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The Games People Play…

August 5, 2013
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There is only one person enjoying this training. The guy with the stick. The other guy is smiling to keep from crying. All photos from yahoo.


Hey Y’all,

In Air Force flight school, the days are long and the stress is high. On any given day, any student is just three bad days from being washed out of the program. Fail three tests, and you’re out. Fail three simulators and you’re out. Fail three daily flights, and you’re out. Fail a check ride, you get a re-check. Fail the re-check and you’re on an elimination flight. If you go to a re-check and pass, that bridge has been forever  burned. Fail a second check ride and you’re off to the elimination flight. It is a high stress marathon where the goal quickly becomes to pass everything for that day.


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Again more smiles from the Instructor Pilots. Not so much from the students.


In that environment, survival is the key. Every morning, the students collectively called a flight, had to endure the morning briefing. Every day, two students would be called upon to stand in front of the instructors and talk their way through an emergency situation. If a student messed it up, they were removed from the day’s events, if they passed they continued on. When the lead instructor was satisfied with the first student’s performance, they were told to take a seat and another student was called to finish the discussion thru to the landing. One of the keys to surviving the program is to find fun where it exists. One of the games the students played was to try to word in the word of the day into their discussion. It was a random word that never had anything to do with aviation.


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Sarcasm, Ridicule, and Harassment are the tools of the Instructor.


An example would be umbilical cord. The answer might be, “Is my oxygen mask still connected like an umbilical cord?” Of course, I first learned of this game after I had finished flight school, so I never got to play. But it is always fun to think about.


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Anytime a guy with a leather jacket walking into the flight room. Beware!


Over the weekend, we have been warned by the Department of Homeland Security that there is an increased chatter of a terrorist attack. Serious stuff of course, and I assure no one wants the threat to be thwarted more than I. But I ran across a game suggestion from another blogger. You can read their site here.


Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes co-write fiction under Piper’s name. She is a writer while Mr. Holmes describes himself as a former defender of freedom in the days of the Cold War. Is he really a James Bond type with a license to kill? I don’t know, he is probably more like me with a license to chill. Anyway, today the topic of the post is code words that are sure to attract the attention of the NSA. The source document is found here. Click at your own risk.


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Smile because you are being watched.


Pages 20-23 list some of the words that the NSA computer searches for in all electronic communications. I am sure this included, e-mails, texts, web sites, web chats, library computer use, telephone conversations, word documents, smoke signals and yes blog posts. When you clicked onto this post, you probably popped onto the NSA radar. Sorry about your luck.


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If a couple of people in cheap suits come to your house asking questions about your online behavior and why you visited this site. Repeat after me. “Senator I have no recollection.” If that doesn’t work, shut up and call a lawyer.


Piper’s game is to take a smaller list of words that she culled from the master list and posted on her blog.


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Piper’s book. It is on my list of books to read.


Piper wrote. “From the Department of Homeland Security National Operations Center Media Monitoring Capability Desktop Reference Binder:
Interstate Authorities Initiative Facility
Southwest Worm 2600 Cloud
Drill Cancelled Leak Smart
Exercise Help Burst Trojan
Cops Recovery Crash Twister
Police Recall Agriculture Sick
Exposure Flu Wave Swine
Tamiflu Vaccine Strain Airport
Watch Closure Metro Power
Subway Electric Failure Dock
Relief Delays Mexico Drug
Marijuana Border Twister Snow
Ice Bust Pirates Plot
and my personal favorite . . . Social media”

The goal is to create a sentence using as many words as possible. Her final suggestion is to add the word bacon in the sentence to confirm to the 20 year old NSA contractor analyst that you are really a law abiding citizen. My question to y’all is this. Anyone want to pop onto the NSA radar with me? Don’t be scared, because they know everything about you anyway.

Until next time, keep on rockin!


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“I have flash traffic coming in. That Akers guy is at it again, call the Men in Black!”


Here is my sentence formed from Piper’s list.
“Watch the interstate for the Trojan sized twister armed with electric snow, alert the southwest social media for Tamiflu worms leaking flu agriculture driving thru the Mexico plot eating bacon.”




From → politics

  1. Pretty good! And I had no idea of the stress involved in AF flight school!

  2. Thanks Koji,

    I always heard that if you could make it past Wednesday, then you would make it thru the weekend. Meaning you could fail something on Thursday, fail again on Friday but since the weekends were off days your elimination events would be on Monday.

    Historically the wash out rate in flight school is about 20%. So there is a good chance that if you get in, you will graduate. But it is ultra competitive until the flying starts. In the first six weeks of academics, it is all basically book work. Everyone wants to get the highest scores on the tests, and there are some really sharp folks aiming for the Academic Trophy. Everyone wants to finish number one, be a fighter pilot, blah, blah, blah.

    But when they hit the flight line, the pressure increases dramatically. Between flying, stand-ups (The morning briefings), simulators, daily quizzes, weekly quizzes, and on-going academic classes. Everyone stopped worrying about being number one and they worried about finishing. In my class, we started with 47 and lost 8.

    I was a Guard guy, meaning I knew that if I finished first or last I was going to fly a C-130. I was not competing for a fighter aircraft. But my personal goal was to finish, and then to be fighter qualified. Which I was fortunate enough to achieve. Don’t let me fool you, I was not near the sharpest guy there. When I got my final class rankings, I was in the middle of the class for most things except daily flying, where I did very good.

    But when my Commander told me my academic score I was elated. I had a 94% grade average. I had never done that good, ever. I never applied myself academically. I barely passed high school, I finished college with a 2.2 GPA, I did earn a Masters Degree but never excelled there either. But the 94% was my very best. I gave it my all, and I was proud. Until he told me where I ranked in my class. I was 39 out of 39. Meaning last. My best was good enough to earn me a last place class ranking. I think that is my proudest achievement

    Thank you for indulging me on this trip down memory lane.

  3. Rob, look at you coyly teasing the government. You live on the edge, man. All right, but if they swoop in and we don’t hear from you again, I’m going to totally deny knowing you. Three times if need be.

    • Coyly? I have never heard of that word. I don’t know what it means, but there is a propose to this post. I am trying to make a reserved and discrete point. I am not sure if you picked up on it or not. The next post, I will not be so timid or shy. I will say what I think about the government. I just wish you wouldn’t use big words.

      Assuming they will let me blog from Gitmo of course. Don’t worry, I will dime you out as well.

  4. “Sarcasm, Ridicule, and Harassment are the tools of the Instructor.”
    Any thoughts on what is the psychology behind it?

    • This only applies to certain people, not to everyone. I bet you already know the difference.

      As a student you are in a position of absolutely no power. The psychology is that the instructor must treat you as a child because they cannot trust you at all. They must assume that you cannot do anything without their help because in the beginning you can’t.

      As you learn and progress, there is a point where you can do things on your own. Especially in aviation because as you know now, it isn’t rocket surgery. If left unchecked, you would progress and probably succeed. But, that would diminish the role of the Instructor. Therefore they feel threatened by your ability to succeed without them. They will use every opportunity to demean you in a effort to remind you that you are not a pilot, yet. You haven’t earned what they have and therefore you do not deserve any credit.

      Of course they say they do it to put you (the student) under artificial pressure so that if you have an actual emergency in the jet you will be able to handle the problem. It is BS, but that is their excuse. In truth they are power hungry egomaniacs.

      At some point, you will graduate and officially join the club. Then these same knuckle wagons will publically treat you with respect and dignity. But they will always subtly remind you that they are still senior to you.

      I don’t know why, but pilots and doctors seem to attract these types of individuals. I cant speak for doctors but about 10% of pilots are like this. And the vast majority seem to gravitate to instructor and management positions.

      Hope that isn’t too cynical or otherwise blur your perspective.

      • That’s probably true for those certain individuals. A good point of view. I was curious about your view since I have encountered some of that. Not in the extend of military training but some. I have wondered if there is a positive effect somewhere that I’m not getting. You don’t think so?

      • I learn all kinds of thing from people like that. The most important lesson is this. “Don’t be like them!”

        It is no different military or civilian. American or Finnish, Male or Female. A jerk is a jerk is a jerk. So if you remember this one simple lesson and that is don’t be a jerk. Then you are 98% there.

        That doesn’t mean that sometimes you don’t need to speak clearly, directly, and simply. Especially when you are in the airplane. “Go-Around.” Is a great example. Don’t be shy or bashful about it. Say it loudly. Tell that fat, old, condescending, washed up, has been Captain to GO-AROUND! If you think that guy is going to do something stupid and cause you to at best case lose your license, say it like you mean it.

        I made that mistake once and I promised myself I will not ever do it again. Everything worked out, but life is much simpler when the landing is assured rather than trust the Captain to work his magic and get lucky.

        Enough of the flying lessons and back to pilot jerks. You don’t have to be a jerk to be professional or respected. If you know your stuff, fly a solid airplane, and are a good person to hang out with. Everything else will take care of itself.

        I am also not mentioning the gender variable. I don’t know your social situation, and to be honest I don’t want to know. It isn’t my place to know anything personal about you and I am not asking to be in your private life. Please just let me say this and you can do with it whatever you want.

        Most of the people I fly with were not trying to get me naked. I know that is different that what you may experience. If you were my daughter, and yes you are young enough to be my daughter I would say this. You can be professional, knowledgeable, with solid flying skills and a good person. But when the slimy Tom Cruise want-to-be starts sneaking around your door. Don’t be alone with him, ever.

        Because he will make up lies about things that he wishes you were doing with him. I have seen it happen, and it isn’t worth it to your reputation for those kinds of comments to be out there. Find some people that you trust and have a code word with them. If you say that word, then they will not leave your side until slime bag has left. I would tell my daughter to do everything she can to keep her personal life private. Not to restrict you or her from living a life, but to be mindful about how some loser guys will say anything to make themselves look better to people they want to impress. And if they can embellish a night at the club with Nina, you bet your pilot’s license they will embellish the story from I saw Nina at the club to….whatever.

        Sorry about that tangent and my most sincerest apologies if you found that offensive. That wasn’t the point, only to illustrate this. Don’t hang out with jerks and don’t be a jerk. That should be the lesson from my previous comments.

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