CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 3 DANIEL A. NUNN
Headquarters, Headquarters Company,
1/227th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion
Fort Hood, Texas
I believe a little bit of every instructor pilot or pilot in command goes into a new PC. A young aviator’s knowledge and attitude is a direct reflection of the pilots he flew with as a PI. As a junior PC, I don’t have many “there I was stories.” I have, however, learned many things from the aviators I have flown with in the past — some good and some bad. Many of these things I learned while deployed in Iraq while flying with junior and mid-grade PCs who many say are the primary trainers of the unit. Here are some of the things I learned growing up as a PI.
The PI is an important member of the crew.
I believe many PIs leaving flight school may not realize this. In flight school, you are usually behind the aircraft and rely heavily on the IP to keep you out of trouble. This is something you cannot afford to do in a line unit. Now the PC is relying on you to help keep him out of trouble. Just because you may or may not be flying the aircraft doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be busy.
If you are just along for the ride, then you are doing something wrong. The person not on the controls, whether it is the PC or not, should be scanning, tuning radios, talking on the radios when necessary, navigating and doing whatever is needed to reduce the workload of the person on the controls.
It is important for you to know all of the aircraft systems and how to deploy them. If the PC is constantly talking you through everything — from operating the target acquisition and designation system, tuning radios or working tactical internet — then his attention is taken away from flying, which creates a potentially dangerous situation.
Graduating flight school is not the time to stop studying. No one knows everything and you may find yourself in a situation where you know a regulation your PC doesn’t. Oral knowledge is also a big factor when IPs choose who is going to take the next PC check ride.
If you are uncomfortable, speak up.
Everyone has heard, “Oh, ye of little faith.” Don’t sit back and let someone kill you. If you are uncomfortable, say something. This can be very important while deployed to a combat zone. As Army aviators, we have a strong sense of duty and will push the limits accomplish a mission. Risks include weather and other conditions or situations and you should always consider risk versus reward. Is it worth flying in poor visibility for a routine recon mission?
Maintain situational awareness.
If the aircraft is put into a potentially dangerous situation, even if you aren’t flying, it is also your fault. You should always pay attention to traffic, winds, weather and all other aspects of the flight. Everyone makes mistakes. Just because you are flying with a senior PC, doesn’t mean he won’t take off with a tail wind.
These are just a few of the things I learned as a PI while deployed to Iraq. By being a good PI, you may end up saving your own life. Instructor pilots are always looking for the next guy to take a PC check ride. The only way you can make yourself be seen is by displaying good judgment, maturity and being an active member of the crew.