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2 YEARS OF P-3 FUN...

picklesuit

Living the GeoBachelor dream...
pilot
Contributor
Well guys,
I've put 2 years and a little into my squadron. I did some things right, fucked some things up, managed to make it through the machine and would like to share my experience for those who are starting out, hoping you won't make the same stupid mistakes I did.

A little background: Prior E, OCS, API, Vance, Corpus, Jax, now a P-3C PPC/MC in the glorious PNW. Proof that any retard can make it through.

I checked to my current squadron August of 2009. First bit of advice: if you check in after the 15th of a month, you get that month free for PQS, starting month zero on the next first...take advantage of those two weeks to get ahead of (and stay ahead of) the PQS curve. Your only job is to upgrade, do well at that job and all the other miscellaneous bullshit will go well.

I had a really good wardroom to take care of me when I checked in...they were there to do PQS, when I wanted to go get drunk watching football, and when I needed to take time to help the family. They were also there to kick me in the balls when I was being a dumbass...and they did a good job of that. Advice #2: Don't run your suck when you are the new guy...the best advice I got from an O-4 was to "Get up, Show up, and Shut-up"...I was lousy at the last part (still am) and had a lot to learn the hard way about shutting up and coloring. Do your job..that means not only the flying, but the ground job. We like to preach that you are a pilot first and the ground job is second to flying; but if your DH has to spend long looking for you because you show up at 9 and peace out at 2, you won't go far...remember, before being a Pilot, NFO, or the PAO, you are an Officer first. You get paid more than most of the guys next to you, you have to earn that by setting the example and working hard.

The 2P syllabus rolled along for me, I was an average, at best, pilot, and managed to pass all my flights and trainers with no failures...but I was really good at getting my job done at work. Unfortunately, that came at the expense of my family at times (it still does) and you have to find that balance for yourself. Married, 2 kids, and horses...I was spread thin at times, and (Advice #3 here) you have to be willing to ask for help.

Made 2P heading out the door to a 5th fleet deployment. Being a 2P on deployment is the best thing in the world. A little respect, a little responsibility, and LOTS of flight hours. If you have ANY say on your timing, give yourself 9 months to get qualified before your squadron heads out the door.

Deployment was a great time. I made some of the best friends I will have there. Not just my fellow Officers and flyers, but also some of the maintenance Chiefs and Sailors. They will bend over backwards to help you if they see you willing to work your ass off for them. Case in point: Be willing to do turns ALL night when you have the duty...don't bitch about it, don't try to skate out of turns...your job is to get that asset ready to fly. If you work your ass off, it pays back a multitude of dividends...I was able to take that respect back home, and when you are signing for the plane and have some crappy stuck bleed air valve keeping you from going, the airframers and maint. control Chief will remember that work and run to help you out.

The PPC and MC syllabus is a time to mature, and when your command will really decide who you will be. You will be working a mid-level ground job, be upgrading, and prepping for a decently hard board. Balance all three and you will be given the opportunity to do the best job in the Navy: take a crew somewhere (alone) as a JO, do God's work and have all the responsibility fall on you. LCDR's in the SWO side do not have the authority/responsibility that a PPC/MC in the P-3's have...we get to kill shit without asking anyone if necessary. That is the goal you are working towards...

You will not make it there without a shit-ton of hard work, lots of studying, and your friends. You will lean on them...a LOT...and you need to be the guy they can lean back on.

Finally, when you DO fuck something up (and you will) own up to it. Be the FIRST guy to tell your boss you fucked up, and it will go much easier. Do NOT be afraid to go to the O-4's for help, either when upgrading, or when trying to deal with your Sailors. They have been there, done that, and , when not in a group of more than 2, can be really decent human beings. Use them, but if you go to them with a problem, have a solution.

Sorry if this got a little philosophical, guess I can make up for my time away from AW's.
Missed you guys, glad to be back...
Pickle
 

HooverPilot

CODPilot
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
About time you came back! Great post and hope you get the chance to check in a bit more!
 

Recovering LSO

Suck Less
pilot
Contributor
Advice #2: Don't run your suck when you are the new guy... "Get up, Show up, and Shut-up"...I was lousy at the last part (still am) and had a lot to learn the hard way about shutting up and coloring. Do your job..that means not only the flying, but the ground job.
For the aspiring Naval Aviators out there... How many times have you seen this advice posted here? It's important. Benefit from those who have gone before you and learned the hard way.
 

rookie7734

Member
None
That was some great advice. I only wish that when I was a JO I had been given some of it. Thanks for taking the time to pass it along. I hope it is well received by those that need it the most.
 

KBayDog

Well-Known Member
LCDR's in the SWO side do not have the authority/responsibility that a PPC/MC in the P-3's have...we get to kill shit without asking anyone if necessary.
Those dinosaurs were already dead before they got into your gas tanks, bro. :D

[Maintenance] will bend over backwards to help you if they see you willing to work your ass off for them. Case in point: Be willing to do turns ALL night when you have the duty...don't bitch about it, don't try to skate out of turns...your job is to get that asset ready to fly. If you work your ass off, it pays back a multitude of dividends...I was able to take that respect back home, and when you are signing for the plane and have some crappy stuck bleed air valve keeping you from going, the airframers and maint. control Chief will remember that work and run to help you out.
^^^^^THIS^^^^^

(Pickle, I hope I'm not stepping on your toes/stealing your thunder here.)

The guys downstairs, even the ones who are a little rough around the edges, take a hell of a lot of pride in what they do, especially in this day and age when many of 'em are fixing the same BuNos their parents (and even grandparents!) worked on. At the end of the day, their job is to break even - Green arrows are "expected," and Black/Red arrows simply mean more nights and weekends of chasing their tails.

A lot of pilots (especially the ones who have never spent much time on the 2K2 circuit) are under the impression that taking care of Maintenance (and earning their respect) means showing up for FOD walk once or twice a week and buying them coffee/donuts once or twice a year. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like Pickle said, if you want to earn their respect, show them that when you're on the 2K2 line that you're the one that will be briefing at the start of your crew day, and climbing out of the aircraft at the last second of your crew day. Be the one who jumps on the weekend FCF grenade. Be the one who, before writing a MAF, has a face-to-face with the troubleshooters, CDIs, QARs, etc. to thoroughly explain what's wrong with the bird...and be the one to stick around while they're troubleshooting in case they need some of that pilot wisdom you supposedly have.

In other words, show them that you genuinely care about helping them accomplish their mission: Turning "Downers" into "Uppers." If they see this, as has been stated numerous times before, they'll turn the world on its end to help you accomplish your mission: Getting that bird in the air to support and defend this nation.
 

NavAir42

I'm not dead yet....
pilot
In addition to the above: be there. There were several ground jobs I had, including down in maintenance, that made me look great because my predecessors wouldn't go into their office most days. I get missing a day here or there because you're scheduled for a 10 hour burn with the associated pre and post flight duties or you have a flight physical, but these guys were virtual no shows. You can't be the guy that helps maintenance troubleshoot on the day you aren't taxi pilot if you aren't there. Obviously you have to take care of all your responsibilities but being seen in the spaces, and I'm not talking about 10 minutes a day, I'm talking hours while you're pushing paper or studying unclassified stuff, goes a long way toward building a relationship with the folks who work for you.
 

scoober78

(HCDAW)
pilot
Contributor
In addition to the above: be there. There were several ground jobs I had, including down in maintenance, that made me look great because my predecessors wouldn't go into their office most days. I get missing a day here or there because you're scheduled for a 10 hour burn with the associated pre and post flight duties or you have a flight physical, but these guys were virtual no shows. You can't be the guy that helps maintenance troubleshoot on the day you aren't taxi pilot if you aren't there. Obviously you have to take care of all your responsibilities but being seen in the spaces, and I'm not talking about 10 minutes a day, I'm talking hours while you're pushing paper or studying unclassified stuff, goes a long way toward building a relationship with the folks who work for you.
Great post.

Based on my P-3/EP squadron experience...you will never have another chance to influence the day to day welfare and lives of sailors like you will as the Divo of a maintenance shop. Keep your priorities straight...be a kick-ass aviator, get your part done and take care of your people.

Way to many JO's (and DH's and front office types) get hung up on "roles" and forget that we are all just people, working for the same goal and facing the same challenges...a demanding mission, an old airframe and not enough time to get it all done. We all miss our families, we all get tired. Remember that, be real, be a person that anyone can talk to and you will earn everyone's respect, up and down the chain.
 

xj220

Will fly for food.
pilot
Contributor
+1

I'll add that when you make any position (especially PPC), be ready to do everything that that encompasses. As soon as the CO signs your paperwork, you're the one in charge who is supposed to take the A/C into any situation and get it (and your crew) out safely. Example: My second (third and fourth) flights as a newly minted PPC were to repo a plane from Whidbey to Atsugi and fly commercially back. Another example: the Mav shot in Libya from a P-3 was that PPC's first flight. It's one of the greatest responsibilities and biggest stresses you can have but one of the most rewarding experiences and well worth it.
 

picklesuit

Living the GeoBachelor dream...
pilot
Contributor
So, an update for those looking to conquer the multiverse.
I was fortunate enough to be selected for the IUT process...but I was not talented enough to make it through. I was offered the opportunity to do the squadron side of the IUT (3 sims, 3 flights) to see if I could attend the Hawaii FIUT next week. Here are a few things I have learned on my way through this process:
1. Stay in your NATOPS!! I hurt myself the most on knowledge. I pretty much dropped the pack as far as the NATOPS knowledge goes after making PPC...when you are trying to teach the plane to peopleyour knowledge needs to be solid, so that you will be confident in your responses/teaching points. Level of knowledge was about 95% of the reason I failed the IUT. I could fly the plane, do the demo's, and talk while flying...but I didn't have the confidence in the subject matter to go further in depth than the procedure.
2. Your IP's will be the people that get you through this. I made it as far as I did because of the help I got from the JO and O-4 instructors. They have a good pool of Scenario's, have been through the IUT, and will get you ready for the syllabus. USE THEM.
3. Preparation is key. Be the expert on your scenario, if you have a Speed Sense Control malfunction, be ready for all the questions about you 16, 65, and 94% switches, your SSV, and why the Fuel SO CB gets pulled, etc. Think about it from all the wierd angles...
4. Aviate, Navigate, Communicate...no joke, that is the first shit that goes out the window when you are trying to teach...If you keep the plane safe, and manage to not piss off tower/approach, you have done 80% of the work. If it is not going well with your scenario, concentrate on altitude/airspeed, and a standard pattern.
5. Primacy-this is the other point where I was weak...you will be the first example a student sees, and they will take on board what you teach/demonstrate as gospel. If you show a miserable no flap, own up to it, repeat, correct. Same goes for knowledge, you mess up one power source, they will throw the bullshit flag on whatever else you teach.

I had a great chance to further my career, I fucked it away because I had not kept in the books enough to sound like I knew what I was talking about...hopefully the next guy will take my experience on board and be better prepared.
The command was completely supportive,and I had all the help I wanted; but in the end, the standards are just that: standards. You either meet them, and continue, or you don't.

Pickle
 

PropAddict

Now with even more awesome!
pilot
Contributor
A senior JO pilot goes through an extra upgrade syllabus, part of which is run by the squadron O4/O5 instructor pilots (pretty much all former FRS IPs) and the other part of which is run by FRS IPs who come out for two weeks to put you through the ringer. After VP-30 gives you the blessing, you have 2 more checkrides with the senior squadron IPs/senior pilot. Then, you get to teach 3P's and 2P's how to fly.

Probably unique because our FRS only CAT I's to know basic systems, minimal tactics, and how to land the plane. That leaves a lot to learn in the squadron before a pilot can be considered qualified to sign as an aircraft commander.

Doesn't seem that weird to me, but YMMV.
 

MasterBates

Well-Known Member
Well, the E-2 RAG teaches you to pass a NATOPS check and land on a boat.. That's about it.

I could teach 2/3Ps as a PC and CAPC (PC = Land Only, CAPC = Boat as well), helos were similar.

Still weird to me. But it is what it is.
 
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