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That, if you don't recognize it, is the boldface spin recovery procedure for the T-37. Student pilots could recite it in their sleep. Instructors had it embedded in their DNA. I have over 1,000 hours in the Tweet and am seriously considering having it engraved on my headstone.

Cessna T-37B, Pima Air & Space Museum (photo: Paul Woodford)

The Cessna T-37 Tweet was the USAF's primary jet trainer from 1957 to 2001, when its successor, the Beechcraft T-6A, began to replace it. The last USAF T-37 training flight occurred in June 2009 at Sheppard AFB in Texas. Generations of American pilots learned how to fly in the T-37. Some allied nations are still training pilots in it. Not a bad record.

The T-37 was designed to be an economical, all-around primary jet trainer with full aerobatic and instrument flight capabilities. It's a tiny thing. Sitting side-by-side, the two crewmembers practically rub shoulders. It sits so low to the ground a tall person can hike a leg over the side and step into it as easily as getting into a bathtub. Shorter pilots stick a foot into the little recess with the red cover plate just below the rescue placard, then step over and in; it's no more difficult than getting into a high-riding pickup truck.

Cessna T-37B, Pima Air & Space Museum (photo: Paul Woodford)

The Tweet isn't terribly fast. You can get it up to 350 knots, but at that speed the big bubble canopy forces the nose to tuck down and the drag increases to the point where it simply won't go any faster. It has short legs. I once flew one from Enid, Oklahoma to Tampa, Florida; it took four hops to get that far. There's a small storage bin in the nose and just room enough to hang a suit bag between the seats. Nevertheless the USAF taught students to plan and fly cross-country trips in the Tweet ... learning to pack efficiently is useful training.

The early-style centrifugal flow engines are slow to wind up, requiring you to plan ahead and lead with the throttles. Thrust attenuators stick out into the engine exhaust stream during approach and landing so that you can keep the engines at a fairly high RPM in case you need power quickly for a go-around. The Tweet is unpressurized, limiting it to flight below 25,000 feet. Since you have to constantly clear your ears during climbs and descents, you learn another valuable lesson: never to fly with a cold.

At idle power the T-37's jet engines generate a piercing whistle; hence the nickname Tweet (and the title of this diary). Flight lines are noisy places: pilots and ground crews wear earplugs when working around aircraft on the ramp. When you fly or work on Tweets, though, you wear big Mickey Mouse ear protectors, and many wear earplugs underneath. I retired from the USAF with a 10% medical disability for hearing loss ... all incurred during the first four years of my flying career, first as a student and then as an instructor in T-37s.

The USAF's pilot training program, at least in the 1970s when I went through, consisted of a short screening program in the T-41 Mescalero (the military version of the Cessna 172), followed by six months in the T-37 and six months in the supersonic T-38 Talon. Beyond soloing in the traffic pattern you didn't learn anything fancy in the T-41, just the basics of aircraft control. In the T-37, though, you learned it all: contact (VFR) flying, precision maneuvering and aerobatics, flight planning, instrument flight, precision and non-precision approaches, formation flying. The T-38 put a polish on what you'd learned in the T-37, and in addition taught you the flying characteristics of high-performance jets.

When I graduated from pilot training at the end of 1974, the USAF made me a FAIP, a first-assignment instructor pilot. After a three-month pilot instructor training program at Randolph AFB in Texas, I returned to Vance AFB in Enid, Oklahoma, the base where I'd been a student pilot. Now an instructor with students of my own, I flew two to three times a day for the next three years, taking students through the basics, then traffic patterns and touch-and-goes, aerobatics, unusual attitude recoveries, spins, flight planning and cross-countries, IFR flight and instrument approaches, formation work. After two years as a line instructor I became a black-hat check pilot, evaluating the skills student pilots had learned from other instructors. I started my FAIP tour as a butter bar and finished as a new captain. Most of Vance AFB's Tweets were silver when I started; they'd all been painted white by the time I left (the blue & white paint scheme you see in these photos came along later in the Tweet's career).

Cessna T-37B, Pima Air & Space Museum (photo: Paul Woodford)

I rode in the right seat, the student to my left. If he screwed up I could tap him on the shoulder, grab his arm, or rap him on the helmet (in my day there were no female students). I saw a fair amount of puke. Some students were naturals; some required more instruction and taught me patience. I quickly learned how important and merciful it could be to wash out a truly inept one.

The T-37's instrument panel design predates the age of ergonomics. Cross-checking instruments in IFR conditions is hard enough for the student; when the instructor in the right seat flies in the soup he has to read the attitude indicator and performance instruments over on the left side of the instrument panel; all he has on his side is a turn & slip indicator, airspeed indicator, and altimeter ... about what a DC-3 pilot in the 1930s would have had. A good T-37 pilot can fly an ILS approach from the right seat while looking at localizer and glidepath needles on a two-inch gauge four feet to the left; I was good enough at it, I guess, because I lived to tell the tale.

T-37B cockpit
Cessna T-37B instrument panel (photo: Carlos de Oliveira for

I must say the cockpit in that photo is suspiciously pristine. The Tweets I flew were working aircraft, flown several times daily by different instructors and students, not all of whom had cast-iron stomachs. The instruments, as mentioned, date from the age of steam. Tweets of my era were not equipped with TACAN receivers; we used VOR and DME, which was fine since we didn't fly jet routes anyway (the 25,000 foot limit confined us to the Victor airway structure where the old prop airliners used to fly). When I started flying T-37s most of the fleet still had "black ball" J-8 attitude indicators that you had to re-cage in level flight every 10 or 15 minutes. As you can see, there is no horizontal situation indicator: one navigates with old school heading and radio magnetic indicators. You can't see it in this photo, but the student had duplicate throttles on the left side console, as well as a gear handle ... lack of ergonomics and antiquated instruments aside, the Tweet really is well designed for basic jet training.

Spins? The Tweet was easy to spin and the USAF put a high value on spin recovery training, so spinning was a near daily activity for Tweet instructors and students. The Tweet could be treacherous in a spin, and the recovery procedure outlined above had to be followed exactly and precisely. To enter a spin you climbed to 25,000 feet, pulled the stick back into your lap, and fed in full rudder. At the stall the Tweet snapped into a spin very quickly, with the nose about 45 degrees below the horizon and a very fast rotation rate. You can see what it looked like from the left seat a Tweet spinning at about the one-minute mark on this video:

Once you executed the boldface the rotation stopped and the nose dropped to about 60 degrees below the horizon, leaving you in a steep dive. You kept the controls neutral and ran the throttles back to full power. As soon as you had airspeed again, you recovered from the dive by pulling to the nearest horizon with your wings level. As I recall you wanted to be out of the spin and back in level flight before you got below 18,000 feet. If you were still in a spin below 14,000 feet it was time to start thinking about ejecting; if you weren't out by 10,000 feet you pulled the handles, squeezed the triggers, and gave the plane back to the taxpayers. Over the years several instructors and students were killed after botching spin recoveries and staying with the aircraft too long.

Speaking of ejecting, we sat on first-generation ballistic seats: not rocket powered but instead blasted up the rails by a gunpowder charge, basically a land mine under your butt. It was important to pull said butt in and sit up straight during ejection lest the force of the blast break your back. If you were less than 300 feet in the air and slower than 100 knots when you squeezed the triggers you weren't going to make it. You had to remember to unclip your parachute's quick-opening lanyard from the D-ring as you climbed above 14,000 feet and clip it back on when you descended.

Was it fun to fly? You bet it was. Oil system limitations prevented us from doing sustained negative-G maneuvers, but we could and did practice the full range of positive-G aerobatic maneuvers: loops, wingovers, chandelles, aileron and barrel rolls, Cuban 8s, Immelmanns, split S's. Spins aside, it was a forgiving plane to fly and gave you plenty of warning if you pushed it too far. Even though it wasn't terribly fast, once you had it up to 300 knots it was so clean it didn't want to slow down when you cut the power ... you had to fan the speed brake often to control your speed during descents. If it weren't for its lack of storage space and limited range, it'd be a dandy plane to own ... in fact I'm surprised I don't see Tweets out there in civilian hands.

I don't regret a minute I spent in Tweets. Old school is the best school IMHO. If you can fly a back-course localizer approach from the right seat of a T-37, you can handle anything.

Originally posted to pwoodford on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 03:50 PM PST.

Also republished by Kossack Air Force and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Had a chance to ride in one and even fly it down (7+ / 0-)

    to short final.  It was a blast.

  •  Thanks, that's a good read! (7+ / 0-)

    I guess it's a good day at work when you don't get barfed on and walk away from the landing, huh?  :-)

  •  I still remember that spin boldface (19+ / 0-)

    and I learned it in 1984.

    I still preferred instructing in the T-38.

    Not because it was fast, but because the air conditioner actually, you know, worked.

    Plus I didn't have to sit next to the student and worry about them puking on me (it happened).

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 05:00:05 PM PST

    •  We all remember, (5+ / 0-)

      don't we? I remember most of the EPs and nums for the F-15 too, but curiously enough all the T-38 stuff is gone. Love that T-38, though ... a great design and still sexy.

    •  so, um, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe

      what happens if you have to do the inverted part of the training after the cookies get tossed?

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 05:44:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Intentional inverted spins were prohibitted (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bisbonian, BlackSheep1, KenBee, Alumbrados

        in the Tweet starting in the early '70s. It was hard on the vertical tail to which was attached the horizontal tail. A really bad day begins shortly after either of those becomes lost, jammed, or twisted. That's not to say it didn't happen a few times during most IP's tours. I know I never stopped a student from screwing himself to the roof if he suddenly thought it was a good idea or had his head up and locked. It's a great learning experience and gives you a really good sense of how good the kid is.

        Getting puked on is part of the Tweet IP job description. I never didn't see it coming from a student. Being aware is part of training them to combat the feeling or cope with its effects. One of my best students was sick nearly every flight until just before solo and a couple times afterward. He dealt with it, was never incapacitated, and kept going after barfing. We often lost 5-10% of a class to pukers who couldn't get over it or control it.

        Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

        by VTCC73 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:53:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I heard you AF guys made the crew chiefs (5+ / 0-)

    clean up that puke.  Say it ain't so.

    Before I started flying civilian I was told if I ever tossed my cookies in the rental I would be provided with a scrub brush and a bucket of soapy water.  And I could bet my work would be inspected afterwards.

    Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.--Sam Rayburn

    by Ice Blue on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 05:25:57 PM PST

  •  so, about that nickname ... (10+ / 0-)

    that whistle's part of the soundtrack to my childhood....

    LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

    by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 05:47:39 PM PST

  •  I saw an A-37 at an airshow once. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, Alumbrados

    Had a .30 cal minigun in it, and given the small size of the plane it occurred to me that only a helo gunner might get closer to one of those than the A-37 pilot. Looked like it was right in his lap, lol.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:36:20 PM PST

  •  Illinois Guard still had some… (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    (mouseover identifiers to decode)

    at either SPI or PIA when I left ZAU in '97. I can't remember which, because SPI was just across our boundary and PIA was just outside my specialty.

    For some odd reason, I don't ever remember working any when I was in ZJX in the late '60s and early '70s. All my (limited) exposure was at ZAU.

    We did, however, have an entire high altitude sector at ZJX overlying VAD to serve the T-38s flying out of the UPT school there. For roughly twelve hours per day, from FL240 through FL350, over the better part of Georgia we had T-38s doing "barrels" and "shuttles" (as we called them—general airwork probably covers it). It was the only high altitude sector at ZJX at which I didn't certify as the area split East/West shortly after I transferred to it and I was staying East, while the T-38s went to the West. Still got to work lots of them on cross country flights.

    Here's a piece of trivia that I'm not sure the pilots were aware of: student cross country flights (in T-38s for sure—don't know about the Tweets) had a "/Z" appended to their call sign on our flight strips. It was never pronounced over the air, but merely served as an alert that the pilot was a student. I don't know if the pilots knew it or what we were supposed to do if something happened to such flights. I would be very surprised if, in the 25 years I spent at ZAU, a single controller there knew of that procedure.

    •  Worked them up in Maine as part of the PIC (0+ / 0-)

      program.  Fun little birds.  Never a problem.

    •  You ATC controllers will appreciate this. (5+ / 0-)

      I was instructing in the T-37 at Reese near Lubbock, TX during the PATCO strike. Our local TRACON controllers who managed and monitored our MOAs were reassigned to ARTCCs around the country. That meant that the squadron had to assign practice areas in the MOAs over the squadron radio set up at the Supervisor of Flying (SOF) desk.

      TRACON would handle the sortie from departure to the area and from the area to home plate on recovery. A pair of our enlisted squadron schedulers, under the supervision of the SOF, took the call as the sortie entered the areas, assigned an empty area, kept track of how long they were in their area, and let TRACON know when a ship was headed for the exit fix for recovery. It worked great. Until.

      Had to happen. I'm only surprised because we found out about it. A solo student and a dual (stud with and IP) reported leaving the same hi/lo area within seconds of each other. Two aircraft, not in formation, had been in the same area for over 20 minutes without ever seeing each other. Big blue sky, bright sun and two small white jets with six eyes in a 20 x 20 mile area 13,000' high. Both doing aerobatics and one doing stalls and spins. Big Sky Theory proved once again.

      We were glad to get our radar controllers back on the job.

      Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

      by VTCC73 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:40:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When I was a student at Navy Corpus (4+ / 0-)

    we used to watch the Tweets come do touch-and-goes on the "long" runway down there 13R (8,000 feet).  One of the instructors at a happy hour told us they were restricted from using 13L except in an emergency because it was "too short", only 3,000 feet.  We never landed on the right side unless we were doing a GCA or a practice engine-out, or the tower told us to side-step over there.

    Also, when we had to sit out on the runway as "Assistant Runway Duty Officers" in the pickup truck with a radio and make sure everyone had their gear down, we'd watch the Tweets land waaaaay long over the short-field arresting gear on 13R and then be off the deck before the mid-field gear.  Apparently it was hard on the Tweet's landing gear to roll over it.  :)  One guy didn't make it, and had to reject his take-off and park his jet, the gear was a mess and they had to do a FOD walkdown on the runway to clean up what he left there.  

    Interestingly, I never learned (until I started to fly civilian) to shoot an ILS, we had TACANs and VOR/DME equipment, ADF and UHF ADF and our precision approach was the GCA.  I did my first one in a T-28 in actual conditions (not to mins, though).  The concept of an ILS was utterly foreign to me as were the HSI/OBS thingys.  We had an RMI (Radio Magnetic Indicator) slaved to the compass and a localizer needle for VOR/LOC approaches, and a bad day was when the instructor would make us shoot a "stuck card" NDB approach in the goo.  

    Great diary!  I still remember a lot of the EPs for the T-28, because when you're a primary student you learn to see/say them in your dreams or take up a career driving ships. And I hate driving ships.  :)

    A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism. -Carl Sagan

    by jo fish on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 08:35:53 PM PST

    •  The problem with arresting cables (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bisbonian, VTCC73, sawgrass727, Alumbrados

      was the fact that the main gear doors were only 2-3 inches off the ground ... very easy to damage them. I don't remember our min runway requirements. At Vance, the shorter inside runway was the Tweet runway ... I think it was 8,000'. The center and outside runways were used by the T-38s and were 10,000' each.

    •  One of my kids and spouse are stationed at (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      NAS-CC and live off the (31R/L) end of 13L/R next to the bay/ICW. Awesome views. Once in a great while you might spot a P-3 Orion, close enough for me to a Connie (many of which I remember as a kid, rare today to see one)...

      I fish a lot North of there (N of Port Aransas usually, just 12 miles NE across CC Bay), and some of those flying T-34 turkeys loitering up there think it's sooo funny to pretend a fishing boat just drifting in Aransas Bay or the GOM is a naval 'target of opportunity' and make mock attack dives on us sometimes!  %]  
      If the mock strafing run happens more than once I'll jump on the pulpit and make like I have an AA weapon, usually gets a wing wag.

      "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans!!. . Willkommen im Vierten Reich! Sie haben keine Bedeutung mehr.

      by Bluefin on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 04:52:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Haha, we used to do that in the T-28's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        especially on solos in a "Charlie" model which happened to have a gunsight in it.  We'd dive on the boats up in the bay there and make "strafing" runs (like we knew what the hell we were doing).  I would not be at all surprised if the folks diving on you were not students out solo, it's kind of a tradition; and the instructors never wanted to waste lesson time screwing around like that.

        Good memories!  Thanks!

        A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism. -Carl Sagan

        by jo fish on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:21:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't mind the game, but there's always just (0+ / 0-)

          a little 'twinge' 'cause you know they're friggin' low time students... ;]

          "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans!!. . Willkommen im Vierten Reich! Sie haben keine Bedeutung mehr.

          by Bluefin on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:32:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  My tinnitus rings at a frequency of (8+ / 0-)

    1475 hz, which I believe is pretty close to the frequency of the whistle of the Tweet...for some reason.

    Idle neutral aft... I dated a woman several classes behind me.  One day doing spins, she didn't take her hands off the throttles once they were at idle (against recommendations).  She was a little over exhuberant in pushing the stick forward, went past vertical with the nose, and ended up in an inverted spin.  She fell twoard the canopy, still holding the throttles, pulled them up and over the gate toward cutoff, and shut off both engines.  Neat trick.  What is the recovery procedure for a dual flame- out, inverted spin?  She figured it out.  Scared the heck out of her instructor.

    Did you know that if you tip the Tweet back on it's tail (one person pushing up under the nose with his shoulder, while the other hangs from the T tail will do it), you can get eight more gallons of fuel into the wing?  Better a bit.

    Did you know that a Tweet will do a pretty nice horizontal snap roll?

    Did you know that if you are VERY careful, and your crewchief knows how to cobble together an appropriate adapter, you can fill the Low Pressure Oxygen cylinder on a Tweet with LOX, and not blow the airplane in half?

    Do you know what happens if you sit on the toilet seat and reach behind you with your left hand looking for the roll of paper...and what this has to do with a Tweet?

    When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

    by Bisbonian on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 08:55:53 PM PST

    •  I closed my eyes and..... (4+ / 0-)

      ...I was listening to a Fouga Magister!!

      Those blasted thing hurt my ears (yup, 80% scar tissue on the right EX gets the pension! Ugh)

      The J69 is a license-bult Turbomeca Mabore! Only Continental got them up to 920 lb static trust, rather than the 880 the French had.

      The RAF, had, of course, the incredible 'Budgie' (not the 'Tweet'). In its last form, Mk 5A, it was pressurized, and could go airways, easily. (Over 3,500lbs thrust from the Viper engine). NICE little toy!

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:15:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nice videos! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee, shortfinals, Alumbrados

        Guess the pilot of the Magister didn't tell the guy in back how to cage the attitude indicator. Definitely sounds like the Tweet ... I didn't know they used essentially the same engines. Never knew much about the RAF until I was in NATO flying Eagles, but I knew the Canadians at Moose Jaw had a pressurized primary trainer and always wished we had one too.

    •  Other than selective hearing (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bisbonian, KenBee, sawgrass727, Alumbrados

      so common to men my hearing is decent for an old guy. I lost little or no hearing in the Tweet. Foam earplugs and form fit helmets availability between my student days until almost six years instructing made a huge difference. I think most of my hearing deficit is from my 707, 747, and 727 time. Boeing knows how to build a loud cockpit.

      Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

      by VTCC73 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:22:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  737s, too, I am afraid. Same cockpit, same (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VTCC73, Alumbrados

        Window frames, same noise.  The KC-135 (707ish) did my ears no favors, but it started in the Tweet.  Between the three, it's been 28 years now...and 28 years of any flavor of noise would be destructive.  The ears are ringing like mad tonight...time for bed.

        When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

        by Bisbonian on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:54:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I was wondering if you'd show up tonight. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Damn Kossack Air Force is taking over the site. I don't know anything about your Tweet trivia, but I would be interested in how you transition from Tweets and small planes to big multi-engine planes. Is there a multi trainer ?

      The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

      by Azazello on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:25:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In an early generation Spit (flown WITH one)... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, Otteray Scribe, Alumbrados

      ....if you know how, you can achieve a FLICK roll on approach. Best description I ever saw as to how to do this is in the book  "Fly For Your Life' by Larry Forrester

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:38:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I remember the toilet seat. (5+ / 0-)

      It was a way to remember which way to turn when you flew a back course localizer, since the needle was backwards. You imagined you were sitting on the toilet (the little circle) at the tip of the needle and suddenly it all clicked into place. Thanks for that memory!

      •  Correct, sir. Now a little more trivia. (0+ / 0-)

        In the 737-200, the autopilot will not fly the back course localizer.  The flight director will not correctly display steering commands for a back course. The copilots altimeter is uncorrected, so tends to read high.  So, the copilot can hand fly instrument approaches to lower effective minimums.  This all comes in very handy wehn trying to fly the BC Localizer to minimums in a snowstorm in Lubbock, TX, on legs seven and nine of a very long day (partly due to a divert).  All that training in the Tweet paid off!

        When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

        by Bisbonian on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 10:01:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Intermittent T-37's and Motorcycles Then (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Continuous frogs and crickets now.

      "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything even remotely true." -- H. Simpson

      by midnight lurker on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:05:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've not met a USAF pilot who doesn't remember (5+ / 0-)

    their Tweet instructor. That's one of the many things I treasure from something shy of 3000 hours in the 6000# dog whistle. Add in the instructor sim time and I'd be well over 3K.

    I was Reese class 75-06 so I wasn't far behind you pw. I suspect the difference is that I didn't graduate until July 1973 and sat until April '74 awaiting UPT. I well, and not fondly, remember the J-8 "black ball" attitude indicator (my luck: I drew one for my student instrument check), the "bird proof" windscreens, and the silver jets (loved them!). Forty plus months after UPT graduation, when I returned to Reese as an IP, the jets were all painted white and the J-8 and magic distorting windscreens were gone.

    I have to say my time as an IP were likely different from yours as a FAIP. Like you I didn't really want to be there but once I settled in I have to admit it was the most rewarding job I ever had in the AF and maybe in my entire flying career. There is nothing I didn't do in the T-37 instructor community that a captain could do. All-in-all it was a great almost six year run and a fitting place to transition to airline flying. I was also privileged to fly with several former student and colleagues during 27+ years of hauling people and cargo all over the world. The Tweet was very, very good for me.

    Thanks for your introduction to the Tweet. I've often thought of writing something here but never talked myself into it.

    Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

    by VTCC73 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:11:42 PM PST

    •  I certainly remember mine. Fondly. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VTCC73, sawgrass727, Alumbrados

      When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

      by Bisbonian on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:42:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Regrettably many can not say the same. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bisbonian, KenBee, sawgrass727, Alumbrados

        We had screamers, abusers, and fear, sarcasm, and ridicule fans when I was a student. UPT is stressful enough without dirtbag IPs who can't control themselves or have enough techniques in their clue bag to get across to a stud. I always thought I had failed if I ever let a student see me angry or frustrated.

        It only happened twice and I remember it to this day. Same stud, first class. The ham handed moron tried his best to kill me once and take me off the runway once and neither time let go of the controls when I took the airplane from him. I learned a lot from him. The biggest lesson was that I never let someone with that little aptitude, ability, or willingness to work make it to T-38s. There were a few with less ability and aptitude who got wings through hard work. He didn't.

        Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

        by VTCC73 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 10:07:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was trained (6+ / 0-)

          under the "Fear, sarcasm and ridicule" method of instruction.

          My T-38 instructor kept calling me a "Worthless Fuck" so I finally put a big WF on my helmet visor.

          If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

          by Major Kong on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:51:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yuk! Way to demotivate! He should have... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sawgrass727, pdknz, Alumbrados

            ...been off the program....!

            That sort of thing CAN work - on the parade ground, in the Brigade of Guards, when you are trying to break a squad down to bring them back the air...NO!

            'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

            by shortfinals on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 07:49:22 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Me too (4+ / 0-)

            I was at Laughlin in Del Rio. In the T-41 program I had a screamer Fear and ridicule type and almost washed out. The T-41 program was run by a contractor at the local municipal field. It was run, overall, by a real legend in west Texas flying, but I forget his name. He learned in the 30s and this was 1968, he must have been 70 with probably 30,000 hours

            Anyhow, I got scheduled for a flight with him for final decision. He put me at ease, spoke softly, had me do chandelles, steep turns, slow flight etc and I was so relaxed that I flew just fine. We got back to the ramp and he gets out and says "nice job lieutenant, you'll do fine".

            I hope he went and chewed out my instructor; I don't know, but I got a new instructor, and on to T-37s

            Now many years later in civilian life, ASMEL, I, Glider and flight instructor myself, and never forget that as I was getting civilian ratings I could FIRE the instructor if he was rude and abusive, because I was the customer. And never act like that with any students as a flight instructor. Very Unprofessional.

            I guess the old timer with 30,000 hours was unscareable by green lieutenants and relaxing was not a problem for him.

            Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

            by blindcynic on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:15:05 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  There were a few screamers (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alumbrados, VTCC73

          in the Naval Air Training Command too.  Sadly, one of them was a guy I flew with in Primary, in the T28.  He was a LCDR  who was just pissed at the world, and I think because he had to do a Training Command tour in Texas.  He thought he was the greatest pilot in the world.  

          So we met and briefed the flight (I was past soloing, doing airwork for Instrument stuff) and took off.  Navy Corpus had (maybe still has) a giant imaginary circle about 10 miles from the center of the airfield that you can "find" by landmarks on the ground.  We all learned how to get in and out of it in our pre-flying "course rules" briefing before we ever touched a plane.  The circle went counter-clockwise, you'd join it, call the tower and then they'd direct you into the "break".  They expected one or two more calls (initial) and "numbers for the break".  So I come in from the ocean/east, and report just south of the one of the landmarks, and begin my right hand bank to join the circle.  This idiot instructor comes on the ICS and asks me "where the fuck do I think I'm going?" and directs me to enter the traffic circle the wrong way (clockwise).  I begin to protest (but I'm an Ensign and a student, and he's an O-4 and the instructor) he yells at me to STFU and takes the aircraft, enters the wrong way (at that point it was almost straight in), flies to the break for the wrong runway (13R not L) breaks right and lands.  The tower of course asks for a phone call. He gets out of the aircraft and tells me "you're through".  I went to the squadron XO and then the CO, they went to the tower and got the tapes and talked to the tower chief, who confirmed the incorrect entry and break, not to mention landing on the wrong runway, uncleared. Just a whole passel of flight violations, if the FAA had been running that tower it would have been a bloodbath. Needless to say, I wasn't through and I don't remember seeing his name on the flight schedule for several months afterwards.

          The only other real screamer I ever flew with was when I did my 121 IOE, the guy was a wanna be military pilot who thought profanity-laced instruction was how it was done in the military.  We landed in JFK one day on 31L, with that long displaced threshhold, and had a bunch of non-rev DL captains riding to work in First Class, and he was screaming F-this F-that about my landing, and everyone in First Class could hear him as we were taxiing in to Terminal 3.  The flight attendants came up to me and said if I wanted to write him up, they'd support me because the DL captains were quite upset about his conduct.  I was too new, on probation, and doing IOE and didn't want to rock the boat, so I just passed it on to the Chief Pilot verbally.  I finished IOE two days later and never flew with him again.  

          Overall, Screamers suck and are not very good pilots.  

          A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism. -Carl Sagan

          by jo fish on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:44:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  FAIPs were (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VTCC73, Alumbrados, Bisbonian

      the bastard stepchildren of the Air Force. They never really knew what to do with us.

      Nobody works harder than a FAIP. Give me 10 of them and I'll run the world.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:50:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  When I became a FAIP in Jan 75 (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VTCC73, Alumbrados, Bisbonian

        that was the way things were. At the beginning of 1978 the ATC/CC, Gen Roberts (?) pushed hard for his FAIPs and good post-FAIP flying assignments became the rule, at least for a while. In March of 78 I became one of the first ATC FAIPs to land an F-15 assignment, which up until a month before had been beyond my wildest dreams. I'm not claiming any special merit here, just acknowledging my great luck in being in the right place at the right time.

        •  I was a FAIP from 1985-1989 (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VTCC73, Alumbrados, Bisbonian

          At that time General Creech (TAC) didn't want FAIPs flying his fighters and thus TAC assignments for few and far between.

          That's how I ended up volunteering for B-52s.

          If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

          by Major Kong on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:21:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  How things circle back in life. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Major Kong, Alumbrados, Bisbonian

            I was asked if I wanted a T-38 slot after UPT but I told my T-38 flight commander that there was no way I wanted ATC. (These were the days of severe rigidity, fear sarcasm, and ridicule were preferred teaching tools, and Reese's Stan/Eval patch was a bull's eye with "I'm OK, you're Q-3". Any wonder why I wanted to be far, far away?) A karmic bitch slap followed with a KC-135 to Plattsburgh. That was April 1975 when the new SAC commander, previously the ATC commander, didn't want the bottom of every class flying his airplanes. This proves two things: the more things change the more they remain the same and 2LTs can be complete idiots. Well, this one was anyway.

            Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

            by VTCC73 on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:47:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Creech! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VTCC73, Alumbrados, Bisbonian

            Skeletor was a crazy man. Apart from RTU I never was in TAC. My Eagle tours were in USAFE, AAC, and PACAF. But I was in PACAF when he was chief of staff and started changing everything. Some years after he retired he publicly called George W. Bush stupid and I began to harbor a molecule or two of grudging respect for the man. I recently read and reviewed his book, Hangar Flying, which happily is not about leadership but strictly about flying jets, and is a lot of fun to read. Link:

            •  Eagles in PACAF (0+ / 0-)

              probably means Kadena. Ever run across "Nordo" North? He was my best student coming to us in 1980 from a tour as a weasel WSO who ended up with over 3000 hours in the Viper before being wing king at Kadena and recently retired as CINC PACAF. (Nordo also introduced me to my wife but I won't blame him for anything that followed. ;) That's all on me. Except the good parts were I have to her.) Transitioning from WSO to pilot and excelling is a good example of good people overcoming early career obstacles like those faced by FAIPs.

              Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

              by VTCC73 on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:56:00 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Replying to my own reply, (0+ / 0-)

              how pathetic. But I realized I had Creech and McPeak mixed together. And I was sober!

    •  Sadly there were some poor IPs, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BusyinCA, VTCC73, Alumbrados

      but I lucked out. I tried to think if the bad ones had anything in common but came up blank: some were FAIPs; some were experienced pilots with combat time in SEA. One of my very best instructors was a former 7-year POW. My Tweet IP, Chris Gilcreast, had previously been an ADC F-106 pilot.

      I got yelled at once in pilot training, by some IP I'd never flown with. He saw me walking down the hall with one of my upper pocket zippers open and read me the riot act. He was escorting a good-looking woman guest, and I always figured he was just showing off. I think he made himself look like an idiot, and like to think he didn't get laid that night.

    •  "but once I settled in" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VTCC73, Alumbrados, Bisbonian

      Very true. Interesting that you picked up on the fact that I wasn't happy on assignment night. Probably that's a universal reaction with FAIPs. We just spend a year here, now we have to spend three more ... while all our friends and classmates step out into the real world to fly real planes? Anyway, that's how I felt.

      Every one of us in 75-03 thought we'd be going to Vietnam after graduation. Then flying operations in SEA ended halfway through T-37 training and we were grounded for three months while the USAF figured out what to do with us. When we started again we became class 75-04. There were only three or  four fighter assignments for our class, but there were six or seven FAIP slots in 37s and 38s.

      As you experienced, it quickly became obvious that it was a great assignment. I learned so much, and almost all my experiences there were rewarding. Had I gone straight into F-4s, as I'd hoped, I honestly don't know if I'd have been ready. When I did go to the F-15 three years later, I was ready ... but that's a story for a future diary.

      •  FAIP was the most biggest job a 2LT pilot (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BusyinCA, Bisbonian

        could have. You are dead on about it seasoning newly winged pilots. Getting stuck in ATC made progression a steeper climb later but by then most are well prepared for the task. Neither blue four or a heavy copilot have the responsibilities or freedom of action required of a FAIP. They are given a great responsibility to manage and mold fledgling pilots right out of PIT. They have a current knowledge about the UPT system and are almost always more enthusiastic, energetic, and competent than those coming back from the user commands. My problem children were two captains out of the C-141 and KC-135 during my year as a flight commander before going to PIT. One or the other would bust a check ride every six months. Both were impossibly demanding of their students while only being marginally competent themselves. The 141 puke never soloed a student, ever. I had to put his studs with someone else just before initial solos or schedule repeat rides. Lets say that the FAIPs i knew earned a great deal of respect for their performance.

        FY1976 had grand total of one, yes one, flying assignment for all of the FAIPS in ATC. I well remember the howling from our IPs. Four years of ATC and the reward is rate supplement for three more years before ever stepping foot in an operational assignment. That's a professionalism test if ever there was one. And a real obstacle to career development and growth. By 1982 it would have prevented a fighter assignment. So I guess being a plow back really is the left handed red headed step child of the USAF flying community.

        Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

        by VTCC73 on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:04:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'd heard it called the Converter before (0+ / 0-)

    Cause it converted jet fuel to noise.

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:16:54 PM PST

  •  Looks like great fun! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The best I managed was as a passenger in an acrobatic biplane ride.  Absolutely loved it, didn't get sick--but when we were back down on the ground my legs wouldn't quite hold me up either.  And yeah--I would do it again.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 09:20:59 PM PST

  •  As a midshipman, I spent part of one summer (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, BusyinCA, Alumbrados

    getting exposure to Naval Aviation and one hop was on a TA4 - the trainer version of the A4 Skyhawk.

    That was a trip - like being in a flight simulator, it was so smooth when doing a look or roll.

    And when my instructor pilot showed a maneuver to kill airspeed by skidding through a turn, it was like a sports car.

  •  Spins are entertaining. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VTCC73, Bisbonian

    (Intentional spins, anyway.)

    I joke that the spin recovery procedure for the 172 I fly is "Let go of the damned plane!"  It's such a docile bird, it (usually) unscrews itself automatically.

    •  The Tweet was a great spin trainer. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Every IP taught spins but there were flight examiners at every UPT base and Pilot Instructor Training (PIT) designated as spin demo pilots. PIT trainees and new IPs finishing their first six months of instructing were required to fly a spin ride. There were 11 spins in the syllabus that were flown during the hour sortie. (The PIT record AFAIK was 15 spin rides by one IP in a week.) The type of entry and recovery were in a specific order to highlight the spin characteristics of the Tweet and what the entry and recovery looked like with misapplied controls during the recovery. She was completely predictable and honest in the spin as well as the recovery. My whole pointless of this is that a year of doing spin demos at PIT lead me to conclude that despite a 53 word boldface procedure the T-37 would probably recover by itself in less than 5000'  if the pilot pulled the engines to idle and simply released the controls. Just like your 172. The boldface was for the few situations, like inverted spins, that it wouldn't recover by itself.

      Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

      by VTCC73 on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:26:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "low, light, and left" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It was also possible, once in a spin, to  v-e-r-y   s-l-o-w-l-y put in full forward stick, and full pro-spin rudder, and the plane would just wrap up tighter and tighter until everything was a blur.  Got there once.

        When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

        by Bisbonian on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 07:53:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What you describe is close to one demo, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the stick only recovery: neutral rudder and a minimum of ten seconds going from full aft to full forward. It was one of the last of eleven demos because the airplane had to be light or it may not recover. The entry was at a high pitch and with the gyroscopic effects of the engines (funny that I can't remember which direction that is, right I think) so the spin stabilized quickly, minimizing altitude loss, and further stacking the deck for recovery. One major goal is to reinforce the predictability of the spin characteristics and the primary goal was to show that the single spin recovery worked even when controls were misapplied. As you say it really wraps up. I never counted but the advertised maximum spin rate was 540 degrees/second. On a T-3 ride with a fellow fight examiner (and later classmate at NWA) we took over 30 seconds but it still came out. That ride was one of my strongest data points for asserting the SSR only failed due to gross mis application or an airplane problem. Sadly, it happened. I seem to remember three or four spin accidents, one fatal, during my time in ATC.

          One insight I got from hundreds of demo spins was the absolute importance of watching the horizon. I was never able to consistently do it while I taught at UPT. When I did finally overcome my reluctance I could see every tiny pitch change that resulted from the application of a control. The recovery is always working as long as the nose is going down. if the nose rises or stops moving it is time to start over or eject if too low. I'm convinced that none of the failed spin recoveries reported to HQ ATC would have happened if the IP had watched the horizon. For me personally it reminded me to always do my best to follow flight manual directives and procedures.

          The "low, light, left" was a memory aid for the most oscillatory and slow to develop entries. Again, if I remember correctly. It's been a very long time. I do remember though the fairly wild gyrations you could get from accelerated entries, usually with unintentional spins. I had a few, mostly at PIT. I never felt the need to intervene with a PIT trainee who did something silly or stupid when it wasn't going to be dangerous. Hilarity and learning always followed.

          Like the O-6, former FAIP F-4 driver, who snapped into a spin at the top of a formation trail loop trying to get back in position and not lose sight of lead under the nose. He unloaded by long instinct and recovered after a turn or so. He lost lead, I didn't but I wasn't flying either. I asked for the airplane and caught lead at the bottom of the loop. That was my one and only vertical rejoin, through the center of the loop, and the future Laughlin DO's last time flying trail high and way back in the cone. Three of us laughed a lot, the O-6 was a great guy and laughed hardest, and you guys can probably guess who didn't know what was funny. He learned about paying attention though. See, laughter and learning go well together.

          Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

          by VTCC73 on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 11:27:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The A-37 Dragonfly (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Was another variant of this. It was operated by my USAFR squadron.
    I once had the opportunity to ri in one as a passenger (Airman of the month). It was the only "fighter" I ever flew in.
    It was quite small and a bit scary.

  •  Thanks for the diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I knew what it was gonna be about when moused over the title and saw "Throttles Idle," etc.  Brought it all back.  

    IMO, the Tweets only had two vices--they were noisy, of course, and they were terrible gas hogs in their own tiny little way.  A T-38 could actually get better gas mileage, at roughly twice the weight and twice the speed.  

    Also, I guess, the instructor could reach over and pinch off your air hose.  I hated that.  

    No wonder ATC changed over to turboprops.  

    How many wrongs does it take to make a right?

    by pdknz on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:35:44 PM PST

    •  Very true about the fuel consumption. (0+ / 0-)

      The engines were a centrifugal flow design from the dawn of the jet age. If modern airliners had those kinds of engines we'd still have to refuel in Newfoundland and Ireland to get from NYC to Paris, just like we did during the prop days of the 1950s.

      I would love to check out one of those new T-6s.

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