I swore I wouldn’t return to the embarrassment of performance that was last week’s Wednesday Night Mission, but I have to report that while not quite as bad (I actually landed without boltering, then promptly taxied off the right side of the carrier), I still have a LOONG way to go to achieve some degree of competency.
As a coach in my career, I always make a point to emphasize what a client “did right” in a post-event review, whether it’s on the trail, on the road, or, in some cases, when they awaken from a a cardiac infarc requiring an AED. There can be a littany of coaching gripes and observations, but giving the athlete THAT ONE NUGGET of positive review can make or break retention, improvement, and resolve.
So - yeah - I landed on a carrier deck at night, TRYING to follow Case III protocols.
BUT THERE’S A LITANY of crap I need to get through before I show any signs of competency and confidence. To whit:
I spawned on the wrong carrier at the beginning (I swear I read the Briefing, and when I zoomed in on the map after spawn, it was right there - “Stennis” - but obviously I didn’t zoom in ENOUGH to realize my mistake.
Radios - Thanks to @fridge and @Gunnyhighway, and then, of course, DungeonMaster @near_blind for their help with the radios. I know, I know - SimpleRadio vs Discord, button mapping, etc. To be honest - this has been my bane ever since I took flying lessons in the 80’s. It’s why I ended up in sailplanes and got my glider’s license… it didn’t require radios (at that time). Once I ‘got’ Radio 1, I think I was able to communicate with the Squadron using PTT, but when I switched over to ‘Radio 2’ and tried to call in my landing requests, nothing. I’m sure I screwed someone else’s landing pattern up, but I have no idea.
Trim on Takeoff. I set it to 12 degrees, then forgot - heavy load, 3 bags plus missiles? Try 17. Ugh.
I must have forgotten some procedure in startup for the navigation. For the life of me, I couldn’t get ‘sequence’, ‘hud’, or ‘waypoint’ to work. I set the INS properly during startup, watched the countdown timer and everything, but for the life of me, I couldn’t get the Nav to work for over half the mission. This required me to work like hell to try and stay on @near_blind’s tail or wing, and I even screwed THAT up!
I was behind and too slow, and when I caught up, I was rolling above and past. Then I was out too far as I attempted to get the damned nav working, and almost triggered a couple of the SAM’s. Then I was 5 or 6 miles behind everyone, and hit 450kts trying to catch up, but I was at the wrong altitude. So I sped ahead. And missed the squadron completely.
- I DID use the night goggles a ton, and that was completely worth it. It DID help me at least see @near_blind and @Gunnyhighway at times, but I caught no sight of @Fridge the whole mission, except at the end after I’d respawned on the carrier to watch everyone else come in.
I’m running out of time, but my takeaways leave me wondering if maybe I couldn’t build a simple mission at sunset, set four waypoints with gates included, follow those cues, and then attempt several intentional bolters with the arresting hook up, as the sun set and the night landing requirements rose.
As always, thanks to the guiding hand of everyone, and I’m always stoked to climb back into the cockpit and practice (4 hours last Sunday, will probably go again tonight), and it’s the community that remains so great. I’m getting used to Discord, and I’ll keep working on the radios off-list.
Lots to learn - glad I have such great instructors and online buddies to help.
I uploaded the entire video of the mission here: I’ll edit it later…
Won’t be in for next Wednesday (my wife is in town), but I’ll rejoin y’all in two weeks.