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Auto ACAS F-16 Training Day


Aviation Week was invited to evaluate Auto ACAS, an automatic air collision avoidance system for the F-16 and F-35 in development by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and Lockheed Martin. The assignment began with two days of briefings and preparatory simulator sessions in June at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth facility in Texas, followed in late July by interviews with Air Force and USAF Test Pilot School ACAS program personnel at Edwards AFB, California. The assignment concluded with two days of training and briefings at Edwards in September, culminating in a 1.7-hr. Auto ACAS demonstration and test flight in an F-16D operated by the 416th Flight-Test Sqdn.

Preparations for my Auto ACAS flight began the previous day with training and equipment fitting at Edwards AFB. First came the g-suit, which was fitted with Saville Row-like tailoring precision by Staff Sgt. Zackary Vallen and Mary Harris.

My personally fitted helmet and oxygen mask were assembled while I watched before being pressure-checked for leaks by Staff Sgt. Vallen using this device.

After that came a detailed briefing on the bewildering variety of emergency survival equipment housed in the ejection seat.

Then on to F-16 egress training by experimental test pilot Maj. Raven "Rost" LeClair-Bonacich.

After a very thorough flight physical, it was then on to emergency parachute training from Staff Sgt. Martin Ruemenapp, a Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape instructor from the 412th Operations and Support Sqdn.


With all the boxes ticked, it was time to fly! Pilot for my Auto ACAS flight the next day was Capt. Michael "Cap" Pacini.

 . . . and away we go.


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