A Lot of Barges on that Lake…

(Submitted by Rat)

Spectacular Fall day, flying VR route out to the west of un-named UPT base in NE Mississippi with a good guy – excellent student.

He’d trimmed his low-level chart down to within about an inch of the route corridor all the way around  ” so it would be easier to handle in the cockpit” (makes sense as a fleeting thought I suppose). His chart was about the size of an AF Form 70 (5″ x 8″). 

He ‘shacked’ the entry point. At the second turn, for reasons that remain a mystery to this day, he rolled out about 30 degrees short of his plotted heading and promptly flew off the route and his map. I remember thinking: it’s such a nice day, let’s see where this adventure takes us.  We were heading about 280 degrees – planned heading should have been something like 310. We smoked along for several minutes looking for his next turn point. He then pointed out an intersection a couple of miles ahead at 10 o’clock that looked deceivingly similar to the planned turn point. He remarked we were 30 seconds behind the planned timing, checked hard left, reversed to his track heading for the intersection.

He then made his next erroneous turn and pushed it up a little since he thought he was behind. Pressing on, we’d been over the delta for several minutes now, heading NW in the general direction of Memphis at 420 knots cause we seemed to be getting further behind.

Must have been 75 miles off the route by now so I inquired if he was sure of our position. With conviction, he said, “Yes sir – but  (pointing to his left) looks like a lake that size would be on the map. Do you know what lake it is?”

Told him I was thinking it looked strikingly similar to the Mississippi River aat it seemed to have a lot of barge traffic for a lake.

“Sir, it can’t be – the route doesn’t really get this close to the Mississippi.”  

Me – “Well – I’m purdy sure it’s the Mississippi River – you know we haven’t been on the route for about the last 20 minutes. How does the fuel look?

Him, ” Sir, what do you mean?  Oh, &$%*^#*&^%$ !!. “
So we toured for few more minutes, getting a close look at a couple of barges on the river, then climbed up to altitude and RTB’d.

Returning to the flight room, I had him grade the ride – and he busted himself! He sat there with his head hung and looked like he’d been through a Ford truck commercial. I then ask him if he’d learned anything today – he said something like, “Yes Sir – it’s important to pay attention to details and to have a chart large enough to cover more of the big picture.” I thought that was a good answer.

I then changed his grade to a “Good,” and told him I thought it was purdy funny, and bought him a beer.

Believe he got an Eagle out of UPT.

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