Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Ode to Army Flight Test Engineers

-By April Zuber

The flight cards are ready, the brief is complete,
We walk to the aircraft and scope out our seat.
The smell of jet fuel hangs heavy in the air,
It’s a feeling of comfort as we begin to prepare.

We pull on our gloves, helmets and boots,
Lower our visors and zip our flight suits.
Today is a chance to bring about change,
Taking notes on anomalies and other things strange.

I guess you could say we’re an elite group,
The requirements include, “Can you hold down your soup?”
And if your stomach’s strength is the least of your worries,
“Are you able to read and write while everything’s blurry?”

The vibrations are high, but our courage is higher,
And at some point we realize, we were born to be fliers.
The need to be free from the bounds of the Earth,
Is something ingrained, something present from birth.

So we eagerly climb in experimental ‘hooks and ‘hawks,
In an effort to reduce any in-theater shocks.
The work is important, we have no doubt,
 It’s worth every pushover and 2-g turn-about.

We have to be confident and fast on the draw,
To safely direct those large test pilot paws.
“Don’t push that button!” we say with authority,
“I wouldn’t dream of it FTE, no, not me, Mr. XP!”

“Did you check that page? Watch your airspeed!”
We have to ensure they get all the data we need.
It’s sometimes a tough job, telling the green suit your plan,
But it’s more important to have the correct data when you land.

With every test point we work towards a goal,
Of providing a safe vehicle for those special souls.
They work in harm’s way through the day and the night,
To protect our freedom blessing, sometimes paying the ultimate price.

It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day trials,
Of a flight test program that seems to stretch on for miles.
Our job is to balance the requirements and reports,
But to never forget who we ultimately support.

So here is a toast to those helicopter FTEs,
And those moments when a roll-rate brings you to your knees.
You are strong-willed and stubborn and you know what you want,
But careful and detailed and nerdy and nonchalant.

Keep building your knowledge and testing the limits,
This job is not for the weak, the slow, or the timid.
We have a mission, and it’s unlike any other,
To test those heli’s which protect our Army brothers.