Category: Aviation History

Posts related to Aviation History

In February 1970, after completing Officer Training School, I was commissioned as an Air Force officer and transferred to Reese Air Force Base (AFB) Lubbock, Texas for a year of what was described as intense Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT), i.e., flight training. UPT comprised three phases—primary flight, initial jet training, and advanced jet training. The primary flight instruction was in a military Cessna 172, designated the T-41. I had enough prior flight experience that I completed this phase easily. During initial jet training, we attended classes on basic aerodynamics and the safety systems of the T-37—the next aircraft in the training syllabus. The safety courses included ejection seat operation and parachute landing fall training.
True instrument flight, i.e., safe flight solely by references to the aircraft instruments lagged behind the development of aircraft by several decades. In reality, there was only one prudent choice—fly only when visibility allowed the pilot to see a horizon. A World War I Army pilot, William Charles Ocker—“the father of blind flying’—nearly died in 1918 while testing an early Sperry turn indicator. He ended up in a steep spiral and only narrowly escaped when he broke out of the clouds with room to recover.