Course Video, Attempted G Course, and Post-Wings Thoughts

Hello all, yet another long delay between posts but I was on leave for a couple weeks following my grad, and I was hoping to lump the course video in with my G course experience that I did in Toronto for two days. More on that later, but for now, check out our course video below. This is all footage captured over the course of PH II or PH III and includes myself and my two other coursemates. 

With that out of the way, let's talk about the G course. This is a two day course that takes place at Defense Reasearch and Development Canada (DRDC) in Toronto that is meant to train pilots to sustain high G forces for extended periods of time so they can safely operate high performance aircraft without succumbing to G induced loss of consciousness (GLOC). Effectively what happens is that while a pilot pulls G in a hard turn the blood in the body is forced downwards into the lower extremities, and crucially, away from the brain. If too much G is sustained for too long without the pilot taking action to retain blood (and therefore oxygen) flow to the brain, they will fall unconscious.  The anti-G straining maneuver (AGSM) is a technique meant to help pilots retain oxygen in the brain. Pilots will clench and squeeze their legs, buttocks, and abs as much as possible to force blood up from the lower extremities and to the brain. They will also take sharp, quick intakes of breath every 3 seconds. The quickness of the breath is required due to the fact that chest expansion is difficult under G (think about having an elephant sitting on your chest and trying to take a deep breath).  The result is a pilot who is grimacing, grunting, and squeezing to try and maintain blood and oxygen flow to the brain. To help them, the military has developed G pants which are tight fitting pants with air bladders that inflate under G to help squeeze the legs and force blood upwards. With practice pilots can become very used to utilizing the AGSM technique, and may not need to execute it as aggressively as they do in training in the centrifuge. 

So, with the understanding of why we are doing this training, let's talk about how the training works. As mentioned, it's a two day process where the first day comprises of briefings on the effects of G, and the AGSM. Then pilots are put into the centrifuge (long arm with a pod on the end that spins in a circle pictured below) and are put through several G profiles to work on their AGSM and ultimately pass the required threshold. The two profiles fighter pilot candidates must pass include a 5G rapid-onset profile for 15 seconds without the use of G pants, and a 7G rapid-onset profile for 15 seconds with the use G pants. 

                                                                                                         The centrifuge

At this point I was hoping to include a video of myself going around the centrifuge and executing my two profiles, but unfortunately the centrifuge broke on the day of our course and I was unable to take my turn in the centrifuge. I'll be rescheduled to go sometime in the new year, but in either case it was a free trip to Toronto for a couple days. 

This technology was developed in the early 80's, and it hasn't change an ounce since then. It still runs of the same computer from the 80's (including the box of floppy disks that contains the software), and gets up to speed of approximately 60-70 km/h when pilots are executing the 7G profile.

                                                                                      The seat inside the capsule of the centrifuge

Alright, before I sign off for another couple weeks I'll share some thoughts about achieving wings. First off, this is undoubtedly a huge achievement, and something I've been actively pursuing since I signed on the dotted line 5 years ago, and been dreaming about for much longer. Not only is this a culmination of years of hard work, but it means I have now joined a community of pilots in the CF. In my 5 years in the military I have learned that this truly is a organization that is about the people, and it doesn't run if you don't support the people in it. The military truly is a community, and I have never felt more a part of that community then I do now. 

Another thought is that although I have undoubtedly crossed a huge milestone in my career, this is far from the finish line. I have proven myself to be a capable pilot, but now the real training begins as I transition to jet aircraft, and more tactical and job-oriented training. Up to this point the training has been "this is how you fly a plane", and although Phase IV is much the same, the training from here on in begins to become "this is how you fly a plane for the specific role in the Air Force". As I move through Phase IV and beyond more and more training is going to involve tactical maneuvering and training for real-world applications.  More and more of my training will be oriented to my job rather than simply flying the plane. 

I am truly excited for what the future holds, and can't wait to start training on the Hawk in the new year. It's been an exciting 18 months since graduating from RMC, and I'm sure the next 18 will be just as exciting. 

As always, stay tuned for more updates in the future (subscribe to my email list to never miss an update), and share this with friends if you think they will find it interesting!

Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year!