During our early training days, Kenny would accompany me to my jet when I was flying, and I would accompany him to his jet when he was flying. Sometimes, the jets weren't ready when the flight crews arrived. For example, they might need gas or minor maintenance. In those instances, if Kenny had brought his camera, he made me pose for pictures.
After our instructors handed us our grades they'd written in blue-and-red pencil, we had to transcribe them to scantron sheets to be scanned and entered into the computerized grading record. The next day, we'd make corrections to all the errors we made on the scantron sheets, and our instructor would make marks on his tally sheet to count the beers we owed him.
Any time you filled out a BOLDFACE worksheet, every word, every punctuation mark, every aspect of what you wrote had to be 100% correct. Every time. Or else you would be grounded for the day and would not fly.
Our class leader at the scheduler's desk in Dagger flight. He absolutely loved UPT.
After each mission, instructors would debrief student pilots and record grades for each maneuver attempted or demonstrated. If the IP used the blue end of his pencil, you’d met the minimum required level of proficiency for that particular maneuver on the ride. If the IP used the red end of his pencil, the student needed to improve before the last ride in the instruction block. (This is why I could get all U’s for Unsafe or Unsat on my early rides and still get a G for Good on the overall lesson grade.)
It took me 10 rides in the T-37 to earn a grade of "Excellent," but on my eleventh ride, it was back to "Good."
Taxiing out for takeoff in the T-37.
Our first classmate to solo in the T-37 returning from his flight.
Having grabbed Aaron on his way back from the crew bus, Dagger student pilots race toward the dunk tank.
We suspect Aaron may have been the first in our class to solo in the T-37 because the class number and flight names painted on the dunk tank are those of the class ahead of ours. According to UPT etiquette, our class could not decorate the dunk tank with our class colors and flight names until all students in the class ahead of ours had soloed.
"In a tedious, mob-rule ritual pushed onto all of us..., student pilots returning from initial solos were involuntarily baptized in the dunk tank, a Petri dish of dirty swill, culturing next to the chute shop."
On a rare Saturday work day, Captain Wright tidies up Dagger flight, the cleanest flight room in the 37th Flying Training Squadron, as two of his Dagger IPs relax. Kurt, Kenny, Malia, and I are headed out to the flight line to paint the T-37 dunk tank pink.
Members of the Dagger and Warhawks sections of UPT Class 88-07 paint the dunk tank with the class colors and symbols from our patch.
Our finished work! On the left is our crude symbol for Dagger, and on the right is the Warhawks logo. The best part about this picture is the half-finished case of beer that we moved to the shade by the building. We must have figured that the beer would stay colder in the 90-degree heat in the shade than the 95-degree heat in the sun. None of us thought to bring a cooler.
Now that's a good looking dunk tank!
The day that our class started to fly our first solo jet rides in the T-37, the local newspaper came to the base to take pictures and write a story about our class. Here, the Warhawks are shown dunking their Section Leader after his first solo.
When a student soloed in the T-37, Captain Wright would call him or her to the front of the room at the end of the day to present an official Dagger solo certificate.
This is what the Dagger flight room looked like for the formal report and formal release. You can see a couple of decorated IP desktops on the left. At the front of the room, Captain Wright would stick a pink flamingo next to his podium whenever he wanted to motivate the troops. That’s me on the right, and even though the picture is not the best, you can clearly see why Three-Fingered Wayne could not cut me a flat-top.
This may have been taken before a solo in the T-37.