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In Box: M

People

I get a lot of email from around the world and do appreciate them all. A reader from Poland wrote with a fascinating story about the similarities between his air force pilot training days and mine. He kindly agreed to allow me to publish that and a few of his photos.


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Sunset in a Polish Air Force PZL TS-11 Isra "Spark," photo courtesy of "M"

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Polish Air Force PZL TS-11 Isra "Spark," photo courtesy of "M")

Sir,

I have started reading your book. It looks that when you started your career I was just 7 years old. In fact I started my adventure with aviation in 1987 joining the Military Secondary School in Dęblin. Quite early - I was 15, almost a baby ;-)

I did not know that so called "communism" is going to the end in Poland at that time. And in fact we were still on opposite sides - enemies. I did not think about that – I dreamt about flying. Eventually I got the goal.

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Polish Air Force PZL TS-11 Isra "Spark," photo courtesy of "M")

During this school I got parachute training and started flying gliders. When I finished the secondary school I decided I had enough of that almost 'military life' and took the exams for the Resovian Polytechnic to become an aviation engineer and of course pilot. After 4-5 months I realized – no chance. It was really hard time for civilian aviation in our country and I knew it was too expensive for my family. So I turned back to the military side – I really wanted to be a pilot. I came back to Dęblin to the Air Force Officers School (it was not an Air Force Academy). What is interesting we, as a country, were somewhere in the middle with no idea what to do. Should we try to join any pack or to be completely independent.

Apart from huge politics which was somewhere above me an interesting thing is that aviation 'speaks' almost the same language. For example you were dragged behind pick-up with your chute. I had to jump out of the airplane which was not broken. You will not believe it – 8 times!

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Ejection seat trainer in the Polish Air Force, photo courtesy of "M")

Also I saw the picture of the ejection seat trainer and remember myself seating on a seat which was alike, doing almost the same procedures. But . . . under our seat there was an explosive charge, just a little weaker as we had under our seats in a jet (attached picture). Never again I hope . . .

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Formation solo in a Polish Air Force PZL TS-11 Isra "Spark," photo courtesy of "M")

Now I read about your Tweet experiences and it reminds me our jet trainer – TS-11 Iskra (Eng. – Spark). Really nice jet, with really bad ejection seat and even worse engine. My friends and I were joking it was giving 90% of noise and 10% of thrust ;-)

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Polish Air Force PZL TS-11 Isra "Spark," photo courtesy of "M")

By the way I also remember my first TS-11 solo flight. Unforgettable thing. During the before taxi we had to check the cockpit pressurization as far as remember in sequence: Press On – Cold Air - Hot Air - Press On. Worth to mention – the valve is placed inconveniently on the right panel behind a seat. However I forgot to turn the valve back to the Press On position. So I taxied to the final undercarriage check just at the holding point before the runway. I lined up and got the clearance for take-off, advanced the throttle released the brakes I got really happy and proud – I just started rolling for my first solo flight. However before I lift off I realized the pressurization was left at the Hot Air position. I was really scared to move my right hand to the right side behind trying to find that hells made valve just after departure. I retracted the gear and flaps and all the way down to the downwind position hot air was blowing like crazy straight into my face. My eyes were almost baked ;-) Luckily I had my sunglasses on. In straight and level I decided I am ready to turn the valve into the Cold Air position and then I felt like 'master of the skies'. Now I know I am still not the one and then I was really far from being one.

After that the rest of the flight seemed easy. In fact I made the approach and full stop landing. I taxied back and believe me I checked the mentioned valve several times before next take-offs. We learn all the time . . .

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Polish Air Force PZL TS-11 Isra "Spark" instrument panel, photo courtesy of "M")

Sir, I also attached some pictures of our jet trainer with me behind the stick. Pictures quality is not the best however I do not have anything better.

Best regards,

"M"

Revision: 20150409
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