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View Diary: My Favorite Airplane (311 comments)

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  •  Very cool diary--thanks! (1+ / 0-)
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    Otteray Scribe

    I've never been a pilot ('cept in my dreams and video games) but was always very interested in it.  Only a couple of stories worth (IMHO) sharing.

    When my new bride and I flew to Boston Logan for our New England honeymoon, IIRC I'd only flown one time previously.  We flew from our smaller regional airport into Dallas-Ft. Worth.  After a layover, we boarded our TWA "heavy" for the flight from DFW to Boston.  

    As we taxied this way and that, my wedding-carryover/flying/honeymoon/future-married-life jitters rising all the way, I looked out incredulously as we taxied over one of the major highways leading into/out of DFW.  At that point, I finally decided, hell, we must be getting on the highway on-ramp and taxiing to Boston!

    (Fortunately, things improved shortly and we had a lovely time in MA, ME, and NH!  And I've never thought of DFW the same way since.)

    "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

    by bartcopfan on Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 10:22:10 AM PDT

    •  The second deals w/ "flying" T-38 simulators.... (1+ / 0-)
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      Otteray Scribe

      This one is (hopefully, obviously) from 'way before 9/11.  I worked w/ a guy who knew some people who worked at a USAF pilot-training base.  One night, they arranged for us and a few other buddies from my workplace to get onto the base and fly simulators for the evening.

      The plan worked perfectly and we spent an amazing couple of hours in the simulators, mocked up as T-38s, the 2-seater training version of a Northrop F-5 (and  reconfigured into the F-20), a supersonic-capable fighter.  These would have been the same aircraft, posing as Soviets, which Tom Cruise engaged in the movie Top Gun.  

      There were two confederates from the base.  One took each of us (one at a time) into the cockpit of the simulator, while the other worked the controls of the simulator.  During a real pilot training exercise, the second would be the one to “throw problems” from the control station at the pilot being trained.  There was also camera and voice ("radio") contact w/ the pilot and instructor, i.e. we at the control station could see what they were seeing and doing in the cockpit.

      I should mention, the simulator was exactly what you’d expect if you had a few million dollars to spend on a video game.  FANTASTIC!!  There was a perfect replica cockpit-- harness, gauges, stick, the works--mounted on a hydraulically-positioned support structure.  When the canopy closed, one saw heads-up displays of screens showing what one would expect to see out of a real cockpit—all tied together in real time into, and reacting to, the simulator controls.  When my turn came, within 3 seconds I was certain I was actually flying a real plane.

      The “control station operator” (sorry I don’t know the proper term) selected a flight and ‘poof’ there we were.  The first selection was ostensibly Nellis AFB.) near Las Vegas (NV, not NM), but our instruction was instead to bank slowly and fly down The Strip in “Lost Wages” at night.  As I said, feeling the smoothly-robotic leaning and lifting under me and seeing the lights getting bigger, closer, and more detailed, I was easily convinced this was real.  I “flew” down the Strip w/o hitting (m)any buildings, then pulled up at the end, feeling the “nose” of my "aircraft" rise, along w/ my sweat level.

      Then, we were just as quickly re-transported to a new flight near the I-40 bridge over the Mississippi River at Memphis, TN.  The task was to “fly” under the bridge!  The instructor in the simulator w/ me got me aimed the right direction and then let me have control.  Again, we were simulating a night flight and, as the bridge lights got closer and closer, I dipped slightly.  Once the bridge lights were out of sight, I pulled the stick back.  While the instructor’s story may differ, I will swear I accomplished a clean “flight” under the I-40 Bridge without losing the tail section of my "aircraft"!  

      The next summer, as my wife and young daughter drove over that very same bridge on our way to a Washington DC vacation, I had quite a story to tell them.

      (I hope these stories will be worthwhile, even though from a non-pilot!)

      "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

      by bartcopfan on Mon Jun 13, 2011 at 11:49:10 AM PDT

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