If flying around at 300 KIAS, wasn’t difficult or challenging enough, they put you under a curtain, or hood as it was called, and you had to simulate being in the weather for learning how to navigate and fly solely on the aircrafts instruments.
Yes, in T-37 instrument training, we used to wear a bonnet over our helmet. It was helpful to shade and obscure the vision beyond the cockpit. Of course, it wasn’t as thorough as the hood, because you have to position the bonnet just right so that you couldn’t see beyond the cockpit. In essence, the honor system was the rule of the day, because with the bonnet, you could get frustrated to the point that you would want to take a peek beyond the cockpit instruments to see where you needed to be flying. Of course, that would defeat its purpose, and you wouldn’t be getting quality training. Also, you were training for real life circumstances; and if you were not disciplined, you could find yourself one day facing true instrument conditions and you couldn’t perform properly. That could lead to tragedy.
I taught mainly newly commissioned United States Air Force Officers in the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) Program at Laughlin AFB, TX. However, the Air Force also has allocations for training students of many allied nations from around the world, sponsored by their respective governments.
Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) is the United States Air Force (USAF) program which trains Commissioned Officers in the intricacies of flight leading to receiving an Aeronautical rating of Pilot. This was a major milestone and achievement in my life, earning the coveted silver wings. The rigors of 52 weeks of intense training were like nothing I ever experienced in life. The physical demands were brutal. You were successful just maintaining consciousness while performing the required aerobatic maneuvers. Although there are techniques and equipment to assist with the frailties of the human body, this training requires a high level of physical fitness and perfect technique to overcome the rapid onset of G-loads experienced. If the physical demands were not taxing enough, you must simultaneously perform mentally upon a flight profile. The physical demands can hamper your ability to think ahead of the jet. That’s the common term most often uttered throughout training. Stay ahead of the jet, you have to think ahead of the aircraft! I was so tired of hearing that over, over, and over again. Take it from me, Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) was not a cakewalk, and if you know anyone having gone through the program successfully, they are deserving of your accolades.
This collaboration highlights the sights and sounds of the Flightline and Airfield Operations at UPT/SUPT during typical daytime training just east of the town of Del Rio under the Aerodrome of Laughlin AFB, TX. Most times of the year, the Index Of Thermal Stress (ITS) is Hot. As you check-in with the Supervisor Of Flying (SOF), the boards always indicates (ITS) – HOT. Get use to it; it’s the desert of West Texas, and most of the terrain looks the same from the air.