As students finished up they were offered the opportunity to submit Flight Line Critiques. I took over “O” Flight in the 25th FTS in Feb ’76. The class we had at the time was about a third of the way through the T-38 program.
The student Class Leader for this class was ‘prior service;’ he was a captain. I spent a great deal of time with him in the beginning, to build a rapport. Then as the class progressed, I began spending less and less time with him. Didn’t feel I needed to. I also recall that as time progressed his input became more of a “bitch session” than anything else – and I didn’t have time for it.
In May ’76, just as they were completing their T-38 training, he submitted a critique with the following comments:
Overall Flight Supervision: “I feel that more communication between myself and the flight commander would have been beneficial. I realize that everyone is getting tired of hearing this, but more people than myself feel this way: there is no comparison between the way “C” Flight (T-37s) was run and the way “O” Flight is run. Most of the students are fed up with being called ‘weak dicks….'”
Scheduling: “I’m the first to agree that this job is monumental, but I feel the main reason it is so is the squadron’s fault. If it wasn’t so damn important to get the number of aircraft contracted for off the ground, maybe the problem wouldn’t be so complex.”
Military Discipline: “Half of the IPs boots need polishing, some need haircuts, some wear any colored socks they like, some comb their hair when they leave home in the morning and it looks like it all day.”
Weather Day Program: “So poor at times, it is unbelievable.”
Check Section: “Waste of manpower and fuel. That’s what the other rides are for is to determine if you can fly.”
Your IP: “Capt D. is good to fly with, he is very instructive and gives constructive comments while flying, but he is a tough grader.”
Ouch! I was “blindsided” by this one.
My guidance to my IPs was to be “firm, but fair.” That’s the way my IPs were when I went through, and I thrived in that environment. I eventually had to address all these “issues,” and after my report, nothing was said to me. The guy was a ‘weak dick.’
However, his sense of timing sucked! He submitted his critique the very morning we were convening a board to see who we were bringing back as IPs. When it was my time to speak, I offered that since Capt. S. had taken the time to show our shortcomings, perhaps he should be brought back as an IP to help us get our act together – in T-37s, “Tweets!” And, by golly, don’t ya know, that’s what he got – a “Tweet” assignment.
At ‘Assignment Night,’ after he had had a “few pops,” Capt S. came up to me and said, “You had something to do with this, didn’t you?”
“You bet I did,” I replied, “I learned early in my career, when you are a ‘jeep,’ you don’t screw with ‘tanks!’ And I walked away, and let it go…smiling, of course!
PS: To complete the picture of this guy, when he got back from T-37 PIT (Pilot Instructor Training) one of the first things he received was an Article 15, non-judicial punishment for falsifying his travel voucher. For $19! Ouch…