Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training
Phase 1 - Academic Classes and Pre-Flight Training
The Aerospace Physiology program was established by
the Air Force to ensure flight personnel understand and are prepared to
deal with the physiological stresses imposed by modern aviation and
space vehicles. The role of the aerospace physiology personnel is one of
training. This training, administered periodically to aviators and
others on flight status, deals with the stresses imposed by aerospace
operations and with the personal protective equipment available to
The Aerospace Physiology class provides valuable training and fundamentals. You will start with classroom sessions to teach you about physiology and the effects of altitude and flight; additionally you perform several altitude chamber rides to expose you to pressurized and un-pressurized flight, and physiological affects. You will become familiar with your flight gear, helmet, oxygen mask and system and be proficient at using it operationally and in emergency situations.
You will also learn how to egress an aircraft on the ground and the
proper procedures for ejecting and bailing out of the aircraft in the
air. During this portion of the training, UPT students will
undergo many sessions practicing Parachute Landing Falls (PLFs) from
various heights to simulate the parachute landing phase of a bailout.
This training culminates in several actual parasail events in which
students in parachutes are hoisted up to an altitude of about 500 feet
and are released to glide down and land. Your aerospace physiology class
ends with a written test.
Preflight academics spans over several weeks time. During your entire time as a student pilot (from inprocessing all the way until graduation) you are assigned to the Operations Support Squadron (OSS). Initially, you will be reporting to the "Preflight" office throughout academics. After your last academic test, you will move down to the flightline and join your Flying Training Squadron (FTS) Flight - althought still "owned" by the OSS, you are part of the Flying Training Squadron. Each class starts with various classroom lectures. UPT academics relies on a lot of self-paced Computer Based Training (CBT). Your CBTs are scheduled in blocks throughout the day, however you can work at your own pace in the squadron Computer Aided Instruction (CAI) computer lab to go through the subject matter lessons, practice quizzes, and end of block tests. Furthermore, you can come back to perform these CBTs as a review prior to any academic classroom test. You will have a guided review, then an academic test for each class.
Throughout academics, you will be studying the subject matter, reading through the class texts as well as becoming very familiar with the aircraft operating manuals, Air Force Instructions (AFI), AIM/FARs, and various aviation related rules and regulations. A lot of time is spent studying and memorizing all of this new information. A big challenge to the students during this preflight training is to budget their time wisely and to not be overwhelmed by the volume of knowledge demanded of them.
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Aviation Weather - you will become familiar with the principles of aviation weather, forecasting meteorological conditions, metro products, forecasting models, and weather and cloud identification.
Generally, your academic days are planned for a full twelve-hours, to include your CBT time. Each class ends with a test and the average of all these academic tests results in your academic grade average - which is part of your final mass ranking score. After your academics and preflight training are complete, you will transition to the flightline and prepare for your first flight (dollar ride) in your training aircraft.
You'll spend a lot of your free time in the Cockpit Familiarization Trainers (CFTs). These static cockpits are where you learn your ground operations procedures (GroundOps) - i.e. how to perform a cockpit preflight, how to start your engines, how to do various checklist procedures. You are taking the time in these life-sized mock-up cockpits to familiarize yourself with where all the instruments, controls, gauges, circuit-breakers, indicators and lights are all located. If you think you can just pick up an aircraft checklist and start breezing through - you are wrong! It takes dozens of hours of self study, repetitive muscle memory, and just plain memorization to learn your GroundOps. Once you are good at those, you will continue in the CFTs learning your in-flight procedures -- this is called "chair-flying." In other words you sit in the CFTs and imagine yourself flying and go through your procedures, hand movements, checklists, and even radio calls as if you were flying - this is the only way to learn your new aircraft and to improve your new flying skills. Study hard!
Oftentimes you will "chair-fly" with a fellow flight student so that they can see and hear you perform your maneuvers and critique them and/or add their techniques. Remember, you must work as a team to make it through the long grueling year of UPT. Even after you hit the flightline and are flying each day, you will still be making regular trips tot he CFTs to commit your procedures to memory. If you get to your UPT base prior to your class date, or are casual status at a UPT base, it is a good idea to start spending time in the CFTs learning GroundOps and checklist procedures - get with someone in a class ahead of you and have them teach you what they know.
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