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Yokota Cadets High Flyin’

DoDEA, Japan
YOKOTA, Japan | September 17, 2012

“November four-niner-seven-two Romeo cleared for takeoff.” Tyler pushed the throttle all the way up to maximum power. The airplane began to accelerate, slow at first, but quickly reached 65 miles per hour. “It is very different steering the airplane on the runway because you use your feet pushing the rudder pedals” said Tyler. At take off speed, Tyler pulled the yoke back and the airplane nosed up to about fifteen degrees and lifted off the runway. Josh said, “This is the best roller coaster ride ever!”  

Tyler and Josh took to the skies recently behind the controls of a Cessna 172. Both 10th-grade students are part of the new JROTC Cadet FlightSimulator Instructor (CFI) program at Yokota High School. This is a first-of-its kind program in Air Force JROTC and an example of hands-on, 21st Century Learning in DoDDS. The cadets teach flying to students in the high school’s “Launch Pad” Flight Simulator Laboratory during class.

They both put their simulator flying skills to the test by flying with the Yokota Aero Club recently. Major Rick Krakoff, Commander of Yokota’s Civil Air Patrol Squadron and Aero Club flight instructor, put the cadets through an actual flight mission beginning with the pre-mission briefing at the Launch Pad. “We practice our procedures in the simulator before going up to fly. This makes a more meaningful flight experience” said Major Krakoff.

Maj Krakoff briefing the mission profile to the cadets

Maj. Krakoff briefing the
mission profile to the cadets.

On fly day, Tyler and Josh received a route briefing and weather report. The mission profile was for Tyler to take off first and fly towards Yokohama for demonstrations and a return landing at Yokota airfield. Then Josh would take off at night and fly towards downtown Tokyo. Following the briefings, they went out to the hanger and preflighted the airplane, “November four-niner-seven-two Romeo.” They checked to make sure everything worked OK.

Cadets performing the aircraft preflight inspection.

Cadets performing the
aircraft preflight inspection.

With the inspection complete, they pushed the airplane out of the hanger and began the startup procedures to turn on the electronic communications and avionics. After starting the airplane, Tyler taxied the airplane to the end of Runway 18 for a south departure to Yokohama. After taking off, Yokota Tower called saying, “November four-niner-seven-two Romeo be advised a C-17 is behind you climbing to 8,000 feet.” Tyler saw the C-17 and turned the airplane towards Yokohama. Climbing to 2500 feet, he performed some turns and demonstrations of the plane’s performance. “It was awesome to experience actual flying” said Josh.

At the flight controls.

At the flight controls.

Soon, Major Krakoff instructed Tyler to turn the airplane back towards Yokota and “prepare for landing.” Entering the runway area, Tyler turned “final” and aligned the airplane for the landing. Pitch down for the descent, Power set to 70 miles per hour, Flaps down…Tyler called Yokota Approach Control, “November four-niner-seven-two Romeo request landing, information India.” “November four-niner-seven-two Romeo landing approved, call when touchdown” responded Approach Control.

Power back a bit…correct for the right crosswind…over the runway…100 feet…50 feet…20 feet…flare the airplane…and, a “Perfect Landing.” After stopping, Tyler taxied to Base Ops where he shut down the engine. Now it was Josh's turn in the pilot seat. Josh repeated the taxi and takeoff procedures and turned north towards Tokyo. By now, the sun was setting and nightfall came as Josh got to downtown Tokyo. “Flying is completely different at night. There are millions of lights and you still have to watch for other aircraft in the area.” Josh flew around the new Tokyo Sukaitsuri or “Tokyo Skytree” Tower, the second highest structure in the world. He then turned back towards Yokota and passed the more famous, Tokyo Tower. Josh brought the airplane back in for a perfect landing.

Lt Col Ardo with cadets after the flight.

Lt. Col. Ardo with cadets after the flight.

Back on the ground, JROTC Instructor,
Lt. Col. Gary Ardo, said “Tyler and Josh
began another flying tradition...
Arguing who had the better landing!”


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