Friday, 5 February 2016

I've been commiting aviation (almost)

As part of the end chapter of my book about the Lynx I want to write a personal account of what the latest Mark 8 is like compared to the Mark 2s and 3s I flew.  Yesterday I was lucky enough to get a ride in the Mark 8 simulator at Yeovilton.  I'm still working on a trip in a real one but the sim was very useful at letting me see all the new electronic gizmos in action.  In the earlier machine, the radar was pure analog and to plot targets the Observer literally had to use a chinagraph pencil on a plastic overlay over the screen and join of the dots over a period of time.  Also the Sea Skua missile could be fired at 9 miles which was great for keeping out of the way of a target's self defence systems but meant you couldn't actually identify what you were firing at - not good.  The Mark 8 now has the radar digitised and fed into a large tactical display which can also show the picture from the Passive Electro Optic thingy on the nose which can easily identify ships at 9 miles.
It was great fun seeing all this working and made me realise how bloody easy it would be for the poor old pilot to get stuck into watching what was on the displays to the detriment of what was going on outside - which is a long winded way of saying I almost flew the thing into the water! I'm not sure that the workload is any higher than in my day but without doubt the results are going to be far more comprehensive and effective.
But of course the real problem with the simulator was that the visuals can only be seen through the main windows and the overhead panels are blank.  This may not seem like much of an issue but when returning to your ship and beating her up, you really need to be able to see the ship when you are almost completely inverted in a wingover, in order to line up properly!!  It was nice to find out I hadn't forgotten how to fly the thing completely..........

There were lots of ways to re-join the ship but it was always worth waking up the bridge staff.

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