Aug 17, 2019 – SIM 02 of only Six

This blog and others like it represent the updates I’ve been sending to my teammates as I go through the training required to get a type rating in the Gulfstream G280 corporate jet. These are intended to help them understand how the training is structured, and be even more prepared than I was.

I’m in single digits now – only 9 days to go. I’ve gotten to know my partner much better. We are getting along and working together. He is a religious man, plays trumpet in several bands and a small orchestra. He – more than me – has been making an effort to bring us together and I wonder if prayer does that for him. I do need to get back to church, and Bev and I will figure that out when we are able to leave the house on Sundays.

My SIM 02 performance left something to be desired. It’s not like the second time flying the jet could be used to build on your experience from the first session and you’d get better. Instead we are introducing new avionics features, changing the flight director displays we count on, and adding multiple failures and checklists to the mix. I know learning is occurring because my instructor tells me this. He won’t give us new challenges if we weren’t flying the airplane acceptably. What Dan and I see is two pilots that are all over the sky and making what we’d consider grievous mistakes that cause deviations. ‘Damn it! I know how to fly!’ is a common thought.

Steep turns and stalls are difficult for me to keep tight. I’m not happy with them and shouldn’t be. Today I’ll practice chair flying the drill and do believe that will help. If we get sim time today, the best outcome will be to master the entire dance I’ll need to demonstrate for the ride. These motors are so incredibly powerful that I believe they will fly you out of a dense forest if you ask them to. Amazing power.

My partner has been having his own struggles with avionics and approaches. I’m working hard to support him when I’m flying right seat (PM), but haven’t always been there. So I have issues as the PF – Pilot Flying, and issues as the PM – Pilot monitoring. Our instructor is not concerned at all. He explained that we are both effectively primary students, as you would be in getting your first instrument rating. He says we can clearly fly airplanes and are progressing well, but at this point we have two monkeys pushing buttons and trying to figure things out. Later we’ll have harmony.

The best thing we have going is our ability to work together. I very much appreciate that Dan is making such a strong effort to build a team.

I’m calm. Usually I’m a wreck after an experience like yesterdays sim. I generally don’t sleep at all, and feel like I’m letting everyone down. The fear of failure in the back of my head can be overwhelming. But that is not happening! I slept last night better than any night I can remember. Seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. My fears are diminishing to the point where I’m having fun. I have HP and Dan to thank for that, although I’ve had similar guidance in the past and couldn’t follow it. Maybe life experience is giving it to me. I don’t really care where it is coming from, but I love it.

I am blessed to be here with this opportunity, and blessed to have a strong wife who understands. I have not one damn thing to complain about. Not one. Thank God.

Speaking of God: Getting to know Dan has been a blessing. We were talking in the lounge before our session yesterday and I asked him about his mission upbringing. Dan grew up in Indonesia. His parents were missionaries in the jungle and had the daunting task of bringing the Gospel to a tribe that didn’t want it. They not only had to learn how to live in the jungle alongside a tribe, but they had to develop relationships and learn a new language. Then they had to translate the bible verse by verse into this new language. Wrap your head around that! I have trouble reading the bible and understanding it in English.

Dan told a story of a mission family preceding them. That family had to work their way into the jungle, cut out a landing strip so it would be possible to get supplies in and out, and introduce themselves to a jungle tribe. They met with resistance year after year, but continued their attempts to work with the tribe.

On one fateful trip, four people in a mission family suffered a plane crash. Only the 5 year old boy was spared, and he crawled out of the tree where the airplane was lodged, down to the jungle floor. There he was, in the middle of the jungle with no prospect of rescue and no one knowing where he was. He started walking. He had to be terrified and frightened beyond words.

As fate would have it, he came upon a tribal elder from the very tribe the missionaries were trying to reach. As Dan spoke, I imagined all the evil that could have befallen this kid in this situation. As I listened to the tale, I envisioned bengal tigers, poisonous stakes, and murderous tribal members.

The tribal elder responded exactly as you and I would. He took the boy under his care and brought him back to his village to begin to recover. From there, the two traveled back to the missionary camp so that the boy could be returned to his people. In the midst of this tragedy, the tribal elder realized that these people were very much like those in his own tribe. They had children, mothers, fathers, and friends. He witnessed their joy at the return of the boy, and began to feel trust and kinship. Resistance faltered and the missionaries found a way into the tribe as a result of this tragedy. Relationships were built.

My point in bring this out is that my partner and I are working together on this daunting task ahead, after it initially appeared I’d be doing this alone (not possible). It could be that pairing me up with Dan on this adventure was the very best thing that could have happened to me at least. I’m starting to think so. I am a very fortunate man, and of course, God is responsible for that. Now I just have to be worthy.

Instructor Schedules: [I redacted two paragraphs here based on feedback…]

I miss my wife and want to go home, but I can see where I will not mind flying my Twin Comanche down here for a few weeks at a time to learning the art of instructing in this airplane. We are preparing for our program up north, and that should be starting up in June. This could work.

I have the day off today, which means I’m meeting my partner at the office to practice procedures and avionics management. Our instructor volunteered to meet with us as well, and even get us an extra sim session if he can. Failing that, we’ll use the GFS ground avionics simulator to do the same thing.

I’m heading in earlier than everyone, since I feel I am the weakest link. Very little jet time, and flying behind a vastly different set of avionics while being strapped to a rocket is a handful.

All of the sudden I wish I had more time.

Fly safe.  Frank