“Sir, Is This Legal?”

(Callsign) “CP/IP” (Cabbage Patch Instructor Pilot) came into my office one morning and asked me if I would like to fly with her in an “open jet.” I stared at a stack of paperwork and thought to myself, “why not?” CP/IP was a FAIP and I enjoyed flying with her.

It was an overcast day at Randolph that morning, early morning scud, but I knew it would soon burn off. It always did. We started and taxied and were about to the runway when she noticed the HSI (Heading Situation Indicator) wasn’t quite right. It was just kind of wandering. I had seen it before and knew that it was more than likely “damp” and would soon dry out – once it warmed up. And then it would be fine.

Once we got to the runway I called for takeoff and she told me, “Sir, I just don’t feel comfortable,” and I told her it would be fine. The clouds were just beginning to dissipate at the time and were “broken” in nature. We requested a pattern delay for a simulated single-engine heavyweight pattern and landing before departing to the area.

“Sir, I’m not sure about this,” she said once again, and I told her that we would be fine.

We took off on Runway 14L and I checked in with Departure Control. They, in turn, told us to turn to a heading of 050 degrees. “How are we going to do that?” she asked, as I gave her control of the jet. “Well, look out the window and put the runway 90 degrees to your left shoulder” She seemed apprehensive at first but did it anyway! When Departure then told us to turn left to a heading of 320 degrees, e.g., parallel to our departure runway, she caught on real fast and began to enjoy it all. From there on throughout the remainder of the pattern and subsequent touch-and-g0 she seemed to enjoy herself, never once noticing that the HSI had stabilized!

After getting airborne again, on departure leg, I pointed out that the HSI had realigned itself and explained how knowing local weather patterns and a little bit about systems could ‘save’ a (student) sortie.

Once we got into our assigned area we found a solid overcast about 12,000 feet or so. Beauty, time to play! I asked her if she had ever performed a 4-point aileron roll. “No,” she replied.

“Well, why not?” I asked.

“It’s not in the syllabus, Sir,” came the reply.

“Okay, fine,” I replied, “go ahead and try a 4-point aileron roll, with the could deck simulating the ground.”

She was a bit reluctant but went ahead anyway. She dove down to just above the (cloud) deck and began to roll, stopping at each “quadrant.” 90 degrees left bank, inverted, then 90 degrees right bank. Throughout her maneuver, the nose continued to drop toward the cloud deck, until we penetrated the deck before rolling out wings level. As far as I knew, it was the first one she had done. So I asked her if she would mind if I tried one.

I took the jet to about 18,000 feet then rolled back down onto the deck, leveling about 50 feet off the clouds. I then showed her how to begin the maneuver first by raising the nose ever so slightly before rolling. Then I showed her how to use “top rudder” to keep the nose up while in a 90-degree bank. I then leveled off and pulled up into the sky, rolling as we went. I then told her it was her turn.

This time she performed the maneuver perfectly and I could almost see her grin as she pulled up!

Nothing was ever said about either maneuver in our debrief. Didn’t have to talk about it – she “got it.” This was one of the facets I loved about being an IP – actually “teaching” kids how to fly!

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One Response to “Sir, Is This Legal?”

  1. John Ray says:

    I would kindly submit to those in charge that to check off on the: legality; within protocal; adherence to historically proven action success; appropriately correct action; safe-harbor action or any other known “thinking within-the-box” action would have lost battles or even wars. After all, it is a known fact to be a member of “those in charge” one cannot be Einstein, Patton, Klausvitz, just to name a paltry few in number. God bless all of them, particularly since I admit am not being one of them.

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