This Victory Roll scene was intended as an anti-foreshadow of Ray's upcoming T-37 Instrument checkride. Doley chooses to fly the very mission in the sim that Ray will be tasked to fly on his checkride. In the simulator, however, Doley has the power to set the winds, choose runways, change time, freeze time, have the sim transported through time and space, and even crash the sim without consequence. Even when things don't go right, everything's all right in the sim, and Doley remains confidently in control.
In contrast, when Ray flies the same mission in the jet for his checkride, stronger than normal winds blow him across the sky, runways change, a drop in temperature affects aircraft performance, nothing goes right, Ray makes mistake after mistake, and there are very real consequences.
Like other deleted scenes, this was fun to include, but it took the underlying story off track for a few pages.
According to the T-37 syllabus of instruction, during the Instrument phase of training students could be assigned to fly one solo instrument mission in the simulator.
From a training standpoint, this option could give a student an extra hour and fifteen minutes of instrument flying practice-- because all sim rides were supposed to last one hour and fifteen minutes. From the schedulers’ standpoint, this option meant that if they couldn’t fill all of the allotted simulator times for Dagger flight, they could throw a student in the sim and not get in trouble for canceling the assigned time slot.
Lieutenant Wilson stuck Doley with one of the first solo sims, whereas I luckily had the flying period off. I hadn’t been keeping up with my academic assignments for our Instruments class, and I wanted to use the time to study. I thought that I might be able to find an empty classroom in the Student Squadron where I could read my lessons and work on memorizing some numbers.
“Lieutenant Wright,” my IP called from his desk, where he was briefing up Doley for his solo sim, “come on over here. You’re going to the sim with Dolan.”
“Sir, I thought it was a solo sim,” I stated as if I were asking a question, hoping that this wasn’t happening. I’d done nothing but sim since I’d gone DNIF for my bleeding hemorrhoids. I was sick of the sim. Hopefully after the Thanksgiving Break, I’d be able to return to flying status.
“It is, and you’re going with him,” Lieutenant Wilson affirmed, motioning me over to his desk. Because Doley was in the chair where I usually sat, I sat in Kenny’s seat. Kenny was up on the schedule to fly with another IP.
“It’s Dolan’s solo sim. He’s going to fill out the paperwork for his gradebook after the ride. Since there’s no instructor, and the right seat in the sim is open, that’s where you’re going to sit. You will not fill out any paperwork or document this ride in any way. It’s Dolan’s solo,” Lieutenant Wilson explained. “You follow?”
“Yes, sir,” I acknowledged. “I follow.”
“Good,” Lieutenant Wilson said. “This will give you both a chance to have a little more practice and maybe trade some techniques that you’ve been working on. Don’t just fool around with the sim,” he warned. “Besides, this will be good practice for when you both come back as FAIPs.”
Having failed one check ride and barely passed another, that joke wasn’t even funny anymore.
Lieutenant Wilson handed Doley a blank sim form, which Doley needed to fill in for the sim operators, who would program the mission into the computer and act as our flight controllers over the radio throughout the ride.
“Ray, this will just take a minute,” Doley said, quickly filling out the sim form and talking as he wrote. “We’re taking off on runway 1-3, because we’ve been on 1-3 for the last two months. We’re going to Meridian/Key Field, MEI, da’rect to the Initial Approach Fix, NOVCA, followed by one turn in holding before our VOR-Alpha penetration. Then, we’ll pick up vectuhs around for an ASR to runway 1-9, and finish up with an ILS on runway 1-9. Ground winds ah calm, and at altitude...,” Doley turned around to look at the weather conditions that were always written on the front-left side of the whiteboard at the front of the Dagger flight room. “At altitude, winds ah from the east at 10 knots.”
I don’t know why Doley even needed to look. For the past two months of training, we’d been flying on runway 1-3 with calm winds at the surface, and at altitude it seemed like the winds were never more than about 10 knots. After a brutally hot summer, the fall weather in Columbus had been mild and extremely pleasant-- when it wasn’t cloudy or raining.
“Hey,” Lieutenant Wilson called out to Doley and me, leaning on his crutches in front of the scheduling board. “Don’t come back before you’ve been gone over there for an hour and fifteen minutes, and like I said, don’t fool around.”
Over in the sim building, it didn’t take long for Doley to forget Lieutenant Wilson’s warning.
“Ray, why ah you wearin’ ya’ mask?” Doley asked as he lined up for takeoff on runway 1-3, his mask dangling from the right side of his helmet.
“Doley, I always wear my mask in the sim. Don’t you?” I replied.
“I’m not wearin’ my mask,” Doley said.
“Alright... I’m not wearing my mask, either,” I said, disconnecting the left side of my mask from my helmet, as well, so that our masks both dangled loosely like the pilots wore their masks in “Top Gun,” even though no pilots wore their masks like this in UPT. I guess it didn’t really take that long for me to forget Lieutenant Wilson’s warning, either.
“Gear clear,” Doley articulated his checklist steps as he flew his instrument takeoff, and we passed through 100 knots.
“Gear clear,” I responded. Even though Doley was officially flying solo, I followed along on my checklist, which I wore strapped to my left leg, and verbally confirmed that the landing gear light in my gear handle was out and that the landing gear were up.
“Flaps up,” Doley said, passing through 110 knots.
“Flaps are up,” I confirmed when the flap indicator read zero percent, looking again to my checklist.
“Victory Roll!” Doley proclaimed triumphantly, throwing the control stick all the way to the right to perform a totally illegal aileron roll just a couple hundred feet from the ground.
“Doley! What are you doing?!” I panicked. Now halfway through Doley’s Victory Roll, the nose of the jet dropped below the artificial horizon on our cockpit attitude indicator, and we started to lose altitude. I didn’t think we had enough altitude to complete the maneuver.
Knowing that the IPs had a crash override switch next to the right seat in the sim, I looked around for it so that I could activate it. If we crashed the sim, I knew we’d need to have the sim operator reset the system, and that might get back to Lieutenant Wilson. But if I could find the crash override switch, maybe the sim would allow us to fly through the ground, and neither the sim operators nor Lieutenant Wilson would have to know about Doley’s aileron roll on takeoff in an Instrument sim.
While I fumbled through the panel of switches on my right that student pilots never got to see, Doley just kept on rolling the jet, now accelerating toward the ground in a dive instead of a climb, happily spinning through his Victory Roll. The only way Doley could avoid a crash would be to finish his Victory Roll, get back to wings-level, and pull the nose of the jet up into a climb in the next couple of…
The sim clunked loudly upon our virtual impact with the virtual ground with an initial jolt that was all too real. The hydraulic pressure eased out of the giant metal legs that had lifted the simulated Tweet into the air and banked it from side-to-side in reaction to Doley’s control inputs, and we felt the mock-cockpit being slowly lowered back to its pre-takeoff position. The lights in the sim went dark, and all the cockpit instruments returned to their default positions, like we’d just pulled the plug on the massive machine.
“Doley, I think that might qualify as ‘foolin’ around,’” I admonished.
“Ray, relax. ‘Victory Roll’ is perfectly fine. It’s in the checklist.” he shot right back at me.
Doley held his right index finger up to his face to call for my silence, and with his left hand, he used the radio transmit button on the right engine throttle to call the sim operator. “Sir, could you please put us on departure leg at 3,000 feet and five DME?” he asked.
Faster than Jambi the Genie could say, “Mekka Lekka Hi Mekka Hiney Ho,” the sim lights came back on, the instruments all reset to the correct ranges, and the hydraulic legs underneath the mock-cockpit lifted us back up into the air. Doley’s request was granted.
“Just press the illuminated ‘Freeze’ button down to your right by your leg, to take the sim off ‘Freeze’ when y’all are ready to continue,” the sim operator spoke into my helmet over the intercom.
I took us off ‘Freeze’ right away. Doley went on flying the departure but unstrapped his checklist from his left leg, handed it to me, and directed me to read it, even though my own checklist was strapped to my left leg.
Sure enough, there it was on his AFTER TAKEOFF check:
1. Gear - UP at 100 KIAS (minimum).
2. Landing lights - OFF/TAXI.
3. Flaps - UP at 110 KIAS (minimum).
4. Engine instruments - CHECK.
5. Victory Roll.
Of course, Doley had added this last step to his checklist in pencil, but there it was.
“My bad, Doley. Excellent checklist discipline,” I commended him and handed him back his checklist.
Doley flew a flawless departure, nailed his fix-to-fix to NOVCA, and entered his one turn in holding. En route to NOVCA, Doley had radioed Key Field to check the weather and landing runway. He performed all the checks he was supposed to along the way, and as Doley was apt to do, he talked me through everything. With the extra time afforded to us by our holding pattern, Doley shared with me one of his personal techniques for simulator missions.
“Ray, even though there ah two sets of most cockpit instruments, notice that there’s only one clock up here in the middle,” Doley began. Of course, I knew that already.
“When we hit ah Fix on the approach,” he continued, “that will be my cue to run my ‘3Ts 2Ts plus’ check.”
“Doley, you know that I am a proponent of the ‘5Ts and a T’ method,” I interrupted.
“Yes, and I will show you why ‘3Ts 2Ts plus’ is better,” Doley countered.
As the sim flew across the Fix, it was game on.
First “T”-- Time: Doley reached up and “hacked” the clock so that the sweep second hand reset to zero, which is just how I’d do it.
Second “T”—Turn: Doley turned the minute hand on the cockpit clock ahead by five minutes.
“Doley, we’re on ‘Freeze,’” I told him after I’d hit the “Freeze” button on the panel down at my right side now that I knew where it was.
“What the hell?” Doley wondered, wanting to continue flying his approach.
“Did I just see you turn the clock ahead by five minutes?"
“Ray, ya' powuhs of obsa’vation ah right on," Doley said proudly. "When in the sim, the second T of the ‘3Ts 2Ts plus’ check is to turn the clock ahead when my IP's not looking. No IP has called me on it yet.”
“Doley, that is absolutely brilliant,” I complimented him.
“Technique only,” Doley replied.
“Can’t be graded,” I responded automatically. “You’re coming off ‘Freeze.’”
Doley flew the VOR-Alpha approach all the way down to the published Missed Approach Point, and because the runway was not in sight when he got to the MAP, Doley executed his missed approach procedure, by pushing the throttles up to MIL power, initiating a climb, and turning to the assigned heading, as the controller had instructed.
Once Doley confirmed positive climbing indications on two of his cockpit instruments and we’d passed through 100 knots, he began running his AFTER TAKEOFF Check.
“Gear clear,” Doley called out.
“Gear clear,” I responded.
“Flaps up,” Doley said, passing through 110 knots.
“Flaps are up,” I confirmed when the flap indicator read zero percent.
“Victory Roll!” Doley proclaimed triumphantly, throwing the control stick all the way to the right for another totally illegal aileron roll a couple hundred feet above the ground.