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An Old Bird in the Roost

Posted on 15 Jun 2016 @ 4:15am by Lieutenant Commander Terry Walsh & Lieutenant Jonathan Kilmartin

Mission: Risky Business
Location: Squadron Commander’s Office/Flight Deck
Timeline: MD 0

Terry stood in his office and looked out the bay window that afforded him a limited view of the Flight Deck. His attention was focused on the bay doors. The new, or rather old, Peregrine class fighter that he had requested for training purposes was being flown in. It was the only two-seater anywhere nearby and if personnel were to be properly trained following the holodeck simulations, he needed one. Fortunately, Captain Geisler had authorized it and the powers that be at Unity made it happen. It was supposed to be arriving now, and in the hands of his Deputy.

The handover at Unity had gone smoothly, Sunbeam and his wingman Necromancer had taken ownership of the newest craft to join the Black Hawk's compliment of Fighters and had begun the short flight to their Akira class home. Kilmartin had seen Peregrine class fighters adapted to serve the needs of different units, ranging from interceptor craft and electronic countermeasures to use as a heavy bomber. More recently though, these aging craft had taken on more roles as training craft and that was the purpose of its presence aboard the Black Hawk.

Whilst Sunbeam had experience with training units and, prior to his assignment on the Black Hawk had been slated to command training Squadrons, he couldn't help but hope that this wasn't a sign of things to come - he was a fighter pilot, a top gun, not a desk jockey nor an academy instructor.

This fighter in particular seemed a little loose around the edges and would require some fine tuning and maintenance once aboard ship, the inertial dampeners giving them a rough ride in places.

With the Black Hawk in sight, the Lieutenant tapped a control on the display and spoke over the communications channel. "Black Hawk, Sunbeam. Training craft on final approach. Requesting permission to enter the landing pattern."

"Permission granted, Sunbeam," came the voice from the Black Hawk. Then it contacted Terry. "Commander Walsh, the training craft is on final approach. It should be on the Flight Deck momentarily, Sir."

"Acknowledged," said Terry. Rather than stay in his office and watch, he decided to get to the Flight Deck and welcome Lieutenant Kilmartin and his wingman back.

With permission from the Flight Deck's LSO to bring the fighter in, the Lieutenant moved the ship into position until the automated landing system kicked in. It was then that he had an idea. "LSO, Kilmartin. Request manual landing procedures." It had been a while since he had piloted a Peregrine, let alone landed one manually and if there was even the slightest chance that he would fly it with trainees, he wanted to ensure he was prepared for every eventuality, including manual landings. He had taken part in lots of combat landings and manual ones under less intense circumstances with a Valkyrie and even Broadswords, but a Peregrine was a different kettle of fish completely.

The LSO looked up at the Flight Deck Commander, who grinned and nodded. "Sunbeam, LSO. The Flight Deck Commander has given permission to land manually. Releasing the automatic landing's tractor beam now."

With a shudder, the tractor beam released and gave the pilot his indication that the vessel was now on manual flight into the landing pattern. He tapped away on the controls, moving the vessel into line so that it had a straight, horizontal trajectory into the flight deck. "LSO, Sunbeam. In position."

"Sunbeam. LSO, you are cleared for approach ... Speed one seven five, port flight bay, hands-on approach, checkers green, call the ball."

With the checkers green signal, Sunbeam smiled and was content that the final clearance was in place. All he had to do now was pilot the craft in and set her down. "Copy. I have the ball." He confirmed.

The Peregrine moved forward at a steady pace until it was less than 200 meters from the doors to the flight deck doors. With a flick of a switch, the craft began to slow and her landing struts (small as they were) engaged ready for setting down on the deck. Within sixty seconds the craft was down and at a stand still. "LSO, Sunbeam. Peregrine is aboard and accounted for."

Terry had walked onto the Flight Deck just as the tractor beam had disengaged. He grinned and nodded his head. Not too many pilots anymore wanted to do a manual landing in a starship. To him, they seemed to have gotten lazy. But apparently not Lieutenant Kilmartin. And Terry liked that. He walked over towards the new training fighter as the deck crew began to close in. They had gotten used to him being on the Flight Deck and didn't pay that much attention to him as they did their jobs. Terry waited for the canopy to open and the two pilots to emerge.

With the Peregrine locked into place and stationary, the transfer from the station was complete. With just three button presses, the ship shut down and the canopy lifted to reveal the cockpit of the craft. Kilmartin stood up from his chair and climbed out of the craft, landing on the flight deck with a thud, followed quickly by his co-pilot for the mission. Kilmartin began to walk away until he clocked Walsh and walked over to his superior as he unzipped the top of his jocksmock and loosened the flight uniform a bit. "A dying art, manual landings," the former marine smiled.

Terry returned the smile. "Yes it is. And you did a fine job, I might add. I haven't seen too many pilots do that anymore. Most of them rely on the automatic landing system and the tractor beam." He cast a glance over to the newest addition to the deck, "I know it was only a short flight, but I trust you were able to get some kind of an idea of how she handles?"

"She purrs like a pussycat but has the turning circle of a rhinoceros. We'll need to get the deck gang to look at her maneuvering thrusters and inertial dampeners, but I am confident she can be sorted," the Lieutenant told as he slapped a hand onto the bodywork of the old craft. "She' no Valk, but she's no slouch either."

"I like the sound of that," said Terry. "Well, the purring like a pussycat, but not the turning radius. But I'm not too surprised, really. She's an old bird. But you're right, these guys will get her up to Black Knight standards quick enough." And now came the tough part. "Now that the Peregrine is aboard, here are my thoughts on the training. We have the Valkyrie One and Valkyrie Two flight training programs in the holodeck for initial training. That's stage one. Stage two is Peregrine here, where the trainee is actually taken out in a fighter, but with a fly-along. Stage three is a solo in a Valk with the trainer as wingman. Thoughts, Lieutenant?"

Sunbeam took in the Commander's suggestion and considered it for a moment, playing the scenarios through in his mind. "All quite logical," the Squadron XO agreed with a nod before adding, "sir."

"Alright then," said Terry. "I'll just need to add you to the authorization for access to Valkyries One and Two on the holodeck. Right now, my authorization is the only one in the squadron that the computer will recognize to run the programs. Now that you're here, I need to fix that. But I don't mean for you to do all of the training. I need to stay up on my game, too."

"Commander, I have some other suggestions if you are open to them?" Kilmartin queried.

Terry looked at his Deputy and nodded. "Sure Lieutenant, let's hear them."

"Might I suggest we change policy regarding landing procedures? You said that no one does manual landings anymore, so lets make them. This is a ship that will go into combat and combat landings need to be rehearsed. I suggest we make all landings manual ones from now on," the Squadron XO suggested as he began to walk slowly down the middle of the flight deck. "And I suggest we initiate a CAP from now on whenever we are out of warp. We're entering a hostile time, we can enhance the early warning systems by implementing a CAP."

Terry listened as Jonathan gave his suggestions. "I like them, Lieutenant. And I agree completely about landing. These young guys and girls aren't going to have a tractor beam all the time. Draw up the policy change and have it on my desk for review. And I'll work on the Combat Air Patrol recommendation to forward to the Executive Officer. I don't foresee any problem. Oh and for the Peregrine, I don't want any training flights in that bird while we're on a mission. She is to be docked any time the Black Hawk could encounter hostile forces."

"Understood sir," Kilmartin responded as they came to a halt outside the Squadron Commanders office. "Well if you'll excuse me sir, I'll get to work on that policy review."

"Not a problem, Lieutenant," said Terry. "I've got a recommendation to write. Oh, and thanks for going out to pick her up."

"Anytime sir," the Lieutenant smiled and gave a nod before departing to compose the policy revision he had suggested. This posting was turning out to be an interesting one for sure.


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