PDA

View Full Version : My day of (combat) flight maneuvers (link to pics/videos)



XyZspineZyX
07-20-2003, 05:35 AM
Today I had the very positive experience of flying a T-34A Mentor plane with an extremely experienced former Air Force Colonel. Since I got a practical answer to at least one question/"issue" I've seen repeatedly pop up on this forum, and also had the capability of making some video clips of the experience, I figured at least some of you'd enjoy me raving about it:

(For those of you who are impatient, or who have slow connections, I've put a few pictures and 3 mpeg videos up at http://www.imagestation.com/album/?id=4289631359&idx=5. Good stuff, if I do say so myself. Which I do. You have to have an account there to view them, but it was a quick registration process and you get a good amount of space to fill up with pics of your dog or motorcycle, so it's worth it)

The place - SkyFighters, Inc. (http://www.skyfighters.com/), a Denver (Colorado)-based company that takes us wannabe figher pilots up into the air in a 1950's-era military trainer plane and lets us perform various combat maneuvers, and even take part in dogfights versus other customers (if you've got the cash...the place isn't cheap, but it was well worth what my in-laws paid to have me take part in it.../i/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif ), and in the end you get a gunsight & cockpit-view video of the entire experience. I got to fly with Colonel (Ret.) Gene "Ranger" Westback, who, according to his bio sheet, was the Program Chief Instructor Pilot for the F-111 Air Combat Tactics Program and Senior Operations and Training Officer for the F-111 Tactical Air Command, flew almost 300 missions in Vietnam, and all sorts of other highly cool stuff. He was a very cool guy, much friendlier and more down-to-earth than I'd expect from a 30-year veteran (which was of great relief to me, who spent the previous night being nervous about the whole thing).
After getting me suited up and finding a helmet suitable for my fat head, as well as selecting the callsign "Voodoo" from a wall of breast patches (they didn't have Dirk, dammit! I'll have to bring my own next time, I guess), Gene (it felt weird speaking to a Colonel by his first name, but I'm a disrespectful f*ck so it was only weird for a few seconds) first spent 45 minutes or so going over the maneuvers we were going to perform, using those cool plane-on-a-stick reference models, along with covering the interior of the plane, emergency proceedures (I would have liked to have seen first-hand what it was like to bail out of a prop plane, but you can't have everything...), etc., and wasn't even condescending or the least bit negative about my occasional "I fly at full realism and so know what I'm talking about" idiotic comments. Even my family got to sit around and listen to the whole thing, which was nice (I love it when my wife gets all squeemish about statements like "in case the gear doesn't drop..." or "in my thousands of hours in the air I've never had to use a parachute, but just in case here's what to do...").
After that we headed out to the T-34A Mentor, where my fam took a couple more pics of me (I'm pretty sure my wife left half of her film roll blank, damn her eyes, but what can you do...women *sighs*), I got suited up, and climbed my a$$ in. The cockpit was really small - you don't at all get the feeling of how cramped a combat aircraft is from FB or any other sim - I couldn't even pull the stick all the way to the left because my knee was in the way, my legs were situated on the rudder pedals at a pretty extreme, and most definitely uncomfortable, angle, and I felt like a clown on a miniature tricycle every time I had to flip a switch or turn the trim wheel (more on that later, my friends...).
After starting 'er up and going over the preflight checklist (that was interesting to hear...thank god FB doesn't have a Murphey's Law code), Gene taxied us out to the runway, we chatted some, and up we went. He got us to around 8000 feet (above mean sea level...he referred to it simply as "MSL" when I asked him whether or not the altimiter was above ground level or sea level. That made it roughly 2000 to 2500 AGL out here in Denver) before handing over the stick to me.
To backtrack a ways, once we were airborne I was in control of the stick, rudders and elevator trim - Gene controlled the rest. Speaking in familiar-to-FB-players terms, the Altimeter, ATA meter, (electric?) compass, RPM meter, artifical horizon and roll indicator were all working, although I'd been told that anything relying on a gyro shouldn't be monitored as they turned them off to to increase the life of the plane's electrical components *shrug*. The Elevator Trim wheel was HUGE, very sensitive, and neigh-instantly responsive - it took me half the flight to get it to the point where it wasn't adversely affecting my altitude in level, no-or-little-pressure-on-the-stick flight.
To get back to the correct part of the timeline, flying the plane was very similar to FB (or vice-versa, I guess), although the constant bumps from turbulence (affecting the movement of the plane rather than just shaking my joystick) and, of course, the total lack of G-Force Modelling (Oleg, get to work on that, please...), were extremely noteworthy. I felt slightly aggitated that we were only cruising at around 110 knots, when I was used to zooming along at 400+ km/hr, at least until I pushed the stick forward and my stomach started crawling up into my chest. I flew the entire mission beyond the take-off and landing, although Gene stepped in on my first overly-anxious attempt at a Lazy Eight maneuver.
As a side-note to those that have been griping about the cockpit view angles in FB, I was unable to see directly to my six - I couldn't even crank myself far enough around to see my chair, and that was when Gene was taxiing down the runway and I was just along for the ride. With the restraining harness, helmet and parachute all strapped on, I could only see what was allowed by the turning of my head. Although FB doesn't model peripheral vision, the FOV angles that currently exist were about as good as what I could see no matter how much I craned my neck.
Once we got a ways out I was able to perform a few aerobatic maneuvers during the 45-ish minute flight time - a 180-degree level turn to the right and left (I did those easily...Gene mentioned how most people had trouble applying both elevator an aeleron pressure at the same time, which I of course scoffed at...), a couple Chandelle turns, Wing-Overs (those rocked...we pulled almost 3.5 g's on my best one), a Lazy Eight (I did another later on, since I goofed up the first...and did it right the second time), and finished off the flight with two victory rolls, one to either direction. After that we headed back, me feeling queazy from dehydration - it was EXTREMELY hot in the cockpit, even with the canopy slightly open the entire flight. I guess flipping around like I was on a roller-coaster might have added to it, but I SWEAR IT WAS JUST FROM THE DEHYDRATION. Thanks for sympathizing.

That's pretty much it...if you've got upwards of a thousand bucks to spend, and can get to Denver, I highly recommend SkyFighters. The entire experience was awesome, I've got a new respect for those insane combat pilots who zoom around at 3 times the G's I pulled and at 10 times the speed, I can barely wait the 50+ years it's going to take me to save up enough money to go on their dogfighting excursion, and I'd now join the airforce if it wasn't for my wife's impossible-to-misinterpret "NO!".

Again their website is www.SkyFighters.com (http://www.skyfighters.com/), and the pics/video I've gotten so far are at http://www.imagestation.com/album/?id=4289631359&idx=5. I've got 1 and a half rolls of film to develop still, so if I get a good enough response to this thread I'll throw them up on my ImageStation page once they come back from the shop.


~S~, Dirk aka Brandon (in case you happen to take a flight with Gene, so you can drop my name /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif )

XyZspineZyX
07-20-2003, 05:35 AM
Today I had the very positive experience of flying a T-34A Mentor plane with an extremely experienced former Air Force Colonel. Since I got a practical answer to at least one question/"issue" I've seen repeatedly pop up on this forum, and also had the capability of making some video clips of the experience, I figured at least some of you'd enjoy me raving about it:

(For those of you who are impatient, or who have slow connections, I've put a few pictures and 3 mpeg videos up at http://www.imagestation.com/album/?id=4289631359&idx=5. Good stuff, if I do say so myself. Which I do. You have to have an account there to view them, but it was a quick registration process and you get a good amount of space to fill up with pics of your dog or motorcycle, so it's worth it)

The place - SkyFighters, Inc. (http://www.skyfighters.com/), a Denver (Colorado)-based company that takes us wannabe figher pilots up into the air in a 1950's-era military trainer plane and lets us perform various combat maneuvers, and even take part in dogfights versus other customers (if you've got the cash...the place isn't cheap, but it was well worth what my in-laws paid to have me take part in it.../i/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif ), and in the end you get a gunsight & cockpit-view video of the entire experience. I got to fly with Colonel (Ret.) Gene "Ranger" Westback, who, according to his bio sheet, was the Program Chief Instructor Pilot for the F-111 Air Combat Tactics Program and Senior Operations and Training Officer for the F-111 Tactical Air Command, flew almost 300 missions in Vietnam, and all sorts of other highly cool stuff. He was a very cool guy, much friendlier and more down-to-earth than I'd expect from a 30-year veteran (which was of great relief to me, who spent the previous night being nervous about the whole thing).
After getting me suited up and finding a helmet suitable for my fat head, as well as selecting the callsign "Voodoo" from a wall of breast patches (they didn't have Dirk, dammit! I'll have to bring my own next time, I guess), Gene (it felt weird speaking to a Colonel by his first name, but I'm a disrespectful f*ck so it was only weird for a few seconds) first spent 45 minutes or so going over the maneuvers we were going to perform, using those cool plane-on-a-stick reference models, along with covering the interior of the plane, emergency proceedures (I would have liked to have seen first-hand what it was like to bail out of a prop plane, but you can't have everything...), etc., and wasn't even condescending or the least bit negative about my occasional "I fly at full realism and so know what I'm talking about" idiotic comments. Even my family got to sit around and listen to the whole thing, which was nice (I love it when my wife gets all squeemish about statements like "in case the gear doesn't drop..." or "in my thousands of hours in the air I've never had to use a parachute, but just in case here's what to do...").
After that we headed out to the T-34A Mentor, where my fam took a couple more pics of me (I'm pretty sure my wife left half of her film roll blank, damn her eyes, but what can you do...women *sighs*), I got suited up, and climbed my a$$ in. The cockpit was really small - you don't at all get the feeling of how cramped a combat aircraft is from FB or any other sim - I couldn't even pull the stick all the way to the left because my knee was in the way, my legs were situated on the rudder pedals at a pretty extreme, and most definitely uncomfortable, angle, and I felt like a clown on a miniature tricycle every time I had to flip a switch or turn the trim wheel (more on that later, my friends...).
After starting 'er up and going over the preflight checklist (that was interesting to hear...thank god FB doesn't have a Murphey's Law code), Gene taxied us out to the runway, we chatted some, and up we went. He got us to around 8000 feet (above mean sea level...he referred to it simply as "MSL" when I asked him whether or not the altimiter was above ground level or sea level. That made it roughly 2000 to 2500 AGL out here in Denver) before handing over the stick to me.
To backtrack a ways, once we were airborne I was in control of the stick, rudders and elevator trim - Gene controlled the rest. Speaking in familiar-to-FB-players terms, the Altimeter, ATA meter, (electric?) compass, RPM meter, artifical horizon and roll indicator were all working, although I'd been told that anything relying on a gyro shouldn't be monitored as they turned them off to to increase the life of the plane's electrical components *shrug*. The Elevator Trim wheel was HUGE, very sensitive, and neigh-instantly responsive - it took me half the flight to get it to the point where it wasn't adversely affecting my altitude in level, no-or-little-pressure-on-the-stick flight.
To get back to the correct part of the timeline, flying the plane was very similar to FB (or vice-versa, I guess), although the constant bumps from turbulence (affecting the movement of the plane rather than just shaking my joystick) and, of course, the total lack of G-Force Modelling (Oleg, get to work on that, please...), were extremely noteworthy. I felt slightly aggitated that we were only cruising at around 110 knots, when I was used to zooming along at 400+ km/hr, at least until I pushed the stick forward and my stomach started crawling up into my chest. I flew the entire mission beyond the take-off and landing, although Gene stepped in on my first overly-anxious attempt at a Lazy Eight maneuver.
As a side-note to those that have been griping about the cockpit view angles in FB, I was unable to see directly to my six - I couldn't even crank myself far enough around to see my chair, and that was when Gene was taxiing down the runway and I was just along for the ride. With the restraining harness, helmet and parachute all strapped on, I could only see what was allowed by the turning of my head. Although FB doesn't model peripheral vision, the FOV angles that currently exist were about as good as what I could see no matter how much I craned my neck.
Once we got a ways out I was able to perform a few aerobatic maneuvers during the 45-ish minute flight time - a 180-degree level turn to the right and left (I did those easily...Gene mentioned how most people had trouble applying both elevator an aeleron pressure at the same time, which I of course scoffed at...), a couple Chandelle turns, Wing-Overs (those rocked...we pulled almost 3.5 g's on my best one), a Lazy Eight (I did another later on, since I goofed up the first...and did it right the second time), and finished off the flight with two victory rolls, one to either direction. After that we headed back, me feeling queazy from dehydration - it was EXTREMELY hot in the cockpit, even with the canopy slightly open the entire flight. I guess flipping around like I was on a roller-coaster might have added to it, but I SWEAR IT WAS JUST FROM THE DEHYDRATION. Thanks for sympathizing.

That's pretty much it...if you've got upwards of a thousand bucks to spend, and can get to Denver, I highly recommend SkyFighters. The entire experience was awesome, I've got a new respect for those insane combat pilots who zoom around at 3 times the G's I pulled and at 10 times the speed, I can barely wait the 50+ years it's going to take me to save up enough money to go on their dogfighting excursion, and I'd now join the airforce if it wasn't for my wife's impossible-to-misinterpret "NO!".

Again their website is www.SkyFighters.com (http://www.skyfighters.com/), and the pics/video I've gotten so far are at http://www.imagestation.com/album/?id=4289631359&idx=5. I've got 1 and a half rolls of film to develop still, so if I get a good enough response to this thread I'll throw them up on my ImageStation page once they come back from the shop.


~S~, Dirk aka Brandon (in case you happen to take a flight with Gene, so you can drop my name /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif )

XyZspineZyX
07-20-2003, 12:08 PM
You lucky B*Stard. /i/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

S! Simon.
<center>


<font color="#000000">It's my attitude not my aptitude that determines my altitude.</font>
http://extremeone.4t.com/images/sig.jpg

XyZspineZyX
07-20-2003, 12:24 PM
Have my in-laws sponsor it for me, Now why didn't i think of that before???? Oh, now i remember /i/smilies/16x16_robot-very-happy.gif lmao

Actually I live in the area, so it's great to know about sky fighters, inc. I MUST try this!

P.S. If anyone would like to make a donation ill give you may paypal number /i/smilies/16x16_robot-very-happy.gif