Dr. Lionel D. Alford, Jr.
23 December 2011
I was back in the AT-6C for a familiarization flight with the new software and hardware in aircraft AT-2. We’ve made some great modifications to AT-2 to make it the productionized version of the AT-6C. It has all the improvements to make the system work especially well for the pilots. No software design is ever complete, you have to add new weapons and new capabilities as well as improve those problems you find in the field. The new software is fantastic and gives the aircraft the potential capability for immediate fielding.
I was able to take the aircraft for a flight to reposition it at Jabara (AAO). We went out to El Dorado Lake. The aircraft was configured with the EO/IR ball turret underneath. This was a new configuration for me to fly. The airplane behaved well. I could barely tell that ball was there. The day was cold and there was plenty of extra power, but all in all, the ball turret seemed to make the aircraft more stable at the airspeeds I was flying.
I found some targets on the ground and practiced simulated rocket and bomb attacks. The new software made everything simple to setup and fly. I was using old and new techniques and the aircraft seemed to take to either. The designation and attack of targets was simple and to some degree intuitive. I say to some degree because you have to be familiar with fighter HOTAS (hands on stick and throttle) systems to begin with, but if you are, the manipulation of the controls is very familiar. I tried most of the main bomb and rocket attack types and we headed over to El Dorado airport for a practice SFO (simulated flameout) pattern. The aircraft was easy to read for drag and flew predictably. I made the pattern from a different position and angle than the book prescribes. The pattern worked out great to a touch and go. Then we headed up to Jabara.
At Jabara, we flew a GPS LPV approach to see how it worked on the new software. The system was easy to use and gave a great approach to the field. We made a full stop and bedded down the aircraft. Another great flight in a great aircraft.