PC Training Begins
The first day of PC (pilot-in-command) training lasted all day. We, of course, flew during the hottest part of the day and began our work on refining my instrument flight skills. Before the flight, we had an hours-long "table talk," in which an instructor pilot imparted his knowledge on green pilots, a laborious but necessary part of flight instruction.
We usually pair training with maintenance test flights. Training begins as soon as the test flight checks are done.
Our plan was to practice instruments, as best we could under the limited instrument resources in theater. The pilot in training wears a vision inhibitor that prevents him from looking outside the cockpit, focusing his attention on the instruments. Instrument flying has been non-existent while serving in Iraq, save during some dust storms. We worked on basic instruments and this first day refreshed my memory on how well I have to plan a flight before attempting an instrument approach to the runway.
We executed several approaches, each better than the last. At first I was slow with my instrument scan, spending too much time focused on one instrument, allowing the indications from another instrument to fall by the wayside and missing information critical to staying on course. My scan sped up with practice, though not enough for today's training. My control inputs also contributed to my less-than-perfect performance. I was over-controlling the aircraft.
About two hours of practice seemed to pass in a matter of minutes. The instructor pilot realized we were making progress, but were getting to the point of diminishing returns. We returned to base with much to discuss in the debrief. After landing and shutdown we packed up while attempting to dry off: My uniform was soaked in sweat from the heat of the day and the stress of the flight.
For two more hours the instructor pilot and I talked about the flight and reviewed emergency procedures and aircraft systems. Altogether, the first day of training lasted almost 14 hours and we were going do it all over again every day after -- until I could complete the exercises to the standards set forth by the Army.
I departed the flight line with my homework and went back to my can to get a head start on it. I awoke in the middle of the night with an operator's manual for the Black Hawk in my lap , slumped in my folding lawn chair, having failed to win the fight with exhaustion.
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