22 Dec 90
160176, 5T2, 2.8, 313/300, Spot
Slept til 1030, flying goggles tonight. Stopped by MCX to get Cup O Noodles. Also got peanut M&Ms and Dr Pepper. What a great brunch. Spent about 3 hours gathering info for our hop. The mission was great. Fly a recon team to an LZ, and try to evade a British artillery ranging radar. We got help from a Prowler, and also had an RPV relay info to our wingman on whether our LZ was clear or not.
When I saw I was flying with Spot, I thought "crap" for a second, then remembered I've never had a bad hop with him, and I always learn something. And usually better to be flying with him than on his wing, that way you don't get chewed out over the radio. I'm here, wanting to become a better pilot, and he is one of the guys who can help me do that. No one in the squadron has the experience that the has. The things I have issues with are outside the cockpit. He may not realize that he moves at a different speed than everyone else, or uses a different thought process. So how to avoid the wrath of Spot? Be prepared, think ahead.
Got the aircraft preflighted and ready to turn up. Spot hops in and asks me (surprise) to read the checklist. We went out and ran the route during daylight, as a rehearsal, with no Marines on board. That's a requirement and a good idea. Also pilots have to have a minimum of 25 hours to carry pax. I have about 55 now, and Spot has who knows how many. Picked up Recon guys, and ran the team in at 50 feet, on the goggles, evading radar, getting info from RPVs, navving and timing to hit the LZ +- 30 seconds in a 20 year old Huey. Spot asked how everyone's comfort level was during the flight, and the mission went fine. It was challenging, but the planning and crew coordination made it a lot easier. We also had a FLIR and the were using that to look ahead for obstacles. The operator sits in back and relays display info over the intercom. So now I can't complain about flying "combat VIP" all the time, at least for a few days. Used the mike lite, it worked great. I'll have to turn up the heat in supply so they'll buy them for the whole squadron. They'll come in more handy than flight suits, binos, etc...
Spot signed off two syllabus flights for me, Electronic Warfare and Helicopter Night Assault. 3 more flights and I can get my Attack Helicopter Commander checkride. AHC is my next goal, then maybe External Weight IP. The Instrument and Ordnance, to go with the Fam, Terf and FCP that I already have.
Next time we'll do it while coordinating an artillery LZ prep with other attack and transport assets, with a Command and Control radio pack in the back, shooting rockets and carrying an external load, yeah, that's it, with no tail rotor, and Mooooooorgan Fairchild will be my copilot.
After the hop, Shiekeys pizza and a Pepsi for midrats, then hit the rack at 2230.