A Day in the Life of an Air Corps Cadet

This week the weather is excellent so the Flight Training School FTS is taking advantage of that and starting our day a little earlier. Today I had breakfast on the base at 0700. It’s advisable to eat a good breakfast before going flying in a Pilatus PC-9M. The aircraft is fully aerobatic with a Head Up Dislay unit HUD and ejector seats. Carrying out aerobatics with an empty stomach makes for a queasy day!

I reported for a weather brief at 0730 where another cadet presented the weather outlook for the day and the week ahead. The flight instructors want cadets to do the weather brief as it is a learning opportunity for us and it helps us practice our presentation skills and gain confidence in public speaking.

I have already received a Phase Brief for this aspect of training. The Phase Brief teaches us all the technical and practical knowledge required to carry out the training we will be doing on the aircraft. Each new block of training has a Phase Brief and then each individual flight has a pre-flight Sortie Brief. The Phase brief was given by a qualified flight instructor and our latest one was on aerobatic flying and where we were taught how to complete the manoeuvres.

The Sortie Brief today is carried out by my instructor and it happens immediately before our flight. The instructor goes over all aspects of the flight. He tells me the aircraft registration of the aircraft we will be flying, the exercises we will be carrying out and the runway we can expect to use. This brief is an opportunity for me to ask any questions I have outstanding and for the instructor to question my knowledge and pre-flight preparation.

After this brief we get ready to go to the aircraft. I collect my helmet and put on my G-suit. The G-suit is attached to the aircraft and the suit inflates when we start pulling positive G, this puts pressure on my body around my legs and waist preventing the pooling of blood in my feet and legs effectively reducing the G imposed on my body by approximately 1G. This helps prevent G-LOC or G induced loss of consciousness.

By 0900 I am in the aircraft and ready to taxi out. I have already completed my walk around of the aircraft to ensure that it is in a perfect condition to fly. The Air Corps technicians have already completed their daily checks and servicing of the aircraft and they keep the aircraft maintained to the highest of standards. They are among the best technicians in the world. My aircraft today is F-265 and it is absolutely gleaming. I get a buzz of excitement whenever I see it.

Cadet Training Irish Air Corp

We have a short taxi out to Runway 23. I perform my pre takeoff checks and off we go. The instructor sits behind me in the aircraft, it’s a tandem cockpit, with one in front of the other. He lets me take off and we head out towards Kildare, climb to 8000 feet and practice aerobatics. My instructor demonstrates a loop and then I perform a loop pulling about 4 times the force of gravity.

It takes a while to get used to G force and not feel sick after flying but it is incredibly fun and I try to take a moment to realise where I am and enjoy the moment. The view from 8000 feet is spectacular.

It wasn’t long ago when I was studying for my leaving certificate dreaming of flying a military aircraft! After carrying out aerobatics for about 25 minutes we route back to Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel and land on runway 29. Again, the instructor lets me land the aircraft and I have a slight crosswind from the left to deal with. Lets just say I am still working on my crosswind landings and they are a work in progress!

After the flight my instructor de-briefs me on the exercises we carried out and he teaches me how to perfect the techniques we just completed and what to work on for our next flight. I like to use visualisation techniques so tonight I will sit in a chair and imagine carrying out the manoeuvres in my head.

After the de-brief it’s lunch time and then we have time for one more flight. In the afternoon my instructor and I carry out another flight and this time we practice aileron rolls. To do this we effectively move the control column fully left or right and the aircraft rolls right over momentarily going upside down and then we have to stop the roll as accurately as possible returning to normal flight. I think I counted 11 aileron rolls in total. One or two are great fun but 11 more or less in a row takes some getting used to! Once again we return to the airfield and carry out circuits on runway 29. I was able to practice crosswind landings and carried out 4 takeoff and landings. Each subsequent landing was getting better and easier. As we taxi in the sun is getting lower in the sky and its setting up to be a beautiful evening. I’m tired now and ready to go for dinner and maybe go for a light run this evening.