days on the flightline, these formal briefs were the most dreaded part of our day and could last up to an hour due to the tedious process of memorizing checklist and procedures and having to recite them word for word. Now that we’ve been on the flightline for a few months, these briefs are just as they’re meant to be… brief.
After formal brief, we break up and prepare individually for our flights and sims for the day. Our simulators are instructed by government contracted retired Air Force pilots, whom fondly remind me of what it would have been like to be taught how to fly by my grandfather. One thing is for sure: when you’re flying with a sim IP, you are bound to hear some great stories that mainly start with the phrases “So there I was…” or “Back in my day…” In total we log about 38 hours in the simulator while flying the T-6. Today I completed my formation simulator and have just my low-level simulator left before I am sim complete for the T-6!