Well, it was an exhausting sprint to the finish but last Friday I successfully completed my Basic Navigation Test (BNT), and my final flight of Phase II to finish course! As I mentioned in previous posts, the past couple weeks have been extremely busy with flying two missions every day, and doing the entire navigation phase in one week all totaling over 48 hours of mission time in the past 30 days (simulator time included). Considering that after the entire course I have less that 90 hours in the Harvard completing over half of that in one month is no small feat*.
*I will acknowledge at this point that completing two flights a day for a month straight isn't some herculean feat of strength, and is in fact completely reasonable for a student to be expected to complete. Despite this, it is rare that students successfully complete two missions a day straight for that long of a period as flights are often lost due to weather, aircraft breakdowns, or student illness. Since this pace isn't the norm, it feels much busier and harder than it likely is.
The navigation test went quite well, despite a couple hiccups. We very nearly had to cancel the flight as we rolled onto the runway for takeoff as we had our On Board Oxygen Generator System (OBOGS) fail as we took the runway. Fortunately we were able to run up the engine and successfully restart the OBOGS system and takeoff. The entirety of the low level navigation went very well and I was able to identify all my turn-points and arrive at the target within 3 seconds of the desired time. Unfortunately after the low-level navigation I managed to screw up my Mental Dead Reckoning (MDR) and couldn't find the desired point. (The MDR is essentially navigation to a previously unknown point. The instructor assigns a point to the student to navigate to while airborne. The student then has to determine the heading, fuel, and time required to get there as well as actually navigate to the point. Because I failed to find the point, I had to redo the MDR and was thankfully successful the second time. As soon as an item is repeated on a test the maximum grade the student can receive is an Achieved Standard (A). Because of that, my overall grade was an Achieved Standard for the flight. Frankly, I was simply happy to be finished and would've taken any passing grade.
I was very happy to finish on the Friday as it then allowed me the entire weekend to celebrate and relax before commencing Phase III. Now that it is Tuesday I am even more thankful that we managed to get the OBOGS working as we have been under the influence of a weather system for the passed two days and have gotten incredible amounts of rain and wind that have cancelled all the flights so far this week. Ground school for Phase III begins tomorrow, but fortunately it lasts less than two days, unlike the 3 months spent on Phase II. There is a graduation parade occurring on Friday, so I anticipate I will likely begin the flying phase again on Monday.
One of the many traditions in Moose Jaw is that students who finish the course are to buy coffee and donuts for the entire flight. This is in keeping with a similar theme of recently soloed students being required to purchase pizza for the flight on Fridays. I swear, we are probably the only thing keeping Dominos and Tim Hortons in business with our weekly purchases!
Phase III has a total of 73 missions to be completed, and is shorter than Phase II. I also get to travel to Toronto and take the infamous G test in the centrifuge. On Phase III I continue to fly the Harvard II, but learn more advanced maneuvers as well as get to complete two cross countries (One in Canada, and one across the border into the States).
I am very glad to be finished Phase II, and am super excited to start Phase III almost immediately! It's been a very busy 10 months since arriving in Moose Jaw, but training is progressing quickly! If I keep flying at a constant pace I expect to finish Phase III and receive my wings late October or early November.
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