Friday, I spent several tedious hours mission planning. I woke-up early this morning, spending four hours anticipating a great flight in some of the best weather we’ve had here in four weeks. Preflight, engine start and setup of flight controls, avionics, and simulated weapons took the better part of forty minutes. After what amounted to about seven hours of preparation, Video flight was ready for takeoff. Video 01 took the runway, lined up in the center, lit the afterburner, and roared off into the glorious blue southern sky. Video 02 followed precisely 20 seconds later. Like clockwork, Video 03 straddled the runway centerline and lit his burner as I turned my jet left to take the runway so that I, too, could slip the surly bonds of Earth.
With the rip-roaring sound of 03 still threatening to ring my ears, I noted a yellow eyebrow light blink on as my nose penetrated the runway threshold. It was the Master Caution light. Normally one sees this as a matter of course when one turns the probe heat on too early before it can get 400 mile-per-hour air over it to cool it down. I had only just turned the probe heat on seconds ago, so I immediately had a bad feeling about this one. I craned my neck to see between my right thigh and the sidestick controller to see what the Master Caution Panel had to say. "ELEC SYS." That’s not a good one. But it wasn’t automatically bad. I kept lining up for a potential takeoff while glancing over my left leg and under the throttle to see what the Electrical Caution Panel’s verdict would be in this matter. "STBY GEN." The second, smaller generator had some sort of fault. We don’t absolutely have to have it in order to fly a successful mission, but this is peacetime training, and there was no justifiable reason to take a problem into the air this day. I had but one more hope, the tiny white Electric Caution Reset button. It was possible that pressing this hopeful, pure white innocent button would reset the standby generator and let me take off this happy morning.
The baleful yellow light remained on.
"Video 01, Video 04, I’ve got a non-resettable standby generator light. I’m going to taxi clear and see if I can get it fixed."
"Video One copies," came the reply.
After some discussion with Squadron operations, I learned to my horror that there was no way to get my own jet fixed (which I figured on already), and I would not be allowed to go to one of the spare jets and rejoin my flight mates (which was a bit unexpected).
So ended what might have been a really great day in one ignominious back-taxi.
I hope the weather stays good tomorrow and Wednesday!