So several months ago (five, to be exact), I promised to post more news of my T-6 experience (the trainer airplane used in the second phase of Pilot Training). Unfortunately, I haven't gotten the chance to write on this blog since. So, because there are much more important things in our lives to post about, I'll give the shortened version:
As mentioned in the previous blog, I passed the crucial ride that could have sent me to a progress check (a possible second-to-last ride before failing out of the program). Life was great and I was given the opportunity to take the T-6 up in the air alone to practice my landings. THAT was exhilarating! I felt like a 16 year old kid who, after barely passing a driver's test, is given the keys to his dad's over-powered Corvette to take it for a spin - alone. All went well, Glory to God!
Then the waves that the Lord had told me about began to swell. I had six rides to prepare for my first check-ride (kind of like mid-terms), and things started to go sour. I hooked rides four, five, and six. This meant I would fly a Progress Check in lieu of a Check ride (only difference is that if I failed that ride I would have one more ride to prove that I "had what it took" to continue progressing in the program at the pace they wanted me to before they washed me out). This situation was far worse than my previous predicament. Additionally, things just didn't seem to "click". The delay in time for my eyes to communicate with my brain plus the time it took for my brain to command my hands caused all sorts of problems for me. Interestingly enough, though, the Lord gave me a certain peace about everything. He gave me the grace to trust in Him. As it turns out, everything clicked during my Progress Check, and I received quite a high score for the ride overall. Glory to God!
From there things rapidly improved. I finished advanced aerobatics without any issues and glided through instruments (which turned out to be my favorite part of the T-6 program). Cross-country was incredible (we flew to Barksdale, Louisiana for a night and then to Alliance Ft. Worth, TX). The last two weeks of T-6s was the most intense and rewarding, though. It was during that time they taught us to fly in formation. In a span of two weeks we were taught how to fly 10 feet from one another, taught how to fly advanced aerobatics in formation, and were given the opportunity to take a T-6 up alone in formation with another student. At the end of those two weeks we were given the equivalent of our final exam. Glory to God I passed, though I didn't get the most incredible score.
During the T-6 program, Kamaya and I put a lot of prayer into our "track preference". We had the options of T-38s (a fighter trainer), T-1s (a transport/refueling trainer), T-44s (a turboprop trainer in Corpus Cristi, Texas) and UH-1s (a helicopter trainer in Ft Rucker, Alabama). The way things work in UPT is each student lists his or her first, second, and third choice on a piece of paper before everyone finishes their last exam. After everyone's scores are in, the instructors "rack and stack" the class and give the highest performers what they requested based on what's available. After long deliberation, they line everyone up in the auditorium and announce which of the four aircraft each student will be tracking to. We originally thought that we had wanted T-44s (that would mean A we would move to Corpus Cristi, a beautiful area and B that I would be guaranteed a C-130 out of pilot training, which is what I would like to fly after pilot training). However, after much prayer, we felt the Lord calling us to stay here in Del Rio and put T-1s as our primary preference. Glory to God for His infinite wisdom. We obeyed, put T-1s first on our list of preferences, and were given T-1s. Looking back now, if we had put T-44s, we would have been in the middle of a move just as our son was born. Additionally, the T-1 program has been super flexible with us and has been very supportive of my taking time off to spend with my family. God truly knows what He is doing.
And that is the shortened version of what happened in Phase II of pilot training. If your curious as to the type of stuff we did in the formation block of training, the YouTube video titled "Trooper Rage" is pretty accurate. We do not endorse the music.