Thursday, December 9, 2010

These aren't your Mom's bifocals...

Last night I had an interesting experience. I suited up in the normal gear: 3 shirts, a jacket, double socks and two pairs of long underwear....all under the flight suit with a big jacket on top [it's cold, ok...don't judge me]. I gracefully got my earplugs in and shoved my head into my helmet [I'm getting better at this now!]. And then I did something completely unnatural...I hooked a brick to my forehead, on purpose.

Goodness. Even as I am writing this I am noticing the sore neck courtesy of last night's Night Vision Goggle flight [read: the brick was actually a set of Night Vision Goggles]. 

I probably looked like a fumbling idiot shoving those goggles onto my helmet all cross-eyed, trying to feel for the mount. And then I had to adjust them. Turns out it is a lot harder then it sounds. 

On top of my wobbly head and sore neck, I had to actually function last night. Yes, sir. I had to climb in the jumpseat (a little harder with the brick), set up my clipboard, practice using my borrowed finger-light, and figure out how I was going to write down everything. Unfortunately a combination of the  placement of the jumpseat and my lack of height made it impossible to use the NVGs "outside" only. Ideally, the brick-wearer is supposed to focus the NVGs for looking outside and then look under the goggles at the screens in the cockpit. This situation gave my neck a nice little workout as I tried to look outside, look at the time for each data marker, read my flight cards, find the correct points, and write down any pilot comments. 

It was by far the most difficult flight I have had - engineering-wise. 

I know it sounds like I am being a big complainer-face, but the technology IS really amazing. I was surprised how much you can see even on a nearly 0-illum night (very low moon illumination). My favorite part was seeing the stars through the goggles - you can see so many more than just through the naked eye, and the NVGs make them appear super "twinkly".   

While I obviously did not fly the Chinook last night, just trying to function with the goggles on gives me a whole new appreciation for the guys wearing them every night, on real missions, with real bad guys and real stuff being shot at them. I think I just need more practice!