New year; New Airplane

Happy New year everyone! The new year for me marks a return to flying training after a much needed break and more importantly, a start on a new aircraft! This week I started the PH IV Transition course to the CT-155 Hawk aircraft which is the lead-in jet trainer for the RCAF. This training takes place in Moose Jaw at the same school as the Harvard PH II and PH III courses. This aircraft is significant change from the Harvard and all other aircraft I've flown as it is the first jet aircraft I'll have flown, has the most thrust (about 5700 lbs of thrust), and consequently, is by far the quickest plane I'll have flown. For a bit of a comparison the Harvard would rejoin for the overhead break at 220Kts (roughly 400 km/hr),  and the Hawk rejoins at no slower than 400kts (about 740 km/hr). As a result of this dramatic difference in speed, things happen a lot quicker in the Hawk, and as a pilot you need to be thinking ahead a lot more. The rule of thumb for pilots is never go anywhere you haven't already visited in your mind 5 minutes earlier. So in the Harvard when travelling at 240Kts we would be covering 4 NM a minute, so theoretically if we want to come back and land we should be thinking about that 20 NM away from the airport. In the Hawk, travelling at 420Kts we should be thinking about landing while we're still 35 NM away. These are just rough gauges, but they give you an idea of how far ahead you have to be thinking, because when you're travelling 7 miles a minute, things come fast.

The Hawk aircraft is originally a British aircraft and is significantly older than the Harvard. Notable differences are the significantly smaller cockpit from the Harvard (I guess British men were shorter in the 70's), the lack of a GPS (we have an Inertial Navigation System (INS) blended with a GPS, but not a GPS approved for navigation like in the Harvard) and a push-button gear system rather than a physical gear handle. This last one sounds like a small difference, but is rather significant. It can be quite challenging to find a push-button gear retraction immediately after takeoff compared to a large gear handle, and with the acceleration of the Hawk it can be difficult to get the gear retracted without overspeeding it. The Hawk also has external pylons and wingtip mounting rails for weapons, but I won't be carrying any of those during my training in Moose Jaw (although I do get to carry a centerline fuel  tank).

The PH IV course is composed  of roughly 70 missions, 38 of which take place in the aircraft, the rest take place in the simulator. The pace of this course so far is dramatically different from PH II when I began learning how to fly the Harvard. Now that I have my wings and have learned the fundamentals of military flying the expectations are much higher. As such the entirety of ground school for the Hawk takes place in the span of 2 and a half weeks. After a week we have covered just about all  of the Aircraft Operation Instructions (AOI's - - basically the technical manual on all the systems and how they work down to the tiniest detail), something that we spent over a month on when learning the Harvard. By  the end of the second week we'll have covered all of the operating procedures and emergency checklists, as well as the emergency egress and strap-in procedures (not to mention the final exam for AOI's). By the end of the third week we'll be starting training in the simulator, and as soon as after 6 simulator missions we could be put in the aircraft for our first mission in the aircraft. There is little to no tolerance for not knowing the proper procedures or relevant system information.

I am very excited about flying the Hawk (and maybe a little nervous), and am excited about the next phase of training in my career. Getting my wings was a huge career milestone, but now the real training begins. Can't wait to get flying, but for now I better get back to studying.

                                                          Hawk Pilot Starter Kit

Stay tuned for more updates as I go through training, and subscribe to get email notifications when I post new articles! As always, please share with friends or anyone you think will find this information useful or interesting.