Cooperate and Graduate,

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Cooperate and Graduate,

#1 Post by boing » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:47 am

OK, it's a bit quiet around here so I will inflict another story on you, pardon its length but hopefully this is not just a story about one sim. session but a general overview about how periodic checking is managed in the airline industry. This is a little bit of a counter to Slasher's posts about being a sim. instructor, this is the viewpoint of the victim. Of course, everyone has different experience levels and different approaches so do not take the events of my story as typical of everyone but the actual process doesn't change much.

At the time of this story I had already been on the 727 as Flight Engineer (FE) and First Officer (FO) and it wasn't my first Periodic Check (PC) as Captain so PC's were not really something I got too nervous about.

At my company the system was that pilots did two sim. sessions a year. The first, called Periodic Training (PT) was merely an opportunity to keep your hand in on the emergencies that, hopefully, you did not experience on the line. Unless you were a real clutz there wasn't anything that you could do wrong on this session as it was considered training not checking. The second sim. session about six months later was the PC. This was checked by an FAA designated Standards Captain (SC) and if you screwed up on this questions would be asked and if your recheck was not perfect things could get uncomfortable. The PC actually consisted of two flights, the first was called the warm-up and the second was the actual check. The warm-up was managed by a sim. instructor and the actual PC was run by a Standards Captain.

Since we had several bases in the US for the 727 it was quite likely that when you were rostered for a PC you had never previously met the other crew members. The normal system was that you would all check in to a hotel the evening before the PC, get in contact with each other and meet for a beer. This we did. It became immediately apparent that the FO could just about have flown the check on his own, great experience, steady as a rock - this was going to be a push-over. Unfortunately we had a problem with the FE. The FE, let's call him Fred, was coming up to his one year point, let me explain.

When a pilot was hired on by the company they could be fired without explanation at any time in their first year. The point used to define the end of the first year was successful completion of their first PC. I imagine you see the problem, the FO and myself were not concerned about our own check but we had to make darn sure that the FE, who was a nice young fellow, got through also and he was, perhaps understandably, a bit nervous. The FO and myself did our best to calm him down but he insisted in leaving the bar after just one beer to study, a bad sign, because at least on the 27 fleet, the Captain traditionally bought all the pre-ride beer.

Next day the warm-up went fine but Fred was still nervous and again departed the bar after one beer. This was really serious. The FO and myself ordered another beer
to help us decide on the tactics. First item, whenever an emergency occurred I would work with and monitor Fred, this was actually company SOP. The reason for this was that the FE sat immediately behind the FO so the FO could not see the FE's panel but, because he was looking across the cockpit, the Captain could monitor what was going on. Second item, the FO could expect to be doing a lot of the flying basically solo so that I could keep a really close eye on the FE's actions. Third item, I would slow the whole operation as much as I could without making this too obvious since excessive slowdowns was a foul on a PC.

We arrived at the training center for the main event. The SC arrived accompanied by another individual who, it was explained, was being checked out as an SC and this fellow would actually be controlling the session. This upset the plan because things could go either of two ways. First, the real SC and the trainee SC could spend so much time working with each other that they would really not pay much attention to what was going on - good for us. The other option was that the trainee SC would be so keen to show he was doing a good job that he would be really nit-picky and give us a bad time - very bad for us. There was nothing we could do but continue with Plan A.

Now, in our company, the rules for a PT were different to the rules for a PC. In a PT you got a series of failures but each one was removed before you experienced the next failure. In a PC any failure introduced continued through the whole ride, the failures were cumulative and had to be treated as you would treat them in a real flight. What this meant was that on a PC the major failures, especially those that called for an immediate landing, were saved for a time towards the planned end of the session otherwise the session would not last very long.

So, after the formal briefing from the Trainee SC we mounted our steed it being pretty obvious that Fred was going to be the object of most of the attention. Take off, blast around, experience multiple annoying failures easily dealt with but aware we are waiting for the big one. It will come after a period of calm, it always does. The Trainee SC says we are being re-positioned for the next sequence, OK, here it comes.

In a high pitched voice Fred announces an A system hydraulic failure . I think, darn this one will take forever because we will need to manually lower the landing gear and we will be landing with partial hydraulics. I turn to the FO and give him an explicit, "Trainee SC for the consumption of", briefing. "I would like you to fly the aircraft and coordinate with ATC while I work with Fred. Get a vector to a safe area where we can work through the problem. Please keep me informed if ATC makes any requests that are difficult to comply with and do not accept any vectors for an approach until we have the situation completely under control. Please monitor the fuel state and inform me if you think it requires action". OK, ass covered, return to the problem. "OK Fred, this can be a very complicated checklist ( I knew, I had screwed it up before). "Be very careful that we are dealing with the correct procedure. I confirm that we have total loss of A system hydraulic quantity. A system.". That was as much of a hint as I could give him, he was the one being checked at this point, not me.

Explanation. The hydraulic system failure checklist was the most badly written procedure in the 27 manual. The 27 had two main hydraulic systems, A and B. A system did most of the heavy work such as raising and lowering the landing gear and it also ran about half of the flying controls, B system also ran half of the flying controls and other stuff I can't remember. If a hydraulic system failed it did so with extreme rapidity since you had 3000 psi pumps pushing a meager 3 gallons of fluid through a hole, the result was that when you carried out immediate actions they usually did not help much. After the immediate actions there was a fork in the road in the checklist for secondary actions, the leg of the fork you followed depending on which system had failed. The problem was that the explanation of the fork to be taken was concealed in some sort of triple negative condition that must have been written by a Chinese electronic device manual writer. Sure enough Fred started down the wrong fork.

Further explanation. When I was an FE on the 27 we were made very aware of this potential confusion with the hydraulic failure checklist so we followed the sensible practice of high-lighting the problem area, making margin notes or sticking a sticky-note over the relevant text. However, in their infinite stupidity, the FAA subsequently decided that these notes constituted an illegal revision to an approved manual and insisted that all such notes must be removed thus committing generations of new FEs to repeating the same error over and over. It was apparently too complicated to simply amend the confusing text because it had to be approved by --- the FAA.

Back to the check ride. Fred is now proceeding down the wrong checklist path, this is a major problem on a check, especially your first year check. I see the problem but I can't really say "Hey, Doofus, you are screwed up" cos' that may be his job gone. I didn't think either of the SCs had seen what had happened yet, they are discussing something to do with the sim. I needed to sacrifice myself (very mildly, of course). "Sorry Fred, I've always hated this checklist and I'm lost, you left me behind. Could we start again with the secondary actions so I can catch up?". The two SCs looked forward and start to take an interest. Fred began again and this time he segued beautifully into the correct fork. The rest was gravy. Manual gear extension worked fine. Preps. for a system failure landing worked fine. The FO was still flying and, as required by the rules, he offered me the aircraft for the landing because we had only partial flying controls, I told him he'd done a great job and he might as well do the landing so he can brag about it even though it is only in the sim., just remember there is no ground steering so stop it on the runway and don't try to turn off. Piece of cake.

As we are preparing to leave the sim. I hear the SC say to the Trainee SC, "That's the most laid back PC I have ever seen". Pilots 3 SCs 0. Ever heard the expression cooperate and graduate?


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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#2 Post by Mrs Ex-Ascot » Tue Oct 15, 2019 5:00 am

Excellent story, thank you for posting it. :-bd
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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#3 Post by Slasher » Tue Oct 15, 2019 5:00 am

Good yarn Boing! 👍🏻

I was F/O on the 727-200 in Straya with TAA in the 80s, and yes a Sys A problem as I recall was a total bitch of a checklist and easy to cockup. Diff in Oz was that our F/Es were straight off the floor and knew the ‘27 better than Seattle itself. (I always forgot to call that bloody “Essential Power” but the F/E would call it and did it as if in response). I still love F/Es to this day. ❤️

The checkie would yell “Slasher! Did you call Essential?”
“Yep. Sure did.”
“We’ll speak up next time. I didn’t hear it.”
“Ok [phew!]

I found Phase One items reasonably straightforward. Phase Twos thank God were checklist items. Same with the Dizzy-9 which I flew earlier.

When I joined SQ years later on the 747-200/300 it was a similar setup to the standard 727 both in systems and Boeing SOP - except I sat 40ft above the deck at the gate with nothing on the clock, and an extra throttle (yup we still called ‘em that) plus an APU with 2 gennys in parallel. No need to call Essential on the ‘47 which was a damn bonus to me! 👍🏻

Moving on...

I’ve been TRI/TRE on the 737-200 and -400 in a past life and TRI on the A320/321. These days all modern manuals specify in the QRH and FCTM who’s responsible for what when sh!t happens. This means essential arse-covering briefs are minimal. It’s quite very straightforward as long as each pilot in a two-man crew knows his stuff. Remember I’ve instructed (command upgrade line training was my forte during my last employ) on the 320 but I have never examined (I wasn't interested) but I know the PC syllabi inside out and backwards for capts F/Os and cadet final checks here in HKG, and can tell if a bloke might have trouble next day. This then will usually result in a quick sim freeze with explanation/brief and a repeat of a certain exercise. This doesn’t happen often though.

I’m only to do cadet training but as explained in TRABB I’m also doing quite a few LOFTs which I like. The LOFT is non-failable (unless the guy REALLY screws up and kills everyone dead, but even then it’s just a black mark writeup) and usually precedes the next day’s PC. With the power of internet rostering and Whatsapp most guys know who the Examiner might be and get info on what he’s likely to do under “other Emergencies/Non normals (3)”. If there’s enough time after all the required LOFT exercises are complete, some newer crew will request some exercises they expect next day.

Like your sim days mate we had to carry on flying one leg from start to finish. PCs nowadays is suffer a couple of problems, land, reset. Next T/O and do something different. One the one hand the old way was good in that there weren’t too many changes, unlike the way now of taking off in 50C, returning in +RA, then restarting on snow/ice at a different airport etc etc. You have to keep a note at your side windscreen and write where and what you departed from in case you pull up and brief on the previous bloody airport of arrival by mistake!

That’s enough. My typing thumb is getting hoarse!

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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#4 Post by Ex-Ascot » Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:25 am

Just for a matter of interest Capt, does the A320 sim handle like the actual aircraft? I have never flown a sim that did. Our original VC10 sim was a complete joke. No idea when it was built but it was I am sure all pulleys and ropes. The new one was much better but you couldn't handle it like the real aircraft. The Lufthansa A300 sim we used was nothing like the real aircraft either. Perhaps fly by wire is easier to simulate.
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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#5 Post by ExSp33db1rd » Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:13 am

SIM fun ? Mrs. Ex

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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#6 Post by Slasher » Tue Oct 15, 2019 8:15 am

Ex-Ascot wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:25 am
Just for a matter of interest Capt, does the A320 sim handle like the actual aircraft?
All our A320 sims (incl my prev mob’s) are all level D sah. Here’s a good link to decipher that:

https://aviation.stackexchange.com/ques ... tor-levels


Have to say yes to the handling - very very close to the real thing. Simply explained it’s easy to copy the ElaCs SECs and FACs aircraft software into the box’s and hitch ‘em up to the sim’s hyd legs. Of course it’s not perfect - for the NEOs and CEOs with bent wingtips it behaves like the normal fenced-wing types. In fact the sharklets made landings in wet gusty xwinds (esp in bloody India) noticeably a bit easier.

Visuals - not bad at all. Certainly can’t reproduce exact real life but it comes damn close. Some fun can be had by running over the ground engineer as he walks away after he gives the thumbs up (although there’s no momentary ‘thunk’ felt as the nosewheel rolls over him, nor any engine problems if you decide to suck him into a donk). But a thunk will be heard and felt if you collide with an airport vehicle although no damage will occur to anything. Only thing is it doesn’t exactly reproduce wake turb from say an A380.

Cat II and below is pretty realistic in fog or thick HZ I must say, but rain of any type? Nup. It may as well be fog visually with the noise of the wipers reproduced less loudly than the real thing. As you well know the difference between an actual landing in 550m FG compared to the same vis with Nature throwing huge buckets of frigging water in your face...

Only downside is it’s completely black greater than 90* L and R, which means you’ll lose sight of the runway on a circuit after one passes abeam it, or while trying to aim an engine inlet at the robotically-walking ground guy.

BTW the 319/320 is Cat C and 321 Cat D. Must tell you how VNA in its corrupted wisdom managed to get all its 321s to Cat C. /:)

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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#7 Post by ExSp33db1rd » Tue Oct 15, 2019 9:38 am

#5 !! Finger trouble, to be continued !

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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#8 Post by Rwy in Sight » Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:55 pm

ExSp33db1rd wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 9:38 am
#5 !! Finger trouble, to be continued !
I thought you were about to quote Ex A's comments about sims always breaking down.

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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#9 Post by ExSp33db1rd » Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:49 am

#5 Cont'd.

Not too long ago Mrs ExS and self were visiting a new -to us - NZ town some distance from home, on the South Island for a start, and we live at the top end of the North. We noticed a party spilling into the street as we passed one shop en route to dinner, but largely ignored it. Next day we passed again mid-morning and I saw that it was a "retail simulator" e.g. pays y'money and have a go at flying a Boeing 737, and apparently the evening before had been the "grand opening".

We entered an empty shop, but a man appeared at the top of a set of stairs, and enquired as to our presence ? I asked if a retired four engine Boeing pilot could have a look at a 2 engine Boeing ? We were invited upstairs and into a pukka 737 simuator, it all looked familiar, apart from the absence of two throttle levers and associated engine instruments, and was airborne with a very credible visual display through the front windscreen. The Instructor, for that was who he was, had left the seat to attend to our walking through the door, and invited me to take his seat, airborne around 3,000 ft and on auto-pilot, leaving the occupant of the right hand seat just watching the view.

I settled in to a maybe 15 year absence from any flight deck, disconnected the A/P and started flying, but almost immediately the "Terrain" "Terrain" warning sounded as we approached a mountain range. Bastard, I said to Instructor happily chatting up my wife at the back of the flight deck, "You're just trying to set me up" He laughed and said "Just checking, turn right and you will see the airport, It's CAVOk so have a go at putting us back on the ground", and told me the ILS frequency, which I asked the "co-pilot" to tune. All I got was a blank stare, so I dialled it up myself, then asked for the VRef ? Another blank stare, so I reckoned it was a light aircraft on a local flight, so considered 125Kts wouldn't be too far wrong, then reduced speed, and asked for 10 flap. Another blank stare.

Eventually I intercepted the ILS and stopped asking for flap, or gear, handling it all myself. The landing was OK, then I "lost it". Any sort of "feel" on the ground was missing, as it was really only a computer "game" and I totally overcontrolled.

Turns out the guy in the right hand seat wasn't even a Cessna pilot, just someone the instructor was giving a ride to, and had never sat in the sharp end of any aeroplane, ever. No wonder he didn't understand my requests for flaps, Vref etc !

The Instructor was the owner of the "business" and offered me a job as an instructor, and had we lived anywhere near where we then were, I would seriously considered it and suggested that he should open a business in our home town, then I would manage it for him, but he never did and I believe has since closed down. Good fun tho".

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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#10 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:26 am

Interesting post ExSp33db1rd....

For those who haven't ever sweated in a simulator or for those who haven't had to do so for a while and miss that buzz (or misery) and you live in the UK there is always this, although it does require that you travel to Welsh Wales in the case noted below. It is the real McCoy and reasonably priced for what it is.

https://caerdav.com/sim-experiences/

There are a number of other good venues throughout the UK.

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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#11 Post by boing » Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:41 am

Simulators, at least in their older generations, could be a great training aid or a deadly trap. Particularly I am thinking of the time in which they were first used to train in recovery from unusual positions.

There had been a series of aircraft loss of control problems which culminated in the loss of a B737 of United Airlines (Flight 585) near Denver in 1991. The cause of the accidents was initially bewildering and it was speculated that the aircraft had been subjected to extreme windshear or wake turbulence. It was therefore decided that pilots should be taught how to recover from loss of control situations, particularly those involving large angles of bank approaching 90 degrees. This exercise, of course, needed to be done in the simulator so the machines were programmed to simulate these conditions.

Unfortunately, at this time there were very few airline instructors who had any current military unusual position recovery experience, and certainly none with such experience in heavy aircraft, so discussion of the subject was dominated by the most senior and the most vociferous. In the case of my own airline the instructional management was overly impressed by an individual who had considerable aerobatic experience IN LIGHT COMPETITION AIRCRAFT.

A result of these discussions was that the use of rudder would be taught to aid and expedite recovery from large angles of bank. The advice on the use of rudder in the manual was expressed in vague terms such as "sufficient rudder to regain control". Now, stick a pilot upside down in an airliner at less than 1000 feet above the ground and watch how much rudder he is going to use. The answer is every damn millimeter available plus whatever he can get by trying to force the rudder pedal through the firewall. After my experience of sitting in on some of these recoveries it was clear to me that the rudder forces involved would tear the vertical stabilizer off the aircraft. The rudder is designed for maximum application at relatively low speeds involved in engine failures after take-ff, I was watching people apply FULL rudder at over 200 knots in some cases. I approached the training centre managers incensed and got absolutely nowhere. All they told me was that the procedures had been reviewed and that as long as pilots followed the manual advice of "sufficient rudder to regain control" there would be no problem. My argument that no pilot was going to limit himself to "sufficient" if he thought he was just about to die along with everyone else on the aircraft carried no weight whatsoever.

Fast forward to November 12, 2001,
American Airlines Flight 587
Second-deadliest aviation accident in U.S. history behind only American Airlines Flight 191.

........................ Terrorism was officially ruled out as the cause by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which instead attributed the disaster to the first officer's overuse of rudder controls in response to wake turbulence from a Japan Airlines Boeing 747-400 that took off minutes before it. According to the NTSB, the aggressive use of the rudder controls by the first officer stressed the vertical stabilizer until it snapped off the plane, along with the plane's two engines separating from intense forces before impact.[1][5] .........................

................. It flew into the larger jet's wake, an area of turbulent air. The first officer attempted to stabilize the aircraft with alternating aggressive rudder inputs.[1]:107 The force of the air flowing against the moving rudder stressed the aircraft's vertical stabilizer, and eventually snapped it off entirely, causing the aircraft to lose control and crash. The NTSB concluded that the enormous stress on the vertical stabilizer was due to the first officer's "unnecessary and excessive" rudder inputs, and not the wake turbulence caused by the 747. The NTSB further stated, "if the first officer had stopped making additional inputs, the aircraft would have stabilized".[22] Contributing to these rudder pedal inputs were characteristics of the Airbus A300-600 sensitive rudder system design and elements of the American Airlines Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Training Program.

................ According to the official accident report, the first officer repeatedly moved the rudder from fully left to fully right. This caused increasing sideslip angles. The resulting hazardous sideslip angle led to extremely high aerodynamic loads that separated the vertical stabilizer. If the first officer had stopped moving the rudder at any time before the vertical stabilizer failed, the airplane would have leveled out on its own, and the accident would have been avoided.

............... There were contributing factors to the crash as well. The first officer's predisposition to overreact to wake turbulence caused panic. American Airlines incorrectly taught use of the rudder for wake turbulence recovery, resulting in the first officer's likely misunderstanding of the aircraft's response to full rudder at high airspeeds.

............... The NTSB indicated that American Airlines' Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program (AAMP) tended to exaggerate the effects of wake turbulence on large aircraft. Therefore, pilots were being trained to react more aggressively than was necessary.[22] According to author Amy Fraher, this led to concerns of whether it was appropriate for the AAMP to be placing such importance on "the role of flight simulators in teaching airplane upset recovery at all."[33] Fraher states that the key to understanding the crash of Flight 587 ultimately lay in "how the accident pilots' expectations about aircraft performance were erroneously established through 'clumsy' flight simulator training in American's AAMP."[33]
Wikipedia

[/b]There is absolutely no doubt that the pilot flying learned this rudder technique in training. What any experienced pilot would have done was assume that he was in wake turbulence and make a slight turn out of JAL's departure track, but no, he had been taught that rudder was the way to go. Simulators can be great aids but they can also instill the habitual following of inappropriate responses and the ivory tower assumption that all knowledge comes from the training centre is also shown to be bogus.


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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#12 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Fri Oct 18, 2019 10:41 pm

boing wrote:
Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:41 am
Simulators, at least in their older generations, could be a great training aid or a deadly trap. Particularly I am thinking of the time in which they were first used to train in recovery from unusual positions...
Sir your experience, obviously hard won, flying wisdom, personal sense of humor and ability to teach is transcendent. Tis men like you that make the flying world a better, more honest place.

Please don't stop.
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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#13 Post by boing » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:32 pm

GG

I'm humbled, thank you, but I have to say that my life has been a 120% confirmation of the old saying "It is better to be lucky than good".

As examples, thanks to my primary school teacher Mr. Shakeshaft who pushed me into the 11+ exam when taking that exam. was almost unheard of in our small village, Miss McCracken (how beautifully and appropriately named) our fiery, red headed, Irish teacher who taught me that you fought for your opinions, the RAF recruiting team that appeared just in time to save me from a life in industry, the Biggin Hill selection team that asked me just the right questions. I was born lucky and it goes on and on to the present day.


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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#14 Post by unifoxos » Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:18 pm

When people tell me that I am lucky, I usually reply that the harder I work, the luckier I get.

I am sure that applies especially to pilots, and that boing's "luck" owes more to that than he is letting on.
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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#15 Post by larsssnowpharter » Sat Oct 19, 2019 5:47 pm

Anyone else used a Link trainer?

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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#16 Post by ian16th » Sat Oct 19, 2019 8:41 pm

Used to maintain the Gee-H & H2S trainers at Lindholme, c1954
Cynicism improves with age

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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#17 Post by Slasher » Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:20 am

larsssnowpharter wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 5:47 pm
Anyone else used a Link trainer?
Yep. 1979 Essendon Airport with Keith Hants as part of my initial CIR training. Hantsy was the Ansett-ANA DC4 skipper who dropped a burning engine into Port Phillip Bay yonks earlier.

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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#18 Post by boing » Sun Oct 20, 2019 6:24 am

Yep. There was still one at Syerston when I joined. I remember another in civilian use but I can't remember where. There were actually several models with varying capabilities and different types of moving map displays. I think the most common one had a thing like a great big spider that rolled around on a large table with an airways chart on it.

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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#19 Post by ExSp33db1rd » Sun Oct 20, 2019 7:32 am

Yes, courtesy of BOAC who "paid" for my initial instrument rating. Threw me in the Stratocruiser Sim. first - four engines ? Christ.

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Re: Cooperate and Graduate,

#20 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Wed Nov 04, 2020 5:37 pm

Though you remain
Convinced
"To be alive
You must have somewhere
To go
Your destination remains
Elusive."

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