a) Purpose of Contact Phase is not "Pilot Appreciation."
b) T-39s are not flown as a part of Advanced in VT-86.
While the lessons are immediately NFO-specific, in that they are not identical to what Student Naval Aviators (SNAs) are taught in their Primary, the Contact Phase exposes SNFOs to the role of the pilot in order to
A Pilot Appreciation Course A Procedures-Learning Introductory Course
Update: You can see what I previously wrote about the purpose of the Contact Phase above, stricken. That was honestly what I had thought was the purpose of the phase until, after my third flight, my on-wing2 asked me what the purpose of Contacts was and then corrected me when I answered. The real purpose for the Contact Phase is to introduce SNFOs to the idea and practice of procedures. That is the thing that NFOs do; by memorizing Emergency Procedures, practicing the ground procedures checklists, as well as the procedures for maneuvers like stalls, spins, and VFR pattern work, it sets up students for success when we have much more complicated procedures in later stages. The best advice I can give students for the Contact Phase is to develop habits that enable you to learn procedures. Heed these words!
The Contact Phase consists of about 3-4 weeks of ground school courses with 4-6 exams covering the Hawker Beechcraft T-6A Texan II's systems and emergency procedures, communications practices, and weather; several graded simulator events; and finally 5-6 flights at the primary controls.
A T-6 Static Trainer
(click to enlarge)
Follow-on PhasesAfter the Contact Phase, SNFOs complete Instrument and Visual Navigation phases. (There may be more, but those I know for sure.) Each subsequent phase follows the same general pattern: ground school classes, simulator events, then flights.
After PrimaryAt the completion of Primary, I will remain in Training Squadron Ten (VT-10) but will begin Intermediate Flight Training. Eventually, I will transfer to Training Squadron Eight Six (VT-86) where I will train in the
Sitting in a T-39
(click to enlarge)
My ProgressI finished ground school for the contact phase earlier this week. Today should have been my first graded simulator event. However, I am now once again in a holding pattern of undetermined length.
Due to plane unavailability, students in classes ahead of me are being delayed completing their flights; rather than continue to push students through the simulator events only to wait around before flying (which increases costs to the taxpayer since the student is now owed a "warm-up flight" before being graded), we are being delayed prior to simulator events until they are ready for us to move forward so we can flow right into "flight side" and complete those events without warm-up flights being required.
Personally, I am quite okay with the delay, as it provides me more time to study prior to the events. However, dealing with the uncertainty of whether I will be scheduled "tomorrow" keeps me on my toes. And I do also have a concern that instructors will set a higher bar knowing that we have had more time to prepare—basically a backfire on what I am hoping is a boon.
Time to go be more productive.
1. The T-39 is being phased out of training due to its age, but nobody knows for sure yet if I will be in it or not. It could go either way by the time I get there. If I end up not using it, those stages of training will be replaced by extra simulator events and more flights in the T-45, as far as I have heard. ↩
2. An "on-wing" is an instructor pilot (IP) with whom a SNFO will fly his first 3 contact flights and who is intended to be an instructor to whom the SNFO can direct questions about learning or personal issues. It is a complementary program to the Class Advisor program. I personally directed my questions to my Class Advisor instead. ↩