Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Keslar, instructor pilot, Company B, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, flies and teaches other pilots to fly a CH-47 Chinook responsible for delivering cargo and troops.
An instructor pilot begins his career in flight school, the same as other pilots. From there, he progresses to pilot in command (PIC). After some time, he picks one of four tracks: instructor pilot, maintenance test pilot, tactical operations officer or safety officer.
As an instructor, it is his job to train pilots and give evaluations.
There is no typical day for an instructor pilot.
One night, Keslar flew with a PIC in training to perform his proficiency flight evaluation in which the PIC must fly with night goggles.
They arrived three hours before the flight for a briefing and to load flight information from a computer to an SD card. They uploaded the SD card into the aircraft to download the flight plan. While it takes time on the computer to get to this step, that time is spent inside rather than outside in the aircraft. The cockpit of the Chinook is like a bubble, and it gets hot, like a greenhouse, Keslar said.
On that flight, Keslar pretended to be a junior pilot. He made mistakes on purpose to see if the PIC in training would catch them. He made the same mistake more than twice in a row. After a PIC corrects a mistake twice, they are supposed to take the controls. He ensured that happened.
A different day may consist of the pilots discussing the day’s activities for 30 minutes to an hour at a table top. Then they train in the flight simulator.
In the simulator, they’re focused primarily on learning procedures. The pilots already know how to fly an aircraft. With Keslar, they’re learning how to fly tactically, handle worst case scenarios, troubleshoot and make good decisions quickly.
A warning sounds through their headset. A warning light comes on. What does it mean? What do you do?
Even as an instructor pilot, Keslar is constantly learning and being evaluated himself.
“They don’t just fly by PFM,” he said of the Chinook.
It’s a lot to learn. Pilots used to carry a bag of instruction manuals with them. Fortunately, now all they need is an iPad.
He was evaluated himself the same week for the Directorate Evaluations and Standardizations (DES).
It’s hard work, but it’s necessary. The job of a Chinook pilot is centered on supporting infantry, Keslar said.
“It’s the coolest job,” he said. “We get to fly, and fly in support of the most important guys.”