The IP-Student relationship was very formal in the beginning of their training. It had to be. I had no desire to be their ‘friend.’ Jay Barnes once explained it very well for me. He once said, during my Buddy IP training, “Bob, there will come a day when you’ll have to look across the desk at that kid who wants to be a pilot so bad, and put a bullet right between his eyes (wash him out of the program). You need to keep your distance from your students to remain objective. Sometime after the Formation Two-ship Check you can begin to loosen up a bit, if you want. But until then, keep it straight and narrow. Firm, but Fair.” I subsequently used that guidance for my entire T-38 IP career.
In late ’75 my wife’s sister came to live with us for a while. We lived on base at the time. She was young and single so we introduced her to T., one of my first students, and they seemed to get along very well. We had a boat at the time and would take them with us up to the lake and so forth.
One morning, on ‘Early Week,” I got up around 0430 for a 05015 hrs. report time. As I walked out into the living room I noticed there were 2 “lumps” in our hide-a-bed, where there should have only been 1 “lump.” Crap! So I crept back into our bedroom and explained it all to my wife. I then grabbed our alarm clock and fired it off again, while standing in the doorway.
“Oh shit,” I heard coming from the living room. And, after a certain amount of panic scurrying I heard the door open. But I never heard a car start. Odd. Anyway, after another couple minutes I walked down the hallway into the living room. I couldn’t help myself; I walked over next to the bed, then patted my sister-in-law on her backside and said, “Smile if you got any last night…” Then I headed off to work.
When I got to the flight line there was T., sitting at his assigned place at my desk. How he did it, I wouldn’t have a clue. Dress, shave and report – all within perhaps 15 – 20 minutes. I was impressed.
T and I had a flight together on the first ‘go,’ and it went well. However, during the de-brief, he had a hard time not yawning. About the 3rd or 4th time he yawned, I looked up at him and asked, “Late night Lieutenant?” To which he replied, “Yes, Sir.” And that was all I ever said about the incident – only to ask him at graduation what he did about his car when he left that night. “I pushed it down the block before I started it Sir,” came the reply. Well, okay then….