Lionel Alford, Jr., "Military Aviation Adventures"
Latest Flight: Front Seat of the AT-6C
9 and 10 February 2012
I'm caught up with this report. I waited a few days before I put it out so you could absorb the last one.
I flew in the front seat of AT-6C N610AT from Beech Field (BEC) to Eglin AFB (VPS). We were originally supposed to go out as a two-ship (formation), but the other aircraft was delayed, so we took off in the morning.
The weather wasn't that bad. We had low clouds, but no predicted icing and the weather above was supposed to be clear. I planned for FL210 (21,000 ft). Everything went great from startup to getting our clearance. The takeoff was uneventful. I flew everything and tried to handle everything from the navigation to the use of the tactical systems in the aircraft. I'm learning how to make everything work, so the pilot in the other cockpit was helpful in figuring things out. I don't think I would have had any problems flying it myself.
We had a couple of External Fuel Tanks (EFTs) under the wings. They made the aircraft a little harder to fly at altitude, but that isn't uncommon for fighter type aircraft. The extra fuel they provided was great. We landed with almost a half full aircraft.
There isn't much to say about this flight, except that everything worked well and ATC took care of us. When we arrived at Eglin, I made an overhead. That's where you fly at 200 Knots in the overhead pattern and make a g-break over the numbers (or where tower tells you). A g-break is where you roll up to about 60 degrees of bank and make a 2 g level turn with the power at idle. This slows you quickly to less than 150 knots on downwind, where you can put down your gear and flaps. You turn base configured and at final approach speed. As you turn final, you slow to landing speed and land. This is a very efficient and great way to make a landing pattern if the weather is good.
The landing was great and we bedded the aircraft down.
The flights I made the next day were to check out the EO/IR ball turrets on the bottom of the aircraft. We were down at Eglin to fire laser guided rockets, the turrets needed to work properly. I took up both aircraft and flew from the front seat while another pilot in the back seat checked out the EO/IR turrets. The best parts was I got to fly. I gained more familiarity with the checklist and the aircraft procedures and got to honk both aircraft around the pattern.
We stayed with tower and at 2500 ft and just made holes in the sky. That was okay for me. It was a good challenge to hold exact airspeed and exact altitude while keeping the turn rates down and in the area the tower gave us to fly. We rang out both aircraft and both EO/IR turrets. The aircraft didn't have any problems. That's one of the great things about the T-6 and the AT-6, they are superior when it comes to being mission ready. They have very few problems. My personal experience is no lost sorties at all yet. HBDC and HBC just make fantastic aircraft that you can really depend on.
Hey, isn't that funny, all the aircraft I've been flying for a while are made by HBC.
I made overheads for the landing patterns. The tower changed the landing runway on us for the first flight. It was a runway with a barrier on it. That meant we had to land beyond the barrier and takeoff beyond the barrier. No problem for the AT-6. THe landings were very nice--I'm getting better.
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