Old Dog, New Tricks
By Shawn Coyle (Full article on Verticalmag.com)
This article begins with a disclaimer: although the title refers to an old dog, its not really fair to call the Bell CH-135 (UH-1N) Twin Huey a dog. It was a solid reliable workhorse, borne of a family of helicopters that transformed both rotary-wing aviation and military operations. Of course, its also the same machine I cut my helicopter teeth on, and its incredibly difficult to say bad things about your first operational helicopter type (I know Ive tried to break lots of student test pilots of that habit, and it dies hard!).
But I digress. The particular old dog Im talking about is also an old friend: N212TP, a former Canadian Forces CH-135 (previous registration 135103) that I first flew in 1977. Thirty-five years later, its been equipped with new toys, and earlier this year I found myself at the National Test Pilot School (NTPS) in Mojave, Calif. getting ready to test them out.
Teaching for the Test
First, some background information on NTPS. This unique school is one of the few places in the world where you can go to fly a whole variety of different aircraft and learn how to evaluate their performance and handling in a structured, careful manner. This is not the same thing as simply learning how to fly. For example, as Ive mentioned previously (see p.116, Vertical, June-July 2012), part of the process involves convincing students that, if they are unable to fly a maneuver accurately, the problem is almost certainly in the machine, rather than themselves. Learning how to look for faults in the machine is not an easy process, but its necessary if one is to evaluate equipment for either military operations or civil certification.
How do you become a civilian test pilot? Go back to school
By Geri Silveira
Say “test pilot,” and whose name comes to mind? For most people, it’s Chuck Yeager, the first test pilot to break the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 in 1947.
While military test pilots make up the bulk of the profession, there are also civilian test pilots who work for aerospace industries, governments, and certification agencies. Even a few private citizens become test pilots. So, if you have an inner Yeager waiting to be freed, it’s possible to become a civilian test pilot or a flight test engineer.
According to their websites, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy offer training opportunities for some civilian flight test engineers. Nonmilitary pilots also can train at the Empire Test Pilots’ School in the United Kingdom and possibly at other international locations.
A Diamond for NTPS!
The National Test Pilot School recently added a Diamond DA-42 Twin Star to its already diverse fleet of aircraft. In addition to its unique aerodynamic and systems designs, the Twin Star introduces civil diesel engine technology to the school as well adding a civil production FADEC capability. Equipped with a Garmin G-1000 cockpit, the DA-42 joins NTPS’ other technically advanced aircraft as part of our technology refresh and fleet modernization program.
- Space Shuttle Flies Past NTPS
- Congressman McCarthy Visits NTPS
- NTPS Grad New Denel Director
- NTPS Graduate FTE Massimo Longo - First Flight
- NTPS Graduate wins SETP Kincheloe Award
- Garman / Cusimano Elected to NTPS Board of Trustees
- Morgenfeld / Peterson Elected to NTPS Board of Trustees
- Peterson Appointed as President/CEO of NTPS
- Change of Leadership at the National Test Pilot School
- NTPS Graduates Make First Flight - Gulfstream G250
- First Flight G180 Utility Jet
- NTPS Graduates in the News
- Flutter Exciters Now Being Used Inflight
- NTPS adds a new aircraft to the fleet
- The NTPS TM Control Room gets upgraded
- Common Instrumentation System Implemented