I have often said, “I didn’t join the Air Force to get rich, and they saw to it that I didn’t!” LOL… Early in my flying career our flight pay was $400 per month. Okay, file this for a second, I’ll come right back to it…
At UPT “motivation” was not usually an issue. The kids we would see were all highly motivated by nature of the business we were in. And the prospect of flying the T-38 in and of itself was also a help.
For the most part my students were always well prepared for the mission at hand. Part of that was my responsibility. When I finished debriefing a ride, I would spell out – in detail – exactly what we would be doing on our next sortie. It then was incumbent upon the student to prepare on his own for our next ride. On occasion though, human nature would kick in and I would have to “kick start” the kids to get their attention. And here is where my fight pay came to mind.
One day I sat down with my three students and explained to them “how the cow eats the cabbage.” I told them I received $400 per month for flight pay. “To put this in perspective, ” I said, “let’s look at what this entails.”
“I fly about 30 hours per month with you guys,” I began. “The regulation mandates that we brief and debrief for about an hour with each flight. Therefore each flying hour is, in reality, 3 hours. So, for my 90 hours of flight duties I receive $400 – about $4.44 per hour.”
“Now,” I asked them, “where do you think you can receive advance jet training for $4.44 an hour? I think I am worth a bit more than that.”
“So,” I would summarize, ” if I think you are not prepared, I will gladly give you $4.44 per hour of flight training instruction, and where do you think that will get you?”
I loved my job as a a T-38 IP! I poured my whole heart into it, day after day. I don’t know if I could ever set a value on what I gave to instructing. And I gave “willingly,” without reservation. My UPT IPs, Russ Sweets (T-37s) and Rick Vail (T-38s), made my year in pilot training one of the best years of my life, and I always felt it my obligation to do the same for my students. It was my way of honoring the efforts they put into me…