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Plus ça change, plus - ça change!

An e-gram from VC / Castle cross-poster, Brownie-Baker-for-the-Deployed, and Blogger-In-Her-Own-Right Miss Ladybug, who manages the Victory Caucus news feed:

Hey, Bill -- This about your students?

Yup, it sure is, Miss L..

And here's the shot that probably would have accompanied that release:

Remember this post from a while back?

And remember this one, too?

Well, the fledglings have learned to soar on their own...

What's changed about this particular graduation ceremony, and why is it important?

Simple enough -- the rotary wing students completed their training in August. Their fixed wing classmates were plagued with aircraft availability problems and weather requirements that didn't apply to helicopters (we fly in weather that makes fixed-wingers shudder and go back to the coffee pot). These are the first new Iraqi rotary wing pilots in over six years, and they are the first Iraqi *Air Force* rotary wing pilots ever. The MoD considered it such a milestone that they insisted on a single formal graduation ceremony for both sections.

The IqAF Chief of Staff was here. The SATMO commander (the O-6 we work for) was here. Our Project Manager was here. There were more Iraqi and Kurdish VIPs around than at the previous three class graduations combined.

This is just part of the meet-and-greet.

Now, a formal Iraqi public function wouldn't be complete without the Fourth Estate. You'll notice that there's a bit less emphasis on everyone keeping their seats than in a Western press conference, though...

And below, the grads after they were awarded their wings. I got shots of the award ceremony, but all you'd be able to see would be a feeding frenzy of photographers. Got a neat vid of 'em all scrambling for shots of the passing of the guidon, though -- including a closeup of the USAF PIO's ponytail. Glad she didn't back up any further, or she would have been...surprised.

The guys with guns are Iraqi Special Ops. The only way to distinguish them from the US version is their weaponry -- the Iraqis favor the AK-74 and Sig-Sauers. And folks I know who've been on operations with them say the weaponry *is* the only way to distinguish them from our guys -- they know their stuff.

Sooooo, here's Class 70, the newest pilots in the Iraqi Air Force, in the obligatory pose in front of the aircraft in which they first slipped the Surly Bonds -- the C-172TD, aka, "The Scourge of the Circuit."

And here are "my guys."

Eleven graduates, but only ten in the picture. A family emergency *always* takes precedence over personal honors...


Wow...congrats Bill.

It sounds like you really trained them up as opposed to creating a ready pool of whirly pilots to do morning drive time along the Garden State Parkway?
Heh. Right after I put 'em through their paces for Instruments, they grew mustaches. Some only managed an outline on their upper lips, but they all grew 'em.

Forgot to mention another "first" -- it was the first Iraqi ceremony that the new academics guys had seen. Three new guys, which is a *good* thing, because Class Two is starting Basic Combat Skills today, Class Three starts Basic Instruments on Saturday, Class Four arrives on Sunday, the Mechanic's Course is coming back from mujahs tomorrow, the Huey II class will be back next Saturday, and we're ramping up for the Instructor Pilot Course -- and I was starting to get a little *hoarse*...
 Pretty cool!  Now to get ready to deal with some students today, too, though my younger.  I was in the same class last week.  I might have my hands full today...
I'll pass this on to the folks at work, Bill.  They may have seen it, but they'll be especially pleased, eh?

For those who don't know it, a very small group of Air Force folks (w/ one former Navy rotary wing guy) has been working for  years to make this happen.  When it started, it was one guy who was chief cook and bottle washer to the whole effort for both Iraq and Afgahinistan (and not just airplanes--everything air force, PME, maintenance, and of course lots of English).  Now it's a half dozen+.  The first guy?  A former AF maint guy from Texas who started started military life as a maint. guy in Viet Nam helping to recover and repair downed aircraft.  His Iraq-related mission in life: Get as many of the locals trained as possible so fewer Americans would be needed over there.  I'd say he got 'em off to a good start. He retired a year or so ago, but I'll let him know about this too.  He'll be pleased.


10 years from now Bill will be hunched over his computer, searching for IrAF promotion lists, following his kids...

S'what I do with mine.

That's assuming the Mayans quit counting past 2012 just because they got bored carving calendars.

Which is what I figure happened, anyway...
Funny... I wrote you a card last night that mentions this graduation.  I just assumed they were your guys- and they were!  Awesome.

Twin, you need to check your email.  I need address confirmation to actually send you that card.  heh.
The Mayans and 2012.  Who knows what's gonna happen?  But the thing I find most interesting is this:

The Mayans and some other ancient cultures were aware of the Earth's axial precession (precession of the equinoxes), which has a cycle of about 26,000 years.

In order to recognize that there was indeed a cycle, we'd pretty much have to assume that humans have observed at least one, probably two, perhaps even a third precessional cycle. So, that would mean that somehow, humans have had a way to pass on this knowledge to succeeding generations for 26,000 or 52,000 or perhaps even 78,000 years.

Yet, the oldest civilizations we know about in Sumeria, India, Egypt, China, Korea, etc., only go back to about 3,000 - 4,000 BC. - roughly 5 - 6,000 years ago.

Who was around in the other 20,000+ years and how did they pass on the knowledge of precession to these other cultures?
Bill, it sounds something like this, "Congratulations,  *SIR*, you're a mother, you've given birth. Now, it's time for them to fly."

Congratulations, Bill!!!
Great event and great pictures :o)

I am curious, Bill, are these the motivational slogans on the walls?? If yes, do you know what they say??

Oh, Lord, not that goober again! I believed von Daeniken's stuff. When I was 13... :)

fdcol63, maybe the Mayans interpolated. That is, they observed, predicted, then validated shorter series, such as the Saros cycle. After that they observed the precessional movement,. then generalized.

Of course, this doesn't explain how Hipparchus independently discovered precession of the equinoxes... :)

Unca Bill,
That's the biggest Cessna-172 I've ever seen!
Of course it would be just an average C-208 Caravan...


This is awesome, Bill. Congratulations to you and your guys!
Whoop -- good one, Chris. I linked the wrong pic.

The 208 *is* the current Scourge of the Circuit, though. The 172s have an *koff* issue with the reduction gearbox. Again.
I am curious, Bill, are these the motivational slogans on the walls??

Well, sorta, Olga. The banner on the door (far left) reads "Welcome, Guests," the one just inside the hangar door is "No Smoking," the one to the right of that is a blurb about maintaining safety awareness -- it's been 90 days since they had an injury, then the Flight School logo. The rest are office locations -- the Break Room, Maintenance Officer, Quality Control, and Tech Supply.
I am so proud of y'all I could burst.

BillT, you rock!!!!!  You have got to be so very proud of them!!
Almost as proud as we all are of you!
Awwwwww, I don't *really* rock -- bad knees...