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A few UPT questions for those who know..

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Well-known member
Mar 19, 2002
Hey guys, just getting my ducks in a row here. Hope you don't mind my recent question bombardment, but seems like everytime I take a shower I come up with more questions about my upcoming adventure.

1. How many checkrides am I looking at in UPT? Also, are you military types like the rest of us? What I mean by that is do you get nervous and make silly little mistakes on checkflights, and if you do, is there any lee-way or is near perfection expected?

2. Callsigns...Can't say I'm not looking forward to this, but when do you get it? I have heard it's the first few weeks of UPT when you screw something up, do something stupid etc, and get a name. But then I saw in that fighter pilot show that the pilots seemed to come in "nameless".

3. Finally, for those of you who have gone through part 141 training, how does the experience compare? I just finished at flightsafety and am wondering how military/civilian basic flight training compare.

Thanks guys!

I'll have more questions I'm sure after my next shower :)

You "might" get a nickname in UPT, but your "real" name is usually devloped by your first unit. Nicknames given in UPT or your aircraft specific training (and I think you are going to C130s at Little Rock) rarely last 30 days in a combat ready unit. Do something stupid or have a unique first or last name at your gaining unit, however, and you may have a name for life. Don't sweat it...even the stupid ones will grow on you after a while. Wanna baffle a fighter pilot? Ask him his squadron mate's REAL first names....that one is always good for a round or two on a "first name Friday".

Some fighter pilots on this board....Zulu, Shaggy, Albie, Flipper, Rueter, Malibu. I know there are likely plenty of other guys from other communities with unique monikers but these are just a few I know off the top of my noggin'. I don't know the story on ANY of these names...but I know the guys better by those names than their real ones.

Checkrides--in UPT your checkrides are more "phase checks" than official checkrides. You may bust one or two, but after UPT they never appear on your stan/eval record (Form 8). However...your last ride in some programs IS a Form 8 checkride. As for "nerves", I felt more nervous in UPT than doing REAL checkrides, simply because my future depended on my overall performance. Going to the ANG or Reserves, your goal is to simply do your best and graduate...you won't have that added pressure. Once you get to Little Rock, your checks will start to become part of your record. There MAY be a final UPT checkride that now is a Form 8 ride...I'll let the guys who have class numbers considerably newer than 89-05 enlighten you as to the syllabus.

As for similarities to Flight Safety...well..not many. UPT is a GROUP activity for the first several months. Believe it or not, a lot of your individual success seems to depend on how well you can work with your classmates as a team. Your goal is to do your best, but also to help your classmates do their best as well. This may sound corny or trite, but when I went through classes that stuck together always seemed to get better assignments and have more graduates than did the sniping, more competitive classes. Remember..this is a military organization, not a civilian flight school. There are physical fitness activities, and if you oversleep and miss briefings...well...its a breach of military discipline. You can and will be punished! You can be tossed out after a bad week and no amount of money will buy you back in. You can fly with someone you hate and you can't threaten to hold back your training dollars if you don't get another IP. If you decide you have to have sex with that hot little airman in the chow hall, well...you COULD go to jail with a Federal conviction. Are these things likely? No, but in the military you are bound by a different set of rules known as the UCMJ. What used to be a minor offense in the civilian world might just land you in Leavenworth or at the very least thrown out of the AF with a dishonorable discharge. I can tell you 1000 things that sound very negative along those lines, but the reality is the "reasonable man" who works hard, keeps a sense of humor and perspective, and stays busy working his @ss off will have a fantastic year. We should all be so lucky...

This thread will likely get TONs of replies, but if you need any specific info or just want to chat fire off a PM and I'll give you as much of my dated 15 year data that you want.

Good luck,


PS--Now that you are going into the military, you might want to skip the specifics on when you shower and what you do in there. Keep the subject on flyin', boozin, and chasing gals....(please)
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Some ANG/AFRES fighter units impose a requirement that their UPT student finish in the top half of their T-37 class. Otherwise they get the option to transfer units to the heavy track or pack it up and go home.

Could have been an idle threat, but it had a guy in my class sweating.

It is not an idle threat. My flight nixed a guy going to an F-16 ANG unit because he was not in the top 50%. Turned out for the better though, he ended up going to the mighty Herk! Best **CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED** airframe in the world...
"How many checkrides am I looking at in UPT?"
If nothing has changed in the last couple years, you’ll have eight checkrides. In T-37s you’ll have a midphase contact, final contact, instrument, and formation checkride. In T-38s you’ll have a contact, formation, low level, and navigation checkride.

“Are you military types like the rest of us? What I mean by that is do you get nervous and make silly little mistakes on checkflights, and if you do, is there any lee-way or is near perfection expected?”
Of course. Through all my student checkrides and all the Form 8 checkrides I have taken since UPT, I don’t think I’ve never been at least a little nervous on each checkride, and I don’t think I’ve gotten through one without making some dumb mistake. Near perfection is something to shoot for, but all check pilots and SEFEs know that if something bad/different is going to happen, it’s going to happen on a check ride (I was a check pilot at Columbus – I’ve seen plenty of weird stuff happen). The big thing the instructor is looking for is not that you handle odd situations perfectly, but that you have a plan.

“Callsigns...when do you get it? I have heard it's the first few weeks of UPT when you screw something up, do something stupid etc, and get a name. But then I saw in that fighter pilot show that the pilots seemed to come in "nameless". "
Sometimes the instructors in UPT will try to name students, but it’s pretty pathetic. They’ll take one stupid little thing the dude did on a flight and give them some lame name that hardly gets used in that squadron, much less past it. They won’t even try to name you in IFF, but your FTU may have a naming ceremony. This will probably be a little better than the lame UPT attempt, but I don’t know of anybody whose FTU name stuck with them, and nobody in my class called anyone else by their names while we were a Seymour Johnson. Once you get to your operational squadron and get through the Mission Qualification program, you’ll get named. There’s usually an extreme amount of drinking, debauchery, and general ugliness during the event. At our last ceremony, one of the guys woke up in the morning and couldn’t remember what his name was – he had to ask his roommate.
Showering Advice...

Albie gave good info... keep your shower rituals to yourself.

UPT has changed a lot since the mid 90's when the T-1 came a player. I am truly sorry that everyone doesn't get to fly the white rocket (T-38) anymore. Don't get me wrong, the T-1 guys are everybit an AF pilot like everyone who makes it through, but they didn't have to do contact/formation/low level at high speed and the "think/plan ahead concept" is not the same. For the guys who flew the T-38, how many times did you look down on the backside of a Cuban-8 and see .99 and increasing?

I've never even been in a T-1, so you'll need to solicit info from those guys about the Phase 3 (T-1) portion of your training. I think that the class numbers for the first T-1s were around 94-01 or so.

Prior time guys had an early advantage going into T-37s, but by the time you were leaving that jet things were pretty much equal.

Call Signs (nicknames) from UPT don't usually stick. Mine was Kramer, but have since lost a lot of the attributes on my head that gave me that nickname, so it has fizzled away.

-Teamwork. Work with everyone. Offer to help out.
-Always be prepared for your next flight... even when you're not on the board for the next day.
-Keep your training folder neat, tidy and up-to-date.
-Take advantage of your time in the cockpit trainers and learn the checklists, learn the checklists, learn the checklists...
-Standup each day is almost as important as the daily flying... if you don't pass, you don't fly.
-Nerves are part of the game. If you're not nervous, you probably should be.

I remember some crusty O-6 who stood up during a commander's call and said, "you had better enjoy UPT, because it's the most fun flying that you're likely to have in the AF." At the time, being stressed, sleep deprived, be-littled, etc, I thought, "what an idiot, he just doesn't remember what it was like", but now, looking back, he wasn't that far off.


Good Luck.
Albie, I missed it, but how do you know he's going to C-130s?

Is Fight Safety the new pre-UPT screening (FSPOT)?
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I posted earlier about c-130's...thanks a lot for the replies guys!

Do I still have to do that 30 hour pre-UPT flight lessons before I get in the t-37, or does prior time override this?

And what is standup?

Thanks fellas.
Standup or SITDOWN

Every morning the first thing that you do is have an Emergency Procedures briefing. One lucky student (or two for formation EP's) gets called to "Standup" at attention and properly -- analyze the situation and take proper action and take the EP to a logical conclusion. Each EP will normally include a BOLDFACE. Now, if you do not correctly follow the procedure or mis-speak the BOLDFACE, you get to SITDOWN (stupid), not fly that day and get a little remedial training on the "busted" EP...

Don't worry, it will teach you about nerves.
Your prior experience bypasses the pre-UPT flying. I know the Guard units were paying for 40 hours of flight time prior to attending UPT. Anyone with at least a private license is exempt from this type of training.

For anyone going down this road without your private's license, I believe the regs specify that it be a part 141 school. I would shop around for a place that could hook you up with private, instrument and, if possible, a little acro training as well. You may have to pay a little out of pocket for the additional training just to get your license, but the experience would be very helpful.

Also, see if the school has any ex-military pilots as instructors, that would be the ideal situation.

Good luck

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