Grade book Write-Ups

A daily diary of every maneuver, mission, milestone, and mistake, the grade book documented the flight line experience of each UPT student. What mission was a student opted to fly? What emergency procedures had recently been discussed? What profile should be planned to ensure demonstration, practice, and proficiency in required training items? What special circumstances dealing with weather, health, or aircraft malfunction dictated deviation from the syllabus of instruction or the mission plan?

After each event, instructors would debrief student pilots and record grades for each maneuver attempted or demonstrated. If the IP used the blue end of his pencil, the student had met the minimum required level of proficiency for that particular maneuver on the ride. If the IP used the red end of his pencil, the student needed to improve before the last ride in the instruction block.

Students would transcribe the handwritten grades to scantron sheets to be converted to the computerized grading record. Once converted, instructors would revoke and replace the errors students had made by incorrectly coding the scantron sheets via a process known as “R-squared.” Every error Kenny and I made in our T-37 grade books would cost us a bottle of beer – payable by the case. We bought many cases.

A thin, black, three-ring binder that but grew fatter over time as grade sheets and write-ups were added throughout training, the grade book was report card, lesson planner, flight log, and biography all in one. When I finally got serious about writing IF YOU AIN’T A PILOT…, the parts of my grade book that survived the years were invaluable in helping me organize dim and distant memories that entropy had scattered about my mind.