Gene Garrett Page 3

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AH-64 Apache

Q: Memorable indeed.

Perhaps, if you wouldn’t mind, take us along for a ride in the Apache. Maybe start with the pre-flight, setting the aircraft up to go, the takeoff and getting ready for action. A typical, if there is such a thing, Apache mission.

A: Sure. It might go something like this:

The briefing’s over, the preflight was conducted that morning and you and your copilot have been trying to sleep during the day. Not an easy task for most married pilots but you both manage to get in 8 hours of sleep. You throw on a flight suit fresh out of the dryer after pulling a pair of stockings out of the sleeve and a fabric softener strip from the leg. Eat a small dinner and kiss the wife and kids goodbye after calling your copilot to get him going.

Drive to the airfield is smooth since everyone else is going home after a long day and your thoughts are on normal things, like did you pay the cable bill? You get to the hanger park in a fairly empty lot and join the copilot in operations where you get the weather updated, pick up the aircrafts logbook and file a flight plan. A quick check of the logbook (aircraft’s maintenance records) shows the aircraft is ok with an oil sample due in 4 hours. You head off to the flightline after picking up your flight gear, your survival vest, and check the notices and wire hazard maps.

The crew chief is at the aircraft removing the tie-downs and you both pitch in to help get the aircraft ready. Then you give a safety briefing to your crew and take a quick walk around looking for missed covers and tie-downs, leaks and other problems. You and the copilot strap on the Apache, adjust the seats, tighten the shoulder harness and plug in your helmets while putting the various publications within easy reach. You go through the checklists, the switch positions, gauge markings, and inspection dates. Finally you turn on the battery, do a quick communications check and start the APU while the crew chief stands by with a fire extinguisher. You and the copilot get to the engine start part of the check list: clearing the aircraft, insuring you have the rotor brake off, and then, key on, you start the turbines.

The whine of the turbines sounds good as each engine gets to operating RPM and perhaps you allow yourself a little smile, just thinking how lucky you are. The stars are out by now, and with the checklist finished, you punch in your mission data for the flight and wave the crew chief off, starting his wait for your return. You begin leveling the fuel in the tanks using fuel transfer pumps and call the ground control for taxi instructions.

“Ground control, Apache 456 pad 26 east ramp, Ready for taxi instructions.”

“Roger Apache 456, taxi to runway 36 and hold short. Contact tower for take off on 245.65”

“Apache 456 roger tower on 245.65.”

After clearing the aircraft, you pull up on the collective while centering the cyclic and, unlocking the tail wheel, do a power check, ready for taxiing. You use the pedals, a bit of power and the cyclic to steer the apache down the taxiway, holding short of runway 36 while the copilot checks his vision systems and GPS readout.

“Tower, Apache 456 holding short of runway 36 ready for takeoff.”

“Roger 456, cleared for take off on runway 36, contact departure control on 123.45 after reaching 1000 feet.”

“Roger, Apache 456 is cleared for takeoff, contact departure control on 123.45 after reaching 1000 feet and Tower can you activate my flight plan and call operations that we’re off?”

“Roger that Apache 456, flight plan is active and I’ll give the duty office a call. Have a safe flight.”

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