I was the Chief of Check Section in the 560th FTS from 9 Jun 1983 through 27 Dec 1984. The function of Check Section was to administer quality control check rides to our ‘trainees.’ (We couldn’t call the trainees ‘students’ because it wasn’t ‘politically correct.’ One of the ‘trainees’ was offended at one time or another because, after all, he was an officer, and he was a ‘rated pilot!’ Well, okay… I was okay with being a ‘student’ when I qualified in the jet as an IP – I was just too happy at the time going through a program to be a T-38 Instructor Pilot (IP) to be too concerned with what ‘they’ called me. I was more concerned with being an T-38 IP than being the champion of a social expression! Anyway…)
In 1984 I began to see a ‘transition’ in the standards we held. It seemed we were becoming ‘more liberal’ in our grading practices – we (as a squadron) were training to a lower standard to reduce the “bust” or wash-out rate. And I had a problem with that! I saw lowering my standards as a betrayal to the standards set for me by my IPs. And I wasn’t really ready to compromise… So, during my tenure as the Chief of Check Section, we held to a fairly high level of proficiency – both in grading the trainees in flying skills and in instructor capabilities. And I was continually questioned in staff meetings about our “bust rate.”
My check pilots knew I backed them, and they appreciated it. One day I showed up at work to find this on my desk:
Did we wash out anyone who “could have” been a T-38 IP? Maybe. Probably. Who knows? But for the constraints we had – the number of rides allotted by the syllabus – I think we my check pilots did an outstanding job.